Worth it to Upgrade to SSD on Mid-2011 iMac (21.5")?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Robdmb, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Robdmb macrumors member

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    Nov 5, 2008
    #1
    Hi,

    I've had a Mid-2011 iMac for a few years now and recently have noticed its become a bit slow in some tasks. I have already upgraded the ram (think i have 24gb) and was wondering if it would be worth it to upgrade the HD to a SSD? I see that OWC has upgrade kits. I realize the machine is getting old now so I dont want to just throw money away, but it still seems to run well otherwise. Also, the machine is just for general usage (internet, office, etc.). No gaming or other high performance items.

    Any opinions are appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. jkmags macrumors member

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    May 6, 2011
    #2
    I would say Yes, I have a mid 2011 iMac and updated to the OWC 240 SSD a year after I bought it and its not even the same machine with regards to how it feels navigating your daily tasks. I would say if you are not limited by your CPU or Video for what you use your PC for it will seem like you bought a new machine after the upgrade.
     
  3. Robdmb thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 5, 2008
    #3
    How hard was the upgrade? I watched the video and it seems relatively easy if you take it slow and follow the directions to remove the screen, etc.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 7, 2016 ---
    Also, would there be any advantage/disadvantage to using an external SSD drive as a boot drive (assuming you can do this) over Thunderbolt?
     
  4. teleromeo macrumors 65816

    teleromeo

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    #4
    I upgraded my 2009 MacBook Pro a couple of years ago and found it the best upgrade I could do. You'll get very fast system start ups and programs and files that open almost instantly.
     
  5. Robdmb thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
    Sorry one more question - is there any reason to pay a premium for a drive from OWC - or will any 2.5" SSD drive work?
     
  6. jkmags macrumors member

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    May 6, 2011
    #6
    I had it done at a local Apple certified repair center, there was a recall on my 1TB HD and I had them put the SSD in when they replaced the original HD (I think they charged me 50 bucks at the time). I use the 1Tb as the data drive and the 240SSD as the boot drive on my system.

    I have since taken apart my iMac a couple times as my video card went out and had to be sent in for repair (out of warranty). The kit from OWC allows you to put it behind the OD, it looks like you would need to remove the OD and remove the screws from the mainboard to access the SATA port on the motherboard as they plug in on the back. The SSD is connected to the SATA1 and the OD I believe is connected to the SATA2 port. I also believe you will need to format the SSD as the primary partition to make it the boot drive so you will want to backup everything. Hopefully someone can give you the steps to make the SSD the boot drive as I am not 100% sure.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 7, 2016 ---

    I think you can buy some SSD's but not all are compatible with your iMac (at least thats what i think i remember), it was more of a get every thing needed and a known to work thing for me at the time when i purchased the drive. I remember looking at Newegg and seeing some reviews from people about adding a specific SSD to their iMacs and it working when i was researching at the time.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 7, 2016 ---
    One last thing, if you do not use your OD I think you can take it out and then plug in the SSD in the same location and not have to mess with the mainbaord. I'm guessing some double sided tape or Velcro may work to stick the drive to the case so it doesn't move around but this method may be easier for you. I would search the forums to make sure this would work but it would be a less stressful way of adding the drive.
     
  7. Hirakata macrumors 6502

    Hirakata

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    #7
    You can use any drive.

    An SSD upgrade will bring new life to it. I upgraded my 27" 2011 a couple years ago and it's like a new computer. It's a relatively easy job if you take your time and are patient. The hardest part for me, believe it or not, was disconnecting the very first cable (the v-sync cable). It's like the damn thing was glued into it's slot, and trying to hold the display open (but not too far) while trying to pull the cable from it's socket was quite the pain! (Your cable may not be in so tight.) After that though, there wasn't really much trouble. Just get the OWC installation kit and you'll be good.

    Coincidentally, the HDD in my iMac has recently been dying so I just replaced it yesterday. The v-sync cable popped right out this time, and the job went rather smoothly.
     
  8. Robdmb thread starter macrumors member

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    #8
    So would the Samsung 850 EVO be a decent drive? I see you can get the 512 version for around $150.
     
  9. r6mile macrumors 6502

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    #9
    The 850 EVO is an excellent drive, I've installed on several iMacs, Mac Minis, Macbook, MBP, etc. The SSD is the best upgrade you can do to your iMac (I put a 850 in my 2010 iMac). The upgrade is not particularly difficult if you follow the instructions in the OWC upgrade kit (you will need the OWC upgrade kit which comes with the sensor cable and the tools, and a 2.5-to-3.5 caddy like the Newertech Adaptadrive), but be careful with the display cable. It's quite easily damaged (though not the worst thing if you do, as you can get a replacement for about £15 on eBay).
     
  10. mhafeez macrumors regular

    mhafeez

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  11. Robdmb thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 5, 2008
    #11
    Awesome - thanks for the feedback. After you install the new drive and reboot the mac does it automatically format the drive and reinstall the current operating system? Or do you need to do something special. I will back up all my files so I am fine with a clean install.
     
