Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

Upgrade a 2011 iMac or buy a 2018 Mini or even a 2020 iMac

xplorenzo

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 1, 2020
4
0
This is kinda long but wanted to give you as much context as I can...

I'm still contemplating on which route to go. I have a 2011 iMac (i5-2500S CPU and Radeon 6770M, upgraded with SSD and 12GB of RAM) that has not been used for years that instead of buying a new mac, I'd rather resurrect and upgrade the cpu to i7-2600, better GPU (vbios flash), and maybe max out the RAM and install Mojave.

I currently have a 2018 MBPro13 (i5 and only only 8MB of RAM) as my primary workhorse. I use it pretty much for everything but primarily for web development, lightroom, photoshop and I'm starting to get into video editing too (no 4K for now). It works okay for me but I could use a little bit more power. I sometimes get hiccups on editing videos.

Because of this COVID thing, I now work from home full time. I have my MB connected to two 4K monitors and everyday after work, I disconnect it so I can also take it to my bedroom. That is getting very tiring. I want a stationary machine now that's why I thought about bringing my 2011 iMac back to life.

If I upgrade my iMac with a faster CPU and better GPU, will it be on par with my MacBook (or better)? I can buy the 2018 mini or even the 2020 iMac and be done with it but I don't want to hurt my "ego" if I can upgrade my current iMac and still make use of it.

Any opinions or suggestions on this?
 

USB3foriMac

macrumors regular
Apr 15, 2020
165
64
Singapore
No harm just powering it up as it is, and see how it performs? That cost you only the time to install the apps you use.
If it's way too slow, a CPU upgrade will only bring a small improvement. Don't expect wonders from that.

You didn't mention whether it's a 21.5" iMac 2011 or 27". I think this is a major factor. The S CPUs were usually used in the 21.5"...
If it's 21.5", your CPU speed will remain slow, as upgrading to i7-2600 (non-S) would risk overusing the supply and cause your system to be unstable, meaning you would normally be able to upgade to the (rare=more expensive) i7-2600S. Also, the real estate on the screen is too small for your purpose.

If you have 27" and want to go down the GPU upgrade roude (long thread out there), that's viable provided you are not afraid of using Dremel and fiddle with software modifications (apparently required each time Apple releases another OS upgrade).

If you have the money, consider donating the working 2011 machine to some needy family, and buy a new 2020 multi-core machine.
 

xplorenzo

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 1, 2020
4
0
Thanks. I have the 27" imac. The 2600 does hyperthreading, doesn't it? I was hoping that would help significantly with the performance. I'll be replacing the GPU for sure if I go with that route. I've spent quite sometime on that long thread and I already have a plan for the upgrade. If I can get the iMac close to the mini's or my mbpro's performance, I'd go that route.
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 6502
Jul 5, 2020
453
105
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Thanks. I have the 27" imac. The 2600 does hyperthreading, doesn't it? I was hoping that would help significantly with the performance. I'll be replacing the GPU for sure if I go with that route. I've spent quite sometime on that long thread and I already have a plan for the upgrade. If I can get the iMac close to the mini's or my mbpro's performance, I'd go that route.

It all depends on your applications.
CPU intensive aps => MBP2018 beats iMac 2011, no where near it.
RAM intensive aps => 32GB beat 8GB easily
GPU intensive aps => a WX7100 in iMac 2011 will be on par with MBP (I suppose it has a dedicate GPU, not iGPU). But remember, iMac can only be connected to one more monitor, not 2 4k monitor like the MBP 2018.
 

xplorenzo

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 1, 2020
4
0
Thanks Nguyen. My MBP2018 is 13" so it only has iGPU. The applications that I use will pretty much require all of the above. For software development, I definitely need the CPU and RAM. And for video editing, it's nice to have a dedicated GPU and to push those two 4K monitors. Btw, if I go with upgrading the iMac, I'll use it's screen to replace one of my 4Ks.
 

vjson

macrumors newbie
Feb 13, 2020
23
16
I think upgrading your iMac 2011 sounds like a good idea. I'm currently typing on my upgraded iMac 27" 2011, and the snappiness and performance is pretty amazing for a 9 year old computer. My config is:

i7 2600
16GB RAM
500GB Samsung EVO 850
Nvidia K2100M 2GB

In Geekbench 5 I get 2900 for multicore, and according to their charts, your MBP 2018 13" i5 should get around 3750, which is 29% faster. In my opinion that's not a huge difference.
 

