Upgrade or buy a new one?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Utterchaos23, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. Utterchaos23 macrumors member

    Utterchaos23

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Brighton UK
    #1
    Hi All,

    My father-in-law's 2013 27" 3.2 GHz iMac is running out of steam. He's not a power user, just web, email, bit of photoshop etc, but the thing is really slowing down now.

    He has 2 options.

    Upgrade: it only has 8GB and a HDD. For £400 he can get 32GB and an external SSD for the OS. (I can do all the work!)

    or

    Buy a new one: Get a near-base model new iMac with 8GB and a Fusion


    I know thew processor is going to be quicker in the new one, but the is the increases RAM and SSD a faster user experience than just a quicker processor?
     
  2. Krayzkat macrumors 6502a

    Krayzkat

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    Upgrade I’d say. Even just add the SSD and go to 16Gb to save a bit of cash
     
  3. sjackson macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2014
    #3
    Add 16GB RAM (I just bought 16GB for £139 but that's for a 2017 iMac). As it's out of warranty can you fit an internal SSD?

    If you bought a new one you should go SSD plus RAM from Amazon etc so you'll end up spending an extra £300 or £400 anyway.
     
  4. Utterchaos23 thread starter macrumors member

    Utterchaos23

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Brighton UK
    #4
    32GB ordered... would love to do the internal SSD, but don't fancy un-gluing the screen of someone elect iMac... !!
     
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #5
    OP:

    From the usage scenario you posted above, 8gb of RAM is all your father-in-law will probably ever need.

    What -IS- slowing down the iMac is the internal platter-based hard drive.
    So... get an SSD to supplement it.

    You wrote:
    "For £400 he can get 32GB and an external SSD for the OS. (I can do all the work!)"

    You don't need to spend 1/4 of that.
    Again, an external SSD like the Samsung t5 ought to do the job for less than £100.
    512gb should do fine, or even just 256gb.

    Put a copy of the OS, his apps, his account on the SSD.
    If he has "large libraries" (such as movies, music or pics), leave them on the internal hard drive. They don't "need speed".

    You will both be amazed at how well the iMac will run once you set it up for him like this. It will zip along.

    Again, NO NEED for more RAM, because that's not where the slowdown is coming from.

    Get the SSD up and running first.
    Then let him run it that way for a week or two.
    If there are no more complaints about speed, then you can conclude that the RAM is not a factor at all.
     
  6. pl1984 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #6
    macOS provides "Activity Monitor" which can assist you in tracking down a performance bottleneck. Before doing anything I would recommend you take advantage of it (it can be found in the "Applications | Utilities" folder). It shows CPU, memory, and disk activity.

    While the recommendation to install an SSD is not a bad one you should ask yourself: What has caused the Mac to slow down? Your father-in-laws current setup should be more than sufficient for what he does. I have a 2007 PC which does all of those tasks just fine so a later model, better spec iMac should be more than sufficient.

    Where does your FIL feel it is lacking in performance? Startup / shutdown? Application launch? Web browsing? Poor performance in the application itself?
     
  7. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    #7
    I second this.
    As "tech support" for my extended family, I take care of a couple dozen Macs and iPhones. One of the oldest is a 2011 MBA with 4GB memory, and of course it has an SSD. It runs 10.13.6, and works well for what it does: email, web surfing, Photos.
    Your FIL's iMac HDD is almost certainly the root cause of the sluggishness. Several versions ago macOS was developed to make more use of flash memory based storage. Systems with spinning disks performed worse with each OS update. Compounding this, the iMac HDD is 5 years old, certainly approaching end of life.
    Depending on your comfort level with design aesthetics, a small SSD can be connected to a USB3 port and either sit on the desk, in the middle of the monitor stand, or attached to the back.
     
  8. cwanja macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #8
    Challenge - does he really do a lot of Photoshop? Could an iPad replace his workflow on an iMac?
     
  9. rangers12 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #9
    Agree that an external thunderbolt SSD will make a huge difference and is not that expensive.
     
  10. Razzerman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #10
    As others have said, best bet is to go for external ssd first, and see how much that helps. Cancel the ram order maybe?
     
  11. Utterchaos23 thread starter macrumors member

    Utterchaos23

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Brighton UK
    #11
    Thanks all for your advice.

    I don't have access to their machine at the moment but my RAM runs at 10-16GB most of the time, so I've opted to do SSD first then see what his RAM usages is.... I will send the RAM back if it's not hitting the 8GB limit. Even if it is, 2x4GB and 2 x 8GB will likely be plenty so maybe we can send back 2 x 8GB saving £128.

    Thanks again.... J
     
  12. pl1984, Sep 11, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018

    pl1984 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #12
    Again I'd like to reiterate trying to identify / narrow down the source of the performance issue before spending any money. While SSDs are nice they are not a panacea for all performance issues.

