iMac 3.4GHz: SSD can improve speeds up to 18 percent

Posted on by Mike Evans

Last month I rushed to buy a 27in iMac, upgrading to the 3.4 GHz i7 processor and 8GB of memory. With a six-week delivery delay on the SSD-equipped version, I felt I couldn’t wait and went for the standard 1TB mechanical drive. This looks like one of my big mistakes.

The i7 iMac is fast, no doubt about it. But the startup and wake times are worse than on my SSD-equipped MacBook Air 11in. This is subjective, but it is my experience.

Now I know I goofed in not waiting for the SSD. The latest MacWorld lab report on my model, but equipped with an SSD drive, is the fastest Mac ever tested. What makes me feel really bad is that it is 18 percent faster than my identical iMac:

Looking at the results of the 3.4GHz Core i7 iMac with and without an SSD, we see that the SSD-equipped system is 18 percent faster overall. With the SSD, duplicating a 1GB file in the Finder is 35 percent faster; uncompressing a zipped folder is 44 percent faster; opening a Word document in Pages is 17.5 percent faster; and an iPhoto file import is more than twice as fast. Differences in processor and graphics scores were understandably insignificant.

After experiencing SSDs on two MacBook Airs and a 13in MacBook Pro I vowed I would never go for a mechanical drive again. Yet I went ahead and did just that. If only I’d waited a few more weeks I’d now be considerably happier.

The moral of this story is to make sure you specify an SSD when ordering. Getting inside an iMac is notoriously difficult, even for experienced repairers, and adding an SSD is very difficult.

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