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Time to replace a 2010 27" iMac

MartyCan

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 31, 2012
1,511
351
Near Toronto, ON
It has 4 MB ram, a dual core processor and a 1 TB HD (only about 30% used). I have not upgraded to El Capitain yet.

This machine is brutally slow. I mean seriously, seriously slow. Slow to boot, slow to open anything. We bought it so the kids could do homework assignments in the kitchen where we could also keep an eye on their other online activity. But they've all outgrown that and the machine is so dang slow no one will use it anyway.

However it is also where my iTunes library lives plus all of our family pictures since 1999 when we first had a digital camera are in the Photo library. It serves mostly as a music server and is host to my Bose WiFi.

Thinking I would update/replace it with something newer but not convinced the upgrade choices are so much better. The 21.5" iMacs all come with 5400 RPM drives and that seems to me like putting handcuffs on a speedier processer and video. Some of the 27" specs appeal but are pretty pricey for a machine that isn't used all that much.

If I could be sure I would get a major performance increase I'd be inclined to update it. But I don't want to shell out $2K (Canadian) on a computer that isn't really that much faster.

Also wondering if there's any thoughts to a performance bump coming in the next event? I know it hasn't been long since they updated but Bestbuy.ca has a few 21.5 models on sale and that's often enough an indication that new ones are coming.

Any other ideas? None of the laptop options (which would be more useful) seem to be up to the spec I would want in a price I can afford (storage mostly). We also do like the large screen we have when we want to view the family photos.

Just can't decide if the current line-up really offers the step up I would want to pull the trigger. Looking for ideas
 

Sirmausalot

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2007
1,072
275
Don't get a 21.5 until they are updated (likely the fall). 2TB Fusion is minimum. But the new 27" iMacs are great. Fantastic. Get one. Alternatively, you could look for last years 27" model and as long as it has a fusion or SSD, you'll be pleased.
 
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briloronmacrumo

macrumors 6502
Jan 25, 2008
488
302
USA
It has 4 MB ram, a dual core processor and a 1 TB HD (only about 30% used). I have not upgraded to El Capitain yet.
Those machines came with i3, i5 or i7 processors and are 64-bit. They also can be upgraded to 32 GB of RAM. If it were my machine, I'd consider both a RAM upgrade and swap out the HD for an SSD. Maybe try the SSD first because if that doesn't help, it still could be used in an external enclosure without wasting any money. 4 GB to run ( presumably Yosemite - post doesn't say ) OS X is constrained in my view with 8 GB being the minimum. It could still be a good machine for a while with those upgrades. Certainly not as good as a new retina 27" iMac but also less money. One unknown factor: has the GPU card been replaced? If not, you might want to check and see if it's okay ( Apple Stores can run diagnostics ). You also might want to investigate the slowness both with software ( maybe start with EtreCheck - free ) and hardware. HDs and GPUs are known to fail in these Macs and slowness can also be a failure in progress or early warning. Lastly, I'd be more inclined to upgrade if it is an i7 and not so much if it is an i3 and that's just personal preference.
 

Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
7,694
2,123
Swap your hard drive for a solid state drive (a dying hard drive is probably what's slowing you so much anyway) and make sure you have 8gb of RAM and it'll be better than new.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
20,219
7,134
Most important advice I can give:

DO NOT buy ANY new Mac with only a platter-based hard drive in it.
You will be VERY unhappy with its performance.

DO buy a new computer WITH either an SSD or a "fusion drive".

If you get a 27" iMac with a fusion drive, I would recommend AT LEAST the 2tb fusion drive option. This has a 120gb SSD -and- a 2tb HDD inside.

DO NOT get the "1tb fusion" model, because it has only a 24gb SSD portion, and that isn't quite "enough" to keep the machine "feeling speedy" as time goes by and the SSD gets filled up.

Actually, if you're not using apps which make great demands on video (such as editing movies, etc.), you might also give consideration to the top-of-the-line Mac Mini. This model comes with a 2.8ghz i5, 8gb of RAM, a 1tb fusion drive that has a 128gb SSD and a 1tb HDD, IRIS graphics.
 
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MartyCan

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 31, 2012
1,511
351
Near Toronto, ON
Most important advice I can give:

DO NOT buy ANY new Mac with only a platter-based hard drive in it.
You will be VERY unhappy with its performance.

DO buy a new computer WITH either an SSD or a "fusion drive".

If you get a 27" iMac with a fusion drive, I would recommend AT LEAST the 2tb fusion drive option. This has a 120gb SSD -and- a 2tb HDD inside.

DO NOT get the "1tb fusion" model, because it has only a 24gb SSD portion, and that isn't quite "enough" to keep the machine "feeling speedy" as time goes by and the SSD gets filled up.

