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Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: clay
Date: June 24, 2014 04:10PM
Different computer than my earlier iMac crashing post from last week...

A user is looking to speed up a sluggish 2008/9 (forget which) iMac. I upgraded their RAM from 1gb to 2gb with an enormous improvement, but things are still a little slow. Running 10.6.8

I think an SSD would be a good investment, and they're ready to move ahead with it, especially if it will give them another year or so of usable life before they upgrade to something newer. I'm trying to decide whether it's worth replacing the internal HD with the SSD, or just get a FW800 case and SSD and do it all externally, and leave the internal for storage. I know even external SSD booting will speed up the iMac considerably, so I'm wondering if it's worth the couple of hours of billable time to replace the internal vs. just leaving the iMac as is and going external with the SSD.

They aren't power users by any stretch, but use iPhoto pretty extensively, email, web video, documents, etc.

I may also just ask them if they want to spend the $$ on labor or just try it externally for a while. I guess there would be an additional $50-$60 in cost for an external FW case that wouldn't be needed for the internal route, but the labor would still probably be higher than that anyway.

Thoughts?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2014 04:11PM by clay.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: jdc
Date: June 24, 2014 04:37PM
20"? PITA to get into. 24" is far, far easier.

Perhaps just a clean install is in order? WIfe has a 2009 20" and it zips right along just fine. Not a lot of iPhoto, but she does tons of tabs and blogs, lots with video. Always watching hulu and netflix. Powers through all of it. Same 2GB of ram and stock drive.

If thats not an option, even booting via USB 2 is a quick speedup. And far far cheaper than Firewire. Oldest daughter has a 24" 2007 iMac, popped a 128 GB SSD on the back via USB 2. Bought a cheapy Kensington, even came with a USB 2 case. Boots in 20 seconds. Runs youtube videos full screen. Never a hiccup.



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2014 04:39PM by jdc.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: June 24, 2014 04:53PM
Here is your answer.



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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: jdc
Date: June 24, 2014 05:55PM
Quote
pinkoos
Here is your answer.

So now 9 months later, whats the verdict?

SSDs have dropped like a stone since then. 240-256 GB SSDs are now $100. Add a $15 USB 2 case. Give it a shot. Decide that FW800 is what you wanted, only out the $15 USB 2 case.



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Black
Date: June 24, 2014 05:59PM
SSD booting via USB2 is suprisingly workable, but there is a tiny noticable lag that you don't get with FW 800.
I vote emphatically for the external FW800 boot SSD. Less billable time though...




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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: June 24, 2014 06:04PM
2008 and 2009 iMacs are not all that hard to upgrade. I'd do the surgery.

[www.ifixit.com]

Internally, even a cheap, slow SSD would be running at least twice as fast as FW. A decent SSD would run 4-6 times faster.

Black is satisfied with the speeds that he gets when booted from FW.

In my tests, I found it far from ideal.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Lew Zealand
Date: June 24, 2014 06:17PM
Quote
Chakravartin
2008 and 2009 iMacs are not all that hard to upgrade. I'd do the surgery.

[www.ifixit.com]

Internally, even a cheap, slow SSD would be running at least twice as fast as FW. A decent SSD would run 4-6 times faster.

No.

FW800: 80 MB/sec max
SATA-I: 135 MB/sec max
SATA-II: 250 MB/sec max

2-3x the speed and then only on large data transfers. The majority of data transfers are small ones and will proceed at the same speed on both setups.

edit: 2008-9 iMacs are SATA-II.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2014 06:20PM by Lew Zealand.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: jdc
Date: June 24, 2014 06:29PM
The way the person uses their iMac, doubtfull if they ever saturate any bus.

I like OWCs videos for installs: [eshop.macsales.com]



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Black
Date: June 24, 2014 06:49PM
Quote
Lew Zealand
Quote
Chakravartin
2008 and 2009 iMacs are not all that hard to upgrade. I'd do the surgery.

[www.ifixit.com]

Internally, even a cheap, slow SSD would be running at least twice as fast as FW. A decent SSD would run 4-6 times faster.

No.

FW800: 80 MB/sec max
SATA-I: 135 MB/sec max
SATA-II: 250 MB/sec max

2-3x the speed and then only on large data transfers. The majority of data transfers are small ones and will proceed at the same speed on both setups.

edit: 2008-9 iMacs are SATA-II.
There is no point arguing this one with Chaka. He's got some sort of "thing" about external SSD booting that can only be cured with electro-shock therapy (although hypnosis is probably worth a try.)




