Should I update my Late 2009 iMac (running Mavericks) to El Capitan?

Roger Thornhill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 30, 2016
9
0
Alright, so I'm having trouble deciding if I should upgrade my Late 2009 iMac to El Captain.

Info:
Late 2009 iMac 21.5 inch

Mavericks, 10.9.5
3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
4GB 1067 MHz Ram
HDD - no SDD

Should I upgrade? Because I know that the late 2009 iMacs are the last officially recommended machines to upgrade.

And I really don't want this machine to get any slower.


Now, I'm not really in the known and haven't kept up with the news etc. lately.

What do you guys think, should I upgrade to El Capitan or not? I'm assuming Yosemite is out of question.
And I'm hoping this is in the right sub forum, if not please let me know!

Thanks in advance!
 
Last edited:

DeltaMac

macrumors G4
Jul 30, 2003
10,124
2,638
Delaware
If you are going to upgrade to El Capitan, then you should also consider upgrading your RAM. Doubling to 8GB would be a great upgrade, and you CAN go all the way to 16GB, if you would want to do that.
You should also consider replacing the hard drive. You can have a good benefit from replacing a 6 or 7 year old hard drive. Even better, SSDs continue to go down in price, so upgrading your RAM, and swapping out the hard drive to new, or better yet an SSD, would yield a significant change in how your iMac "feels". You should experience performance better than you have ever seen.
Upgrading the RAM is easy, with the access panel on the bottom.
You can also replace the hard drive, as that is a task that simply needs the right tools, and the time to do it.
 
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mercuryfox

macrumors newbie
Sep 20, 2015
4
3
Germany
I'm running El Capitan since release on my 2009 MBP 13 - C2D 2,13GHz, 8GB RAM, SSD.

SSD may be irrelevant (if you are happy without now, you should be with El Capitan as well), but RAM is a cheap investment you really should consider, no matter if you update or not.

The switch to 8GB and SSD was a very good decision for me, for about 120$/€ combined you can give your Mac a massive performance boost.
 

Roger Thornhill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 30, 2016
9
0


Thanks a lot for both of your opinions! And for your great advice!

Considering the easiness of adding 4 GB of ram I might just do that. Is there anything I need to make sure concerning that though? As in (bear with my stupid questions please, I'm very much not at the top of my game when it comes to hardware), do I need to consider the Speed (match it?) or look out for certain manufacturers? Can I go for any manufacturer? I assume Apple wants you to buy a very overpriced Apple Certified RAM, but I assume there's no need. Could I go for a cheap one?

Very quick amazon (germany) search gave me

Kingston KVR13N9S6 for 12€ for 2GB (Total: 24€) (2GB 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM single rank, 240-pin, 1,5V)
or
Crucial PC3-8500 2x2GB for Total: 37€ (Crucial CT2C2G3S1067MCEU DDR3-1066 SODIMM)
or
Crucial PC3-10600 2x2GB for Total:32€ (Crucial CT2C2G3S1339MCEU), (SODIMM, 1333 MHz 1,35 CL9)

and more by Corsair etc.

And I'm out of my depth on this one.

As for the SDD: I'm sure that the SDD would do wonders for the performance, but I'm not sure If I want to go through the trouble of the (much harder installation) and the heftier price.

I'm assuming the SDD would give the performance a much bigger boost compared to the ram update though, right?
I'm just unsure if I want to sink 100+€ in this soon 7 year old machine.

If I could double the ram for 30€ that would be a good option for me, but dropping the 100 on the SSD might just be too much for me.

So would you suggest to only upgrade the OS if I upgrade the ram? Or only if I upgrade the SSD? Or upgrade the OS even If I don't update my hardware.

Again, thanks a lot guys. This is really helping me out here.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,102
6,546
Something you could try, that might actually improve things speed-wise:

- Get a firewire 800 2.5" enclosure (one that also has USB3 and UASP support).
- Get a cheap SSD (I'd suggest Crucial or Sandisk, 240gb range, 480 if you feel like splurging)
- Install a clean copy of El Capitan onto it

Now you can boot and run "externally".
Boot times will be a bit restrained due to the speed of the firewire800 bus, but -- once up and running -- I think you'll actually like the performance.

