Late 2009 21" iMac-Performance Improvement Suggestions

Discussion in 'iMac' started by erickj, Mar 22, 2014.

  1. erickj, Mar 22, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2014

    erickj macrumors regular

    May 9, 2008
    I've got the late 2009 iMac with the following specs:

    Processor: 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    Memory: 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
    Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4670 256 MB
    Hard Drive: NVidia MCP79 AHCI 1 TB (this is a replacement by Apple about 1.5 years ago when the original was recalled)
    Running: Mac OS X Lion 10.7.5

    It's running slow, seeing the beach ball fairly often. I've got about 500 GB free, most stuff is on an external, but large music library (over 200 GB) is on the computer itself.

    I'm not in a position to buy a new machine, hoping for advice on memory upgrade specifically. Although other suggestions would be great.

    It's got the original 4 GB (2x2 GB). Crucial has 2x4 GB avail for about 90$, which would bring memory up to 12 GB (would this be enough for a performance increase?). Or I could pony up and get 4x4 GB for a total of 16 GB (is this necessary?) and scrap the 2x2 GB sticks.

    I've hesitated upgrading to Mavericks because I don't want a further slowdown.

    Typical uses are iTunes, Safari, mail, iPhoto, Firefox, word, excel, adobe reader, VLC, Vuze once in a while, calendar, etc. It's really just a personal machine, but definitely not kicking like it once did.
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    How about upgrading both RAM and storage to an SSD?

    However it's always best to upgrade RAM before getting an SSD. Upgrading to an SSD prior to installing the proper amount of RAM would reduce the life of the SSD, and still be quite slow (when using RAM-intensive apps). First, with inadequate RAM, the SSD will be utilized as virtual memory, offsetting the lack of physical RAM. By doing this, the computer will write tasks that are normally written to RAM, to the SSD. Because SSDs have only a finite amount of writes available to each transistor, you'll effectively shorten its lifetime, and increase the risk of data loss. Additionally, even fast SATA3 SSDs pale in comparison to the speed of RAM – ~500MB/s in SSDs vs. ~23 GB/s in RAM (@1333 MHz). Therefore, the best solution would be to install the appropriate amount of RAM first, followed by an SSD upgrade. Once the proper amount of RAM is installed, an SSD will truly shine.

    On my 2011 MBP, I used to have a 7200rpm HDD and got beach balls all the time, even with 16GB of RAM. The beach balls disappeared upon upgrading to a 512GB Samsung 840 Pro. Now it boots up in just 11 seconds.
  3. erickj thread starter macrumors regular

    May 9, 2008
    The RAM yes, but I'm not a tech guy at all. i'd have to pay someone to upgrade to a SDD. I'm not comfortable at all in trying to take apart the iMac and install a new drive. I will start with the RAM and see what that does though.

  4. iSee macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2004
    4 GB is already pretty decent though. Upgrading to 12 might help a little but I don't think it will be anything dramatic. There would be very little difference, if any, between 12 and 16.

    An SSD very likely would make a dramatic difference.
    (I put an SSD into my 27" 2009 iMac and, wow, what a huge difference that made.)

    edit: one more thing... I didn't notice a slowdown upgrading to Mavericks. In fact, I had some weird problem with Mail (running really slowly) that it seemed to fix.
  5. erickj thread starter macrumors regular

    May 9, 2008
    Thanks for info. I ordered 8 GB Ram and I actually upgraded to Mavericks yesterday, so far so good. I'll look into exploring to an SDD drive. I'm just not comfortable doing it myself.

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