Actually, if you're not using apps which make great demands on video (such as editing movies, etc.), you might also give consideration to the top-of-the-line Mac Mini. This model comes with a 2.8ghz i5, 8gb of RAM, a 1tb fusion drive that has a 128gb SSD and a 1tb HDD, IRIS graphics.
Not a bad suggestion at all actually. But the Mini only has dual core processers. What gain do you get with a Quad core versus Dual core?
 

jasnw

macrumors 6502a
Nov 15, 2013
809
839
Seattle Area (NOT! Microsoft)
I have a 2011 27" iMac that started life with a configuration similar to yours. I bumped it up to 20GB of memory right away, and just recently replaced the internal HDD with a 256 GB SSD and a 3 TB 7200 RPM HDD (sent it off to OWC for the disk replacement work and had it back in a week). It's like I have a new machine. Now, if I just had a good OS to run on it. (Just sayin')
 

MartyCan

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 31, 2012
1,511
351
Near Toronto, ON
I have a 2011 27" iMac that started life with a configuration similar to yours. I bumped it up to 20GB of memory right away, and just recently replaced the internal HDD with a 256 GB SSD and a 3 TB 7200 RPM HDD (sent it off to OWC for the disk replacement work and had it back in a week). It's like I have a new machine. Now, if I just had a good OS to run on it. (Just sayin')
What did the upgrades set you back if you don't mind my asking?
 

jasnw

macrumors 6502a
Nov 15, 2013
809
839
Seattle Area (NOT! Microsoft)
The OWC upgrade cost just over $500 which included FedEx 2-day shipping. The memory addition was long enough ago that the cost for that is out of date. Check with Crucial or someone like that.
 

Serban

Suspended
Jan 8, 2013
5,159
926
I suggest to wait for fall, if you go 21,5" imac at least you will have a strong igpu like hd580.
 

Scallywag Mac

macrumors newbie
Mar 11, 2016
1
0
After reading this discussion, I upgraded my mid-2011 12,1 iMac i5 with more memory and a new SSD hard drive. Like others posted -- better than new, a world of difference. A few notes:
- Macsales makes it easy to find upgrade components for your machine. No guessing, and the support staff is great. Installation videos are invaluable.
- Not readily apparent is the original drive is 3.5", and most new ones are 2.5". You need to buy an adapter to hold the smaller drive in the space. This was called a NewerTech AdaptaDrive 3.5" to 2.5" bay.
- Some special tools (suction cups to remove the screen, small torx drivers) are needed to access the hard drive space within the iMac. Macsales has a kit with all the right tools for the job on this specific iMac.
- When replacing memory, you can mix and match size and speed. I was just advised to not exceed the total RAM limit for the machine (for the i5 and i7, that's 32 GB). There are four slots in the iMac, and two were already used (but could be replaced).
- Finally, after all was buttoned up, I realized that I could not boot to my installer with a wireless keyboard (the Command-R wasn't received). I had to go out to Staples and buy a wired keyboard -- all to enter a single command! Fortunately, I already had a wired mouse lying around. That's needed to select options in the disk utility and OS X recovery. Macsales also had a good primer on transferring data from your old drive to a new one. Having a Time Machine backup was essential.

All told, about $600 (including overnight delivery) in parts, an hour of tinkering, and a half-day of upgrading the OS and recopying the files -- and I have a fantastic computer!
 

jasnw

macrumors 6502a
Nov 15, 2013
809
839
Seattle Area (NOT! Microsoft)
RE Scallywag Mac's posting, note that replacing the internal HDD on these newer iMacs is not for the faint of heart, and it's not necessary to DIY for about the same cost. I've been working with computer hardware for over 30 years, but the prospect of removing the large front glass of my 27" iMac and detaching/replacing the connections to the screen were more than I felt like handling. As I noted earlier, OWC will provide this service for a reasonable price and a pretty quick turn-around (a week in my case).
 

MartyCan

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 31, 2012
1,511
351
Near Toronto, ON
Today I was reminded that one of the problems that is ongoing with this particular computer is that it drops the WiFi connection for no apparent reason and the only fix seems to be a complete reboot. If I could get past that issue I might do the upgrade on the HD and memory. Failing that I'll be watching for any bump ups in specs on the 21.5" models next week. Income Tax refund will be in by then and it came in quite a bit better than expected.
 

Dopeyman

macrumors 6502a
Sep 5, 2005
604
46
Los Angeles!
Today I was reminded that one of the problems that is ongoing with this particular computer is that it drops the WiFi connection for no apparent reason and the only fix seems to be a complete reboot. If I could get past that issue I might do the upgrade on the HD and memory. Failing that I'll be watching for any bump ups in specs on the 21.5" models next week. Income Tax refund will be in by then and it came in quite a bit better than expected.

My 2011 iMac was also having issues with the wifi connection dropping. Apparently for me the problem started when I upgraded to Yosemite (clean install). When I upgraded to El Capitan (again, clean install) the problem went away. So it might fix the problem with you as well?
 

MartyCan

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 31, 2012
1,511
351
Near Toronto, ON
My 2011 iMac was also having issues with the wifi connection dropping. Apparently for me the problem started when I upgraded to Yosemite (clean install). When I upgraded to El Capitan (again, clean install) the problem went away. So it might fix the problem with you as well?
I've been on the fence but today I am updating it to El Capitan to see if that helps.
 

