• Did you order new AirTags? We've opened a dedicated AirTags forum.

jlabenberg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 18, 2015
13
0
PA
With the "new normal" being working from home with ZOOM meetings my (late 2013 27" imac with 8gb of RAM and 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5) is doing ok. It also doubles as my home entertainment system - mainly HULU and NETFLIX and for this purpose it is doing ok. I also like the rest of those running MOJAVE lost the ability to use Apple Mail app with GMAIL accounts but this is not such a bother because I have adapted to this. While this iMac is handling things ok...I get a lot of rainbow pinwheels when too many things are open and in general things are slow. With the 1TB SATA disk HD, I have plenty of space...I don't have tons of pictures, music, video downloaded and saved.

Instead of shelling out more money than I have for a new iMac or MacBOOK, I am considering purchasing an external SSD harddrive as a boot drive and increasing RAM from 8gb to 16gb or maybe even 32gb.

I am running macOS Mojave v10.14.6, this iMac while specs indicate that it is "strong" enough for Catalina, will not update to Catalina and I have been advised to leave it that way using Mojave.

With all this information, does any one have advise on thoughts of a less expensive upgrade to this machine, or other ideas, and then also, hardware brand, etc, recommendations?
 

Attachments

  • Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 10.48.34 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 10.48.34 AM.png
    103.7 KB · Views: 516

mj_

macrumors 65816
May 18, 2017
1,303
911
Austin, TX
If I were you I would perform a two-step upgrade. Based on your description ("I get a lot of rainbow pinwheels when too many things are open [...]") my guess would be that you are low on RAM. Thus, upgrade your RAM first. This is a no-brainer and shouldn't take more than 5 minutes. Then, if that doesn't solve the issue, address the storage situation by adding an external USB 3.0 SSD.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jlabenberg
Comment

jlabenberg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 18, 2015
13
0
PA
If I were you I would perform a two-step upgrade. Based on your description ("I get a lot of rainbow pinwheels when too many things are open [...]") my guess would be that you are low on RAM. Thus, upgrade your RAM first. This is a no-brainer and shouldn't take more than 5 minutes. Then, if that doesn't solve the issue, address the storage situation by adding an external USB 3.0 SSD.

thank you so much - my system settings tell me I have 2 slots in use with 4Gb of ram each - would you purchase 2 more 4gb RAM for a total of 16gb of RAM, or buy 4 X 8gb for a total of 16gb or RAM as well, or 4 x 8gb of RAM for a total of 32Gb of RAM. I guess my question is - 16 or 32? and if 16 is plenty - is it better to do 2 x 8gb or add 2 more 4gb to the current 2 x 4gb of ram.

thanks again.
 
Comment

mj_

macrumors 65816
May 18, 2017
1,303
911
Austin, TX
How is anyone but you supposed to know how much RAM you really need and how much money you want to spend? ;) Some people can make do with 8GB, others require 64GB or more. It all depends on your individual situation, the applications you are running, the tasks and computations you are performing, etc.

That said I dare to go out on a limb here: since you were fine with just 8GB until recently a 2x 4GB upgrade for around $40 should in theory be more than sufficient. If you feel frisky and want to spend double that you can get 2x 8GB for around $80 instead but I highly doubt you will notice any difference between 16GB and 24GB of RAM.
 
Comment

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
2,423
728
You can check if your RAM is sufficient by using Utilities-Activity Monitor, and clicking on the Memory tab. If it's in the yellow or red, or you have a lot of swap used, then adding more memory will help. If this works, this will be the easiest solution.
Mac OS X has really been designed for SSDs for the last several releases. If you could wave a wand, replacing your existing HDD (which I assume you have) with an SSD would make a dramatic difference -- better than new. iFixit can tell you how hard or easy this is.
Next best alternative is an SSD in an external enclosure. The fastest would be a thunderbolt 2 enclosure, which would also deliver a dramatic improvement to your system. But these enclosures are expensive.
The next best thing is a USB 3 SSD. This would still be faster than an HDD. For $100-$150 you should be able to get a drive and USB 3.1 enclosure. Clone your HDD, select in Startup Preference, and boom!
- You may want to get a 3.2 enclosure and NVMe SSD. Still with this price range, and more future proof.
 
