Upgrade 2009 i7 iMac w/SSD or buy new iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jmpage2, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. jmpage2 macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #1
    So,

    I have a 27" 2.8ghz i7 iMac that I bought on closeout about one year ago. I got a pretty damn good deal on it at the time and wasted no time on upgrading it to 8GB of RAM.

    Most of my use is OS X but I do have a bootcamp partition with Windows 7 for a few things I still need Windows for. I usually just run the bootcamp partition virtualized with Fusion.

    So... on to the problem and question for the gurus here.

    The bottleneck in this machine, without question is the 7200RPM slow as hell hard drive. This is especially evident when I run Windows and OS X simultaneously. I can see that the hard drive is simply getting hammered.

    I don't need a ton of storage space as I have a 10TB RAID-5 setup in my basement. I just want fast boot times and faster file handling.

    So, I have been contemplating taking a big swig of courage and tearing this iMac apart and installing an Intel 256GB SSD into it. I have 10 days of vacation going from Christmas Weekend to past new years so it seems like the perfect time to take on this project.

    On the other hand, the iMac I currently have is under apple care and I could probably eBay it for $1200 or so and simply spend an extra $1000 or so and get the latest i7 iMac with the SSD already installed by Apple, plus get the faster processor, thunderbolt, etc.

    Any thoughts? I have found a few threads on doing SSD upgrades but would love it if there's a full guide on how to do it. Is there anything coming out on the horizon (major refresh) that would be worth waiting for? If I upgrade this box I will probably pimp it out with 16GB of RAM too so that OS X and Windows can each have 8GB when running.

    Thanks!!
     
  2. danmc00 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    #2
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    I just upgraded my 2009 i7 iMac with an Intel 320 series SSD drive. The difference is amazing and I'm only running 4gb ram. I was nervous to do the swap but it went just fine. There are some good tutorials out there for this.
     
  3. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #3
    Thank you. I definitely don't feel that anything else in the machine is slow, just the drive. Did you short the temp pins on the motherboard? If you have a link to the tutorial you used I'd love to take a look at it.
     
  4. Squuiid macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 31, 2006
  5. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #5
    I think SSD is a given this point, it's just a question of how difficult/complex the installation would be, what drawbacks there are (fan speeds?) etc, compared to just buying a new iMac that already has an SSD in it.
     
  6. heimbachae macrumors regular

    heimbachae

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    #7
    probably a dumb question but since I have a 27" 2.66GHz i5 I want to ask. is it possible to get 2 SSD drives in our computers? now a days I know you can but back in 09 I'm not so sure they put connections in there.
     
  7. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
  8. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #9
    It only has the two SATA connections so you'd have to sacrifice the optical drive SATA I think to do RAID-0.
     
  9. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #11
    Can anyone recommend an SSD 2.5" bay adapter that works with the 2009 iMac?

    For an SSD like the Intel will I need any SATA/power adapter cables or does that drive take standard sized connectors?

    Thanks!
     
  10. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #12
    Your expectations from ebay sound a bit high. The top 2011s in the refurb store go for around $1700 (as in the cto i7). I could see it if the display looks really good. I'm just curious, where do you feel the hard drive is holding you back? 7200 rpm drives are not such a bottleneck. It takes seconds more to boot or launch an application, but it's nothing like the difference with a laptop. Most of the time the people that get the most out of an ssd in something like an imac, are those that lack enough ram, and enough is all relative to how much you use.

    If you are getting an SSD, I thought intel ssds were among the unpopular ones to run on a Mac?
     
  11. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000

    aliensporebomb

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth
    #13
    Or

    You could also try one of the 10,000 rpm SATA hard drives too but SSD will usually spank it in specs although the SSD will be smaller in size and more expensive.
     
  12. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #14
    I just watched an auction for a machine like mine close for $1200 and it didn't have Apple Care. Not sure what the point is here, it's easy to look and see exactly what auctions have closed for.

    As far as SSD speeds, I hammer the hard drive regularly and run two OS simultaneously. I have 8GB of RAM and am not running out, I am simply doing a lot of drive access, copies, encoding, etc, and see the hard drive as the bottleneck currently.

    I have little doubt that a faster drive would make a huge difference, as I installed a cheap $45 SSD in my windows 7 HTPC and that thing absolutely blows away my much faster CPU Mac in boot-up, application launch, etc.

    Anyone skeptical of the benefit probably ought to try it out themselves before critiquing someone for making the decision.

    I have no idea which models are popular to run on Macs but I can find plenty of positive Amazon reviews on Intel and Crucial SSDs from Mac owners who seem happy enough.
     
  13. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    Virginia
    #15
    I used to build my own computers regularly. I have pretty much the same iMac you have. I've looked at the iFixit upgrade videos.

    I would not even think about doing an SSD upgrade myself. The potential for disaster in removing and reinstalling the screen on the iMac is too much for me. I know that many people have performed this sort of upgrade successfully, but even being pretty comfortable fondling the guts of computers, I wouldn't attempt this one.

