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Thread: Most economical upgrade for 8 year old iMac (i3 mid 2010)

  1. #1


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    Most economical upgrade for 8 year old iMac (i3 mid 2010)
    Just got a hand me down iMac. It's a mid 2010 iMac i3 and although performance for basic browsing/MS Office product use seems fine, I'm interested to understand economical update options. Here's the specs:
    - 27 inch mid 2010
    - 3.2 GHz Core i3
    - 8 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 (2 GB in each of 4 slots)
    - 1 TB SATA (600 GB available) - I'm assuming this is a spinning drive and not SSD
    - 2560 x 1440 27"
    - ATI Radeon 512 MB graphic card
    - High Sierra (10.13.4)

    Computer use is family / business oriented - web browsing, MS Office products including multi-tasking and complex Excel models, and occasional home video editing.

    Here are my questions but interested in any advice on keeping this performing well for several more years:
    - Seems like the i3 (which is a dual core?) is outdated since there are quad core i7s. Can processor can be upgraded, what is price, should I have this done by Apple, and is this necessary to improve speed of applications above.
    - Upgrading to 16 GB at crucial.com looks like it would be $200, and assume I can sell off the 4 existing 2 GB modules. Will this improve performance of above applications?
    - Looks like I could replace (either DIY or serviced) the spinning drive with an internal SSD for $200-$300? I'm guessing this will improve performance the most?
    - Will I run in to any limitations with current hardware when updating to next OS, and if so, will that affect performance?

    Thanks for any advice.

  2. #2


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    The two main limiting factors are the bus speed of that model year processor, and the video graphics card memory. I would recommend selling it, putting that money and the money you are willing to spend to upgrade it, into a newer model.

    Apple will not work on models over 7 years old.
    -- Bob --
    Please backup. Everything has a life cycle, unexpected and warning free. Nothing will last as long as you want it to.

  3. #3

    Slydude's Avatar
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    Others will have to comment on whether the processor can be upgraded and how prformance would be impacred. If a proocessor upgrade is available it might not make as big a difference in performance as you might expect. I once upgraded a 300 MHz G3 system to a 500 MHZ G4 and saw some improvment but not as much as I expected. If an upgrade is available it would likely have to be done by someone other than Apple. As Bob pointed out they generally do not work on machines of that vintage.

    As far as adding an SSD is concerned that does tend to speed things up quite a bit. If you are the kind of user who shuts your Mac off each day you will notice an improvement because the machine will boot much faster. Launching applications is usually faster as well. If you don't have to boot the machine daily or only launch a few applications during the day the speed boost will be less noticable until you try to load larger / more complex files.

    As far as additional memory is concerned try the following experiment before purchasing memory:
    1. Boot the iMac. If it is already on a reboot will be fine.
    2. Look in the Applications folder of your hard drive. Find the Utilities folder.
    3. Launch Activity Monitor and click on the Memory tab. Recent incarnations of OS X have a graph at the bottom called Memory Pressure.
    4. As you go about your normal routine check the graph when the computer is under its heaviest load /isn't performing well.

    If the graph is still green then extra memory probqably won't make a huge difference. If you are seeing yellow consistently then extra memory might help to some extent. At that point whether it is a good investment depends upon the cost of replacement memory.

  4. #4


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    The SSD upgrade is most likely going to give you the biggest improvement, so that is the one I would recommend.

    I doubt extra memory will have a noticeable improvement for you. But as slydude says look in activity monitor to see if you are maxing it out. If you are then it might be worthwhile to upgrade, but I would still go with the SSD first.

    As for the processor upgrade it is possible, but you would have to be comfortable doing yourself as that is not an upgrade Apple will be willing to do for any mac even if it is still considered a supported model by Apple. If you want to look into it here are instructions: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Upgrade...o+Core+i7/8670 as a disclaimer I have not utilized these myself.

  5. #5


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    Thanks all for the great info. It was a hand me down from my in laws so need to keep it for a while rather than sell so they feel we appreciated the gift. Will run the performance monitor for RAM as suggested and go from there. SSD sounds like the only item I should do if I choose to put money into it.

  6. #6


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    If you want you can try an SSD in an external enclosure, and run the OS that way, this way you don't have to open it up. I know a few people that run their Macs that way, and say it's still faster than booting from the internal rotational drive.
    -- Bob --
    Please backup. Everything has a life cycle, unexpected and warning free. Nothing will last as long as you want it to.

  7. #7

    Slydude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by max.fischer View Post
    Thanks all for the great info. It was a hand me down from my in laws so need to keep it for a while rather than sell so they feel we appreciated the gift. Will run the performance monitor for RAM as suggested and go from there. SSD sounds like the only item I should do if I choose to put money into it.
    I know you have a 1 hard drive in there are the moment but here's something to consider. Take a look at how much space is used by your apps and how much is used by data. You might be able to get by with say a 500 GB SSD and then put your data (especially rarely used stuff) on a regular external hard drive. If you're loading larger projects/things that are to slow those could go on the SSD as well. In short, limiteing the amount of data stored on the SSD means you might be avble to get by with a smaller drive thus sopending less money.

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