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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: June 24, 2014 07:17PM
Quote
Lew Zealand
FW800: 80 MB/sec max
SATA-I: 135 MB/sec max
SATA-II: 250 MB/sec max

WTF are you pulling those numbers from, your butt??

FW800 60-67MBps real world read-speeds, maybe 76MB/s peak read speed for a second or two if you're incredibly lucky.

SATA2 260-280MBps real world read-speeds, up to 360MB/s max read-speeds.

260/60=4.3x
360/76=4.7x
360/60=6x

SATA soundly trounces FW 800 nomatter how you cut it.

This is my 2008 MBP's SSD right now (SATA2), after running for 6 days with dozens of apps going under Mountain Lion:


This is the same test on a drive connected via FW800 on a 2008 Mac Mini running a clone of my server's boot drive, running Mavericks:


That's 7.2 times faster write speeds on the SATA bus and 4.75 times faster read speeds!

I think some of those people trying to promote booting from SSDs over FireWire are sad and lonely and are trying to start a cult with the "miracle of FireWire."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2014 07:21PM by Chakravartin.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: TheToddler
Date: June 24, 2014 07:50PM
I boot a 2009 27-inch iMac with a 512 SSD and it's far superior performance to the internal (and now dead) platter drive.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Black
Date: June 24, 2014 08:02PM
I booted a 2010 iMac via external FW800 SSD for two years and it was great. I still boot a 2009 Mini the same way and it's great. And no image-bombing of alleged benchmarks will convince me otherwise.




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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: June 24, 2014 08:03PM
Quote
TheToddler
I boot a 2009 27-inch iMac with a 512 SSD and it's far superior performance to the internal (and now dead) platter drive.

Well, yeah.

Not-dead generally kicks dead's butt in benchmarks.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2014 08:04PM by Chakravartin.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: June 24, 2014 08:05PM
Quote
Black
I booted a 2010 iMac via external FW800 SSD for two years and it was great. I still boot a 2009 Mini the same way and it's great. And no image-bombing of alleged benchmarks will convince me otherwise.

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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: clay
Date: June 24, 2014 08:06PM
Quote
TheToddler
I boot a 2009 27-inch iMac with a 512 SSD and it's far superior performance to the internal (and now dead) platter drive.

is your SSD internal or external? if external, which connection?
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: mattkime
Date: June 24, 2014 08:23PM
If you can do the work yourself - internal. If not, external



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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: clay
Date: June 24, 2014 08:26PM
Oh, I can do the transplant...but I would also charge some $$ for labor, making it a little more expensive than just slapping a SSD in a FW or USB enclosure. But, I'm doing the work for some nice folks who will do what I recommend, so just trying to decide what makes the most sense for them.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: June 24, 2014 08:34PM
If the iMac is that old I would assume there is a lot of dust inside. An internal installation would be a great time to clean out the innards.

I'm talking myself into replacing the optical drive of a 2009 27" iMac with a Crucial MX100 512GB SSD. The main reason is to open it up and clean out all the dust. The fans seem to be running quite frequently these days. Just waiting for the Crucial 512 drive to hit that $199 price again.

Todd's keyboard
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: June 24, 2014 08:38PM
The deciding factor is your rate vs their convenience.

If I was comfortable doing the swap, I'd rather have it as neat as possible, as few cables, enclosures, etc, as possible.

Right now, I'm looking at two minis, and eleven external enclosures. I'll trim that down some day, but the fewer wires the better, as far as I'm concerned.




When a good man is hurt,
all who would be called good
must suffer with him.

You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.

There is no safety for honest men except
by believing all possible evil of evil men.

We don’t do focus groups. They just ensure that you don’t offend anyone, and produce bland inoffensive products. —Sir Jonathan Ive

Perfection is the enemy of progress. -Winston Churchill

-An armed society is a polite society.
And hope is a lousy defense.

You make me pull, I'll put you down.

Mister, that's a ten-gallon hat on a twenty-gallon head.

I *love* SIGs. It's Glocks I hate.
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Oh and...
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: June 24, 2014 08:41PM
...while either method will be a solid improvement, if you could refresh their OS, that might make a difference as well.