    The fact that you already came up with the alternative of selling your current iMac and buying a new one with SSD pre-installed makes it seem like you have some of the same reservations yourself. If I really felt the need to put an SSD in my iMac, I would go the feel and re-but route, no question about it.

    That said, I don't see a lot of Disk thrashing when running a VM. You should probably check the configuration of your VM before jumping to the conclusion that you must have an SSD. I originally set up using BootCamp partition as you are, but I later migrated to a normal VM image. I would suggest creating a 'regular' VM by running through the Fusion create VM process. Don't over allocate resources! You BootCamp partition probably thinks it has access to all of your system RAM and all of your cores. Allocate 1 virtual core and 2-4GB RAM and see if the disk thrashing stops.
     
  14. doktordoris macrumors 6502a

    doktordoris

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    #16
    I absolutely agree, I too have always built my own PCs. I used to work in a computer shop building machines for customers, fixing hardware faults for them by swapping bits in and out until the machines worked, installing cards, memory etc. but the thought of delving inside my iMac fills me with terror. Ive read too many horror stories of people breaking the lcd to motherboard connection and other assorted cock-ups to ever contemplate taking my beloved to bits. But to those that dare I take my hat off.
     
  15. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #17
    Those are valid points. I have been contemplating changing from VMWare 3 to Parallels 7, so maybe I will try to import my boot camp partition with Parallels and see if the performance for disk access is any better.

    Another reason for switching away from HDD is that I could use even a small speed boost from an SSD more than having a lot of unused storage space. I really only need 100-200GB of drive space for video encoding jobs, etc. I also like the better general reliability an SSD offers over a mechanical device.

    Does anyone know if Apple would be willing to install an SSD for me if I provided it and I just pay them the labor charge?
     
  16. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    Virginia
    #18
    If at all possible, I would really suggest starting with a fresh VM rather than an import. Doing a P2V conversion is going to give you a dirty configuration, and doing a conversion from BootCamp that has been set up with VMWare Tools to a VM under Parallels is going to be dirtier yet. No doubt that you would end up with a system that runs, but 'runs' isn't really the goal, is it?

    I've used both Parallels & VM Ware. I prefer VM Ware, but they are really similar. Parallels is usually a bit ahead on Graphics performance. VM Ware has better support. Switching a VM from one to the other is certainly possible, but expect to end up with some artifacts that need to be cleaned up - extraneous virtual and physical devices & drivers for example.

    I don't think the Apple Store would do the upgrade, but there are apple certified service centers that would probably do the work for you. Quality is going to vary - I've seen horror stories in these forums. OWC (Macsales.com) has a program where they will do the upgrades for you. You might want to check them out, but that would require you to ship back & forth.
     
  17. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #19
    Hehe.. I've used machines with SSDs before. Since very little of my time involves application launches or reboots, it doesn't make a huge difference to me, but yeah I guess it might be a little different with files going across two operating systems. Regarding ebay, people sometimes pay more than they really should, but I guess that's a good thing if you're selling. it seems like a lot relative to the current options for a 2009 model, but as I said they're more desirable if the display looks really good. No one wants one where the display is dim, or one that has the purple edges thing that imacs often get when they age.
     
  18. fastlanephil macrumors 6502a

    fastlanephil

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    #20
    7200 rpm internal 3.5 hard drives are not slow as hell. They are still the standard for professional use.
     
  19. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    Location:
    ladner cdn
    #21
    i just looked at the whole ifixit haddrive replacement...and thought that it looked pretty darn easy...whats up with you other guys who would be afraid to do that? it doesn't look like rocket science guys.

    -print out the pages
    -go slowly

    i say go for it!
     
  20. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #22
    I agree, it doesn't look terribly complicated, but, eh, who knows... the main risk with something like this is of tweaking a connector and having no way to fix it.

    I disassembled a few older Mac Minis, this only looks a bit more difficult.
     
  21. djrod macrumors 65816

    djrod

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    Location:
    Madrid - Spain
    #23
    I changed a Mac mini CPU and broke some plastic stuff but I also replaced my iMac 2009 Optical for a SSD with no harm done to the computer. It's not that hard to open the machine, you only have to be careful with the wires, I installed my SSD in about 40 minutes.

    My next iMac would have an Apple installed SSD, though
     
  22. danmc00 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    #24
    I don't have any experience opening up a computer. After watching the youtube videos and using the link I provided I gave it a go. It's not near as hard as it looks. Pretty easy actually. Taking the glass off is very simple. I used a .99 cent suction cup from WalMart. The LED screen comes out very easy also, but it is pretty heavy. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.
     
  23. Sonhascome macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2010
    Location:
    Maryland
    #25
    I'd do the upgrade, whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it. I upgrdaed it on my macbook pro and still only have 4gb of ram and don't feel like I need to upgrade it.
     

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