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I have a late-2009 iMac which seems to have held up pretty well, especially since upgrading the RAM to 12GB.

I only fairly recently updated the OS to Yosemite after running Lion for so many years.

The OS update my have made my Mac a little slower, but if so then not by a great deal. But I could probably do with updating again — to Sierra — as certain programs require a more recent OS than what I have.

I am a bit concerned that running Sierra will put too much of a strain on my machine... or are the requirements not a whole lot different to any other versions of OS X over the last 5 years or so?

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Here are the general requirements as specified by Apple:

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite - Technical Specifications

General Requirements OS X

v10.6.8 or later

2GB of memory

8GB of available storage

Some features require an Apple ID; terms apply.

Some features require a compatible Internet service provider; fees may apply.

macOS Sierra

MacOS Sierra - Technical Specifications

General Requirements

OS X 10.7.5 or later

2GB of memory

8.8GB of available storage

Some features require an Apple ID; terms apply.

Some features require a compatible Internet service provider; fees may apply.

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