SSD upgrade for older iMac

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Looking to extend the life of my mid-2010 27" iMac (i7 2.93GHz). It's been acting a little sluggish and a fresh install of ML might be in order (I had done a Lion to ML upgrade). If I am going to go to that trouble I am figuring I might as well add a SSD to the computer and get that big speed boost. I reviewed the iFixit tear-down photos and instructions. I have also viewed the OWC video of the process and while it looks very involved it is nothing I do not think I can handle.

So my question is has anyone here done such an upgrade and do you have anything advice or words-of-wisdom about the tear-down? I know about ESD protection and have all the tools necessary. Anyone want to try to talk me out of it :smile:??
 
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You should really look at the specs for your system and find out what level SATA it supports. As I recall, there were three levels of SATA: 1, which was capable of 150 MB/s; 2, which was capable of 300 MB/s; and 3, which is capable of 600 MB/s (and keep in mind that these were theoretical limits; reality is always somewhat slower). If your system is a level 2 or 3, it should benefit from an SSD.

I've got SSDs running in my MacBook Pro systems and there's no comparison to using a traditional hard drive. My reads are routinely 500 MB/s, while writes are around 225 MB/s.

The other thing you should consider is whether you will have the tools necessary to upgrade your system. The website ifixit has some very good guides showing how to replace hard drives, etc., on various systems:

http://www.ifixit.com/Device/Mac

On some of the iMac systems, the glass and display panel have to be removed in order to access the hard drive. This alone may dissuade you from upgrading.

I have a 21.5" mid-2010 iMac at the office, and decided against upgrading it to an SSD primarily because it only supports SATA 2; while that's an improvement over a traditional hard drive, it wasn't enough of an improvement to justify the time and expense to upgrade it.

Hope this helps.
 
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I also thought that their was some special cable for heat sensing on some of the drives on the iMac.
 
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You should really look at the specs for your system and find out what level SATA it supports. As I recall, there were three levels of SATA: 1, which was capable of 150 MB/s; 2, which was capable of 300 MB/s; and 3, which is capable of 600 MB/s (and keep in mind that these were theoretical limits; reality is always somewhat slower). If your system is a level 2 or 3, it should benefit from an SSD.

I've got SSDs running in my MacBook Pro systems and there's no comparison to using a traditional hard drive. My reads are routinely 500 MB/s, while writes are around 225 MB/s.

The other thing you should consider is whether you will have the tools necessary to upgrade your system. The website ifixit has some very good guides showing how to replace hard drives, etc., on various systems:

http://www.ifixit.com/Device/Mac

On some of the iMac systems, the glass and display panel have to be removed in order to access the hard drive. This alone may dissuade you from upgrading.

I have a 21.5" mid-2010 iMac at the office, and decided against upgrading it to an SSD primarily because it only supports SATA 2; while that's an improvement over a traditional hard drive, it wasn't enough of an improvement to justify the time and expense to upgrade it.

Hope this helps.

As I wrote in my initial post, I have reviewed the iFixit and OWC guides and videos so I know the process of installing a SSD in the iMac. I also have all the tools I need. It does involve removing the front glass and the LCD panel. It's something that I would be comfortable doing.

The mid 2010 iMacs are SATA 2. A SSD will have faster performance than a normal hard drive so it is probably worth upgrading.
 
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I would put in 2 drives. 1 SSD and one HD. That's what I have on my 27 and i it is blazing.
 
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I would put in 2 drives. 1 SSD and one HD. That's what I have on my 27 and i it is blazing.

Actually, I'd probably put in two SSDs and run them in a RAID configuration. Since the system is older and won't take advantage of SATA III, you can get by with less expensive drives.

I'd use a traditional hard drive as an external backup. It should be largely unnecessary with the internal drives mirroring.
 
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As I wrote in my initial post, I have reviewed the iFixit and OWC guides and videos so I know the process of installing a SSD in the iMac. I also have all the tools I need. It does involve removing the front glass and the LCD panel. It's something that I would be comfortable doing.

The mid 2010 iMacs are SATA 2. A SSD will have faster performance than a normal hard drive so it is probably worth upgrading.

The other thing to think about is whether it is worth putting any money into a system that is about to come out of (or may already be out of) Applecare. If something in the system fails, you're most likely looking at a situation where it will be more cost effective to replace the system rather than have it repaired or replace the defective components yourself. That was one of the reasons I decided it wasn't worth installing an SSD in that system, despite the fact that it is now my SOP to install an SSD in any new system.
 
