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zachiedoo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 3, 2022
162
91
S QC
So yesterday I switched out the HD on a 2011 MBP for an SSD and used the iMac to facilitate things. I liked the result, and it made me think maybe I could speed up the iMac a bit...

Did some research and learned that opening it up involves removing the screen. While I was up for that, I came across some other discussions here that talked about how booting from an external SSD via USB also worked really well. I had a 1TB Samsung EVO SSD that I had thought about using as an external SSD with a Mac mini to be used as a Plex server, but I was concerned that 1TB would maybe be on the small side.

I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot as the new external SSD boot drive for the iMac: I have it, and the enclosure, already. So I hooked it up to the iMac and installed a fresh High Sierra on it, and right away, it was way faster than booting the iMac from the internal HDD. Did the updates, then shut down the iMac. I then connected the new external SSD to the 2011 MBP and booted it. I hooked up the two machines via firewire with a thunderbolt adapter, and booted the iMac in Target Disk Mode. Opened up Migration Assistant on the MBP, selected the iMac's drive and now it's transferring the data.

This is an iMac that my spouse uses in her music room, so the slow response of the HDD was a bit of a pain. We'll see how she likes the new set-up. If we eventually want to physically install it in the iMac, that's an option, too. But, this is a good way to test the benefits of an SSD upgrade without also doing the RAM (which is really involved on this machine).
 

zachiedoo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 3, 2022
162
91
S QC
Well, it's all been migrated and now boots from the external SSD. Much faster. Very much worth it. Thanks to all who posted here about this issue and got me moving in this direction.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,615
4,497
Delaware
And, should you decide that an internal install of an SSD is something that you want to do, then the extra steps of upgrading the RAM is a worthwhile extra. I've done a couple of those 2013/2014 21.5-inch, and you go slow, check your steps carefully (you don't want to open it up a second time because you forgot to connect the display (like..I..did, the first time!). And, yes, in the end, it's worth the pain if you want to continue using an iMac that remains a decent system.
 

zachiedoo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 3, 2022
162
91
S QC
And, should you decide that an internal install of an SSD is something that you want to do, then the extra steps of upgrading the RAM is a worthwhile extra. I've done a couple of those 2013/2014 21.5-inch, and you go slow, check your steps carefully (you don't want to open it up a second time because you forgot to connect the display (like..I..did, the first time!). And, yes, in the end, it's worth the pain if you want to continue using an iMac that remains a decent system.
We may very well find after a few months that we want to permanently install the SSD into the iMac. When I first saw what was involved in upgrading the RAM, it scared me. I think I've gotten over the initial shock, though, because if we go to the trouble of opening it for the SSD, then it would be worth it to do the RAM at the same time.

After updating the RAM and SSD on those older 21.5" 2013's, what OS did you go with? We had moved up to Mojave on this one with the HDD, but it was quite slow, so I reformatted the HDD and brought it back to High Sierra. But I really liked Mojave and kept it on my late 2013 MBP for a long time. I'd love to have it back on the iMac if it's do-able after an upgrade.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,615
4,497
Delaware
I choose to upgrade to current OS. Your 2013 iMac can't go later than Catalina natively, but OpenCore patched installs works well, to provide a path to whatever newer system you want to use. I tend to have dual boots, with a system that I still need to use, such as Mojave (for some 32-bit apps that I require), plus I will have a system that I want for daily use - and is still getting security updates. Not gonna tell you what to do, but there are reasonable choices with patched systems, if you need a system that Apple does not directly support.
 

zachiedoo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 3, 2022
162
91
S QC
I choose to upgrade to current OS. Your 2013 iMac can't go later than Catalina natively, but OpenCore patched installs works well, to provide a path to whatever newer system you want to use. I tend to have dual boots, with a system that I still need to use, such as Mojave (for some 32-bit apps that I require), plus I will have a system that I want for daily use - and is still getting security updates. Not gonna tell you what to do, but there are reasonable choices with patched systems, if you need a system that Apple does not directly support.
I think it will depend mostly on whether my spouse has any apps that need 32-bit. It's really only used for our music lessons and she plays with recording a bit, too, nothing heavy or serious. The only browsing we've done it in years is trouble-shooting searches for it, and very seldom at that. We have another iMac and MBP that we use as our daily-use machines.

I've never looked at dual-booting other than to install a Windows partition via Bootcamp on another MBP we have. Might look into it, as I really enjoy mucking about with the tech. Thanks for a thoughtful response.
 
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rampancy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2002
688
922
I have the exact same Mac as you as my daily driver, and while contemplating taking it apart to get ride of the dying HDD, I decided to go the route of using an external USB 3 SSD; I took advantage of a Black Friday sale to get a 1 TB Samsung T7 Shield SSD, and I never looked back. Sure, it's not as fast as if I'd mounted an SSD internally, but it's substanitally faster than running off of the hard drive.

The only real issue is that the Mac seems to forget that it's set to boot to the external drive sometimes, but that seems to be an issue stemming from the most recent security updates to Catalina. In retrospect I probably should have gone with Mojave since I have quite a few games still stuck in 32-bit.
 
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zachiedoo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 3, 2022
162
91
S QC
I have the exact same Mac as you as my daily driver, and while contemplating taking it apart to get ride of the dying HDD, I decided to go the route of using an external USB 3 SSD; I took advantage of a Black Friday sale to get a 1 TB Samsung T7 Shield SSD, and I never looked back. Sure, it's not as fast as if I'd mounted an SSD internally, but it's substanitally faster than running off of the hard drive.

