upgrade 2011 iMac or buy new one?

HBOC

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
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SLC
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..
 

glenthompson

macrumors 68020
Apr 27, 2011
2,317
372
Florida
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.
 

brewmonkey

macrumors regular
Feb 17, 2016
202
137
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..

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).
 
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merkinmuffley

macrumors 6502a
Dec 3, 2010
615
581
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.
 

vkd

macrumors 6502a
Sep 10, 2012
916
313
Put an SSD in and make it into a Fusion drive with the HD. I did it with same machine it is great.
 

BenTrovato

macrumors 68030
Jun 29, 2012
2,943
2,021
Canada
In your situation I would only buy a new iMac if you were getting the retina screen, otherwise I would just upgrade the internals.
 

Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
7,694
2,123
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.
 

GoldfishRT

macrumors 6502a
Jul 24, 2014
552
320
Somewhere
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.
 
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maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
67,072
34,162
Boston
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.
 

HBOC

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
2,494
234
SLC
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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