iMac update question

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by head_unit, Sep 13, 2020 at 12:34 PM.

  1. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    I am looking to get a somewhat newer iMac than my 2007*, which is a bit laggy for video conferencing and has occasional freezes. I much prefer iMac over my MacBook Air for telecons due to better angle of my neck and larger screen. Also the machine gets used to rework MP3 metadata, store music to upload to Apple Music, watch YouTube videos, and so on.

    I was looking at charts of model generations, and noticed in Wikipedia
    iMac - Wikipedia
    that seems to imply mid-2011 to mid-2013 won't upgrade cleanly to OS 11. I'd have to move up to mid-2014, which is more expensive, and at some point I might as well hit up my friend who works at Apple Store for a discounted model, and then with tax I'm over $800 which was not my plan at all. And really I don't know that it matters what OS I can update it to, this machine does not get used a lot.

    Originally I thought to spend like $300 for something a bit newer with a bit more RAM. Of course in true audiophile tradition that ballooned into "hey I should get an SSD they are so quicker" and "16GB of RAM could be really good." Because
    What is more important for teleconferencing (like Zoom) and trying for instance to share a YouTube or local video over the Zoom? I don't know.

    Am I going down a rabbit hole and getting too crazy and should just move up to 8GB and an SSD and be done with it for now? Post-COVID this won't get used much when telecons turn into back to the office.

    *20 inch mid-2007, 2GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, graphics ATI RAdeon HD2400 XT 128 MB]
     
  2. Acapella48

    Acapella48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Elk Grove, CA.

    If you don't upgrade to a newer OS, you're looking at end of life-cycle support. Not a good idea. Just prolonging the inevitable.

    You should be able to increase your RAM to 8 GB and get an adapter to install a SSD. Might want to talk to your friend about finding a newer refurbished model.

    Video conferencing requires CPU power and sufficient internet bandwidth not necessarily more RAM. If you have a slow CPU and slow internet connection, more RAM isn't gonna help you.
     
  3. charlie W

    charlie W EMA Level 8

    Location:
    San Antonio
    I just got a new 2019 iMac just a few days before the forthcoming Apple Silicon Macs were introduced and the final 2020 last Intel iMacs. My previous iMac was mid-2009 computer happily running OS High Sierra. I think you should investigate what's causing the video lagging in Zoom before investing in a new iMac. If you're using Wi-Fi for video conference, stop now and go with a hard wired connection. Wi-Fi is a shared resource used by the iMac and any other device on the Wi-Fi. Secondly, disable anything that could running in the background while in Zoom conference. And finally, consider the browser you use. Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari-any of them could be consuming system resources or may have a memory leak, both of which can slow down the computer.
     
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  4. elvisizer

    elvisizer Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Jose
    it's not worth it to sink any money into a 13 year old iMac- lack of OS updates makes it a security risk and there's no upgrade you can do to improve the CPU and GPU which are what you need to improve to make zoom run at full speed.
    replace it, it's time. 13 years from a single computer is FAR MORE utility than most people get from a purchase like that in the first place.
     
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  5. jaddie

    jaddie Forum Resident

    Location:
    DeKalb, IL
    I have two 2008 iMacs stuffed with max memory and an SSD. The upgrade was not cheap, and frankly not for the novice, but it works as well as that machine ever could. I've "tricked" the installer of High Sierra into installing it, so that's the OS it runs, even thought the hardware technically is not supposed to be able to run it. I still get security updates, and it works well for most things.

    However, from what I can tell, going up to Mojave much less Catalina is just not possible on those machines.

    The problem is, apps are developed around the latest OS version, so teleconferencing apps like Zoom or Bluejeans get updated a lot, but the updates are not targeted at older OS versions. At some point the hardware you have gets you stuck in the past.

    The economy of the Mac, if you want to look at it that way, is to buy the best, most recent hardware you can, even if it's expensive. Then, run that hardware as long as you can. 8-12 years isn't bad in computer years. When other non-Mac hardware has long died, broken, and become irreparable, a lot of Apple hardware keeps going. My daily driver is a 2012 MacBook Pro, for example. Still does everything, though I'm still at High Sierra. The older iMacs I have in the system here are relegated to specific tasks they still can do. But I am staring down the new hardware gun barrel right now. The sad part is the new hardware isn't all that much better, its just that the OS and apps are written for it to the exclusion of older hardware. Yes, it's planned obsoleteness. But very few Win systems I have made it this long.
     