Comment

mj_

macrumors 65816
May 18, 2017
1,303
911
Austin, TX
- You may want to get a 3.2 enclosure and NVMe SSD. Still with this price range, and more future proof.
But also utterly pointless when connected to a 2013 iMac with USB 3.0 ;)
I would probably just get a Samsung T5. Cheap, great garbage collection, tiny enclosure, and great reliability.
 
Last edited:
Comment

vertical smile

macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
5,764
6,541
With the "new normal" being working from home with ZOOM meetings
Could you let us know what you usually do with your computer and the apps that you use? This will help making recommendations.

I get a lot of rainbow pinwheels when too many things are open and in general things are slow.
RAM comes to mind, but it could be a mix of RAM and page swapping to a super slow HDD.

thank you so much - my system settings tell me I have 2 slots in use with 4Gb of ram each - would you purchase 2 more 4gb RAM for a total of 16gb of RAM, or buy 4 X 8gb for a total of 16gb or RAM as well, or 4 x 8gb of RAM for a total of 32Gb of RAM. I guess my question is - 16 or 32? and if 16 is plenty - is it better to do 2 x 8gb or add 2 more 4gb to the current 2 x 4gb of ram.

thanks again.
You can use the memory tab in the Activity Monitor app in your Utilities folder to see if you are page swapping and check the memory pressure.

8GB is low for many things today, but depending on what you use your computer for, you may not need a lot more. Maybe consider getting the 2x8GB sticks and put them in the unused slots. I am sure 24GB would be a huge improvement, and you may never page swap again.

Regardless of your RAM upgrade, I highly recommend using a SSD over the HDD. I think you would see a much bigger overall improvement with a SSD upgrade.

You can do the internal upgrade, but considering the COVID-19 issues (having to find someone to do it, or risk breaking something yourself), it would probably be better to start with an external boot drive.

I have used many external boot drives over the years, they are easy to set up. I have used USB, TB, FW, and thumb drives as external boot drives.

I have even used old iPods as boot drives.

I have never tried it, but you can even use SD cards as boot drives.

As for your 2013 iMac, You have a couple of options for external drive, the cheapest being a SATA USB3 enclosure and put a SSD in yourself. This would be a huge improvement over the HDD. Downsides of a USB3 drive would be that it doesn't support TRIM and it may not be as fast as TB, even still, it would be a huge upgrade over the HDD.

You can also get a Thunderbolt 1 or 2 drive, but these tend to be more expensive, but the support TRIM and should faster.

With a SATAIII USB3 or TB drive, you could probably see speeds up to 750MBps, but realistically be around 350-450MBps in my experience.

I heard of people of using TB3 NVMe drives with older Macs with TB 1 or 2, this would get you the fastest drive and still have TRIM support. This would probably be the only way of getting over 1000MBps Write and Read speeds on your iMac. This would also be an expensive upgrade. Maybe just using a USB3 drive would be best for you.

I have not tried using a TB3 NVMe drive on the older TB, but plan on doing it one day.

BTW, you can boot from your SD card slot. You could also get a fast SD card and use the SD slot on your iMac to boot from, but I have never tried this and wonder if SD cards would be good for booting. The potential speeds are pretty fast though.

This is also on my list of things to try one day too. IIRC, the SD slot has speeds up to 625MBps, but I think the fastest SD cards are only around 300MBps. This would still be much faster than your HDD.
 
Comment

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
2,423
728
But also utterly pointless when connected to a 2013 iMac with USB 3.0
Well, you could get a 1TB SATA 2.5 inch drive for $115 and p[ut it in a $25 enclosure and get pretty good performance.
You could also get a 1TB NVMe M.2 for about the same price, and put it in a $45 USB 3.2 enclosure. So for an extra $20 you have something that will do well for you should you ever upgrade. You know, future proof!
I'd have to take a look, but the NVMe may offer better performance today. Certainly not in max throughput - limited by the USB3 interface - but in spec like IOPS.

A good comparison is why an SATA SSD seems faster than a SATA HDD. They are both constrained to the same max throughput performance. But latency and IOPS are significantly different.

Or did I miss your point?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: mj_
Comment

mj_

macrumors 65816
May 18, 2017
1,303
911
Austin, TX
Or did I miss your point?
Quite the contrary, I completely missed yours. You are of course right, I did not know that USB 3.2 enclosures had dropped in price that much already. Last time I checked, which was a few weeks ago, they were still significantly more expensive. So I agree with you. Forget what I said about the Samsung T5, it's not worth it anymore and at $173 for the 1TB version actually even slightly more expensive than the combination of a 1TB Crucial P1 ($116) and a Sabrent USB 3.2 case ($45).
 
