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Old Nov 20, 2012, 09:48 PM   #1
toddzrx
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Thumbs up Unibody iMac SSD Install: JUST DO IT!!!

Long time lurker; first time poster.

For those of you sitting on the fence about the possibility of installing an SSD, specifically in an iMac, but might be afraid to try, allow me the opportunity to allay your fears.

Summary of the below: removing the glass panel and taking the screen off the iMac is pretty easy, and any dust that might show up during the process is easily handled. IMHO, the unibody iMac is not that hard to work on, coming from someone who has taken apart the original MBP, a Macbook Air, and an iPod. And its reputation of being difficult due to the glass screen cover is unwarranted.

Long story: I'd been running the first gen 17" Macbook Pro (2.16GHz Core Duo) since buying it new in 2006, and as always happens, started getting a lot of beach-balling as newer versions of OS X were installed (although I felt it ran faster on 10.6 than 10.5). Instead of buying a new machine, I started looking into the possibility of buying an SSD to increase performance. I figured that the relatively high cost was worth another year or 2 of use, and the computer was fully functional at the time. So I went ahead and bought a 120GB Corsair SSD and, using iFixit, installed it without any issues, also using Carbon Copy Cloner to facilitate the data swap. As hoped for, the SSD was like putting a turbo on your car: no more beach balling practically ever. I now knew what people meant when they said they would never go back to a spinning hard drive.

Fast forward to this fall: my MBP's screen is broken and I'm using an external monitor in clam-shell mode, and I'm stuck on Snow Leopard due to the old Core Duo processor. So I like many on this forum had been waiting for a new iMac. While the new iMacs are ok I guess, I was not overwhelmed, and went and found a mid-2010 model with the 3.2GHz Core i3 and 1TB drive. While the processor and RAM were welcome upgrades from my previous MBP, this machine was still slower to use than my old MBP because of that spinning HD. Another visit to iFixit, along with some power drilling (I had to modify a bracket), and that same Corsair SSD is now in my iMac. And it was far easier than I thought. Simply follow the directions, take your time, and make sure you have the proper tools to do the job. And about dust between the glass and screen: there was actually quite a bit there when I first took the glass off, and I couldn't see it under normal use. A can of compressed air took care of it. End of story.

So I'll repeat in closing: for anyone who is remotely thinking about doing this upgrade, especially if you have an early unibody iMac that can still handle the current and future OS X versions, I highly recommend that you try it. You can get a 256GB SSD now for the price I paid for my 120GB two years ago, especially with the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales coming up in a few days. And you will love the performance boost you will get out of it, guaranteed.
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Old Nov 20, 2012, 10:09 PM   #2
panda bear
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toddzrx View Post
Long time lurker; first time poster.

For those of you sitting on the fence about the possibility of installing an SSD, specifically in an iMac, but might be afraid to try, allow me the opportunity to allay your fears.

Summary of the below: removing the glass panel and taking the screen off the iMac is pretty easy, and any dust that might show up during the process is easily handled. IMHO, the unibody iMac is not that hard to work on, coming from someone who has taken apart the original MBP, a Macbook Air, and an iPod. And its reputation of being difficult due to the glass screen cover is unwarranted.

Long story: I'd been running the first gen 17" Macbook Pro (2.16GHz Core Duo) since buying it new in 2006, and as always happens, started getting a lot of beach-balling as newer versions of OS X were installed (although I felt it ran faster on 10.6 than 10.5). Instead of buying a new machine, I started looking into the possibility of buying an SSD to increase performance. I figured that the relatively high cost was worth another year or 2 of use, and the computer was fully functional at the time. So I went ahead and bought a 120GB Corsair SSD and, using iFixit, installed it without any issues, also using Carbon Copy Cloner to facilitate the data swap. As hoped for, the SSD was like putting a turbo on your car: no more beach balling practically ever. I now knew what people meant when they said they would never go back to a spinning hard drive.

Fast forward to this fall: my MBP's screen is broken and I'm using an external monitor in clam-shell mode, and I'm stuck on Snow Leopard due to the old Core Duo processor. So I like many on this forum had been waiting for a new iMac. While the new iMacs are ok I guess, I was not overwhelmed, and went and found a mid-2010 model with the 3.2GHz Core i3 and 1TB drive. While the processor and RAM were welcome upgrades from my previous MBP, this machine was still slower to use than my old MBP because of that spinning HD. Another visit to iFixit, along with some power drilling (I had to modify a bracket), and that same Corsair SSD is now in my iMac. And it was far easier than I thought. Simply follow the directions, take your time, and make sure you have the proper tools to do the job. And about dust between the glass and screen: there was actually quite a bit there when I first took the glass off, and I couldn't see it under normal use. A can of compressed air took care of it. End of story.

So I'll repeat in closing: for anyone who is remotely thinking about doing this upgrade, especially if you have an early unibody iMac that can still handle the current and future OS X versions, I highly recommend that you try it. You can get a 256GB SSD now for the price I paid for my 120GB two years ago, especially with the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales coming up in a few days. And you will love the performance boost you will get out of it, guaranteed.
I've thought about doing this since I keep 99% of my files on externals, but I just can't get past the idea of having to take the glass off.

I generally comfortable with doing my own stuff, but I won't try to fix my own brakes on my bike, fix my own car or take the glass off my iMac. I just don't feel that comfortable doing it and it drives me crazy.
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Old Nov 20, 2012, 10:40 PM   #3
toddzrx
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How old is your iMac? Is it out of warranty? Could you replace it if, God forbid, you broke it? Or more likely, could you afford to take it to an authorized repair shop in the event you take it apart and don't feel comfortable putting it back together again?

Taking the glass off, and putting it back on, is by far the easiest step of the whole process.

