Need help upgrading an 2017 iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by RonSwansonsMustache, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. RonSwansonsMustache macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    #1
    Recently purchased a mid 2017 base model 27 inch iMac with the 1TB fusion drive and am wanting some opinions what I should do for upgrades while trying to keep the cost down a bit. Before I get heckled for not upgrading the ssd upon ordering it the reason I bought the base model with the 1TB fusion drive is because I got it for about $300 off retail and purchasing one with an ssd from the factory would've been quite a large jump in price to the tune of over $500 dollars and I still would've needed to upgrade the ram anyway. So...

    I'm not doing photo or video editing and using the computer as a home office computer with heavy Microsoft office, internet browsing, and some video conferencing use so I'm not needing a super beefed up setup (hence why the i5 is more than adequate) just wanting a bit more of a zippy machine as the download and other various load times are be a bit annoying after I've been operating on my 2011 MacBook Pro which I upgraded the hard drive to a 750gb SSD with 16gb of ram after the HDD failed a few years ago.

    I'm looking to run the iMac off of an external ssd for both boot up and storage but I'm a bit of a novice with computer hardware, etc. So I want some of your thoughts on what type of ssd I should get and how I should set it up, what enclosing I should buy, cables I should run, etc. Thinking 1TB ssd would be more than enough size wise.

    Also, I'm looking to upgrade the ram and am a bit clueless as to what good are prices and what exact ram sticks/brands are compatible with the mid 2017 iMac.

    Any of your thoughts on what specific hardware I should buy and how to set it up would be VERY much appreciated. Thanks in advance for any insight you may be able to provide.
     
  2. mcpix macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    #2
    As far as memory goes, I always buy from crucial.com and it's always worked perfectly.
     
  3. Glockworkorange macrumors 65816

    Glockworkorange

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #3
    It sure I understand—you bought it already? If so, upgrade options are limited to RAM, which I buy from OWC (local, Illinois business for me).
    --- Post Merged, Apr 10, 2018 ---
    Are you looking for external SSD recommendations as well? Might want to start a new thread with that title—you will be overwhelmed with responses.
     
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #4
    OP wrote:
    "I'm looking to run the iMac off of an external ssd for both boot up and storage but I'm a bit of a novice with computer hardware, etc. So I want some of your thoughts on what type of ssd I should get and how I should set it up, what enclosing I should buy, cables I should run, etc. Thinking 1TB ssd would be more than enough size wise."

    Get a Samsung t5 and plug it into a USB3 port.
    Really -- that's all you need to do (hardware-wise).

    Then... set it up to become your "external boot drive".
    The Mac doesn't care if the boot drive is "internal" or "external".
    So long as it's got "a good copy of the OS" on it, it will boot and run fine.

    You DON'T have to pay extra for a 1tb SSD.
    A 500gb, or even a 250gb SSD will do fine.

    Put the OS, applications, and your home folder on the SSD.
    If you have "large libraries" of movies, music, pictures -- leave them on the internal hard drive -- they don't "need speed".

    The idea is to keep the SSD "lean and clean" so it will always run at its best.
    You will become a VERY HAPPY MAN if you do the above.

    You've got 8gb of RAM in the iMac, right?
    If so, I recommend that you DO NOT upgrade the RAM yet. Most folks don't need larger amounts of RAM unless they're using applications that are "memory intensive", such as high resolution video or photo editing, etc.

    Just wondering -- how much space (on your hard drive) have you used up?
    If it's not too much (say, less than 500gb), you could just:
    1. get a USB3 SSD 500gb
    2. download CarbonCopyCloner (FREE to download and use for 30 days)
    3. "clone over" the contents of your internal drive to the SSD (CCC will even clone over the recovery partition)
    4. go to system preferences and set the SSD to be the startup drive
    5. Reboot -- and you're all done!
     
  5. Papanate macrumors 6502

    Papanate

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #5
    I would go with a 1.0 TB Thunderbolt 3 drive from OWC to run the OS. You could go with a
    250GB SSD which is less expensive but I think if you have the budget then get the space.

    I have used both Crucial and the OWC branded ram. I suspect that the OWC ram is Cruicial
    rebranded. Here are OWC Ram Upgrades for 2017 iMac. OWC has video tutorials that show
    you how to upgrade the ram.
     