The only real issue is that the Mac seems to forget that it's set to boot to the external drive sometimes, but that seems to be an issue stemming from the most recent security updates to Catalina. In retrospect I probably should have gone with Mojave since I have quite a few games still stuck in 32-bit.
Ours was really slow using Mojave before the SSD switch, so I back-pedalled. How is yours with Catalina? I really want to get Mojave back on it if I can, but not if it's going to slow down again.
 

rampancy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2002
688
922
Ours was really slow using Mojave before the SSD switch, so I back-pedalled. How is yours with Catalina? I really want to get Mojave back on it if I can, but not if it's going to slow down again.

Catalina is fast, with a very rare episode of delay when displaying the huge amount of stuff I have in /Applications. It's not NVMe SSD fast, but certainly fast enough for gaming and daily usage. It's definitely a different plane of reality from using the internal stock hard drive. It's certainly what I would recommend if you're too afraid*/too lazy to go to the trouble of cracking it open.

*From what others have told me on the MR forums, it's not nearly as daunting as the iFixit guide makes it seem; Colin at This Does Not Compute has a video illustrating how to open it up and replace the hard drive.
 

zachiedoo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 3, 2022
162
91
S QC
Catalina is fast, with a very rare episode of delay when displaying the huge amount of stuff I have in /Applications. It's not NVMe SSD fast, but certainly fast enough for gaming and daily usage. It's definitely a different plane of reality from using the internal stock hard drive. It's certainly what I would recommend if you're too afraid*/too lazy to go to the trouble of cracking it open.

*From what others have told me on the MR forums, it's not nearly as daunting as the iFixit guide makes it seem; Colin at This Does Not Compute has a video illustrating how to open it up and replace the hard drive.
I am seriously contemplating that. My issue with iFixit guides is they take you to the removal of the old part, but don't show the re-installation of the new part, or reassembly. OWC has equivalent videos, and they show you everything. I run one of their videos on my current MBP and stop and go as needed as I complete the steps. Apparently with these, some sort of spacer is needed as the SSD's are 7mm but the old HDD's are 9mm. No one talks about that, though.

As for being delicate removing a glued part, it looks like I'll get to practice on my old gen 1 Time Capsule: I'm guessing the HDD has died. I'm not going to bother replacing the HDD, but you can bet I'll take it apart. 🤓
 
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MultiFinder17

macrumors 68030
Jan 8, 2008
2,728
2,057
Tampa, Florida
Those 2013 iMacs are solid computers - I have a 27” base that I’ve been running Monterey on for a good while now, and you really couldn’t tell thst it wasn’t native using OCLP. I haven’t had any major issues with it other than waiting a few days when an update rolls out to make sure it’s solid :)
 

msjones

macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2007
429
4
Nottinghamshire, UK
Im using a late 2015 21.5" 1080p iMac from a Samsung T7 500GB. Did the install around early December. Things have been great running Monterey (the last supported for this model).

However, yesterday I noticed things slowing down. I ran a BlackMagic test and my write performance has dropped from 380mb/s to ~100mb/s. Read performance is still ~400mb/s.

Swapped out the cable, swapped USB ports and same result. Anyone got any advice, is the drive on its way out already? Is this to do with TRIM not being supported on external drives?
 

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Amethyst1

macrumors G3
Oct 28, 2015
9,448
11,626
Is this to do with TRIM not being supported on external drives?
Possibly. TRIM is only issued on external Thunderbolt drives in macOS. One way to restore full write performance if lack of TRIM is the issue is to back it up, perform a Secure Erase and restore. Or try issuing the TRIM command using another OS that can do it via USB (Linux?).
 
Last edited:

msjones

macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2007
429
4
Nottinghamshire, UK
Possibly. TRIM is only issued on external Thunderbolt drives in macOS. One way to restore full write performance if lack of TRIM is the issue is to back it up, perform a Secure Erase and restore. Or try issuing the TRIM command using another OS that can do it via USB (Linux?).
Brilliant. Thanks for the response. I have a LaCie thunderbolt 2 external with a dead drive. I was thinking of installing an an EVO drive I have spare so I'll get it stripped down and tested.

I have a few linux boxes around the house, so that is worth a try with TRIM too. Everything is backed up so nothing to lose.

I could always go the route of stripping the Mac and installing an internal, but the external has worked fine and the internal 1TB is used for backups and media.
 

rampancy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2002
688
922
Possibly. TRIM is only issued on external Thunderbolt drives in macOS. One way to restore full write performance if lack of TRIM is the issue is to back it up, perform a Secure Erase and restore. Or try issuing the TRIM command using another OS that can do it via USB (Linux?).

I just read a thread about how Monterey apparently supports the unmap command on external USB SSDs, which is said to be the equivalent to trim on USB-C SSDs. Is that actually true or is there something that folks on that thread were missing?
 

msjones

macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2007
429
4
Nottinghamshire, UK
@Amethyst1 Well the spare SSD was dead, being impatient and paying through the nose got one from a local retailer. Transplant went well, now running over TB2 with TRIM with slight better read/write. Appreciate the heads up on that TRIM support. Just need to disable this annoying blue light on the LaCie drives!

Also wiped the T7, went with OCLP Ventura, and that now its back to standard USB3 speeds. Im going to run it on my Mini that's used as for docker/plex/testing work code and see if the same happens again down the line.

I have an M1 MBA im supposed to use for work, I just can't part with the iMac, its still a great workhorse for the age!
 
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