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The other thing to think about is whether it is worth putting any money into a system that is about to come out of (or may already be out of) Applecare. If something in the system fails, you're most likely looking at a situation where it will be more cost effective to replace the system rather than have it repaired or replace the defective components yourself. That was one of the reasons I decided it wasn't worth installing an SSD in that system, despite the fact that it is now my SOP to install an SSD in any new system.

I am considering this as a reason not to do the upgrade. I have also considered replacing the whole machine, but the mid 2010 really does everything I need. This is my machine at work and I can use work funds to replace it or purchase the SSD.

If I had another/second use for the machine I would replace, but I don't need a second machine at work and I am set with computers at home. So this is why I am leaning towards upgrading the drive in mid 2010 machine. If the computer fails and I'd just pull the new drive and reuse it in another machine.

It's not a definite choice either way and all your feedback is useful.
 
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I recommend SSD upgrades to everyone who can afford them and are willing to do them. Best performance upgrade you can do to a machine.
 
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I installed a 256Gb Samsung 840 Pro SSD into my 27" iMac today and all went well. Followed the Other World Computing video and the process took a little over an hour. Mountain Lion installation went fast and I am about 90% done with loading the software I want to reinstall. It is not a trivial process but it is a project that most people that have experience building or repairing computers can do.

If anyone else wants do this upgrade I would be happy to share advice or point out the steps that were more difficult that others.
 
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Congrats on the successful install. You'll have to let us know what sorts if speeds you can realize with the drive and the older system, and whether the rest of the system seems out of date with the SSD installed.
 
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I installed a 256Gb Samsung 840 Pro SSD into my 27" iMac today and all went well. Followed the Other World Computing video and the process took a little over an hour. Mountain Lion installation went fast and I am about 90% done with loading the software I want to reinstall. It is not a trivial process but it is a project that most people that have experience building or repairing computers can do.

If anyone else wants do this upgrade I would be happy to share advice or point out the steps that were more difficult that others.

You will like that Samsung SSD, I put the 500Gb version in my 17" MBP. Make sure and activate TRIM support for that drive. You can use a freeware program called "Trim Enabler" you can find at this website www.Groths.org. It works well and will increase your write speed of your drive. This is automatic with Apple drives and not others, the program works and great and does increase your speed. I tested before and after and saw a significant difference.
 
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Reboots and shutdowns are much faster. I cannot give you numbers but I would easily estimate that they are 3x-5x faster. Opening and closing programs, especially Outlook and Word are also much faster. Outlook was really poorly behaving before the upgrade. I have a pretty big local cache that constantly needed rebuilding. The SSD really helps with startup and shutdown performance.

I did not expect many other (in app) performance gains and it is too soon for me to notice any. I did not feel the 2010 iMac was out of date before the upgrade. It does everything I need it to do but was definitely overdue for reloading the OS. I am happy with the speed increase and it was well worth the effort. I am guessing the SSD bought me one more generation of Apple releases before I need to upgrade the computer (probably 2 years from now...).
 
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You will like that Samsung SSD, I put the 500Gb version in my 17" MBP. Make sure and activate TRIM support for that drive. You can use a freeware program called "Trim Enabler" you can find at this website www.Groths.org. It works well and will increase your write speed of your drive. This is automatic with Apple drives and not others, the program works and great and does increase your speed. I tested before and after and saw a significant difference.

Big thanks for the tip. I was unaware of the TRIM support limits in OS X. Trim Enabler is loading and reports it is would now.
 
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I never heard of TRIM support until this thread and have since researched it.

I downloaded Chameleon SSD Optimizer and enabled TRIM support for my Samsung 830 256gb SSD and the machine is definitely quicker than before.
 
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Congrats on your upgrade. I have a late 2009 Imac that I will check for sata version and attempt this if that is an opportunity. Mine already had the WD replaced under recall last year.

Here at work (we are PC shop) we had the desktop guys do a swap on Imac used for creative services. Part of the instructions were to use plunger to remove LCD. Did you do that?
 
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Congrats on your upgrade. I have a late 2009 Imac that I will check for sata version and attempt this if that is an opportunity. Mine already had the WD replaced under recall last year.

Here at work (we are PC shop) we had the desktop guys do a swap on Imac used for creative services. Part of the instructions were to use plunger to remove LCD. Did you do that?

Yes, I bought two suction cups from Newegg. I figured they were cheap enough.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA1B10NY8686

Check to see if your 2009 iMac has room for a SSD. You might have to either remove the original hard drive or the Superdrive. I am pretty sure the 2010's were the first to include room the SSD.
 
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Big thanks for the tip. I was unaware of the TRIM support limits in OS X. Trim Enabler is loading and reports it is would now.

Just keep in mind that after OS updates, you will likely need to re-enable TRIM using the Trim Enabler app. Something about the update wipes out the changes that the App makes.
 

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