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Author Topic: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?  (Read 1186 times)

pflower

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I have used 27 inch iMacs for a long time and I love them but my most recent one - a 2019 is driving me a little bit crazy.  The Fusion drive has failed twice and been replaced via Apple Care. But it is showing signs of being old.  Agonisingly slow in start up, and not really responsive enough.

I only do still photography with an X2D 100c and a Sony A7RIV.  Very little video if any at all.  But I have a lot of things attached via USB - a 5 drive DAS from Terramaster, audio via a DAC, a 3880, an external DVD player and a thunderbolt hub with 3 additional USB ports which can attach SD card readers Plus a Sandisk 2TB external drive, and other things as and when I need them.  So counting up I need access to at least 4 or 5 USB ports plus the hub.

So where to go next?  The Mac Studio seems overkill for what I need.  The Mac mini looks interesting but I suspect I would have to buy an expansion dock for it and then I would have to buy a monitor. Since most of my photos are on external drives the basic 512GB would probably be enough for me.  The Studio Monitor and mount seems to me to be hugely overpriced.  I don't need state of the art colour management from a monitor, to date the iMac's monitor has been absolutely fine for my work flow.

So in my shoes does anyone have a suggestion as to the system I should move on with?

Thanks
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kers

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2023, 05:26:36 pm »

before buying something new
Your mac has thunderbolt 3- a very fast interface.

You could buy a fast PCI-harddisk connected to that interface and use it as your default workspace.
your mac-drive you can use just to startup + programs - after that don't put your photos in the home folder for that is the weak link.

You can buy something like this: https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/owc-thunderblade
or less expensive -  slower, but with more space: https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/thunderbay-4-mini/thunderbolt-3
Cheaper options are available in the Windows camp...

All you have to do is format the drive and use it as your work space.
(this drive will be useful also with future macs - then buy it large enough like 4TB and larger)
it will be a lot faster. ( your old harddrive in the mac can do 100-200MB/sec - this will do at least 1500 MB/sec)
Another thing is to buy some ram and put it into the machine to speed things up.
Don't know how much ram you have but 16 is a minimum.

They don't make these 27 inch iMacs anymore and the screen is gorgeous...
« Last Edit: September 26, 2023, 05:39:03 pm by kers »
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pflower

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2023, 06:16:05 pm »

Ah that's a very interesting suggestion.  Thank you.

The problem I have is an agonisingly slow start up from the iMac - it can take up to 30 minutes before the system restarts and all applications are responsive. Once everything is loaded the computer is pretty responsive - it is just the extraordinary restart time that is driving me crazy.   Apple Support are a bit stuck on this and I don't know if it is a software problem - I have done clean installs of the most recent version of Monterey (I don't want to upgrade any further at the moment). The internal fusion drive is 1TB and still has over 400GB of storage available.  I have 40GB of memory installed but from time to time things hang and I need to restart.   Apple Support are stuck on the problem and I have reinstalled a fresh copy of Monterery with no real improvement.  Weirdly Apple Support got me to make a new test account and that started up much faster than my own account.

So your suggestion is interesting.   The 2TB Thunderblade would presumably allow me to install the system software and all apps on it including my Lightroom Catalog, boot from it and allow sufficient space for working photos.  Essentially I would just ignore the internal drive since the external drives work fine for the stored photos and backups.

As you say the 5k retina screen is all that I really need.  so any thoughts if that idea would work?

Philip


Your mac has thunderbolt 3- a very fast interface.

You could buy a fast PCI-harddisk connected to that interface and use it as your default workspace.
your mac-drive you can use just to startup + programs - after that don't put your photos in the home folder for that is the weak link.

You can buy something like this: https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/owc-thunderblade
or less expensive -  slower, but with more space: https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/thunderbay-4-mini/thunderbolt-3
Cheaper options are available in the Windows camp...

All you have to do is format the drive and use it as your work space.
(this drive will be useful also with future macs - then buy it large enough like 4TB and larger)
it will be a lot faster. ( your old harddrive in the mac can do 100-200MB/sec - this will do at least 1500 MB/sec)
Another thing is to buy some ram and put it into the machine to speed things up.
Don't know how much ram you have but 16 is a minimum.

They don't make these 27 inch iMacs anymore and the screen is gorgeous...
[/quote]
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tastar

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2023, 01:36:26 pm »

Apple Fusion drives are notoriously slow. Take it to a Mac tech (not Apple) and put in a 2 TB OWC Auora Pro X2 SSD drive (OWCS3DAPT4MA20K, $199.00 plus shipping, 5 year warranty) to replace the current Fusion drive. It will be a very fast machine - it will probably take 3 - 4 hours to clone it and install the drive. It should be a good machine for another few years.