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  6. guitarguy

    guitarguy Tone Meister

    Location:
    Planet Earth
    Per Zoom's System Requirements I'd say you are right on the hairy edge for Mac provided you are at OS 10.9 or higher? As @elvisizer replied - 13 years is excellent ROI for a computer. I would think that SSD and RAM upgrade might be throwing good money after bad at this point.

    Internet bandwidth is crucial for Zoom so try a wired connection if possible.

    Tell us about your MacBook Air? I use a laptop stand for my MacBook Pro that places the screen and camera at a much better height and angle for Video Calls.
     
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  7. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    hmm, interesting idea. His discount is less on refurbs so it comes out about the same as new, but sometimes they have closeouts so I'll ask him.
     
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  8. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Uh, that is unfortunately a good point. Unfortunate because due to the router location it means stringing a long cable all along the floor. Then again if that improved the connection enough maybe I could not get another machine at all! And I propose to get a different machine, not gonna upgrade the one I have.

    there IS a laptop stand here, but I like to keep the laptop free to do some other simultaneous things. I should be using the stand with another keyboard though, maybe get a mini keyboard and mouse...
     
  9. jaddie

    jaddie Forum Resident

    Location:
    DeKalb, IL
    Zoom (and any other video conferencing app) works best with high sustained connection speeds. It's because they can't really do a lot of buffering and still maintain a live feel, and keep audio in sync. Wifi, at least a lot of the time, can support high burst speeds, but without a really solid connection, it doesn't usually maintain speed as well as a wired connection. It may seem fast enough for most use because web pages and, downloads don't need to load at a consistent speed, they just need to load quickly, so burst speeds work just fine. Even streaming utilizes a big buffer to compensate for inconsistent data speeds. But the live apps can't work that way. Some people I know literally string out a cable for the duration of the Zoom conference, then put it away and go back to WiFI when it's over.

    It's worth testing your speed, but I'd suggest using speedof.me as it is a more realistic speed test than something link speedtest.net. Set up a temporary cable, and compare the two. If you see no difference, you're good to use WiFi. If WiFi is significantly slower, you can also play with trying a different channel on the WiFi radio. They're supposed to pick clean ones, but sometimes that doesn't work well.

    As to the Mac question, as I said, Apple hardware lasts a really long time, typically. One thing to watch out for is the current MacBook Pros, and some other machines, are no longer user upgradable. That's a problem because you have to buy the maximum machine you'll ever need up front. It's one reason I can't let go of my 2012 MacBook Pro, I've upgraded everything including adding a 1TB SSD, and a second HDD in the optical bay. My next upgrade will be a 2TB SSD system drive, and a 3TB SSD data drive in the optical bay. You can't do that kind of thing with any more recent MBP. But such is life, it's still good stuff.

    If you take the cost of a good machine and spread it out over time, as compared to the cheap setup that you have to update every few years, you'll see there is actually an economy to paying more. Of course, there is also a cash flow problem.
     
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  10. BruceS

    BruceS El Sirviente del Gato

    Location:
    Reading, MA US
    Keeping it in the audio realm, 8 GB RAM and an actual SSD ought to be good. I have my audio data on an external 3 TB desktop HDD...no probs. Some iMacs (like my late 2015, 2.8 GHz, 8 GB 1867 MHz DDR3) cannot be upgraded with additional RAM. Don't go too crazy, especially if you're not expecting to use the machine much later on. $300 sounds like maybe a little less than you'll need to spend. (Not long ago, I got a refurbed 2012 MBP for about that—4 GB RAM and a molasses-like internal HDD that I am about to replace with SSD.)
     
  11. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    My early 2008 MacBook Pro (2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo) with 4 GB of RAM and an SSD, running OS X El Capitan, runs Zoom just fine with the built-in webcam. Any lagging is likely due to your network connection, not the computer.
     
  12. jaddie

    jaddie Forum Resident

    Location:
    DeKalb, IL
    There are certain Zoom functions that may not work with lesser hardware. Background Replacement is one. I haven't bothered with testing all of them. I keep HD Video off as it doesn't seem to offer any benefit, and just runs the processors hotter. And the latest update 5.2.3 has a number of features that may not function without hardware acceleration.
     
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  13. Oatp1b1

    Oatp1b1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    Isn't it an easy solution just to buy a decent external monitor and webcam and hook your Macbook Air onto when needed instead of buying an old iMac?
     