  • Like
Reactions: kohlson
Comment

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
2,423
728
Forget what I said about the Samsung T5
The T5 is a good suggestion. High performance and good packaging. Not everyone is comfortable with "some assembly required," so good to present a range of options.
 
Comment

dpfenninger

macrumors regular
Nov 23, 2005
162
78
With the "new normal" being working from home with ZOOM meetings my (late 2013 27" imac with 8gb of RAM and 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5) is doing ok. It also doubles as my home entertainment system - mainly HULU and NETFLIX and for this purpose it is doing ok. I also like the rest of those running MOJAVE lost the ability to use Apple Mail app with GMAIL accounts but this is not such a bother because I have adapted to this. While this iMac is handling things ok...I get a lot of rainbow pinwheels when too many things are open and in general things are slow. With the 1TB SATA disk HD, I have plenty of space...I don't have tons of pictures, music, video downloaded and saved.

Instead of shelling out more money than I have for a new iMac or MacBOOK, I am considering purchasing an external SSD harddrive as a boot drive and increasing RAM from 8gb to 16gb or maybe even 32gb.

I am running macOS Mojave v10.14.6, this iMac while specs indicate that it is "strong" enough for Catalina, will not update to Catalina and I have been advised to leave it that way using Mojave.

With all this information, does any one have advise on thoughts of a less expensive upgrade to this machine, or other ideas, and then also, hardware brand, etc, recommendations?

My late 2013 27" iMac has been my daily workhorse for six years now, and it chugs along as well as it did the day I bought it. Better, actually...I purchased a Thunderbolt-SATA adapter a while back (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014VBF6FM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1) and created a homemade Fusion drive with the internal 1 TB HDD and a 250 GB Samsung SATA SSD, and the system hums...boot time is about 20 seconds, apps launch fast, and I regularly get read speeds of about 500 MB/s, not nearly what you'd get from an internal SSD on a modern iMac, but definitely way faster than the internal drive and speedy enough for my needs. I run Windows 10 off Boot Camp as well, and besides using the slow HDD, that runs really well too.

Just this week, I also got a mini-DP adapter and HDMI cable to hook up my 43" 4K TV, and I now run that as an external display at full 3840x2160 resolution @30Hz. It's fun to see my iMac as the "smaller" screen now. :)

Running Catalina with 16 GB of memory, and it doesn't seem any slower than Mojave, High Sierra, or anything before it. I don't do any heavy-duty computing, mostly day-to-day stuff, so unless Apple comes up with something really compelling in the next iMac (bezel-less design, all SSD storage), or my current setup decides to go on the fritz, I have no need or desire to change my system anytime soon. It runs like a champ!
 
  • Like
Reactions: jlabenberg
Comment

jlabenberg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 18, 2015
13
0
PA
My late 2013 27" iMac has been my daily workhorse for six years now, and it chugs along as well as it did the day I bought it. Better, actually...I purchased a Thunderbolt-SATA adapter a while back (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014VBF6FM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1) and created a homemade Fusion drive with the internal 1 TB HDD and a 250 GB Samsung SATA SSD, and the system hums...boot time is about 20 seconds, apps launch fast, and I regularly get read speeds of about 500 MB/s, not nearly what you'd get from an internal SSD on a modern iMac, but definitely way faster than the internal drive and speedy enough for my needs. I run Windows 10 off Boot Camp as well, and besides using the slow HDD, that runs really well too.

Just this week, I also got a mini-DP adapter and HDMI cable to hook up my 43" 4K TV, and I now run that as an external display at full 3840x2160 resolution @30Hz. It's fun to see my iMac as the "smaller" screen now. :)