This isn't a "be all, end all" solution, just a way to run and get familiar with El Capitan without disturbing your current OS setup.
If you find it actually runs better than your internal drive, just set the external to be your regular "external booter". Install necessary apps, move SOME of the stuff from your account, but be careful not to clog up the SSD with large libraries of music, pics, movies, etc.

Don't listen to others who say it's not a good idea to run and depend on an external booter. I've been booting and running my late-2012 Mac Mini this way for more than three years now with excellent performance.

One last thing:
Shouldn't your nic be "Roger O. Thornhill" ??? ;)
 

Roger Thornhill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 30, 2016
9
0
Something you could try, that might actually improve things speed-wise:

- Get a firewire 800 2.5" enclosure (one that also has USB3 and UASP support).
- Get a cheap SSD (I'd suggest Crucial or Sandisk, 240gb range, 480 if you feel like splurging)
- Install a clean copy of El Capitan onto it

Now you can boot and run "externally".
Boot times will be a bit restrained due to the speed of the firewire800 bus, but -- once up and running -- I think you'll actually like the performance.

This isn't a "be all, end all" solution, just a way to run and get familiar with El Capitan without disturbing your current OS setup.
If you find it actually runs better than your internal drive, just set the external to be your regular "external booter". Install necessary apps, move SOME of the stuff from your account, but be careful not to clog up the SSD with large libraries of music, pics, movies, etc.

Don't listen to others who say it's not a good idea to run and depend on an external booter. I've been booting and running my late-2012 Mac Mini this way for more than three years now with excellent performance.
Hmm, I'll think about it, but I'm not sure. Would be a lot of money for something I don't really need. Don't have a SSD and don't really need an external SSD in the future.
But thank you very much for the suggestion.

One last thing:
Shouldn't your nic be "Roger O. Thornhill" ??? ;)
Or should it be George Kaplan? ;)

***
***

Does anybody else want to weigh in? I'm still pretty unsure.
 

IowaLynn

macrumors 68000
Feb 22, 2015
1,554
353
SSD gives huge bang 4 buck and good to have and have gotten cheaper and better even for old SATA-2 based system
 

mercuryfox

macrumors newbie
Sep 20, 2015
4
3
Germany
Thanks a lot for both of your opinions! And for your great advice!

Considering the easiness of adding 4 GB of ram I might just do that. Is there anything I need to make sure concerning that though? As in (bear with my stupid questions please, I'm very much not at the top of my game when it comes to hardware), do I need to consider the Speed (match it?) or look out for certain manufacturers? Can I go for any manufacturer? I assume Apple wants you to buy a very overpriced Apple Certified RAM, but I assume there's no need. Could I go for a cheap one?

Very quick amazon (germany) search gave me

Kingston KVR13N9S6 for 12€ for 2GB (Total: 24€) (2GB 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM single rank, 240-pin, 1,5V)
or
Crucial PC3-8500 2x2GB for Total: 37€ (Crucial CT2C2G3S1067MCEU DDR3-1066 SODIMM)
or
Crucial PC3-10600 2x2GB for Total:32€ (Crucial CT2C2G3S1339MCEU), (SODIMM, 1333 MHz 1,35 CL9)
I would buy RAM that is at least declared to work with Apple - else you could easily have annoying problems that are not worth the few Euros. I bought Hynix RAM, the same that Apple used as original setup in my machine. I think this was the kit I chose, and 29€ is a good price - but you should check if your iMac needs 1066MHz:

Dual Channel Kit: 2 x 2 GB = 4GB HYNIX 204 pin DDR3-1066 SODIMM (1066Mhz, PC2-8500, CL7) 128Mx8x16 double side, 2 x HMT125S6AFP8C-G7 für DDR3-NOTEBOOKs, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, mac mini (2009 Versionen)
(http://www.amazon.de/Dual-Channel-K...59721144&sr=8-10&keywords=iMac+2009+ram+2+x+2)

and more by Corsair etc.

And I'm out of my depth on this one.

As for the SDD: I'm sure that the SDD would do wonders for the performance, but I'm not sure If I want to go through the trouble of the (much harder installation) and the heftier price.

I'm assuming the SDD would give the performance a much bigger boost compared to the ram update though, right?
I'm just unsure if I want to sink 100+€ in this soon 7 year old machine.
I understand the trouble with the hard disk replacement, opening the iMac is something I wouldn't like to do as well. It is definitely worth it if you plan to use it for several more years, but the mentioned method with the FW800 case is also pretty good.

