1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Mid 2011 iMac upgrades....or don't bother?

Discussion in 'Apple Hardware' started by placeholder, Apr 1, 2020.

  1. placeholder

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 14, 2007

    Posts: 3,385

    I have inherited a mid 2011 iMac 21.5inch, 500gb HD, 2.5ghz intel core i5 with 4gb memory.

    Ive been using MacBooks and iPads for a few years and have essentially only taken this because Im having to work from home for the foreseeable as Im sure many of us are. Thing is i REALLY like it! Ok, its pretty dated but it actually still does most of what I would ever want a desktop to do albeit its a little slow.

    Running along side this I am just finishing a house renovation where I will have a dedicated office space that at some point I would maybe consider putting a new iMac into, but spending that sort of cash isn't a top priority right now.

    So here is my question. What could I do to the iMac that would make any significant performance differences and how much would it cost? Obvious thing is the memory, how much would that cost me? (link if possible). I don't want to spend money thats just dead but if I can make it a bit better then I will because as I say its doing 99% of what I want it to already just a bit slow. Maybe its not viable to do anything, if so, fair enough.

    These machines really do have a remarkable shelf life.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2020
  2. Feek

    Commissario

    Joined: Oct 16, 2002

    Posts: 28,211

    Location: In the radio shack

    My 2011 iMac had a firewire port. I would say that the upgrade which will give you the biggest performance difference is to grab a firewire caddy and an SSD and use that instead of the internal mechanical HDD. It'll be like night and day.
     
  3. placeholder

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 14, 2007

    Posts: 3,385

    Ok, if I was to do that and add some memory too would that be the best combo or would an increase in memory not make any significant difference?
     
  4. Feek

    Commissario

    Joined: Oct 16, 2002

    Posts: 28,211

    Location: In the radio shack

    Doing both will help but you'll notice much more of a difference with the SSD. Memory is easy to do on those, it's just behind a door. If you do the memory by itself, depending on how heavily you use the machine, you'll benefit from it not swapping out to the technical HDD.

    Personally, I'd go for the SSD first and see what a difference it makes. I don't think you'll notice much difference with the memory.
     
  5. placeholder

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 14, 2007

    Posts: 3,385

    Ok thats great, thank you for that. I don't want to spend money for no return given the age of the machine, but Im a light user and its a lot better than I was expecting it to be.
     
  6. Feek

    Commissario

    Joined: Oct 16, 2002

    Posts: 28,211

    Location: In the radio shack

    I've just double checked and that model does have a firewire port (I did wonder if the 21.5" might not) and it does so you're good to go. Of course, the challenge now is finding a firewire 800 hard drive caddy.
     
  7. placeholder

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 14, 2007

    Posts: 3,385

    Ah right ok, I'm pretty clueless truth be told!
     
  8. matt1

    Mobster

    Joined: May 2, 2004

    Posts: 2,520

    Location: Nottingham

    Agree with Feek.

    Changing from a mechanical hard drive to an SSD would make a big difference, did this upgrade for my wifes MBP 2012 and it's greatly improved its responsiveness.
     
  9. GW1970

    Gangster

    Joined: Nov 16, 2012

    Posts: 435

    Didn’t think the 21.5” could have the memory updated and it was just the 27”
     
  10. Feek

    Commissario

    Joined: Oct 16, 2002

    Posts: 28,211

    Location: In the radio shack

    I checked that and it changed on the 2012 model. The 2011 21.5" can still be done, details here.
     
  11. placeholder

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 14, 2007

    Posts: 3,385

    Thank you all for your advice. Do you think anyone could link he to exactly what I would need to do the SSD upgrade and also what memory I would need to do the memory as well so I can price it up? Sorry for being a bit thick but despite being a member here I don't tend to do stuff like this very often! :-D
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
  12. dirtybeatfreak

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 25, 2006

    Posts: 4,051

    Location: Eastbourne

    Be careful changing the HDD on this model. It's easy to change the drive, but the rubbish part about it is dust behind the Display Panel when you remove/put it back. Dust gets stuck between this panel and the display itself and can be quite annoying, especially if you want the machine for photo's or graphical work. They are a pita to keep dust free with the right tools, let alone doing it at home yourself.
     
  13. Feek

    Commissario

    Joined: Oct 16, 2002

    Posts: 28,211

    Location: In the radio shack

    That's why we're suggesting a Firewire 800 caddy with an external SSD.

    @placeholder They're quite difficult to find now but this looks like a suitable enclosure to me. It's an OWC unit with both Firewire 800 and USB3 ports.
     
  14. placeholder

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 14, 2007

    Posts: 3,385


    Thats great feek, really appreciating your help with this. So what we are saying is to buy something like that, put an SSD in it and make that the HD for the machine and it just sits next to it like an external HD would? Is there any particular type of SSD or does it not matter? Also is there particular memory that would be good or suitable? Last question...how much memory would make a difference? Are the gains incidental or past a point will it not make any difference. `its only got 4gb as it stands.

    Sorry for the basic questions like I say its pretty new to me.
     
  15. Feek

    Commissario

    Joined: Oct 16, 2002

    Posts: 28,211

    Location: In the radio shack

    OK, so it has 4Gb RAM which I'm quite sure will be 2x2Gb strips as it has four slots. If that were mine and I wanted to upgrade the memory, I think I'd go with an extra 8Gb taking you up to 12. OcUK don't have any suitable memory kits in stock and I can't mention competitors so I'd recommend googling CT2K4G3S1339M (8GB Kit (2 x 4GB) DDR3L-1333 SODIMM memory) to try and find what you want. There's a video showing how to fit it here where he takes out the original memory and fits 2 x 8Gb strips. Someone in the comments asks why he didn't just add the extra ones and he comments that he did so afterwards and has 12Gb RAM total.

    Regarding the SSD, yes, exactly that. Find one you like the look of and away you go. You can connect it all up and then use something like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! to clone from the internal drive to the external drive then go into System Preference/Startup Disk and select the external drive. Once that's all up and running, I'd probably use the internal drive for a backup of the external one.

    Good luck!
     
  16. placeholder

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 14, 2007

    Posts: 3,385

    Thank you so much for helping me out here Feek, really appreciate it.
     
  17. dirtybeatfreak

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 25, 2006

    Posts: 4,051

    Location: Eastbourne

    So you did, I missed that bit lol. I saw some other guy talking about changing from a mechanical drive which prompted my comment :)
     
  18. Maccy

    Commissario

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004

    Posts: 36,296

    Location: Herts

    FYI I replaced the internal HDD in my 2008 iMac with an SSHD (similar to an SSD) and didn't suffer with dust behind the glass etc. Took my time but it made a massive improvement in performance.
     
  19. Feek

    Commissario

    Joined: Oct 16, 2002

    Posts: 28,211

    Location: In the radio shack

    Aye, I did similar on my mid 2011 27" iMac but I replaced the Apple 2Tb HDD with a 4Tb drive and didn't get any dust in either.
     
  20. placeholder

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 14, 2007

    Posts: 3,385

    Ok just wanted to update this and say a wee thank you.

    I decided to take the advice offered here particularly by Feek, so Im going to upgrade to SSD but that will have to wait until next month but I did the RAM upgrade this morning to 12GB and I can't believe the difference its made. As I am working from home I have to remote into my work PC but also have other things working in the background on the Mac. It had been an effective but clunky process (understandably give the age and spec of the Mac) until now but suddenly everything is zipping along at a hell of a rate. Its like a new computer.

    Anyway absolutely delighted and thanks Feek and others for taking the time to reply, you have made a genuine difference to my working day in these strange and trying times!