Running Catalina with 16 GB of memory, and it doesn't seem any slower than Mojave, High Sierra, or anything before it. I don't do any heavy-duty computing, mostly day-to-day stuff, so unless Apple comes up with something really compelling in the next iMac (bezel-less design, all SSD storage), or my current setup decides to go on the fritz, I have no need or desire to change my system anytime soon. It runs like a champ!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All of the replies I've gotten are really helpful but I sure am glad you replied!...the true test case for me! As suggested above I've gone with first a RAM upgrade - hopefully any day now my 8gb jump to 16gb total RAM will come from CRUCIAL..the ThunderSATAgo is no longer available via Amazon but again, it sure sounds like the SSD upgrade was worth it too. I switched to the APPLE ecosystem about 10 years ago or so after 35 years of mainframe computing that eventually made itself isn't DOS then into WINDOWS PCs. The MacBook pro, MacBook AIR, and this iMac have never given me any need to mess around with extra drives and "fusion" situations. Was it very difficult to set up the SSD? You talk of a fusion situation - is this the same as operating system on the SSD and the internal HD for storage? As for the need for a 43 4K TV as monitor (which sounds really cool) I'm guessing that's just a bit much for me! Thanks again!
 
Comment

dpfenninger

macrumors regular
Nov 23, 2005
162
78
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All of the replies I've gotten are really helpful but I sure am glad you replied!...the true test case for me! As suggested above I've gone with first a RAM upgrade - hopefully any day now my 8gb jump to 16gb total RAM will come from CRUCIAL..the ThunderSATAgo is no longer available via Amazon but again, it sure sounds like the SSD upgrade was worth it too. I switched to the APPLE ecosystem about 10 years ago or so after 35 years of mainframe computing that eventually made itself isn't DOS then into WINDOWS PCs. The MacBook pro, MacBook AIR, and this iMac have never given me any need to mess around with extra drives and "fusion" situations. Was it very difficult to set up the SSD? You talk of a fusion situation - is this the same as operating system on the SSD and the internal HD for storage? As for the need for a 43 4K TV as monitor (which sounds really cool) I'm guessing that's just a bit much for me! Thanks again!

The Fusion drive is not quite the same as the OS being on the SSD and the HDD used for storage. You can definitely set it up that way...format them as two separate storage devices, install the OS on the SSD (connected via Thunderbolt or USB 3 enclosure), and then move your user folder and all your data to the HDD. This website kind of details that:


I decided not to go that route, as I didn't want to have to manage which data went where, and also worry about something messing with those settings and breaking things down the road, so I opted for a true Fusion drive setup, where the OS manages where data is placed, and the OS shows the two devices as ONE single drive in the Finder. It takes some initial setup and some Terminal commands, but once you get the gist of it, it's not daunting at all and I love the seamlessness of it all:


The downside to the Fusion setup is you double your risk of failure as data is now spread across two different devices, so as with any computer, really, you should have a good backup plan. I have an external HDD that I use for Time Machine, another to do whole system clones from time to time, and I also subscribe to Backblaze online backup (HIGHLY recommended). The plus, though, when it comes to backing up a Fusion drive is that you only have to do backups for a single volume, instead of two.

For the most part, the system has run smoothly like this for a few years now. I've tried the Fusion setup in various hardware iterations: 1st with a different Thunderbolt enclosure for the SSD, but that crapped out after a couple years; 2nd with a USB3.0 enclosure for the SSD, but found that presented some glitches here and there, didn't support TRIM, and wasn't as speedy; and finally with my current Thunderbolt setup that has been the best of the three so far.

The 43" TV as a second monitor wasn't so much a need as it was a test to see if I could make it work for occasional video stuff, since my TV is mounted on the wall literally next to my desk setup and inches away from the iMac. I had heard of users having difficulty getting the 2013 iMacs to output at 4K on external displays, but I made sure I found a Mini-DisplayPort adaptor that supported the DisplayPort 1.2a standard (supporting resolutions up to 4K (3840x2160p) @60Hz) and decided to give it a shot. Apparently the 27" will only spit out a 30Hz signal at that resolution due to the bandwidth of the original Thunderbolt 1 spec, but I don't do a lot of gaming or heavy duty video work so it looks great to me and I've already put it to use for a few tasks.

The ONLY thing that I've noticed with my system lately that makes me contemplate a new system down the road is that the iMac screen does experience some "image persistence," where if I keep some windows open and untouched for a while (esp. lighter/whiter ones), I see them burned into other windows that I'll open later. It isn't too bad, and if I run a screensaver for a little while they go away no problem, but it's the one thing that makes the system show its age a bit.

Other than that, the thing is as pristine as the day I took it out of the box in early 2014 and runs most everything I throw at it. At a bare minimum, adding an SSD to any older system will make it feel YEARS newer, so definitely do that if you plan on keeping the system around.
 
Last edited:
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.