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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Is a new mac worth it?

Is a new mac worth it?
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Ralpho
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Apr 11, 2012, 07:45 AM
 
I have a three-year-old iMac desktop (the small one) with 640 gb hard drive and 2 gb memory. I'm using less than half the hard drive.

But the computer is acting up. It won't always shut down properly. So I'm thinking about getting a new one.

My question is, would a new computer with 4 gb memory make much difference? I don't run any memory hog programs that I know of, but the computer is often slow to perform tasks.

Or maybe I just need aftermarket maintenance software. Any recommendations?
     
Waragainstsleep
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Apr 11, 2012, 09:30 AM
 
If you aren't doing anything demanding, a new one is overkill. Some extra RAM in yours and at worst a reinstall should have it running nicely again.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
P
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Apr 11, 2012, 10:05 AM
 
Installing more RAM is a cheap and effective upgrade - I would advice doing that first in any case. Any RAM you're not using will be used as cache for the disk, and 2 GB is very little these days. I would max the RAM now (if you have the "Early 2009" model, your max is 8 GB) and then replace the computer in a few years.

Except for regular backups, there is no aftermarket maintenance software worth bothering with, but you might want to consider upgrading to 10.6 Snow Leopard if you haven't already.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Eug
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Apr 11, 2012, 01:25 PM
 
If I were you, I'd consider doing a full backup and OS reinstall, with Lion. (You may need to install Snow Leopard first though.)

An extra 2 GB RAM would speed it up too.
     
cgc
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Apr 11, 2012, 06:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
If I were you, I'd consider doing a full backup and OS reinstall, with Lion. (You may need to install Snow Leopard first though.)

An extra 2 GB RAM would speed it up too.
Upgrading RAM is good advice, but why would you suggest installing OSX 10.7 Lion? I've heard so many mixed reviews I'd recommend waiting until OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion comes out this summer-ish.
     
Eug
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Apr 11, 2012, 10:30 PM
 
10.7 Lion works fine in terms of stability and speed. My main criticisms with it are UI changes, and the stupid reloading windows after reboot thing.

In truth I actually prefer Snow Leopard, but I run Lion on both machines, just to be the most up to date. So yeah, it would make sense to go Snow Leopard and then upgrade to Mountain Lion in half a year. However, the point here is that it sounds like some of his problems could related to software issues, and a complete OS re-install might fix that. I've had weird glitches before too that were never fixed with OS updates, including combo point updates, but a complete OS re-install (of the same OS) fixed the problems.

The other thing to do is to unplug ALL external peripherals in the testing period, because they could be causing compatibility issues. I actually had a very weird boot issue with Lion that didn't exist in Snow Leopard, and it turned out to be due to an incompatible Firewire enclosure. I changed the enclosure to USB 2 and the problems disappeared. On the flip side, I had a non-working external LCD screen from about 10.6.4 on in Snow Leopard. The same LCD screen works fine in Lion 10.7 (and in Snow Leopard 10.6.0 to 10.6.3).

And finally, doing stuff like zapping the PRAM actually sometimes (rarely) does help.
     
MichiganRich
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Apr 11, 2012, 11:31 PM
 
I second the backup-and-fresh-install suggestion. If you think your computer is acting up, why not start with the cleanest freshest system?

Wouldn't 4 gigs of RAM be a rule of thumb for an iMac like that? (given the usage)

I've got the 24" 'first' aluminum iMac, the 2.4 model. Mine has had 4 gigs since I purchased it in 2007, and Lion runs great on mine (after much foot dragging) with the 10.7 upgrade. I had to upgrade for iCloud also, but I'm glad I did overall.

I will have five years on this iMac in August, which allows me to start thinking about a new machine without guilt LOL.... the new ones can't come soon enough. What's up with the latest rumors saying only mild updates to the design?!!
     
MichiganRich
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Apr 11, 2012, 11:32 PM
 
p.s.- zapping the PRAM after an otherwise flawless 10.7 install fixed some AirDisk permissions issues I was having... :-)
     
Waragainstsleep
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Apr 12, 2012, 04:55 AM
 
Lion seems pretty great with clean installs, but if you upgrade or migrate it does tend to develop odd little quirks. For example on my MBP I can't command-tab away from mydesktop to full screen apps. I can tab between full screens or back to the desktop but not away from it. Also my two finger back swipe in Safari doesn't work (It works in iTunes) And while I can get my 'Top Sites' in Safari when I open a new tab, I can't navigate back to it or via the top sites button on the booksmark bar.

All minor things but annoying.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
ShortcutToMoncton
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Apr 12, 2012, 08:41 AM
 
3 years old - should be fine. Stick 8 gigs of RAM in it, install a clean version of 10.6, and you'll be a new human being for very, very cheap.
Mankind's only chance is to harness the power of stupid.
     
Ralpho  (op)
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Apr 13, 2012, 02:05 PM
 
Thanks for all your advice, guys (and gals, if any). I'm going to add RAM and re-install the OS (which is 10.6.8 by the way).
     
imacflowerpowerCRT
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Apr 22, 2012, 01:56 AM
 
Not reallly worth it since it isn't colorful + it isn't a CRT one LOL XD


~xoxoCRTxoxo~
Long Live Flower Power iMacs!
     
SierraDragon
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Apr 22, 2012, 02:53 PM
 
All the advice above is excellent. Just a few additional thoughts:

• On that box I would stick with 10.6.8 (a very solid Mac OS on that hardware) rather than entering the learning curve of a new OS before being out of the weeds you are in now for a few months. Personally I would wait for Mountain Lion.

• All hard drives (HDDs) ultimately fail, and a failing or simply overfilled HDD can cause the symptoms you describe. Before doing anything else you should:
A) Back up all data to an external HDD immediately.
B) Run Disk Utility to evaluate the HDD. If it is flawed replace the HDD.
C) Trial Disk Warrior to further evaluate the hard drive. If DW identifies flaws replace the HDD.
D) Verify that the boot drive is not overfilled.

HDDs slow as they fill. I recommend ~70% as a maximum guideline for how full one should allow a boot drive to become; even less full is better. Above ~85% full one should expect slowdowns to become obvious and one may see instability. Note that those percentages are gross arbitrary estimates, but the concept is irrevocable.

After backup and after you are confident that the boot hard drive is working properly and is not overfilled, but before doing a full system reinstall upgrade RAM to at least 4 GB, preferably 8 GB.

HTH

-Allen
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Apr 22, 2012 at 03:00 PM. )
     
   
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