MartyCan

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 31, 2012
1,511
351
Near Toronto, ON
Final update. El Capitain did not help. This computer is a hub of a bunch of other things in the house music related and it was giving me fits. I broke down and ordered a 21.5". 2.8 GHz quad core with 8 GB ram and the 2 TB Fusion drive. It works like a charm. Darn that screen looks pretty tiny but it sure runs a whole lot better!
 
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mlody

macrumors 65816
Nov 11, 2012
1,079
721
Windy City
Final update. El Capitain did not help. This computer is a hub of a bunch of other things in the house music related and it was giving me fits. I broke down and ordered a 21.5". 2.8 GHz quad core with 8 GB ram and the 2 TB Fusion drive. It works like a charm. Darn that screen looks pretty tiny but it sure runs a whole lot better!

Today, I added 256gb SSD to my mid 2010 27" and it runs like new. I used OWC kit that i purchased several weeks ago on amazon.com.
I was going to recommend going SSD upgrade and wired connection to keep your iMac alive for few more years, but I see you actually got a new machine. Congrats on the new iMac!
 

MartyCan

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 31, 2012
1,511
351
Near Toronto, ON
Today, I added 256gb SSD to my mid 2010 27" and it runs like new. I used OWC kit that i purchased several weeks ago on amazon.com.
I was going to recommend going SSD upgrade and wired connection to keep your iMac alive for few more years, but I see you actually got a new machine. Congrats on the new iMac!
Can you add the SSD without ditching the regular 1 TB 7200 rpm HD?
 

mlody

macrumors 65816
Nov 11, 2012
1,079
721
Windy City
Can you add the SSD without ditching the regular 1 TB 7200 rpm HD?

Yes you can and that is how i did it. Down the road i might replce the original drive with a newer one (quieter) and do fusion drive, but for now i am running everything off the new ssd so the old hdd sleeps most of the time.- i am using it for timemachine backups only
 

MartyCan

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 31, 2012
1,511
351
Near Toronto, ON
Yes you can and that is how i did it. Down the road i might replce the original drive with a newer one (quieter) and do fusion drive, but for now i am running everything off the new ssd so the old hdd sleeps most of the time.- i am using it for timemachine backups only
Might do that to the old one then to either keep it running or to upgrade it for sale.
[doublepost=1461365824][/doublepost]
Yes you can and that is how i did it. Down the road i might replce the original drive with a newer one (quieter) and do fusion drive, but for now i am running everything off the new ssd so the old hdd sleeps most of the time.- i am using it for timemachine backups only
Might do that to the old one then to either keep it running or to upgrade it for sale.
 

Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
7,694
2,123
Might do that to the old one then to either keep it running or to upgrade it for sale.
[doublepost=1461365824][/doublepost]
Might do that to the old one then to either keep it running or to upgrade it for sale.

It won't add more to the price than the cost of the drive so it's not really worth it to sell only if you are planning to keep it.
 

eRondeau

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
1,042
136
Canada's South Coast
My 2¢ worth -- If a 2010 iMac is "brutally slow" then there's something wrong with it. I use a 2007 iMac (with 4GB RAM and a 1TB spinny HDD) and it's perfectly usable for Safari, Mail, iTunes, iPhoto, Pages, Keynote, etc. Your 2010 is much faster than mine. Check your Console logs and you'll probably find that something is amiss. Or you've installed some awful file-sharing software that's hogging 99% of your CPU, leaving you with 1% for everything else. Your iMac is *far* from antiquated/obsolete and in fact should still be surprisingly snappy once it gets past the initial boot. Don't give up on it yet!
 

MartyCan

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 31, 2012
1,511
351
Near Toronto, ON
My 2¢ worth -- If a 2010 iMac is "brutally slow" then there's something wrong with it. I use a 2007 iMac (with 4GB RAM and a 1TB spinny HDD) and it's perfectly usable for Safari, Mail, iTunes, iPhoto, Pages, Keynote, etc. Your 2010 is much faster than mine. Check your Console logs and you'll probably find that something is amiss. Or you've installed some awful file-sharing software that's hogging 99% of your CPU, leaving you with 1% for everything else. Your iMac is *far* from antiquated/obsolete and in fact should still be surprisingly snappy once it gets past the initial boot. Don't give up on it yet!
Well a bit late on that count. We have a new 21'5" that has taken over it's duties. It wasn't just the speed. It was continually dropping WiFi signal and since it was also the music server for my Bose Soundtouch speakers it was getting really, really frustrating. But if I can get it back into shape we might find use for it yet. It certainly won't be discarded.
 

varian55zx

macrumors 6502a
May 10, 2012
748
260
San Francisco
No OP, you made the right decision.

It was absolutely time to get a new computer, and it sounds like you got a good one for your usage scenario.

If a smaller screen is more suited to your uses, then you got a good one.
 
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