    Spend a few minutes understanding what your FIL means by "running out of steam" and then attempt to identify areas which could be the cause. Activity Monitor can be very useful in assisting. IMO merely throwing parts at the problem isn't wise.
     
  13. rangers12 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #13
    Very good point- I upgraded my wife's macbook pro with an ssd and max ram, but the main drag on the system was that it was cluttered with all sorts of garbage. One idea is to clone the current hard drive, and then do a clean install on the computer and then add back items one by one. I wiped my wife's macbook, and it runs great now.
     
  14. jerwin macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2015
    #14
    they make 27 inch ipads?
     
  15. Utterchaos23 thread starter macrumors member

    Utterchaos23

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Brighton UK
    #15
    Yes, agreed with the diagnostics. He saids "Google takes a long time to load" meaning safari. Apparently it "Takes a long time to wake up", and "program switching is slow".

    I've previously cleaned it up for him, removing duplicate files from the desktop, login items and unused safari extensions etc. My Mac is a 2012 Mac mini and it runs beautifully!
     
  16. pl1984 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #16
    What is meant by "Google takes a long time to load"? Based on your statement following is it reasonable to assume he's equating Google and Safari?

    Has anything recently changed with the system? Loading safari and program switching shouldn't take any longer now than it did back when it was new. Kholson made a great point: The hard drive is five or more years old. Perhaps it is starting to fail so that is something to consider.

    Also I want to be clear that I am not against replacing the HD with an SSD. However it's not an easy thing to do for that particular Mac. If you're going to go through the time, effort, and risk of installing an SSD you shouldn't be doing so "just because".
     
  17. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 65816

    nambuccaheadsau

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #17
    It is very easy ~ going the external route.

    And don't throw money at TB. USB3 is just as fast as TB1 in real life terms.
     
  18. cwanja macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #18
    The obvious suggestion was to transition FROM the 27" iMac to an iPad that would support his needs. But who knows what Wednesday's event brings.
     
  19. alien3dx macrumors 6502a

    alien3dx

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2017
    #19
    why even need 32 GB RAM . 16 GB ram + external will make him happy allready.
     
  20. Utterchaos23 thread starter macrumors member

    Utterchaos23

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Brighton UK
    #20
    Thanks all.

    PL1984, thanks for your advice. I’m happy with diagnosing a slow mac, and yes, as I stated “Google” is his term for safari, I was using his nomenclature as a way of expressing his low level of understanding in the area as well as the limited information I had to base my decision on.

    My OP was basically a CPU vs SSD + RAM question and I’m now happy with the answers.
     
  21. pl1984 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #21
    Given his "running out of steam" perception is based on browsing performance then I would first investigate CPU and / or RAM constraints. Though I would think a 2013 iMac such as your FIL should be acceptable. Use Activity Monitor to see if either is an issue.

    My thought is this: It's the same Mac as when you first purchased it. If web browsing was acceptable at that time then something has changed between then and now. So what has changed? The web sites we view. They've become more complex and require more power to view. As a user of older Macs (for example a PowerMac G5) I can clearly see its performance issues is lack of CPU power. When I have Activity Monitor open I can clearly see the CPU is maxed. Replacing the hard disk with an SSD did nothing to resolve this problem (nor did I expect it to). One easy way to test if web performance is CPU bound is to disable Java in Safari. Doing so will impact his ability to view many web sites but it should at least give him an indication if it's more responsive.

    With all that said I would hope that a 2013 27" iMac would be sufficient to browse the modern web. As I mentioned earlier I use a Windows PC (Windows 10) from 2007 without any performance issues. I also use several other laptops, such as the one I am typing this response on, which are of the same technology level as your FILs iMac. All work fine on the web (though they are Windows 10 based systems).

    You might also consider trying to reinstall the OS and applications. Something may have gone wonky and that would be a quick and easy way to rule out any OS anomalies. Which version of the OS is he running?
     
  22. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 65816

    nambuccaheadsau

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #22
    Just use an external SSD. The slow down is in the molasses like platter drive.

    No software install or memory increase will improve things as near as much as an external SSD running via USB3.
     
  23. jerwin macrumors 68000

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    Jun 13, 2015
  24. pl1984 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #24
    How does an SSD improve web performance?
     
  25. jerwin macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2015
    #25
    Here's a javascript benchmark:

    https://browserbench.org/JetStream/

    Here are my results (3.5 Ghz imac from 2014, Safari)
    Screen Shot 80.png

    Maybe it's good, maybe it's crushed by the ipad. I do know that chrome on the same machine scores a 172.42-- which is absurdly worse.
     

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