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ziomangrovia

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 8, 2015
77
0
I received iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2010) as gift I installed High Sierra but iMac is very slow.

What OSX do you suggest to install to get best performance ?

I know It's obsolete but I want to keep this hardware.

How can I retrieve installation file of older OSX to create USB key for installation ?
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,534
4,436
Delaware
You can download older OS X, mostly back to Lion, directly from Apple. That process will give you the installer app, which you can use to create a bootable USB installer.

For that 2010 iMac, I would probably stick with High Sierra after replacing any hard drive with an SSD. That will get you more performance...
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,536
8,870
I received iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2010) as gift I installed High Sierra but iMac is very slow.
For that 2010 iMac, I would probably stick with High Sierra after replacing any hard drive with an SSD. That will get you more performance...
I agree with @DeltaMac about the SSD.

Your Mac will fly with a High Sierra and a SSD. If it is the original, the internal HDD is super old and even if it was new, a SSD would be like using a totally different computer.

If you do not feel comfortable with opening your Mac and installing the SSD internally (iFIxit is a great resource for step by step instructions), you can use an external SSD.

Your iMac has two main options for an external SSD, FW800 and USB2.

FW would be faster, but almost impossible to find a FW SSD. I have made FW SSDs with FW800 SATA enclosures and SATA SSDs.

USB2 is slower, but you can use many modern external SSDs. A lot of people on the forum like the Samsung T5 and T7.

Either option probably won't improve sequential read and write speeds over the internal HDD, but random read and write speeds will dramatically improve.

Sequential speeds are like transferring a bunch of files from one drive to another, and random speeds are what makes your OS feel "snappy" and how quickly the computer responds.

Even on the not ideal external option, I bet you that your Mac would feel totally different with an external SSD. That said, I would look into the internal options if you are up to it.
 

picpicmac

macrumors 65816
Aug 10, 2023
1,108
1,581
Let me third the recommendation to get an SSD for the boot drive.

I use an even older iMac, and that is only possible because I use an SSD for the OSX install. Using a rotating platter is just too slow.

I'm using an external SSD from MacSales (Other Word Computing).
 

eRondeau

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
1,171
395
Canada's South Coast
As an owner of (more than) several Macs of that vintage, they'll definitely be noticeably faster with an SSD vs HDD when booting-up. Having said that, once they're booted and running the difference will be minimal. I know speed is subjective but if it's dog slow (as in you're waiting a few seconds for a keypress to display) there's probably something else bogging you down. I've seen Console errors being repeatedly logged a thousand times a second that dragged everything way down. Once that was fixed it was like it was turbocharged. Bottom line: Don't expect a 2010 iMac to perform like a 2023 iMac, but it should still be entirely usable for most any application. (I'm typing this on a Late-2012 iMac BTW)
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,536
8,870
Having said that, once they're booted and running the difference will be minimal.
This has not been my experience with SSDs on older Macs. The SSD doesn't just improve boot times on older Macs, they are very noticeably faster when opening apps an overall OS response.

I also have a lot of older Macs. The older Macs that are still used daily in my home are a 2006 MP 1,1, Late 2011 MBP, Mid 2012 MBA, Late 2012 iMac, and two Late 2013 iMacs. All of them have been swapped to a SSD (except the Mid 2012 MBA which came with a SSD).

Many other people on the forum use SSDs on their older Macs, and I don't they are spending the time and money to open them up just to improve the boot times.

Not saying to expect a Mid 2010 iMac to perform like a 2023 Mac with a HDD to SSD swap, but the difference in performance from a HDD to SSD is a lot more than just "minimal", imo.
 

ziomangrovia

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 8, 2015
77
0
For that 2010 iMac, I would probably stick with High Sierra after replacing any hard drive with an SSD. That will get you more performance...

details:

  • Order: MC508LL/A
  • model A1311 (EMC 2389)
  • cpu: 3.06 GHz Core i3 (I3-540)
  • ram: 4GB
  • vram: 256 GB
  • hdd: 500 GB (mechanical disk)

here the complete technical specifications: https://everymac.com/systems/apple/imac/specs/imac-core-i3-3.06-21-inch-aluminum-mid-2010-specs.html

I'm not able to replace disk with fusion or ssd because it's too hard (open the iMac because it's glued)
Do you think Snow Leopard can be faster than High Sierra ?
Do you think this downgrade is a waste of time without ssd ? Because I have few possibility of install new software.
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,536
8,870
I'm not able to replace disk with fusion or ssd because it's too hard (open the iMac because it's glued)
The glass on your model iMac isn’t glued, it is held on with magnets.

