Slow performance, newish iMac, please help!

Discussion in 'iMac' started by 4964001, Apr 10, 2016.

  1. 4964001 macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2016
    Hi all! I bought a new iMac 6-8 months ago (21.5", 16GB RAM, 1TB harddrive, 2.9GHz intel core i5 processor) and it has never performed well. All day long I get spinning beach balls, and starting it up means I cannot use any applications for around 5-6 minutes. Constant beach balls doing anything from changing a song in iTunes to switching between programs. After about 10 or so minutes, it gets more responsive.

    As a comparison, I also have a 13" retina macbookpro I bought about a year ago (8GB of RAM, 256GB harddrive, 2.7GHz intel core i5), and that is running lightning fast. I have colleagues with similar iMac setups, and similar issues, so I doubt it is a lemon.

    What gives? Upgrading to El Capitan has not helped.
  2. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    Why wait so long to take it to Apple? Have them take a look at it. You may have installed something that is gobbling cpu time. try running activity monitor to see what's eatng things up.
  3. 4964001 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2016
    Usually, I would go straight to an Apple store, but just moved to a smaller town with no Apple store within 2 hours. Had the tech guys look at it here, and they said I should have opted for an SSD drive instead of more RAM.
    As for programs, I don't have anything more intense than Dropbox and Adobe Illustrator, and setup is identical to my retina MacBook pro which has no performance issues. Activity monitor at startup shows basic apps like word, itunes or finder are hogging resources. Sigh.
  4. jgelin macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2015
    St Petersburg, FL
    They were correct.
    Doesn't your rMBP have an SSD? So not identical.

    I thought I could get away with not getting an SSD in my iMac, but when you are used to a machine that is running one (my MBA) you feel like you are running a race with weight around the ankles it goes so blisteringly slow. I thought something was wrong with my computer too, literally made my account on here to ask this very same question as my first thread... Since I have gotten the SSD and would never cope with the 5400rpm drive ever again, and this thing zooms and opens apps like no-one's business.
  5. Merode macrumors 6502


    Nov 5, 2013
    Warszawa, Poland
    Your computer is running fine or at least the way it was intended to.

    You should not have gone for 16GB RAM unless you work with 2D or 3D graphics (Adobe Suite, FCP etc). I'm programmer and I hardly fill up my 8GB RAM.

    The culprit is 1TB (probably 5400RPM) HD. These things are almost deprecated as main system drives. You should not buy computer without Fusion Drive or SSD if you value your time.

    Solution is pretty easy - swap drive for SSD at Apple Store our Authorized Service Center. You can buy USB 3.0 enclosure for 10-20$ and use the drive they take out of your computer as external storage (BIG pendrive).
  6. drummer5645 macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2014
    The solution Merode suggests is the simplest and least expensive. If you have Apple swap drives it will be a large cost. If you have someone other than Apple do it, it will probably void you warranty.
    I went to a usb3.0 ssd. Lots of ways to do it but for $129 did a 250g Samsung portable T3. Heck you are still under warranty it sounds like. Hoprfully you have Apple care, if not spend the money to get the 3 year deal especially since you don't have a store closer than 2 hour. Sign up, then call Applecare and they will walk you through creating a boot drive on the ssd.
    My late 2013 21.5 went from 50 read/write speeds with beach balls to 375/ 423 speeds and no spinning anything.
  7. Weaselboy, Apr 11, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016

    Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Of course an SSD is faster than a hard drive, but there is no way even the crappiest hard drive in even a five year old iMac would behave like you are describing. You have something wrong if you are seeing what you described here. There is no need to waste your money on a SSD you do not need.

    Was it always like this from day one out of the box? Can you think of anything you did or installed that seemed to bring this on?

    Try booting to safe mode by holding the shift key at startup. That stops all launch and startup items from running and will tell us if one of those items is the issue.
  8. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    The Apple store people will not swap drives - they do not do this type of upgrading post sale.
  9. Fancuku macrumors 6502a


    Oct 8, 2015
    PA, USA
    I agree. I am fully on the SSD train but OP should not be having those kind of performance issues even if it's a spinning hard drive.
    I suggest you re-install OS X first and see how that goes.
  10. jonen560ti macrumors member


    Dec 29, 2015
    This sounds a bit like a dying hard drive. or perhaps thermal throttling on the CPU.

    first thing, check your disk speeds.

    anything below 50MB is suspiciously bad even for a standard hard drive. try running it several times and see if the numbers stay the same over time.

    is the iMac hot? does it feel hot to the touch?

    also try to run geekbench 3 as well and see if its suspiciously low. id expect about 10000 points from a CPU like yours

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