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Mac question about slowness

Posted on 2015-02-07
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Last Modified: 2015-02-08
Hello fellow geeks,

Got a customer who has the following...
IMAC - Early 2008
Mac  OS X Yosemite 10.10.2
CPU 3.06 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
Mem 2 GB  800 Mhz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics - Nvidia Geforce 8800 GS 512Mb


I tried running repair permissions and it fixed a few things, but the disk is good.  AV reports no problems.

Is this machine just at the end of it's life or can there be some kind of RAM upgrade to give it some power back?

I just don't know enough about macs .....  If this were a PC i'd say shoot it.
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Question by:Faxxer
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 40595967
It definitely needs more ram.

Also check to make sure at least 15 percent of the drive is free. Control click on the HD icon and select Get Info to find out.

Finally, in a Disk Utility run Verify Disk to check for directory corruption.
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Author Comment

by:Faxxer
ID: 40595985
The drive has 80% free space still.

I ran Disk Veryify and it's cleared as running perfectly.

I thought the RAM could use a boost too, but will it make a noticable difference on this old of a machine?
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by:strung
ID: 40595999
Yes. 2 GB of  RAM is not enough for Yosemite. Check the Crucial website for replacement RAM and ifixit.com for a repair guide to show you how to replace the RAM.
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Author Comment

by:Faxxer
ID: 40596011
Strung,  

Do you think RAM is the only / best solution?     He is open to the idea that it's just too old as well.

I guess I'm asking...  Will the RAM upgrade make a true difference in performance?   I know for a pC the answer is yes without a doubt, but PC's have been past the 2Gb ram threshold for YEARS now
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by:serialband
ID: 40596037
For something that old, RAM and SSD upgrades are needed.  It's not really worthwhile, unless all you're doing is browsing the internet or editing text.  It's better to get a new system.  Snow Leopard or older would work better on it and use less resources.
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 40596175
It's all a question of economics. Certainly a new system would be like night and day difference, but if the client is not taxing the system by, say, doing video editing, a RAM upgrade would probably make a substantial difference at much less cost.

You can get a 2 Gig chip for about $35:

http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/compatible-upgrade-for/Apple/imac-%28early-2008%29

If the iMac has two 1 GB chips instead of one 2 GB chip, you will have to buy two - 2 GB chips.
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by:Peter Loobuyck
ID: 40596823
Also be sure to add an SSD instead of the HD. IT's much faster. Adding both ram and an SSD will make te difference.

You'll want to install both into the mac.
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strung earned 500 total points
ID: 40596843
Again, it is a question of economics. The SSD will make a big difference, but is more expensive than RAM. If the current drive is 80% free, then it seems the client does not need a huge drive and a smaller SSD will be less expensive.

You will have to check out the cost of a new Mac and see if the upgrades are cost effective.
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by:serialband
ID: 40597029
A 6 year old system is End of Life, even for a Mac.  People keep them longer because of perceived initial sunk costs, but they don't actually sit down and calculate it.  It's certainly a question of economics, but there's also other factors too.  He's asked whether it's end of life, and it is.  If it were an i5 or i7, then it makes sense, but the core 2 duo is too old.  You're going to replace this soon, even after a RAM and SSD upgrade.

The extra RAM would keep programs from swapping to disk.  If your customer actually quits programs, and not just clicks on the red X in the corner to just close the window, then 4 GB might be enough.  If your customer only runs a handful of programs, then 4 GB might be enough.  If it's more, then you'll want 8 GB.  If he's constantly swapping to disk, even with 4 GB RAM, then the RAM upgrade is worthless.  The SSD upgrade would be more worthwhile.

At 80% free disk, he could get a 128 GB SSD.  Those are $50-$80, around the cost of 2 sticks of RAM.  It will double the perceived speed and probably more worthwhile than just RAM.  That RAM upgrade should have been done 2-3 years ago.  The prices for old RAM have risen since then.  Just RAM or Just SSD will extend the life 3-6 months.  The cost of this Mac has already been spread over 6 years.  Calculate that first, then calculate the upgrade costs.

Even if this customer is only reading email and web surfing to simple sites, it's time for a new system.  Don't waste time and money with the upgrade hassle.  They'll just be annoyed while using it, and they'll want a new system in 6 months, but will keep this around for a year, because he just spent money on it this year.  With Apple's OS upgrade cycle, the core 2 duo is going to be obsolete very soon.

A new mac Mini is $699 (the $499 model is not worthwhile).  He can use the old iMac as a monitor.  A new iMac is $1099, basically $400 more for a monitor built-in.  Calculate a 4-5 year life for those, and that's your annual cost.  What's the annual cost of the previous iMac after 6 years?  He probably kept it 6 years because it cost more.  He obviously doesn't need too much disk space, so the lower end model will be fine.  You could up the RAM from 8 GB to 16 GB for an extra year of life, or if they're doing more than just email.

Your customer should be told that systems really need to be replaced every 3-5 years for business, ideally every 4 years.  For typical home users(not gamers) it's 4-6 years.  If you buy a low end PC(anything sub $500 --- $499 Mac Mini), the cycle is 2-3 years, but people will attempt to milk them for 2-3 additional years if they could get away with it, only to keep them just one more year.

Economically:
  $699 over 5 years = $140/year.  Home
  $699 over 4 years = $175/year.  Business

The RAM and SSD upgrade will be around $120.  It's really good for 6 months, but the customer will keep it around for up to a year because of sunk costs.  He'll try to make it $120/year when it's really more like $180-$240/year.

Get a new Mac.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Faxxer
ID: 40597120
Strung was there from the beginning saying it.
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