Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Upgrading an old iMac

Way back at the end of 2007 we bought ourselves an iMac, and at the time it was pretty spiffy. Nowadays less so but it's a tribute to its inherent spiffiness that it lasted us so long, but it recently reached the point where we needed a new one, principally for J's art and photographic work.

So we bought ourselves a new one, which left us a problem as to what to do with the old one (Intel 2GHz core 2 duo, 2GB memory, OS X 10.6.8 because you never upgrade an old machine).

Well it was destined for the old machine's home until I looked at the screen and realised that it would make a great writing machine, but equally that it could do with more memory and a newer operating system.

Well, as what is internally designated as an iMac7,1 it just scrapes into the compatibility list of the latest version of Apple's operating system, but it would need more memory. How much more was an interesting question.

 It's a peculiarity of the early aluminium iMacs that they only support 6GB of RAM, which is a silly number, as it means  the most you can install is a 2GB and 4GB DIMM. If you've already got 2GB the logical answer would be to buy another 4, but then the existing memory could be installed as 2 1GB DIMMS.

So, I was hoping when I ran the system profiler that we would have 2GB in a single DIMM which would mean adding either a 2GB or 4GB DIMM, but no, Lady Luck was against me, and we had 2 1GB DIMMS, which meant pulling and replacing both DIMMs, so it was going to be a 4GB upgrade. I could have sourced a 4 and a 2 but that's not a cheap option.

Old DIMMs can be hard to track down but I found a company in Sydney that specialised in upgrade kits for older machines, and they had suitable memory in stock. Not the cheapest way of doing it, but easier than tracking down second hand memory on ebay which can be a bit hit or miss as often people don't describe components accurately.

So all I had to do was wait for the bits to arrive, which they did, nicely packed and with a good quality 'how to' guide, which turned out to be useful as just about the only problem I had in the upgrade process was removing the cover from the memory slots as whoever had put the original memory in before shipment had had a little bit of trouble fitting the cover such that it bowed when I took it out. Having the installation guide convinced me that there really only was one screw to remove.

Memory fitted, it was time to fire off the operating system upgrade process, which took about two hours including download time.

The upgrade just worked, as you would expect with Apple.

Performance is adequate, feeling similar to my 5 year old MacBook air or my old work 2010 vintage MacBook Pro, both of which only have 4GB RAM.

I havn't run any detailed comparisons but NovaBench gives me a score of 278 which is a little on the low side but probably due to a slightly lower than average processor speed - in use, and I'm using it to write this post it seems fine for use as a writing machine - not lightening, but perfectly usable ...

[update 26 Nov 2016]

Turns out my timing was better than I thought. I've been a bit distracted recently with a whole lot of work we're doing on our house, so I've been neglecting my hobby writing, but yesterday the builders cried off because the roofing iron was stuck on a truck somewhere between here and stuff central, so I thought I'd update my old imac and MacBook air to the latest iteration of OSX (aka MacOS) and guess what, the old imac has dropped off the supported list.

Not that I'm surprised, I was surprised first time around it was still supported ...

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