  12. r6mile macrumors 6502

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    #12
    No it doesn't do any of those things. You will need to have the drive formatted first, which you can do by putting your new SSD into a USB enclosure, and then format into Mac OS Journaled from Disk Utility.
    Then, clone your existing hard drive into the SSD by using Carbon Copy Cloner or some other tool. And then put the SSD into the iMac. Your iMac will boot with the same contents as it did with the previous drive, just way faster.
    In order to ensure that boot-up is not slow, once you've done the above go into System preferences, then start-up disk, and then select your Macintosh HD partition and restart (otherwise, your boot-up will be slow because your iMac will always first look for the old drive on boot)
     
  13. tyche macrumors 6502

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    #13
  14. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #14
    Best approach is to clone your existing drive with Carbon Clop Cloner (CCC) using an external enclosure or dock. Once it's cloned ou can boot from it and verify that all works well. Then install it in the iMac. That's the approach I took with my wife's 2011 iMac 21.5". I had a local Apple repair shop do the swap for me. It cost $140 for the swap. She has been very happy with the performance boost.
     
  15. iLG macrumors member

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    Sep 30, 2011
    #15
    You can try super dooper aswell that's what I used.
    I upgraded all my macs with SSDs best investment ever
     
  16. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

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    Nov 20, 2012
    #16
    After putting an SSD in my old MBP in 2010, I refuse to have any of my personal computers using HD's as their primary drive. Eventually that MBP got replaced with a 21.5" 2010 iMac which I still have, and it's worked flawlessly over the years. I have no desire to upgrade yet simply because its performance is still very acceptable. So without a doubt, throw an SSD in there. Fortunately, the 2011 iMac came with SATA III, so your improvement in speed will be even more dramatic than mine. Oh, and have you checked prices on SSDs lately? I can't believe how cheap they've gotten.
     
  17. Robdmb thread starter macrumors member

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    #17
    So is the only way to prepare a SSD for internal installation to have another external drive where you can pre-format it, clone it etc. before installation? Is there any way to use the SD drive to prepare a temporary bootable drive that would allow you to format the SSD after install? My files are back up so I am otherwise fine with a clean install. Does apple let you redownload the operating system?

    Lastly, if you do need some sort of external drive to "prepare" the SSD, how much of a performance difference is there in just buying an external thunderbolt drive on these 2011 models?

    Thanks again.
     
  18. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #18
    Title answer: Hell yes! My 2013 work iMac is so slow to work on in comparison, since it has a HDD and my 2011 iMac at home has an SSD.

    No, you can just pop it in right away. It is just a tad easier if you install OSX on the drive prior to installation IMO.

    As many times as you like.

    Probably not much.
     
  19. teleromeo macrumors 65816

    teleromeo

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    #19
    You can download the latest Operating system from the app store and make a startup disk with DiskMaker X 5. Just quit the installer after downloading instead of proceeding to install and let DiskMaker do its thing. A SD card or an USB drive will work. When you're done install you SSD and do the clean install.
     
  20. r6mile macrumors 6502

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    #20
    You need an external enclosure so you can format the SSD as Mac OS X Journaled. I think it's easier to clone your existing drive into it. Alternatively, just make a bootable OS X install with a USB drive if you have one, if you want a clean install.

    I think Thunderbolt gives you similar performance than an internal SSD, but it's a less neat solution of course.
     
  21. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #21
    I got my wife an external Thunderbolt SSD and it is really, really fast. Almost as good as the internal SSD. Expensive because it was the 1tb version.

    I've started making a bootable copy of OS X on a USB drive and keeping it around so I have it if needed. You can but 10 packs of 8gb thumb drives for $30 so the cost is negligible. Nice to have the current and previous versions laying around, ready to go.
     
  22. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000

    MultiFinder17

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    #22
    I set up my base model 2011 21" iMac with a 256GB SSD in a fusion drive with the stock 500GB HDD, and it was marvelous! It makes such a difference in what's already a snappy, awesome machine.
     
  23. Robdmb thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 5, 2008
    #23
    Sorry to resurrect this thread - however, can anyone recommend a decent 500 gb or so external thunderbolt drive that I could compare pricing to? I'm trying to decide if its worth buying an internal drive, the OWC install kit, etc. versus just going with the convenience of an external drive. Sounds like the performance of an internal sata drive versus thunderbolt external would be comparable.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 23, 2016 ---
    I just chatted with OWC regarding what kits I need. Looks like costs about $68. They said on chat, that you do not need to format or install OSX on the drive before installation and removal of the old drive. They said you can just boot into OSX Recovery and do both of those things with the new drive. Can anyone verify if that is in fact accurate for a Mid-2011 iMac? I dont want to get the new drive installed then find out I can't format/install OSX on it without having done that before installation.

    Thanks.
     
  24. tyche macrumors 6502

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    Jul 30, 2010
    #24
    I already answered that in post #13. If you can hook up the SSD externally temporarily you can format and clone your internal drive (Carbon Copy Cloner or similar tool) first and when you install it you will have your exact system now running on SSD. If you want to do a clean OS install and re-install your data/apps later, install the blank SSD and follow the Apple OS installation guide.
     
  25. Robdmb thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 5, 2008
    #25
    Is there any practical advantage/disadvantage to cloning the HDD versus just doing a Time Machine Backup and Recovery after freshly installing OSX?
     

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