  6. Glockworkorange macrumors 65816

    Glockworkorange

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #6
    I agree with almost all of it, but would also jump the RAM to 16. What type of applications other than office is OP using?
     
  7. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #7
    Before starting:
    (a) You're probably past this now, but the first thing to do is to leave the system running overnight to make sure that Spotlight has finished indexing the drive (esp. if you've copied over files from your old system) and - if applicable - Time Machine has done its first backup. I've known new/newly updated Macs to run like a snail on valium while they're indexing the drive, and it can take hours on an old-school HD (the fusion drive won't help there). I guess the fusion drive might take a while to get the right files cached to SSD, too - so its worth giving the system a bit of a run-in.

    (b) look into those download speeds a bit - the bottleneck there is more likely to be your network connection, either your broadband or the WiFi (if that's what you're using) than your RAM/HD. Moral of the story: WiFi is great, but if you can run an 1Gbps ethernet cable to your router do.

    (c) Go into Activity Monitor while your computer is under load and look at the "Memory pressure" (preferably in the green) and "Swap used" (preferably zero) read outs - these will show if you're running seriously short of RAM, in which case RAM upgrades are a priority. Otherwise, although additional RAM will get used as a file cache to speed up disc access, moving to pure SSD might be the first priority.

    RAM wise: Go to crucial.com and use their RAM finder to look up the specific upgrade kits for your model (NB: last time I looked, they recommended different RAM for the entry-level i5 iMac than the other 5k iMac models).

    A "16GB upgrade kit" (2 8GB sticks) is probably the sweet spot - gives you a total of 24GB (probably more than you'll need) for less than Apple want for 16GB total (although it looks like the price difference is less than it was). The two sticks just go in the two unused slots under the hatch at the back. There's a modest speed advantage in installing RAM in matched pairs like that, which enables dual-channel mode. As I understand it you could just stick in an extra 8GB stick to get 16GB total, but installing a pair is probably the better-trodden road.

    SSD wise - best to look in other threads (or start a new one) to get SSD/external boot recommendations. Maybe ask about Thunderbolt vs. USB when it comes to reliable external booting. Just bear in mind that although faster is always better, any half-decent SSD that doesn't have to hurl a physical head back-and-forth when accessing multiple files will give you a night-and-day speed increase when it comes to boot-up and loading applications. You might not need to pay top dollar to get super-fast sustained transfer speeds that won't be a big deal if you're not slinging huge files around for video etc.
     
  8. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000

    nambuccaheadsau

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #8
    Performance wise not a huge difference if you go with a SATA III 6Gb/ps SSD.

    Price wise there is a pretty big difference.
     
  9. RonSwansonsMustache thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    #9

    Thanks for the reply. I've kept an eye on the activity monitor and the memory pressure is usually a bit high on average usage (typically stays in yellow and sometimes pops up to red while I have a bunch of tabs open which I'll need to do constantly for work purposes). So I think going with just 2 8gb sticks as I probably need a little bit of a bump but 24gb likely would be more than enough.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 10, 2018 ---
    A great deal of web browsing, think multiple windows with 10+ tabs open on each one that will all be used simultaneously. I'll also be doing some video conferencing via FaceTime, Skype, etc. while using word, excel, internet are being used.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 10, 2018 ---

    Some great points, and thanks for the steps to clone the hard drive and set it up. With that being said I do have an Apple Time Capsule with router so I have all my apple devices backed up on it I need to put the iMac on it and then I could probably back it up that way as well like I did with my laptop.

    I initially thought the same thing about the ram but after monitoring the activity monitor for the memory usage while I was doing average to high usage the memory was constantly taxed in the yellow to red zone so I'll probably go with a small to moderate jump in ram (2x8gb), but not a 32gb increase like may do.

    I'm not a heavy space user as even though I make a ton of office documents those files aren't very big at all so a 1TB probably isn't necessary, a 500gb would probably suffice especially since I do need to keep the cost down somewhat. I just now checked my laptop and I've only used about 300gb over 5 years and I'm using the iMac for work 90% of the time which is just web research with multiple windows/tabs open and being used, while simultaneously using office and video conferencing. So the only big disk space I'll be eating up will be due to downloading some programs like office, Skype, etc. and a bunch of excel, word, and email. So I'm all for 500gb.

