Need help figuring out if my iMac needs to retire

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mtumesoul9, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. mtumesoul9 macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2014
    Hi friends,

    I have a much loved 2008 iMac, 24 inch. Here are specs: processor: 3.06 GHz core 2 duo; memory: 4 GB 800 MHz; running Mavericks.

    Over the last couple of weeks, it's started to really struggle with Lightroom 5 (the most intensive program I currently use) -- it's acting sluggish, grinding away, taking lots of time time to load pics and switch modules, and one of the functions isn't working (cloning, which appears to be common problem w/o powerful processor). I've tried reinstalling LR but same issue. Same with PS. Note I edit RAW files, which are very big. LR 5 on my new Air runs totally fine.

    This has come on slowly, i.e. it didn't start immediately when I upgraded to LR 5 (or Mavericks, though both were upgraded in the last few months). I've done the basics (e.g. disk utility check, came up fine).

    Do folks have suggestions for other tools I can use to diagnose whether this is lack of processing power/memory given the demands of current programs, or something else? I'd love to avoid a big new purchase right now...

    Many thanks in advance. :) Annette
  2. hologram macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2007
    Try running a free program called EtreCheck.

    It found some launch daemons running on my system that belonged to apps I'd gotten rid of a long time ago, and when I got rid of them my system sped up quite a bit. Take a look at anything on the report in red, and see if you still need it.

    And I'm also on a 2008 24" iMac, but mine is 2.8gh. It runs great, except it gets too hot and I have to keep running the fans with smcFanControl. I just want it to keep going until the next big refresh and I'll buy a new one then.
  3. mtumesoul9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2014
    Thx for this, nice little program.

    but didn't find anything in red, just an old failed launch that's been there forever (which neither I nor forum helpers were able to figure out how to remove)...

    Sigh. but am curious, what are you expecting for the next big refresh? :)

  4. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I recently upgraded from an Early 2008 20" iMac. In my case, it was InDesign and Aperture that were running very badly.

    Have you been running Activity Monitor to monitor Memory? It's worth learning whether the slowness is due to excessive Swap Used (inadequate RAM), or there's something else going on. You aren't maxed-out on RAM for that machine, so that's at least a possible fix (it wouldn't be if there's relatively little Swap).

    One way or the other, my new 27", 16gb RAM, with Fusion Drive is screaming through all that stuff.

    Rumor mill is there may be a minor refresh this week. A major refresh is likely to wait for the next generation of processors (Broadwell). Intel promises those in time for this year's holiday season, but that's no guarantee they'll immediately find their way into iMac.
  5. Sko macrumors 6502


    Oct 17, 2009
    Have a look at Activity Monitor while you're working, especially CPU usage and memory pressure. If both are ok (CPU < 99%, memory not red) check the S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard drive with a decent tool.

    Very often sudden performance degradation is caused by a dying hard drive. Unfortunately, OS X is very good at hiding poor HD performance.
  6. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    First off, your 3.06 GHz CPU has not gotten any slower
    grinding away and being slow to open or switch modes implies that the problem is disk based. If you have already eliminated the possibility of software trouble (corrupt OSX or Lightroom install) then your drive may be the problem.
    Is it nearly full? A drive working on its inner tracks is up to 50% slower than a near-empty drive running on the outermost tracks.

    One characteristic of a failing drive is overall slowdowns in disk operations, as it tries 100s or 1000s of times to get valid read/writes done.

    I would be replacing the hard drive, regardless whether Disk Utility says its OK or not. Get a larger drive at the same time, so you are running on the faster tracks.

    You can also take that machine to 6 GB of memory by installing a 4 GB DDR2-800 module in place of one of the 2 GB Modules. But do the drive first.
  7. hologram macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2007
    Hopefully, less expensive, higher capacity SSD's. Thunderbolt 2. More ram in the base configuration, and 2gb graphics as a base. Retina? Maybe.

    Although I'm only halfway expecting these (because when I really expect something I don't get it :D), but they might be included. The only thing I really expect is the Broadwell processor. Thunder2 might even appear next week with the minor refresh.