  14. guitarguy

    guitarguy Tone Meister

    Location:
    Planet Earth
    I hear you..but you can get a really nice external monitor for $200-ish and a pretty decent Logitech mouse / keyboard combo for $30. Probably less than a likely useless SSD & RAM update for the iMac. Heck, I’ve bought a few setups like this so my employees have decent kit to Work From Home. I moved everyone to laptops within a few weeks of Armageddon. We’ve all got either USBC or thunderbolt docks to make connections easy with redundant setups at the office / home. Just grab the laptop and go.

    Anyway - the external monitor on the MBA allows you multi-task during Zoom calls.
     
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  15. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    No, I like to run 2 machines with separate stuff, and sign in twice to see what is actually coming from my side. And I detest extended desktops, just a personal pecadillo. Having done both it's a little cleaner to move an iMac around that a monitor and cables and all that (admittedly mild) mess. Plus my wife likes to use iMac when I'm not.
     
  16. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Oh I'm not gonna update this one, too old. Buy a used one with already more RAM and probably SSD though really the SSD is probably not so important, just nice.
     
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  17. BruceS

    BruceS El Sirviente del Gato

    Location:
    Reading, MA US
    I pretty much get your sit all-around. Just want to note that some Macs with HDD can be a bit on the sluggish side. The one I'm on right now (late 2015 iMac) has a Fusion drive. Had it to do over again, I'd might have gone for an SSD...although the Fusion pretty much gets by. Best of luck!
     
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  18. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Good to hear, I was wondering about that. And I see some machines with twin drives, SSD and spin-up both...think I'd just rather have one, though maybe two drives if both were bootable could be handy.

    Someone right in my town is auctioning a machine, I offered to buy it now for between their price and the auction floor. No response yet. Getting an Ethernet cable which arrives tomorrow.
     
  19. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Ah, nice, I like their visual. NOW, I I see these big dips in the download speed, what the heck is that? (There is nothing going on on any of the machines at home).

    Now I am wondering, if I get 56,000TB blazing fast internet, can these machines even handle it? Cables I can get from Blue Jeans, but no sense in paying Spectrum more if the machines can't even use it.

    And I can see the points made here about processor speed are on point-my MacBook Air is noticeably less laggy than the old faithful iMac.
     
  20. jbmcb

    jbmcb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Troy, MI, USA
    For things like video conferencing, what matters more than the CPU is the video processor. Nearly all video encoding and decoding is passed off to the graphics processor these days, as it's much more efficient at those tasks than a general purpose CPU, and they often have dedicated encoding and decoding hardware to boot. If at all possible, I'd go for an older iMac with a discreet video card (ATI or nVidia) rather than the built-in Intel GMA graphics. The iMacs with newer generation Intel-based graphics (newer than i3/5/7-4xxx based processors, or Haswell) should be good enough to handle video conferencing without a discreet video card, as Intel seriously upgraded their on-chip video at that point.
     
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  21. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Now, Do I need more bandwidth?

    My tests showed roughly 60-70MB upload, and 10-12 download. I do watch Netflix, or Zoom, but not simultaneous. Other users here don't use much bandwidth, at least until my kid comes home then we might have twin Zooms or a Netflix stream with a Zoom stream.
     
  22. jbmcb

    jbmcb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Troy, MI, USA
    We have 20Mbs down / 5Mbs up, and regularly have 2-3 Google Hangouts and Zoom Meetings going simultaneously with no problems. I've heard people have problems with 100Mbs down / 20Mbs up with only a few Zoom calls at a time, but I think that had to do more with poor Wifi and a substandard router than the available bandwidth.
     
  23. rcsrich

    rcsrich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    10-12 down is pretty slow by today's standards...
     
  24. elvisizer

    elvisizer Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Jose
    sure you got those right? usually upload is slower than down so that's an odd connection config if that is correct!
    60-70 download with 10-12 upload is pretty normal for a US broadband connection- download's a little slow but not by much. my comcast connection here in san jose is about 160 down/11 up. generally these are megaBITS not megabytes so the abbreviation is Mb rather than MB
     
  25. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    I appreciate this detailed info, though it's out of my expertise. Are those the so-called "4th generation"? Do you know roughly what years before/after are good? I'm probably looking at like 2012/2013 machines, since I hope this is just a temporary coronavirus situation, and thus don't want to spend too too much
     

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