    Any suggestions for a specific 500gb SSD + enclosure, etc. and what the best way to run it through the iMac would be? (Thunderbolt vs. USB)
    --- Post Merged, Apr 10, 2018 ---
    Yep definitely looking for external SSD recommendations both for specific SSD's and how to best set them up (enclosure, thunderbolt vs. USB, etc.)
     
  10. Glockworkorange macrumors 65816

    Glockworkorange

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #10
    Is the bottleneck in the drive or I/O

    I still suggest 16 GB of RAM.....

    I think everyone else covered this very nicely.
     
  11. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #11
    OP wrote:
    "Any suggestions for a specific 500gb SSD + enclosure, etc. and what the best way to run it through the iMac would be?"

    Samsung t5 USB3 SSD.
    That oughta do it.
     
  12. Papanate macrumors 6502

    Papanate

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #12
    What bottleneck?
     
  13. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #13
    I second this recommendation. Samsung T5 external SSDs are simply terrific! They come with two cables, a USB-C to USB-C and a USB-C to USB-A (USB3), which makes them very versatile and useful no matter what kind of ports a given machine has.
     
  14. RonSwansonsMustache thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    #14
    After doing a lot of looking around I'm very interested in the Thunderbolt 3 drive from OWC, I really wished they made a 500gb as I don't think I quite need the 1TB but thinking I want more than 250gb.

    Another potential option I'm exploring is buying Samsun NVMe 960 EVO and buying a separate enclosure for it with thunderbolt 3 but the only one I've been able to find is this one:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/prod...1bG22gIVk4izCh2OOQe9EAkYASABEgJLN_D_BwE&smp=n

    And possible this one if I'm understanding the specs right, which I might not be because I'm a bit of a novice here:

    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod...hunderbolt_3_enclosure-_-14-500-432-_-Product

    I did find this one that's a 480gb from pluggable that's similar to the OWC one and am curious about your thoughts on it:

    https://www.amazon.com/Plugable-Thu...rd_wg=MlrIJ&psc=1&refRID=SVZZXZX1A9JZ5SPE8SP8

    It looks like these brands make the same product too, looks like the same exact thing:

    https://www.amazon.com/Certified-Ne...rnal-Compatible/dp/B075YQ5S67?ref=ast_p_pc_rc

    https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matter...rd_wg=MlrIJ&psc=1&refRID=SVZZXZX1A9JZ5SPE8SP8
     
  15. imacken macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    #15
    I’m very interested in this as well. Currently, I boot into Windows from an external SSD running at around 450MB/s. Not too bad, but the TB3 SSDs you mention interest me.
    Maybe a silly question, but is it possible to boot into Windows from the TB3 drives like I do from the USB3 SATA Samsung 850 I use at the moment?
     
  16. mj_ macrumors 6502

    mj_

    Joined:
    May 18, 2017
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #16
    Interested in this as well. I got a 2017 27" iMac base model (8GB RAM/1TB FD) at an amazing price this week. Have already ordered 2x 4GB DDR4-2400 RAM since 16GB are more than enough for me (quite honestly I would probably be fine with 8GB most of the time) but am going to wait with the SSD purchase for now. Not sure whether I should get an external one (most likely Samsung T5) or not. I'm sort of surprised at the decent performance of the 1TB Fusion Drive as I was expecting a much more sluggish overall performance. I might just wait it out and get an internal SSD to replace the 1TB Fusion Drive once the iMac is out of warranty.
     
  17. RonSwansonsMustache thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    #17

    Yeah many have suggested the T5 but honestly after doing plenty of research and running read/write tests the fusion drive is very comparable speed wise, probably not seek times wise though. And at those speeds with my work demands, which aren't very invasive as I'm not doing any video/picture editing just multiple windows/tabs of web browsing while using multiple excel sheets, I have pretty sluggish load times for about everything. Youtube videos take forever, boot up from sleep mode is like 20 plus seconds at times, loading office programs is pretty slow too. And mind you this is with a fresh HDD in the fusion. I've let it index overnight after using all the programs. It's just not too zippy. I put a 750 SSD in my 2011 MacBook Pro and 16gb of ram and thats super fast at all the above. Almost zero time boot up from sleep, basically as fast as I click and type its up and running as are videos, music streaming, a dozen windows with a dozen tabs and office running. I want that out of a new computer, not much to ask for considering I'm not video editing or loading huge files, intact only very small files when I do. Also, I have a apple time capsule for my wifi so that's not the bottle neck. So if I can get a NVMe for a few hundred bucks and run it off of that through thunderbolt 3 since the 2017's have it, why the hell not right? I mean the factory SSD is just a huge price jump compared to what we got the base model for. If I can get 500gb ssd through thunderbolt 3 with 16+gb of ram which I'd have to pay for upgrading anyway, all out the door for $2,000 including the price of the iMac, I'm game considering after a ram upgrade with a SSD from factory would be about $2,400-2,600 if you consider taxes, upgrade in ssd from factory, and the price for the ram.