Amsterdamned

macrumors member
Jul 20, 2018
53
13
Adelaide
Surely the i5 2018 Mac mini is the winner here? Pair that with dual 4K screens and it would be the best performance bang for buck.
 

xplorenzo

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 1, 2020
4
0
Thanks guys. If we are comparing benchmarks, the mac mini is definitely the clear winner. Here's what I'm comparing right now using Geekbench 5 for multicore:

2011 iMac (SSD and 12GB) - 1976
2018 MBP13 (i5) - 3718
2018 Mac Mini (i7) - 5496
2020 27" iMac (10th-gen i5) - 5841

I think, it's gonna come down to 2011 iMac vs 2018 Mac Mini. My only beef with the the mac mini is the integrated GPU.I guess for simple video editing, it's fine for now but I may need to get an eGPU later on, which in my mind, I may as well upfront the cost now for the iMac. On the other hand, if I spend ~$250 (for cpu and gpu) to upgrade the 2011 iMac, that might work for me right now until I hit its max performance. I'm just trying to avoid spending so much time upgrading and in the end I find out that even after all the upgrades, the performance is still not up to what I need it for. That's the dilemma right now.
 

ADGrant

macrumors 6502a
Mar 26, 2018
501
277
Surely the i5 2018 Mac mini is the winner here? Pair that with dual 4K screens and it would be the best performance bang for buck.

Best performance bang for the buck would be a new 2020 iMac. The Mac mini is actually very expensive when you consider it doesn't come with a keyboard, mouse/trackpad, monitor or, worst of all, a decent GPU. That said, if you already have a monitor and keyboard you may spend less money if you don't care about having a proper GPU.
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 6502
Jul 5, 2020
453
105
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Thanks guys. If we are comparing benchmarks, the mac mini is definitely the clear winner. Here's what I'm comparing right now using Geekbench 5 for multicore:

2011 iMac (SSD and 12GB) - 1976
2018 MBP13 (i5) - 3718
2018 Mac Mini (i7) - 5496
2020 27" iMac (10th-gen i5) - 5841

I think, it's gonna come down to 2011 iMac vs 2018 Mac Mini. My only beef with the the mac mini is the integrated GPU.I guess for simple video editing, it's fine for now but I may need to get an eGPU later on, which in my mind, I may as well upfront the cost now for the iMac. On the other hand, if I spend ~$250 (for cpu and gpu) to upgrade the 2011 iMac, that might work for me right now until I hit its max performance. I'm just trying to avoid spending so much time upgrading and in the end I find out that even after all the upgrades, the performance is still not up to what I need it for. That's the dilemma right now.

Upgrade the GPU on the iMac 2011 to get it on par with intel HD640, 650 iGPU in the iMac mini is kind of costly because of the failure ratio. It's not simple and cheap as it seem to you. The temporary solution for you right now is find a place for the iMac 2011 in your bedroom, thus saving the trouble of moving the MBP around.

Mac Mini 2018 + eGPU set-up is not very tidy for your work desk.
I would sell 1 4k monitor and get the new iMac.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
20,488
7,271
Keep the Macbook Pro.
It's not worth "upgrading" a 9-year-old iMac at this point. Time for something new.
Since you already have 2 4k displays, I'd suggest a 2018/20 Mini.

Get the i7 CPU.

For an SSD, I'd suggest 512gb or 1tb as the best values (unless you want to spend more).

For RAM:
- For the 2018/20 Mini, I recommend 16gb of RAM (8 isn't enough because 1.5gb is "roped off" for the integrated GPU).
- if 16gb is "enough", get it "from the factory" so you don't have to open it.
- if you want "more than" 16, it might be worth it to buy 8 from the factory and install the replacement RAM yourself, but BE AWARE that installing RAM into the 2018/20 Mini is not a trivial procedure, and some folks have broken things in the process.

You can save $$$ if you wish by buying from Apple's online refurbished store.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Nguyen Duc Hieu
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.