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bocciaman's picture
78 pencils

New iMac vs Upgrade

I've gotten some information for upgrading my 2009 21.5" iMac. It will cost me $705.00 for the following to be done to my machine, please note that these upgrades will be done on my behalf so part of the cost is labor.

1. 240 GB SSD
2. Labor
3. Apple Hard drive adapter kit; DVD drive will be replaced by SSD Drive.
4. 16 GB Ram upgrade

Total Cost: $705.00

Brand new 2012 iMac $1500.00.

Which one is the better option in your opinion?

Commenting on this Forum topic will be automatically closed on February 25, 2013.

YoungZM's picture
917 pencils

Where are you buying your parts from? That shouldn't cost you more than $300 parts.

Also, maybe it's the way you've written it but why are you replacing a reading drive with a memory drive? Do you not have room? That aside, with how much money SSD's cost these days you should be able to get a 500gb SSD for a reasonable price. 240 isn't much these days.

For $1500, there is no option for an iMac. They seem to start at $1299 for a 21.5" model. You may have done some customizing.

bocciaman's picture
78 pencils

No, I am replacing the optical drive with an SSD because there is no other way to do it in a 2009 21.5" iMac. The people I am having do the procedure for me may be the reason behind the high price tag. but you are right I will buy my own parts.

I do have a video I made that explains it better but couldn't figure out how to post it here.

wgzn's picture
2124 pencils

nothing makes a mac feel more zippy than a faster boot drive and more ram. but do your homework. all SSDs are NOT created equal.

BUT depending on the kind of work you do and what processor your machine has. you may benefit more from the better processor and graphic card in a newer machine than you will from upgrading your old machine ...

YoungZM's picture
917 pencils

Which is where everyone will disagree with me about having a modular built rig running an OSX system. Much cheaper to do part-swaps and replacements in the future.

Art D. Rector's picture
3166 pencils

Buy the new machine. It's almost never a good idea to upgrade an existing machine beyond adding RAM or more drive capacity. I prefer to go the opposite way of Young ZM here... Rather than building your own machine and dealing with all the problems associated with that - I would suggest you buy a higher end Mac because they will last a lot longer than the "all-in-one" machines like the iMacs. They are more expandable and tend to have all the newer options which expand their viability time-wise.

bocciaman's picture
78 pencils

Art D Rector-

I am not too concerned with swapping parts an compatibility because all the parts will be Apple certified.

This is what I currently own:

Introduced October 2009
Discontinued July 2010
Model Identifier iMac10,1
Model Number A1311
Order Number MB950LL/A (3.06 GHz : 500 GB), MC413LL/A (3.06 GHz : 1 TB)
Initial Price $1,199 (3.06 GHz : 500 GB) $1,499 (3.06 GHz : 1 TB)
Support Status Supported
Colors Silver and Black
Weight and Dimensions 20.5 lbs., 17.75" H x 20.8" W x 7.42" D

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo (E7600, E8600) ("Wolfdale")
Processor Speed 3.06 GHz
Architecture 64-bit
Number of Cores 2
Cache 3 MB (3.06 GHz) 6 MB (3.33 GHz) shared L2
System Bus 1066 MHz

I see some lag opening up apps. Icons take several bounces before opening. Rendering short YouTube movies take a while.

What I plan to have done for me because I can't physically do it is:

1. Replace the optical drive with an SSD (240GB) because there is no other way to do it in a 2009 21.5" iMac.
2. Max out the Ram with 16GB

wgzn's picture
2124 pencils

"It's almost never a good idea to upgrade an existing machine beyond adding RAM or more drive capacity."

not sure what you mean by this... do you mean upgrading the CPU? yeah, thats a path wrought with havoc.

just be sure to get yourself an external superdrive or equivalent to replace the feature you'll lose.

another thing to be aware of is that it is sometimes hard to boot off external devices, so make sure to get and test a bootable volume before you do all this.

YoungZM's picture
917 pencils

@Bocci, now that I know what you're dealing with I definitely suggest a new rig. The processor alone is mainly what is causing these lag issues. I had a quad-core rig @2.4 before I upgraded to a 6 core at 3.2, the difference is phenomenal in apps open, the layers I can process lag free, etc.

I've always found hardware upgrades easy, doesn't matter the part.. odd guys :( whatever you do I'm sure I don't need to remind you how important backups are!

bocciaman's picture
78 pencils

@YoungZM, I think the best course of action is to max out the ram.

Art D. Rector's picture
3166 pencils

Just to clarify - I wasn't talking about compatibility or the complexity of work involved when it comes to upgrading - I'm sure neither of those would be an issue here. I'm talking about the VALUE of upgrading an existing machine as opposed to putting that cash towards a better machine. Bocci here is talking about dumping $700 into a $1200 computer that's already 4 years old.

I also think some of you young folks are a little quick to upgrade too. You guys must have never dealt with the "sandwich" days when you would try to do something in Photoshop and you could go make a sandwich while the little clock spun round and round. If that's the only "problem" with your machine - apps lag a little when you open them... you might not even need a new machine right now. Maybe you can wait another 6 months (or a year) and then buy.

qwertyale's picture
2048 pencils

SSD is a great upgrade... I use Hybrid Seagate Momentus XT 750GB drive and I'm very satisfied. Mac OS X Lion fixed the (don't) sleep issue of these drives.

pure SSD drive upgrade is like a new computer.

I like to stay with equipment If it doesn't have any issue. It's awful to buy a new model with plenty of problems and you know Apple is not reliable anymore.

they will launch some new standards this year like AC band wi-fi.


yes I'm brazilian xD

Art D. Rector's picture
3166 pencils

Not reliable? I haven't had any problems with my new Mac. Easiest upgrade I've ever had.

bocciaman's picture
78 pencils

Art D., I actually decided to only upgrade to 12GB of ram and skip the SSD. Also, I found someone to install the ram for me for free. And the ram will only cost about $58.00. The only time I really want to upgrade to a new machine is when Apple decides (we) its loyal customers deserve a new Mac Pro.

Art D. Rector's picture
3166 pencils

Good move. A couple things that might help out - you can check some of the third party sellers like MacMall for machines they're phasing out - they won't be the newest models, but still new. They also offer machines that have been returned for whatever reason (and so does Apple on their website) - these are perfectly good machines with pretty sweet discounts sometimes. I went thru the Apple Business side (call and ask for the business people) - they gave me a better discount than I saw on their returned machines. Always ask them what extras they can throw in - just asking might get you a free keyboard or a mouse or something. That's why I never just walk into a store and buy a new machine.

wgzn's picture
2124 pencils

thats sad. i was looking forward to hearing how you liked your SSD.

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