When a good man is hurt,
all who would be called good
must suffer with him.

You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.

There is no safety for honest men except
by believing all possible evil of evil men.

We don’t do focus groups. They just ensure that you don’t offend anyone, and produce bland inoffensive products. —Sir Jonathan Ive

Perfection is the enemy of progress. -Winston Churchill

-An armed society is a polite society.
And hope is a lousy defense.

You make me pull, I'll put you down.

Mister, that's a ten-gallon hat on a twenty-gallon head.

I *love* SIGs. It's Glocks I hate.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: mattkime
Date: June 24, 2014 08:56PM
Then it depends upon your rate and confidence with the install.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Sam3
Date: June 24, 2014 08:58PM
I think we are discussing this with incomplete data. The discussion seems to be about internal SSD speed vs. Firewire800 SSD or USB 2 SSD speed. The speed tests that are supplied are measuring internal SATA 2 SSD speeds with external Firewire platter hard drive speeds. What we need is someone who has an SSD in an external case to speedtest it and post their results.

FWIW I ran a speediest on my setup and got almost identical results to Chakravartin's, however I also did a speediest on my previous boot drive which is now an internal drive that replaced the optical in my mid-2010 MBP. Those results were disappointing, 89.4 write and 90.1 read. This drive is the hybrid 1 TB HD/SSD Toshiba that OWC sells. I think that I wasted my money by buying the hybrid drive, I see no improvement over a standard platter drive.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: June 24, 2014 09:35PM
Quote
Sam3
I think we are discussing this with incomplete data. The discussion seems to be about internal SSD speed vs. Firewire800 SSD or USB 2 SSD speed. The speed tests that are supplied are measuring internal SATA 2 SSD speeds with external Firewire platter hard drive speeds. What we need is someone who has an SSD in an external case to speedtest it and post their results.

The HGST 2.5-inch 7200rpm HD in the FireWire enclosure can easily hit 120MB/s. It came nowhere near that while in the FW enclosure.

The speed of an SSD via FireWire should be pretty close to that using the HD because the limit's imposed by the bus and enclosure and not the device inside.

Black was talking up booting from SSD via USB 2.0 and I did some tests with that awhile back. It was actually faster than SATA HD for booting, but was slower at everything else. My theory for that is that large and sustained reads are sometimes faster via SSD/USB when the hard drive (on the internal SATA bus) that it's being compared to is old (6 years), slow, well-used and fragmented so the stylus has to skip all over the place to grab data.

Quote
Sam3
I think that I wasted my money by buying the hybrid drive, I see no improvement over a standard platter drive.

A hybrid drive doesn't speed things up generally. It speeds up access to recently used files/sectors based upon the logic/rules dictated by the drive's built-in controller.

Try rebooting twice and you should see it go faster the second time.

Also, they don't advertise the fact that to save energy the drive will slow or spin down when the flash RAM is being used and that can cause some delays when the drive has to spin up again so you can access data from the platter-side of the fence. Depending upon the workflow, the result may be that it's no faster than -- or is even a little slower than -- a comparable traditional hard drive.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2014 09:37PM by Chakravartin.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: sekker
Date: June 24, 2014 10:34PM
Here's my take:
1) Internal SSD is going to be the fastest. 512GB SSDs are $200; great deal.
2) Second best is external FW. I'm booting my iMac this way, it's definitely faster than the 7200rpm internal HD. But I expect to go internal with the SSD at some point.
3) Third best is SSD via external USB.

The rest is a decision about cost. FW enclosures are becoming harder to find. And your time is a consideration.

I went ahead and put an SSD inside a similar iMac, the speed improvement of that hardware change plus a fresh OS install made it a brand-new machine. We will be using it as long as it still works - it's now more of a chromebox, but there you have it. Works still the same even if the browser is the main software.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Robert M
Date: June 25, 2014 11:48AM
Clay,

See this thread:

[forums.macresource.com]

I'm using an SSD in a drive dock connected via USB 2.0 as a boot drive for my office's '08 iMac. No problems at all. I'd've gone with Firewire 800 except I found FW800 flakey on this particular machine. So, USB 2.0 became the interface of choice. Ignore the stuff about CCC and backups as they aren't relevant to your question.

