Will replacing a 5400 RPM hard drive with an SSD help iMac performance substantially?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by slobizman, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. slobizman macrumors regular

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    #1
    My wife has a late 2013 21.5" iMac with 2.7 GHz Core i5, 8GB memory, Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB graphics, and a 1 GB 5400 RPM hard drive (25% used). It's gotten slower and slower over the years, but has always been sluggish. I remember being disappointed when we bought it.

    I was about to buy a new one for her and then I thought about just replacing that horrible hard drive with an SSD. I don't want to attempt it myself, but a local Mac shop will put in a 512 GB Crucial SSD, install a new OS and migrate the old data over for about $380.

    Am I right in thinking that swapping out the drive can have a big impact on her experience? She only really uses Safari, Photos and Spotify for the most part. Nothing heavy duty. But she continually gets the beachball and very often has really slow response time. (And yes, I've tried all sorts of performance tuning procedures to try and get it to work better.)

    I'd like to know if others think that the old, slow hard drive can have such an impact on performance and if replacing it with an SSD could be the trick. I'd certainly rather pay under $400 than buy a new iMac plus tax and AppleCare.

    Thanks!
     
  2. redheeler macrumors 604

    redheeler

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    #2
    Yes.
     
  3. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000

    nambuccaheadsau

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  4. slobizman thread starter macrumors regular

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  5. keysofanxiety macrumors G3

    keysofanxiety

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    #5
    Short answer: yes.

    Long answer: HEEEEEEELLLLLLLL YEEEAAAHHH BROTHER
     
  6. BugeyeSTI macrumors 68030

    BugeyeSTI

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    #6
    You will not regret the upgrade. The boot time speed is a night and day difference let alone the performance increase you will see (I had a 7200 rpm HDD).. Gave my 2010 27’ iMac new life a couple years ago.
     
  7. jmiddel macrumors regular

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  8. wardie macrumors regular

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    #8
    YES YES YES for example I just did one on a family member’s 2010 MacBook Pro (taking out a 5400rpm 320GB HDD and swapping in a cheap 512GB Crucial SSD) and I reckon it will give it another couple of years’ acceptable use, and its a lot more speedy now for standard - web, Office, mail use.
     
  9. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    #9
    Oh my, yes. You can pay to have it done or do it yourself—time consuming and a little scary the first time but not hard. You'll need a few inexpensive tools, a thermo sensor and a tape kit.

    If you want to upgrade the RAM, that's the time to do it as long as the screen is off and you have access.
     
  10. slobizman thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    THANKS to everybody here that chimed in. It was so unanimous that I already brought it to the shop and I'll have it back tomorrow.
     
  11. biffuz macrumors member

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    #11
    Your iMac still got a nice CPU. With an SSD, you won't notice any difference with the new ones (IF they have an SSD, it's ridicolous Apple still puts HDDs in these).
     
  12. chscag macrumors 68040

    chscag

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    #12
    I agree with the others. Definitely replace that HHD with a SSD. Just make sure the Mac shop you're using knows what they're doing and will warrant their work.

    Why Apple used those slow notebook 5400 RPM drives in their 21.5" iMacs in 2013 is beyond me. My 21.5" 2011 iMac had a full size 7200 RPM drive. I guess Apple decided to save some money with the later models. :eek:
     
  13. Fried Chicken macrumors 6502a

    Fried Chicken

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    #13
    Does this question still need asking in 2018?
     
  14. slobizman thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    I didn't know they REDUCED the HD speed from 2011 to 2013! That's pretty bad.
     
  15. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000

    nambuccaheadsau

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    #15
    Also chscag, with the 5400rpm drive Apple never ran into the heat problem, and replacement 5400rpm drives do not need the heat sensor fix as the post 2009 models did.
     
  16. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    #16
    The question:
    "Will replacing a 5400 RPM hard drive with an SSD help iMac performance substantially?"

    The [unequivocal] answer:
    YES.

    HOWEVER --
    You don't have to pry open the iMac to enjoy the speed benefits.

    You can get a USB3 SSD, plug it in, set it up to be the boot drive, and realize about 85% of the speeds you would see from an internally-installed drive.

    Faster, cheaper, easier, safer (there are risks involved in breaking open the iMac).

    I'd suggest something like a Samsung t5 or a Sandisk Extreme.
    It doesn't have to be large.
    Even 256gb will do the job, 512gb if you wish.

    Set it up with the OS, apps, and basic accounts on the SSD.
    Leave "large libraries" on the internal drive.
    By "large libraries", I mean movies, music, pics.
    They will run just fine from the internal.

    The idea is to keep the SSD running "lean and clean".

    Follow my advice, and you will have a VERY HAPPY wife.

    It will also cost you only about $140 (or even less).
     
  17. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Heat. These ran really, really hot. 5400 drives cooled them down somewhat—not as much as SSD only but enough to cut down on warranty costs.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 14, 2018 ---
    This is one of your constant posts. Please tell us what those risks are.

    OK, if a person can't follow directions or is inclined to drop things, there are experienced techs who can do this job in an hour or less.
     
  18. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    #18
    Mike wrote:
    "This is one of your constant posts. Please tell us what those risks are."

    I realize you've probably opened more iMacs than you've taken apart banjos. ;)

    But... for many folks, this is a procedure that can be fraught with peril.
    There have been many, many posts from Mac Mini users who thought they could disassemble the computer to install a hard drive, and then.... BROKE something inside. I've read them right here through the years.

    I've seen similar posts in the "I opened it and broke something, what do I do now?" vein in the iMac section, too.

    This isn't to say that someone can't do it.
    But... it can be way too easy to "make a slip" sometimes, and end up with more damage than originally intended.

    I suggest the USB3/SSD external solution because it IS "the fastest, cheapest, easiest and safest" way to get a faster Mac (one that has a USB3 port).

    NO, it's not "the absolute, be-all, end-all fastest" solution, because an internally-mounted SATA 2.5" SATA drive will run a little faster. Of course.
    But USB3 "gets you close" -- I'll reckon within about 85% or so of the performance you'd get from the same drive installed internally. Typically, the user should see reads around 430mbps and writes around 300-350mbps (depending on the drive).

    If one can do the job, and they actually CAN do the job (beyond THINKING they could do the job, but not being able to)... sure... put the drive inside.

    But it's not the only way, and for many, "going external" may be preferable for USB3-equipped Macs from 2012 to around 2015 or so.

    If they're close enough, they can bring 'em to you for the inside job!
     
  19. mikehalloran, Nov 14, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018

    mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    #19
    You would be wrong on that. I took apart my first banjo in 1969, 22 years before replacing the RAM in a Mac+ in 1987.

    You apparently know who I am. Who are you?
     
  20. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    #20
    "You apparently know who I am. Who are you?"

    Les' jes' say that "I know what I know"... ;)
     
  21. slobizman thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 16, 2008
    #21
    I got my iMac back from the Experimac shop today. Blazing fast!!! This $400 upgrade was so much better than paying for a new iMac with a 512GB SSD drive!

    Thank you to everyone for their comments.
     
  22. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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  23. slobizman thread starter macrumors regular

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    #23
    512GB. It was $380 for the drive, installation, clean install of Mojave (I was on High Sierra) and migration from old drive.
     

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