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Mid 2009 iMac usability

crispApple

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 22, 2015
272
104
Wisconsin
hey everyone, I was just wondering if a mid 2009 iMac 20" would be worth the purchase to use it for nothing but light internet and YouTube? I don't need it for much else, just a simple desktop with a bigger screen than my MacBook Air m1. its running OS X El Capitan 10.11.6, 2gb 1067 MHz ddr3 I am seeing these very cheap and was considering buying, any advise would be great thanks
 

uller6

macrumors 6502
May 14, 2010
393
318
hey everyone, I was just wondering if a mid 2009 iMac 20" would be worth the purchase to use it for nothing but light internet and YouTube? I don't need it for much else, just a simple desktop with a bigger screen than my MacBook Air m1. its running OS X El Capitan 10.11.6, 2gb 1067 MHz ddr3 I am seeing these very cheap and was considering buying, any advise would be great thanks
I’ve got one with SSD and 8 gb ram. Unfortunately the machine will choke on 2 gb, and you won’t have fun with a spinning platter hard drive. The fans are loud in comparison to a newer machine, and the old CCFL displays aren’t as bright as the newer LED models.
If you get a 2011-2015 21.5” then you can run those in target display mode and use them as an external monitor for your M1 machine (with the correct adaptor cable).
 
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crispApple

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 22, 2015
272
104
Wisconsin
I’ve got one with SSD and 8 gb ram. Unfortunately the machine will choke on 2 gb, and you won’t have fun with a spinning platter hard drive. The fans are loud in comparison to a newer machine, and the old CCFL displays aren’t as bright as the newer LED models.
If you get a 2011-2015 21.5” then you can run those in target display mode and use them as an external monitor for your M1 machine (with the correct adaptor cable).
good info, thank you. any recommendations of similar machines that will run a little better? I really like the iMac design and Appearance for a desktop machine.
 
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DekuBleep

macrumors regular
Jun 26, 2013
103
34
Anything with an SSD in it and a suitable amount of ram will run circles around any Mac with a HDD in it. The old spinning HDD drives are very slow and prone to breaking that spinning ARM compared to the newer Macs. If the mid 2009 iMac has the original HDD in it then you should expect to need to replace it.
 
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crispApple

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 22, 2015
272
104
Wisconsin
Anything with an SSD in it and a suitable amount of ram will run circles around any Mac with a HDD in it. The old spinning HDD drives are very slow and prone to breaking that spinning ARM compared to the newer Macs. If the mid 2009 iMac has the original HDD in it then you should expect to need to replace it.
are these specs for an iMac decent or no?

21.5 2009 3.06Ghz UPGRADED 8GB-RAM 512GB-SSD DVD​

 
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Jack Neill

macrumors 65816
Sep 13, 2015
1,207
945
San Antonio Texas
I just got a Mid 2009 iMac. I put a MX500 SSD in it and it’s got 8Gb ram. Currently running Catalina just fine. It’s not a speed demon but it’s acceptable for its specs.
 
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DekuBleep

macrumors regular
Jun 26, 2013
103
34
are these specs for an iMac decent or no?

21.5 2009 3.06Ghz UPGRADED 8GB-RAM 512GB-SSD DVD​


Yeah depends upon price but sure those specs are decent. Keep in mind that a 2009 3.06Ghz processor is not nearly as fast as a 2019 2.3GHz dual-core processor for your average computing daily tasks. GHz can be misleading in that way.
 
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crispApple

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 22, 2015
272
104
Wisconsin
I just got a Mid 2009 iMac. I put a MX500 SSD in it and it’s got 8Gb ram. Currently running Catalina just fine. It’s not a speed demon but it’s acceptable for its specs.
Are you able to browse the web and watch YouTube videos easily? I don’t really care if it takes a while to boot up or even load some apps or things like that. Just need it to be able to surf the web or watch videos without too much interruption.
 
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Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,715
1,575
My old 2009 ultimately was quite slow loading webpages, which was one of the reasons I went to a newer model.

I still have it and not too long ago I spent some time removing files from its HD. I had it on my desk next to a newer iMac and when both of them were on at the same time, I was amazed at how crummy the display looked on the 2009.
 
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BeatCrazy

macrumors 68030
Jul 20, 2011
2,814
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Are you able to browse the web and watch YouTube videos easily? I don’t really care if it takes a while to boot up or even load some apps or things like that. Just need it to be able to surf the web or watch videos without too much interruption.

Absolutely. I have a 2009 27" iMac w/SSD. It doesn't take long to boot or load apps and handles surfing and video watching amazingly well. Better than many "new" Windows PCs, because it doesn't have any bloatware.
 
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Jack Neill

macrumors 65816
Sep 13, 2015
1,207
945
San Antonio Texas
Are you able to browse the web and watch YouTube videos easily? I don’t really care if it takes a while to boot up or even load some apps or things like that. Just need it to be able to surf the web or watch videos without too much interruption.
Yeah, it can browse and watch YouTube. Its very usable for a 12 year old PC. I went with 10.15.7 because I wanted to Airplay to my HomePod stereo setup and I wanted something somewhat up to date. Updating security updates is a pita on unsupported Catalina so I am running 19H15 for the moment.
IMG_0472.jpeg
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
21,226
7,631
OP:

If you haven't made a decision yet, I have a suggestion:

Don't buy ANY iMac UNLESS it is 2012 or later.
Reason: these will have USB3 (be careful, it's possible some sold in 2012 may still have USB2).

WHY YOU NEED USB3:
With USB3, you can attach an external USB3 SSD and make it the boot drive.
The iMac will run MUCH faster this way.

Otherwise with an earlier iMac, the only way to overcome the slow speed of the internal platter-based hard drive would be to pry it open and replace the internal drive with an SSD.

But having USB3 makes things fast, easy, and less risk of breaking something.
 
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crispApple

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 22, 2015
272
104
Wisconsin
OP:

If you haven't made a decision yet, I have a suggestion:

Don't buy ANY iMac UNLESS it is 2012 or later.
Reason: these will have USB3 (be careful, it's possible some sold in 2012 may still have USB2).

WHY YOU NEED USB3:
With USB3, you can attach an external USB3 SSD and make it the boot drive.
The iMac will run MUCH faster this way.

Otherwise with an earlier iMac, the only way to overcome the slow speed of the internal platter-based hard drive would be to pry it open and replace the internal drive with an SSD.

But having USB3 makes things fast, easy, and less risk of breaking something.
cool thank you for the suggestion, I have not gotten anything yet so that helps. is there any iMacs under the $500 usd range that I could get that I wouldn't have to do anything to? and still get reasonable performance?
 
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Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 6502a
Jul 5, 2020
700
149
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
I would only use and upgrade early/mid 2009 20"/21.5" iMac if it was given to me for free.
I bought my 24" early 2009 iMac in my signature (120GB SSD included) for 180$ and have regretted that decision already, even though it runs pretty fast all light stuffs you mentioned above.
Reason: the LCD has reached its age, and I hate the half yellowish, half greyish screen. Always have to use it in dark mode.
Check the LCD carefully if you really want to buy such an old iMac.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
21,226
7,631
OP:

If your budget is constrained, have you considered a 2012 Mac Mini instead?
It's a very usable little "box", with USB3. Ram is easily upgradeable.

WARNING:
There's also a 2014 Mini, but the RAM on these is soldered in.
DO NOT buy a 2014 Mini with 4gb of RAM, it can never be upgraded!
 
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