Tony
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kers

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2023, 05:17:41 am »

I think Tastar is right and starting up externally is also a way to go.
If your computer is fast enough after starting up, it means everything is loaded in ram.
Then what can be slow is moving and saving things since you harddrive is slow.

Don't know about you processor and RAM , but for me the only reason to buy anything new is AI that demands a lot of your computer.
for instance LR denoise and the likes.

BTW i have 4x1TB  disks in a raid0 and it is very fast.
A computer should ideally be at least as fast as you can think.
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digitaldog

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2023, 10:04:18 am »

Don't know about you processor and RAM , but for me the only reason to buy anything new is AI that demands a lot of your computer.
for instance LR denoise and the likes.
You really need to study the vast differences between the new AI and its limited effect on processing by design (limited low rez from Adobe servers) and "the likes".
https://blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2023/04/18/denoise-demystified

Need for speed. Denoise is by far the most advanced of the three Enhance features and makes very intensive use of the GPU. For best performance, use a GPU with a large amount of memory, ideally at least 8 GB. On macOS, prefer an Apple silicon machine with lots of memory. On Windows, use GPUs with ML acceleration hardware, such as NVIDIA RTX with TensorCores. A faster GPU means faster results.
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Joe Towner

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2023, 03:05:10 pm »

The Fusion drive is a problem.  Doing the OWC Upgrade to the Aura Pro X2 will give you 3+ years more life.

How does the boot go without the DAS & everything else attached?  Are you running SoftRAID or such for the DAS?
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BobShaw

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2023, 05:47:44 pm »

As others have said, replace the fusion drive with SSD. Even 1TB or less is enough if you just keep OS and and apps on it and data on a Thunderbolt drive.

The other thing is to go through the apps, Library extensions, app support, printers, frameworks etc and remove anything with is old. If it is more than 5 years old and you don't actually use it then drag it out. (I save them somewhere in case I break something. )

I have a 2020 model and it is a bit slow but having all of the ports and SD card slot that are missing on new ones is a real bonus.
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chex

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2023, 02:41:04 am »

  The Studio Monitor and mount seems to me to be hugely overpriced.  I don't need state of the art colour management from a monitor, to date the iMac's monitor has been absolutely fine for my work flow.



You really don't need to buy their monitor, you'll get much better value for money elsewhere. The mac mini is very well priced and great value.
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pflower

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2023, 01:39:30 pm »

In the end I took Kers' advice.  I bought an 8TB Thunderblade to replace my main spinning hard drive as my main storage system, a Crucial X9 Pro SSD from which I boot up the computer and everything is running smoothly and with a noticeable increase in speed. Local backups on spinning drives and I'm pretty happy with the set up.  The only drawback to the iMac Retina 5K screen is that it is a bit of a pain to adjust brightness to match print output otherwise it is fine for my purposes.
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David Eichler

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2024, 12:33:44 am »

You really need to study the vast differences between the new AI and its limited effect on processing by design (limited low rez from Adobe servers) and "the likes".
https://blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2023/04/18/denoise-demystified

Need for speed. Denoise is by far the most advanced of the three Enhance features and makes very intensive use of the GPU. For best performance, use a GPU with a large amount of memory, ideally at least 8 GB. On macOS, prefer an Apple silicon machine with lots of memory. On Windows, use GPUs with ML acceleration hardware, such as NVIDIA RTX with TensorCores. A faster GPU means faster results.
If the OP can replace the current machine's fusion drive with a SSD and use an outboard GPU, wouldn't that be enough, considering that he doesn't otherwise seem to need a vastly more powerful computer for what he does?
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kers

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Re: I Think I have come to the end of my iMac 27 inch - so what to buy next?
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2024, 06:44:30 am »

In the end I took Kers' advice.  I bought an 8TB Thunderblade to replace my main spinning hard drive as my main storage system, a Crucial X9 Pro SSD from which I boot up the computer and everything is running smoothly and with a noticeable increase in speed. Local backups on spinning drives and I'm pretty happy with the set up.  The only drawback to the iMac Retina 5K screen is that it is a bit of a pain to adjust brightness to match print output otherwise it is fine for my purposes.
and the good thing is;  if you ever buy a new computer- you can still use the thunderblade etc..  so no money wasted
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