I spent $160 and got 2 more years out of my old MBP. That's an extremely good return on what I spent for an upgrade. Sure beats buying a new machine every 3 or 4 years, at least financially speaking.
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 12:59 AM   #4
antman2x2
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The only thing holding me back from doing this nowadays is that it avoids my warranty. I'm gonna wait for a well priced thunderbolt SSD
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 02:03 AM   #5
Lazarus177
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I recently made this upgrade with a 2011 27” iMac. I bought the installation kit from OWC and I found a Samsung 830 256 GB SSD for £130 on Amazon.
Removing the glass and screen is the easiest part, it does get a bit tricky to get behind the logic board but not beyond most peoples’ ability. The trick is to take your time and be methodical.
Re assembling the iMac is just the reverse of the dismantle. The one thing i will say is to take extra care when re attaching the cables. They are quite fragile. I managed to damage the display connecter, (its the flat cable with the wire clip). I had to buy a new one £30.
One week later, with the new cable installed and the iMac is a real hot rod. Apps open immediately and the beach ball is a thing of the past.
This upgrade is a much more affordable option than a new machine, and will last me until OSX no longer works on iMacs of a certain age.

Here’s the link for the OWC kit and a very good video of the whole process.

http://blog.macsales.com/13606-owc-i...-27-apple-imac
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 02:06 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by antman2x2 View Post
The only thing holding me back from doing this nowadays is that it avoids my warranty. I'm gonna wait for a well priced thunderbolt SSD

Did you say it 'avoids' the warranty,
that's funny
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 03:08 AM   #7
paul-n
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The disassemble sounds crazy, but it is not really complicated. Taking of the glass is just the easiest part
Taking out the display is more difficult, but just keep calm and take your time.
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 03:32 AM   #8
MsDalfo
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I'll be doing it to my new reburb once it's out of warranty (which is approx. 2 years from now). By then it probably will have slowed down noticeably, and I imagine the boost will bring it back to like-new performance.

And SSDs will probably be (a lot?) cheaper by then. Wish I could just rubber-band a bunch of USB sticks together and make my own.
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 08:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toddzrx View Post
How old is your iMac? Is it out of warranty? Could you replace it if, God forbid, you broke it? Or more likely, could you afford to take it to an authorized repair shop in the event you take it apart and don't feel comfortable putting it back together again?

Taking the glass off, and putting it back on, is by far the easiest step of the whole process.

I spent $160 and got 2 more years out of my old MBP. That's an extremely good return on what I spent for an upgrade. Sure beats buying a new machine every 3 or 4 years, at least financially speaking.
My iMac isn't terribly old. I think it might be 2 years old max. I am almost positive that it is the most recent generation.

It is out of warranty, but if I did break it, I currently have a MacBook Air and an iPad Mini, so I'd just wait and purchase a new iMac.

I would be able to afford to take it to a repair shop, but I am stubborn and would want to finish the job myself.

I kind of want to get the new iMac, but have been talking myself out of it, because I just don't like the direction it's heading without the optical drive and unnecessary thinness. So I'd like to try to get a little more life out of my current iMac and I think that adding the SSD will stop my brain from wanting something shiny and new.
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 09:07 AM   #10
mauka
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"I managed to damage the display connecter, (its the flat cable with the wire clip). I had to buy a new one £30."

I did this on my 2010, the HD was failing and I thought I'd replace it with a SSD. As I was reassembling my iMac, I broke the display cable connector off at the motherboard solder joint. The only way to repair would be to replace the board, or try and solder the connector back on (at least 30 Pins). It seemed very fragile to me, I was being very careful, the connector just snapped off the board as I was seating the ribbon cable.

To my surprise (and delight) Applecare covered it and the HD as well. The HD could have been one of the recalled Seagate drives, not sure. It's working fine now and while I'm not trying to scare anyone too much, I will not be attempting this again - even though a SSD would be awesome!

As much as I like OSX, Apple makes their hardware too difficult to access, and it looks like the new iMac could be even worse. When it's time to replace this iMac I'll look at a Mac Pro, if they ever get updated.
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 09:20 AM   #11
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I'd think about trying this is the machine wasn't worth anything, but if I can still get $500 out of my old iMac as is, I'm not going to take that chance. I'll just put that $500 toward upgrades in the new iMac
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 12:33 PM   #12
toddzrx
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I'd think about trying this is the machine wasn't worth anything, but if I can still get $500 out of my old iMac as is, I'm not going to take that chance. I'll just put that $500 toward upgrades in the new iMac
I understand your point here. At the same time, I can't quite stomach Apple's exorbitant pricing for "options". Thus my inclination to modify what I have presently in order to extend the life a bit.

My modified 2010, which I bought for $750, will blow the doors off the brand new, $1300 base 21.5". You'd have to throw in a Fusion drive to get comparable performance, which will cost you another, what, $300?

It's all good: if you want the newest tech, go for it. I tend to be the type of person that likes to give my stuff (cars and bikes too) a second lease on life by modifying/upgrading any way I can. I have fun doing it, and it does save some money in the end.

The biggest sticking point for me on the new iMacs is the screen: it's still 1080P. Until the iMacs go retina, there's no point in me buying a new one for the things I need it for. Although USB 3 would be nice, it's not a need at this point, and I still could use Firewire. Thunderbolt, for me, is useless for now.

And, I haven't even upgraded the RAM; it's still at 4GB, and this thing flies.
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 01:26 PM   #13
mchoffa
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If I were confident I'd go for it, but I'm not... at least not enough to either void a warranty on a newer model, or risk breaking my old (current, 2008) one before I sell it
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 02:08 PM   #14
antman2x2
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Did you say it 'avoids' the warranty,
that's funny
For some reason my iPad thinks void isn't a real word so it corrects it to avoid.
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