If I could double the ram for 30€ that would be a good option for me, but dropping the 100 on the SSD might just be too much for me.

So would you suggest to only upgrade the OS if I upgrade the ram? Or only if I upgrade the SSD? Or upgrade the OS even If I don't update my hardware.

Again, thanks a lot guys. This is really helping me out here.
I say - upgrade the RAM, install El Capitan (clean install preferred), run your machine as long as possible - and save all further money for the next Mac.
 

IowaLynn

macrumors 68000
Feb 22, 2015
1,554
353
Do you have USB3? FW800 is or was handy 10 years ago drives were slower and better than USB2
 

Roger Thornhill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 30, 2016
9
0
I would buy RAM that is at least declared to work with Apple - else you could easily have annoying problems that are not worth the few Euros. I bought Hynix RAM, the same that Apple used as original setup in my machine. I think this was the kit I chose, and 29€ is a good price - but you should check if your iMac needs 1066MHz:

Dual Channel Kit: 2 x 2 GB = 4GB HYNIX 204 pin DDR3-1066 SODIMM (1066Mhz, PC2-8500, CL7) 128Mx8x16 double side, 2 x HMT125S6AFP8C-G7 für DDR3-NOTEBOOKs, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, mac mini (2009 Versionen)
(http://www.amazon.de/Dual-Channel-K...59721144&sr=8-10&keywords=iMac+2009+ram+2+x+2)
Is Crucial no good?

Yeah, 1066. This link i found here mentions all the requirements (I should've probably found that earlier if we're being honest).

German: https://support.apple.com/de-de/HT201191
English: https://support.apple.com/en-en/HT201191

Found a Crucial one that looks to meet all the requirements. Do you think that ones not that good?
I'll definitely look in to the HYNIX too though. And thanks for searching and linking that for me. Noticed that that one says PC2-8500 though, that Apple support page says they're using PC3-8500.

Edit: Turns out they only have pc2 in the headline. Product details say pc3..

I understand the trouble with the hard disk replacement, opening the iMac is something I wouldn't like to do as well. It is definitely worth it if you plan to use it for several more years, but the mentioned method with the FW800 case is also pretty good.
The RAM adding is simple enough, but to be honest I haven't built a computer or even worked on one in 10 years. And opening this iMac up? No thank you, I don't think that's for me right now.


I say - upgrade the RAM, install El Capitan (clean install preferred), run your machine as long as possible - and save all further money for the next Mac.
That's what I'm thinking of doing. Clean Install with the added RAM and that should be it. Cheap and might give it a little boost.
And that's also one of the reasons why I'm not trying to spend too much money. RAM for 30€ is okay, but this is a 6-7 year old machine. I think at some point in the near future I'll eventually have to go for completely new computer.



Thank you very much for the detailed help!
[doublepost=1459727055][/doublepost]
Do you have USB3? FW800 is or was handy 10 years ago drives were slower and better than USB2
Nah, this one only has FW as far as I'm aware
 
Last edited:

DeltaMac

macrumors G4
Jul 30, 2003
10,124
2,638
Delaware
...
The RAM adding is simple enough, but to be honest I haven't built a computer or even worked on one in 10 years. And opening this iMac up? No thank you, I don't think that's for me right now.

That's what I'm thinking of doing. Clean Install with the added RAM and that should be it. Cheap and might give it a little boost.
And that's also one of the reasons why I'm not trying to spend too much money. RAM for 30€ is okay, but this is a 6-7 year old machine. I think at some point in the near future I'll eventually have to go for completely new computer.
...
Upgrading RAM is simple on those 2009 iMacs. No need to open the iMac. It's just a tiny panel on the bottom edge of your iMac.
3 screws, normal phillips. You can't even loose the screws!
Check it out HERE,
 

Roger Thornhill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 30, 2016
9
0
Upgrading RAM is simple on those 2009 iMacs. No need to open the iMac. It's just a tiny panel on the bottom edge of your iMac.
3 screws, normal phillips. You can't even loose the screws!
Check it out HERE,

Oh yes, I'm sorry. I guess I wasn't really clear about that. I was saying that I'm comfortable with adding the RAM, but not comfortable with switching the HHD out for a SSD (which from what i've seen is a whole lot more complicated and you have to remove the screen and go from there).

But thank you for telling me and making sure I'm on the right track!
 

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