upgrade 2011 iMac or buy new one?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by HBOC, May 8, 2016.

  1. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    So i thought i had made up my mind (made a thread in the MBP forum), but the longer I wait and more research i do, the more i am unsure.

    I have a mid 2011 iMac base model (2.5 GHZ and 500GB HDD). I upgraded the RAM back in 2011 or 2012 to 16GB of OWC RAM. It has been basically running nonstop since then, and is a WONDERFUL machine.

    Over the last year, i have added 4 external drives (3 have FW 800) since i am running out of room. I have Adobe CC and sometimes it slows down.

    With that said, i could have a $1500 budget to spend on a new machine - I imagine if I pay a local authorized Apple place to install 2 SSD drives (or one SSD and HDD) and spend a total of $400, my machine would run a "bit" faster than it is now, and I could get another 3 years of use.

    Or I could get something that is newer and has USB 3.0 and sell this one. I am not unhappy with this one at all, but it needs a storage upgrade for sure.

    thanks for any help. I have looked at prices for newer iMacs, but it seems that most on eBay are 8GB RAM..
  2. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    Upgrade vs new is always a tough decision. You have the same iMac as my wife. We have upgraded her memory and installed a SSD. Local Apple dealer charged $140 to swap the drives - I provided the new drive. She recently needed more local storage so I added an external thunderbolt SSD drive. Great speed but limited to a single drive. On my MBP I add a CalDigit thunderbolt dock that provides USB 3.

    For lots of external space consider a NAS and connect it and your iMac via Ethernet for best speed. Then you don't have to worry about moving the devices to a new computer.
  3. brewmonkey macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2016
    All else equal, if this Mac is doing everything you want/need, I would humbly submit that changing from HDD to SSD would be an improvement considerably more than just "a bit faster".

    Also @glenthompson 's suggestion above augmenting your setup with a NAS is also great advice. With the bundle you save from just upgrading to SSD, you could put together a very nice NAS, either off-the-shelf or roll-your-own (or even an array plugged into an AirPort if you like the all-Apple experience).
  4. merkinmuffley macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2010
    I'd by new. 5 years is getting on in years for the components in your system, this stuff doesn't last forever. The big advantage I see in an new IMac is the retina screen, and for me that alone is worth buying new.
  5. vkd macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2012
    Put an SSD in and make it into a Fusion drive with the HD. I did it with same machine it is great.
  6. BenTrovato macrumors 68030


    Jun 29, 2012
    In your situation I would only buy a new iMac if you were getting the retina screen, otherwise I would just upgrade the internals.
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    In your situation with the need for external storage in large quantity I would buy new to get thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 for fast transfer speeds to and from those external drives.
  8. GoldfishRT macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2014
    I'm just going to throw out there that putting an SSD in that machine will make it seem brand new. Although I totally understand the appeal if you need external space, to get a new one with faster interfaces.

    1TB SSDs are pretty cheap now (relatively). I think the 850 Evo is like $300. I'd do that and maybe a 2TB HDD for the stuff you don't need quite as fast access to like your iTunes library or w/e.

    Just my personal opinion but I think we get obsessed and convince ourselves we "need" new hardware when a simple upgrade would extend the life of the machine dramatically. You don't fall into that category, s you've said that the thing runs super well for your needs as it is.

    If you've got $1500 to spend on a new computer, I'd take some of it to upgrade this machine, then put the rest away for when you actually need to get a new one.
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    At this point, with the computer being 5 years old, I'd opt for new. The 2011 models - at least the 15" ones, have issues with the dGPU failing, so that might be another reason to opt for now. I couldn't tell by the first post which model you have.
  10. HBOC thread starter macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    I have the very base model mid 2011 21.5. I added in 16GB RAM and has performed wonderfully for what i do.
    However, i am leaning towards a newer machine... hard decision. thanks everyone for the advice thus far

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9 May 8, 2016