Jump to content

Mac Fixer Upper or Bite the Bullet and Buy New?

Recommended Posts

I followed your advice on buying my last Mac: 

Date of Purchase DECEMBER 5, 2019

iMac retina 5k, 27-inch, 2019

Processor 3.6 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9

Graphics Radeon Pro 580X 8 GB

Memory 40GB 2667 MHzDDR4


The problem I have is that I haven't been able to upgrade in a long time. I'm using 568.86 GB of 1 TB storage

My iMac won't let me upgrade from Ventura. It also has started to randomly turn off or show a black screen. I took to Apple who said at first they ran a diagnostic test.  

They said they ran MRI, memory failing. No cracks to display, housing shows minimal wear from use, no other indications of damage.

They kept for 3 more days until I told them I needed it back and were supposed to check for further testing (EFI and OS) and VMI of RAM. But they did not ever do the additional testing. They told me that my options were pretty much either trying to take the iMac back to its version from when I initially bought it, and losing all the programs, etc. OR trying to buy more RAM but they couldn't say if that would help or not since there's no way to tell if that's the problem or not. They said other than that, I would come out cheaper to buy a new Mac.

I'm a photographer, not a tech guy. So I need your help. I can't even edit anymore without my iMac shutting off during edits. Also, when I upload images (I use a card reader) I end up with several that are messed up, with like a purple/pink screen covering/erasing them.

I'd rather fix this if I can (I've only had it 4 years! - is that a normal lifespan??), but if I have to buy do you have suggestions for a 2024 desktop?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apple will blame ANYTHING that is not Apple Branded. PERIOD!

Mouse batteries died? Oh it must be the 3rd party RAM. Locking up? Gotta be the 3rd Party RAM. Mac reboots? It's the 3rd Party RAM.

If it doesn't have a little Apple Sticker on the RAM, Apple will blame that Every. Stinkin'. Time.

Now for the bad news...

Your wallet isn't going to like you very much, especially the Credit Card that will be smoking when you purchase a new Mac. :( 

But first things first.

16 hours ago, pete said:

I can't even edit anymore without my iMac shutting off during edits. Also, when I upload images (I use a card reader) I end up with several that are messed up, with like a purple/pink screen covering/erasing them.

That does sound like a RAM issue, but! it's most likely the Motherboard or it's even overheating. How so? Because Manufacturers don't always put on the correct amount of Thermal Paste AND use low-quality Thermal Paste to begin with. It breaks down over time and your CPU could be overheating a little when it's crunching stuff. Not enough to warrant a Warning Message or be blatantly obvious, just enough to be really annoying. Hell, it could be a clogged fan.

The motherboard itself could have issues, particularly the USB Controller Chip so your images are being corrupted as they are copied to the hard drive. So in the end, it's better for you to purchase a new Mac. I would not invest any money into your current computer, and it sounds like your AppleCare has expired.

I have seen power supplies go bad, but not after a particular event; if your Mac shuts off after editing, that's usually not a power supply issue. If it did it randomly with ANYTHING running, then it's a suspect. Oh, your Video Card and/or Video RAM could be the issue, since the current versions of Photoshop really rely on the Video Card to work. Guess where that is? That's right, the Motherboard.

Now, is Apple lying? No...it could be the RAM, but faulty RAM usually doesn't cause your Mac to shut off. It will corrupt images, cause lock-ups and other messages, crash on your that requires a restart, but not power down your Mac. That's the Motherboard.

See a theme here? In any case, I wouldn't blow $1100 on a refurbished Motherboard for your Mac (or whatever the cost is,) I'd put that towards a new computer.

16 hours ago, pete said:

I'd rather fix this if I can (I've only had it 4 years! - is that a normal lifespan??), but if I have to buy do you have suggestions for a 2024 desktop?

"New" doesn't mean shit these days. People always ask, "...gonna get me a new one?!?" or "How about a new _________." New doesn't mean "NEW." It means different. It's all crap, MADE IN CHINA.

As for "only" lasting 4 years, yeah...it happens. I've been a Professional Computer Tech since 1993, which is 30 years and have made a Career out of fixing things. You have to think of one little tiny part out of 100,000+ decided to fail. I've seen $30,000 pieces of equipment that are Dead on Arrival. Hard Drives die all the time. Power Supplies fail. I've replaced hundreds of Motherboards over the years, it happens. Unfortunately, people normally don't have money laying around to buy something new. I empathize.

"Only" is a 4-Letter word. "It's only..."

"What do you mean it's expensive, it's only $4600!"

Yeah, it's all about perspective. I'm so used to the large numbers that the prices don't phase me as much but for someone else...it's A LOT of money.