    Another huge bonus here that I haven't mentioned is when the next generation of iMac's eventually come out we can upgrade and take our NVMe SSD with us and plug and play while getting solid resale and only have to buy the new base model again, which rumor has it will be 6-8K among other improvements. All subject to how sweet the improvements really, are but hey it's an angle, might as well exploit it if we can right? Besides those read/write speeds through thunderbolt 3 are bananas impressive. If I'm gonna spend a few hundred upgrading an SSD anyway might as well spend another 1-2 hundred more for some serious juice that I can transport to future computers or use elsewhere. Just some thoughts!
    --- Post Merged, Apr 13, 2018 ---
    I'm pretty sure you should be able to, everything I've seen says you can as long as the hard drive is compatible, which most are. Those drives speeds are very tempting since we have TB3, for a few hundred more I'm very interested in that performance. Just eliminates any lagging, which was a complete joy when I internally upgraded my 2011 MacBook Pro. Just want the same sort of increase and it looks like TB3 opens that gateway up. Honestly I'm surprised some cheaper external enclosures aren't available for NVMe SSD's other than the very expensive one from Netstor that I linked. Then again you could throw a $200 NVMe EVO 860 Samsung in there (with the ability to add another later) in the Netstor enclosure thats $350ish. But that OWC 1TB would be simpler for the same price tag, but with more storage though. Hmmm I'm really contemplating saving a few months and just pulling the trigger on the 1TB OWC TB3 SSD now...
     
  18. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #18
    OP -

    Your post directly above illustrates how you are "over-thinking" this.
    Just get an external USB3 SSD and use it.
    I predict you'll be VERY happy with the results.
    It won't break the bank, either.
     
  19. RonSwansonsMustache thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    #19

    I'm not over thinking, that's just me thinking further about something that others showed interest in. Also, this thread obviously went in that direction as two separate individuals expressed interest in the thing I was posting about so I expanded upon it. Not to mention another poster who sent a link about an external NVMe. This is typical discourse. If you'd do a fair amount of deduction you'd realize that the entire reason I copped the deal on the base model was so I could have the money to do something such as this and still save money compared to a apple factory upgraded SSD while also being able to transport that external SSD setup onto my next iMac when they upgrade the iMac line. Also, the read/write speeds of the T5 aren't overly superior to that of the factory fusion drive as I've ran many speed tests and what I have proven is that the T5 external SSD via a USB3 is going to be only a slight upgrade if at all and for a $150+ that isn't worth it. So I'll go with my "over-thinking" and spend a few hundred more and have performance that won't ever be bottlenecked which I can carry on to my next iMac. These 2017's have thunderbolt 3's might as well start leveraging them if you can for a few hundred bucks. It would be different if it was breaking the bank, but the multiple options I put out there aren't.
     
  20. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #20
    I would absolutely not recommend booting a 2017 iMac from a USB3 SSD. The pricing for external Thunderbolt storage is dropping and the speed rivals the internal PCIe.

    Among the options you listed above, I really like the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 drive.

    It is also important to remember that with USB there is no TRIM support. This may not matter so much for a drive used for storage/backup but it does for a boot drive. Also, you can't upgrade SSD firmware over USB.
     
  21. Papanate macrumors 6502

    Papanate

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #21
    You may not need it - but MacBook Pros run better with large amounts of free space on the Harddrive.

    I would stick to well known brands like OWC and Samsung. I have not used either of the drives you
    mentioned - so i can't offer any critique on them - I just feel more secure using well known brands.
     
  22. mj_ macrumors 6502

    mj_

    Joined:
    May 18, 2017
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #22
    You may also want to consider the Sandisk Extreme 900 - an external NVMe USB 3.1 Gen. 2 SSD and from what I understand currently the speed king out there.
     

Share This Page