    I can't afford to buy a new computer every year or two, so the next one will have to last. I doubt if I can make it to the refresh after next, so I'm hoping for as much as possible this next time around. Truth is, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I make it to the next major refresh, and at least I'd like to see thunder2 in this coming minor one just in case I have to buy one sooner.

    Yes, I agree. :)
  8. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

    May 23, 2009
    I'd wager dollars to doughnuts that the hard drive is soon to depart for its eternal reward. Disk Utility is the program which will usually confirm the bad news, and if the drive's SMART status is anything other than perfect, then the drive might be just hours away from total failure. So make a backup of your data to external storage as soon as possible.

    A less likely alternative is that you've gotten stuck with malware of some kind. Review all recent installation of third party items; maybe you'll find something suspicious.

    The most benign cause of the symptoms is a disk which has just gotten too full. Using a Terminal window, enter the Unix command
    du -s -h *
    Which will give a quick storage usage report of the high level directories in your home directory. For a similar report of all mounted filesystems, type:
    df -h
  9. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    Yet another case where newer and newer operating systems & software crush an older Mac. Not old enough to abandon in many cases. It will eventually die, but ....

    Extend life - An SSD for the system drive and a clean build of the OS and apps.
    Need large volume size. Externals are cheap.

    Eventually you have to give in for one reason or another and buy a new Mac,
    but I love the attitude of keeping one alive as long as possible.
    6 years is not that old for some people ;)
  10. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

    May 23, 2009
    Six years is next to new for cheap guys like me. I have a Ruby iMac from 2000 which is still used weekly for backups and cross platform application compatibility testing. With a 400 MHz PowerPC G3, it's running OS/X 10.4.11 Tiger. It's fully juiced with a 120 GB drive, 1 GB RAM, and an AirPort card.


    The original keyboard died long ago, but what remains works like if it were all brand new. Most importantly, the C++ development tool chain is fully operational. If I need any serious software upgrading, then I'll just install Debian Linux to stay up-to-date.
  11. Sko macrumors 6502


    Oct 17, 2009
    I'd like to hear the hole story of this, if you don't mind.
  12. hologram macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2007
    The OS and software are doing fine... it's the hardware that's giving out on my computer. In fact, Mavericks was a tremendous improvement over 10.8.x for me.

    I wonder if there are any 6+ year old PC's running Windows 8. If there are, I doubt if they run as well as Mavericks does on my machine. ;)
  13. librarian macrumors regular

    Sep 24, 2011
    Upgrade to 6 Gb if possible. The other step is rolling back to snow leopard.
    Lion/mountain lion/mavericks won't do the job if you use both lightroom and PS at the same time.
  14. mtumesoul9, Jun 16, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2014

    mtumesoul9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2014
    some results

    hi all, thanks for all the input, really appreciate it.

    a couple of things. i should have mentioned that the original hard drive failed in the fall and I got a new one. it's 500 gig and only half full. and disk utility comes up clean.

    i'm now putting it through its paces running LR and editing and using activity monitor. On the memory monitor, am not seeing the memory pressure go red, but memory used is right up against the 4 GB, at 3.98, most of it going to LR. LR performance really declines when I'm running CrashPlan at same time -- that's when CPU gets eaten up, though it doesn't get up to limit. When I add PS, forget about it -- memory goes red, CPU at 99%.

    I'll try the Smart utility next; any suggestions on how to find malware? :)

    It does seem like memory may be the problem, if hard disk continues to check out ok. May just have to run LR solo and/or get more memory.

    Cheers all!

    p.s. stupid question, can I add memory myself, or do I have to bring it in?
    p.p.s. I just checked, no more memory slots :(
  15. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    Your computer is capable of using up to 6 GB of 800 MHz DDR2 memory. This is achieved with a 4 GB stick and a 2 GB stick. The RAM access door is located on the bottom of the computer along the speaker grill. You will need to place the iMac screen down on a clean towel or blanket to prevent damage to the display.
  16. carves macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2014
    If these applications run fine on your MacBook air, you could just put your iMac into display mode and have your little laptop do the heavy lifting. If you want an upgrade, I just bought a 27" i5 2.93 Ghz iMac from MacMall for $1279! Sure it's last-gen, but it looks idential to the current one, is only about 10% slower, and a full 30% cheaper! I figure I could use it for a year and sell it for close to what I paid for it.

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