To answer your question about lifespan? I'd say it's average. Though configuration-wise, it should have lasted you a little longer. I'm still using my 2017 27" iMac as I type this comment. I've seen Computer Motherboards or other components die in 3-4 years, some in a few months and others last 8+ years. It's all a game of Roulette; it sucks when it happens to you and you get to be smug when you are the other guy that has no problems. :D 


So what is the next step?

This is a tough one. Personally, with the current versions of Photoshop requiring so much out of the Hardware, that it doesn't make me want to put ANY money into a computer that is from 2019 or earlier. But what is interesting is images are corrupting when you copy them from the reader. There is something about that. Hmmm....

  • Have you tried removing any and all devices from the USB Ports? Just as a test. No Card Readers, No External Drives, No Time Machine Drives, just the iMac itself. I have seen a bad Hard Drive cause shut-down issues like you are experiencing, and to diagnose this, we need to isolate your Mac. Do this before attempting anything. If it is an external, spending a few hundred on a new EHD is a lot better than blowing $4600 on a new Mac. ;) This is especially true if your Mac lasted for a few days without it rebooting, since it was all by itself at the Genius Bar!
  • What surge protector are you using? How old is it? I've seen cheap power strips being used on $4000 computer setups and that's not a good thing. Power Strips wear out over-time. They do their job by dispersing surges and spikes, but those components do wear out and they become glorified extension cords allowing things to hit your computer, which kills Motherboards and Power Supplies over time. This is the APC UPS that I have hooked up to my Mac.  The "Sign Wave UPS" helps filter the current a little better. I even have one on my Home Theater System.
  • It could be the RAM since Apple said that "Memory was failing" with their diagnostic tests. You have 40GB of RAM, so I'm thinking that's two 4GB Sticks and two 16GB Sticks? Yes? What slots are the RAM Sticks in? You might want to try pulling the extra RAM that you installed and see if you can edit a single image and see what happens. It might be the Apple RAM causing your issues or the 3rd Party stuff. Try pulling the Apple RAM, that should leave you at 32GB. Does it work, or does the problem remain? If it remains, pull the 3rd party RAM and install the Apple RAM only. Then try it again. Hell, sometimes re-seating RAM makes things better.

Bottom Line: Before condemning your Mac, let's try a few minor things first. Pull any external devices and try editing some things as you normally would. Then start dorking around with the RAM. Hopefully it's something simple and we won't have the conversation about you buying a new Mac.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Brian said:

Apple will blame ANYTHING that is not Apple Branded. PERIOD!

That is EXACTLY what they were doing. One "expert" DID apologize, and said Apple messed up by not working on my Mac, and said it was possibly the motherboard. But all the rest were pushing the non Apple RAM as being the problem.

I'm going to try your suggestions. Also, you mentioned overheating which, my Mac DOES rev up and get loud from time to time when I have been on it for awhile. I'm guessing there's no way to check or add the Thermal Paste you mentioned?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So far, I've unplugged all external drives and removed the Apple RAM completely (the 4GB sticks). I was just going to see if this worked any better, but so far, I have been editing for several hours with no hiccups whatsoever. When it was at the Apple Store they did remove my RAM sticks and put them back in (in different slots that what I had previously. They said it didn't matter what order they were in. True?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/6/2024 at 4:53 PM, pete said:

Mac DOES rev up and get loud from time to time when I have been on it for awhile

That’s because you have a Mac that has a Graphics Radeon Pro 580X 8GB and a modern copy of Photoshop. (2023 or 2024.) My 2017 Mac’s fan kicks on all the time with PS 2023, that’s why I won’t dare to upgrade to 2024. It never did this with PS 2022. 
This is why I jump up and down so much about the video cards and the current versions of Photoshop. The choice of GPU (Video Card) and dedicated Video Memory are more important than the choice of CPU! 

On 1/6/2024 at 8:45 PM, pete said:

They said it didn't matter what order they were in. True?)

“Eh.” Yes and no. Reseating RAM will fix more than swapping things around, it really depends on the motherboard. Personally, I’d have the Crucial RAM (or whatever) in the primary slots on my Mac and move the Apple RAM to the second bank, but you could also run things the other way around. I’ve had motherboards flat out not work with larger sticks in the primary slots and the computer would only POST with them in the secondary bank. It makes no sense, but it is something you just work with. Use whatever configuration that makes your motherboard happy. As long as they are the same speed and such, it’s not a huge difference. 

It’s is very possible that the Apple RAM is what is giving you problems. I guess the next test is to leave the Apple RAM out and to hook up the External Drives next and see what happens. Leave the Card Reader out of the mix. I’ve had a faulty card reader screw things up out of all things, so we need to isolate one thing at a time. Pick 1 EHD and run with it. Then add the 2nd EHD if you have one, rinse and repeat. Make notes on what you did last each time. We may find out your Reader is what’s causing the issue! Or it could have been the Apple RAM this whole time. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...