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It all begun when my factory Seagate Barracuda started clicking. I knew the end was nigh for my beloved iMac 27" 10,1. I then watched some tutorials, did some research and realised I could do this and upgraded it with a fantastic OWC Mercury Electra 1 TB SSD kit.

Results were great, honestly feels like a new computer. Addicting I would say. I had 8 GB of RAM and yesterday I maxed it out with four 4 GB Crucial DDR3 modules.

I already had the best (for the time) option for the GPU so the only thing left (for staying in the official in-period specs) is to swap out my Intel Core 2 Duo 3,06 GHz (model E7600) for a Core 2 Duo 3,33 GHz (E8600): 3 MB cache vs 6 MB cache and around 10-15% gains in performance (maybe?). For a grand total of 25 € shipped.

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Honestly, I watched a couple videos and read the official Apple Technical Guide about removing the logic board and I feel I might be pushing my luck a little bit. Especially all those cables, I have this crunching feeling that I could snap something that sat there undisturbed for 13 years. And removing that infrared receiver behind the front Apple logo... simply scares me.

But on the other hand, I could officially max out the specs for a 2009 machine! The thrills! The excitement! Not to mention giving a good cleaning inside, renew the thermal paste, change the CR2032 battery (what is it used for anyway?)... I cleaned what I could during the SSD surgery but there is room for more by removing MOAR.

  1. First of all, I think I duly did my researches but this is a plug & play swap, right? No funny business like EPROM flashing or macOS patching. I also know i5 & i7 are not officially supported on my board.

  2. Someone went down that route? Should I? Shouldn't I? I sort of see myself as a DIY guy and carried out various successful projects (on cars too) but I fear the unknown.

  3. Are the perf gains actually noticeable like the SSD + RAM upgrades or am I just lying to myself and the only benefit will be knowing that I maxed out my machine by gleefully staring at the "About This Mac" window?

  4. Words of caution? Advice? Should I just move on with my life instead of following this inane goal even if the idea of putting some more life in this iMac has been a great project during those last days and is pretty motivating?

Cheers for any input!

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    You may want to head on over to iFixit.com as they do have a guide for replacing the proc on your model iMac, plus they also have discussion boards that focus on these kinds of swaps. You may want to ask your question there as well. May 14 at 22:55
  • If it is working well with the upgrades so far, then I would leave it alone. imho more, and more serious, surgery has more risk.
    – Solar Mike
    May 15 at 7:04
  • Thank you both for chipping in. Steve, I saw the iFixit guide. The person make it looks sort of easy and casual. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing in my situation. :) As for the forum, sadly no one started a convo about this, I might be the one. Mike, I hear you, and you are very right. But we human are a flawed species, hence my doubts.
    – EVR
    May 15 at 12:36

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The RAM and SSD upgrades are the most useful upgrades you can make, in terms of % improvement, cost, and ease of task.

The replacement is still just a 2-core CPU (Wolfdale, 45nm, August 2008), with a Geekbench score of 456/798. OK, that's up from 380/672, but in the 'real world', you're unlikely to observe the 18-20% gain that the figures suggest. There are still bottlenecks from the lack of more cores, disk speed, RAM speed and the bus that joins them all together.

You're also running an OS from 2017 for which your Mac just makes the cut. If this upgrade allowed you to run a later OS, like with some CPU upgrades for Mac Pros, then that would be a different story.

There's a danger of Spinal Tap-like spec-chasing here. ;-) Yes, it's one higher, but one isn't much. (Nor is eleven.)
Compare that to an iMac from even 2017, which scores 967/3369. Or an M1 iMac, with 1720/7476. (To say nothing of faster bus, memory and disk speeds.)

The question is, how many more years do you think you can usefully get out of this Mac? High Sierra is already below minimum requirements for a lot of new software. How long before your Mac unable to cope with things like modern web standards, peripheral connections, even Wifi connectivity, as the minimum spec draws up?

It will keep working, of course, and you continue to use it until something breaks. But don't expect it to do more.

(The coin battery maintains the system clock, btw.)

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  • Thanks for input Ben. You speak the word of the wise. And you are very rational with the benchmarks, rightfully so. I have an affection for this machine: it followed me in 3 different countries, has been rock-solidly reliable since forever and of course I am not trying to take it up to modern standards. As a side, I have a 2019 MacBook Air on Monterey. The iMac is just meant to do basic tasks, have screen estate and look beautiful on my designer desk. It will probably be at some point replaced with an Apple Silicon iMac, I was just not thrilled by the recent offering in 24"/colours.
    – EVR
    May 16 at 8:04

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