Getting the glass off is really easy, but if you are not comfortable with messing around inside your Mac (again, check out the iFixit guide), I wouldn’t do it.

Consider using an external SSD.

While I never a Mid 2010 iMac, I did have two Mid 2011 iMacs, which are very similar to yours. They run well with an external SSD over USB, and better with FW.

Like I mentioned before, the random read and write speeds are what makes a Mac feel more responsive, and that really old HDD instide your iMac had horrible random read and write speeds when it was brand new compared to a SSD. This has only gotten worse with time.
 

TheShortTimer

macrumors 68030
Mar 27, 2017
2,790
4,914
London, UK
details:
  • ram: 4GB

It looks like the computer's RAM wasn't upgraded from its stock configuration. No wonder you're struggling with High Sierra: that's just simply not enough memory (unless the OS is massively tweaked for performance gains) for all but the most basic of tasks. A web browser alone with multiple tabs open would eat up much of that 4GB. Others have focused on replacing the HDD with an SSD but you'll also need to upgrade the RAM.

Your iMac can be expanded to 16GB - so I recommend that you maximise the RAM and you should be able to do so quite cheaply. It's also much easier than tackling the HDD, speaking of which, if you feel intimidated about the disassembly, consider enlisting someone else who's more experienced or confident on this front. :)
 

mortlocli

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2020
686
635
I use high sierra osx 10.13 on a late 2009 iMac but with it installed on a external SSD by Toshiba.

Thats fast enough for me. Does Youtubes and EyeTV well.

I cant go pass 10.13 as I run into lack of 32bit hardware support probs for my eyetv usb device.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,534
4,436
Delaware
I use high sierra osx 10.13 on a late 2009 iMac but with it installed on a external SSD by Toshiba.

Thats fast enough for me. Does Youtubes and EyeTV well.

I cant go pass 10.13 as I run into lack of 32bit hardware support probs for my eyetv usb device.
You CAN use your 32-bit EyeTV software on macOS 10.14 (Mojave). But, Mojave is not natively supported on your iMac. And, you can update to Mojave with a patching installer, such as the patcher offered by dosdude1
Also, you can update to a 64-bit version of your EyeTV software, then continue on with updating your macOS system (using OCLP patcher), currently to macOS 13 (Ventura), should you want to do that.
 

mortlocli

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2020
686
635
You CAN use your 32-bit EyeTV software on macOS 10.14 (Mojave). But, Mojave is not natively supported on your iMac. And, you can update to Mojave with a patching installer, such as the patcher offered by dosdude1
Also, you can update to a 64-bit version of your EyeTV software, then continue on with updating your macOS system (using OCLP patcher), currently to macOS 13 (Ventura), should you want to do that.
Ta delta..I've forgotten which OS X I did upgrade to (thanks to dos dude) where I ran into the 32bit hardware issue. (Had it on an external SSD but have long since used that ssd for somewhere else.)

I think when I looked at the eyetv software upgrade it was not free - due to new ownership.??
Maybe time for me to re-do my research..but as it is my current setup seems to be coping with all my needs (..and if it ain't broke..)

Thanks for the heads up though..and yep - I will take another look into it.
 

ish4y

macrumors member
Dec 28, 2022
34
21
I received iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2010) as gift I installed High Sierra but iMac is very slow.

What OSX do you suggest to install to get best performance ?

I know It's obsolete but I want to keep this hardware.

How can I retrieve installation file of older OSX to create USB key for installation ?
I bought this exact model a few months ago. The previous owner installed an SSD and 8GB RAM. It was blazing-fast when doing normal office tasks. I think I made my bootable drive with a High Sierra ISO I found on the Internet Archive. I wouldn't mess with patchers, despite YouTubers being excited for them. For daily use, they're unreliable.

You can plug in an external SSD and boot the OS from there – no disassembly required. (And that thing is a b%^h to repair with its magnetic frame).
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,534
4,436
Delaware
You can download High Sierra through your App Store. Use the link that I posted in post #2. Here it is again:
That page will show you where you can get the installer for High Sierra. Make a USB installer from that installer app through your terminal. Here's a link to those steps for the terminal: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201372
 

ziomangrovia

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 8, 2015
77
0
I bought this exact model a few months ago. The previous owner installed an SSD and 8GB RAM.
I installed internal ssd disk but without temperature sensor, suggestions ? I read about fan control software.
 
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