Robert
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Lew Zealand
Date: June 25, 2014 02:22PM
Quote
Chakravartin
Quote
Lew Zealand
FW800: 80 MB/sec max
SATA-I: 135 MB/sec max
SATA-II: 250 MB/sec max

WTF are you pulling those numbers from, your butt??

FW800 60-67MBps real world read-speeds, maybe 76MB/s peak read speed for a second or two if you're incredibly lucky.

SATA2 260-280MBps real world read-speeds, up to 360MB/s max read-speeds.

260/60=4.3x
360/76=4.7x
360/60=6x

SATA soundly trounces FW 800 nomatter how you cut it.

This is my 2008 MBP's SSD right now (SATA2), after running for 6 days with dozens of apps going under Mountain Lion:


This is the same test on a drive connected via FW800 on a 2008 Mac Mini running a clone of my server's boot drive, running Mavericks:


That's 7.2 times faster write speeds on the SATA bus and 4.75 times faster read speeds!

I think some of those people trying to promote booting from SSDs over FireWire are sad and lonely and are trying to start a cult with the "miracle of FireWire."

Chak, you are using crap FW800 chipsets if you only get 67MB/sec.

The current OWC Voyager Quad gets 82+ MB./sec read and write thru FW800 to an HDD, not even an SSD (yes, which does the same speed).
My Seagate FW800 2.5" drive adapter only gets 52 MB/sec write and 72 MB/sec read because it uses a crap chipset.

If you are interested in reading about some of the variation in performance in FW800 chipsets, DigiLloyd has tested a number of them. I did my homework and did not buy any of OWC's older chipset cases and docks (Garage sale, etc.), in order to get the proper one to get the most performance. OWC mentions all their chipsets in their specs section.

Also you may need to check your own butt as I have never seen any SATA II do 360 MB./sec. It does about 260MB/sec max.

Edit: I now have USB3 and eSATA2 capability at home (thanks, Akitio) and no longer use FW800 for anything as it's slower. However it's still good enough for most uses including booting from an SSD, especially as a test of improved speed over a SATA-connected HDD.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/2014 02:25PM by Lew Zealand.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: June 25, 2014 07:34PM
Quote
Lew Zealand
Chak, you are using crap FW800 chipsets if you only get 67MB/sec.

Apple's fault. That's the most a Mac Pro 2010-2012 (RIP) will do.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: clay
Date: June 25, 2014 08:24PM
as a F/U from the OP, I decided to recommend just installing it internally, and they went for it. I've got a 256GB SSD on the way, and will just swap out the HD. They are apparently using less than 100GB of space on the HD, so the 256GB should last them for years to come.
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: June 26, 2014 04:54PM
Clay,

Would like to get your thoughts on how easy/difficult the swap will be. I'm tempted to do the same thing myself. Have already ordered a Data Doubler from OWC. Waiting for a good price for a Crucial MX100 512 SSD.

thanks, Todd's keyboard
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Re: Is it worth it? SSD to boot a 2008/9 iMac: Internal vs External
Posted by: Lew Zealand
Date: June 26, 2014 06:22PM
Quote
Chakravartin
Quote
Lew Zealand
Chak, you are using crap FW800 chipsets if you only get 67MB/sec.

Apple's fault. That's the most a Mac Pro 2010-2012 (RIP) will do.

One of these days I will actually be specific in my posts.

I have not seen variability of more than 1 or 2 MB in FW800 chipsets in any Intel Macs I've tested though that does not include the 2010-2012 Mac Pro. It does include almost all Mini, iMac, and MacBook Pro chipsets which included FW800. I do a lot of tests for fun and no profit.

The variability actually comes from the chipsets in the *drive case*. The quality on these is all over the place though the Oxford chipsets have continually upped their speeds to the current one on my Voyager Quad (Oxford 946 IIRC). DigiLloyd gets 85MB./sec read & write with these, I get 82-83. The previous generation Oxford (944, 936? I don't recall) gets 85 read and 75 write. I have a 3.5" HD OWC case with this older chipset and I get 75 write and about 82 read. I never see that 85 MB/sec.

My much older OWC dual PATA RAID FW800 only gets about 62 write and 72 read. And as mentioned previously, most 2.5" FW800 cases only get 50-60MB/sec write and 60-70 read as they use cheap chipsets. I have WD and Seagate cases/adapters and, well, they're better than nothin' for external storage and the dongle based adapters are super-convenient.
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