Just installed custom SSD as second disk in 2010 iMac 27"

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Nutter, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    London, England
    #1
    So, after much soul-searching I decided to attempt a DIY installation of a Corsair Force 240GB SSD in my brand new 27" i7 iMac. I couldn't quite bring myself to pay extra for Apple's SSD option, a Toshiba drive which is not only considerably slower than the Corsair Force when new, but also suffers from significant performance degradation over time. Given that OS X doesn't support TRIM for the moment, a Sandforce drive like the Corsair Force is a far better option, an opinion shared by Anandtech.

    The installation was a success, but I must stress that it's not for the faint of heart! Replacing the built-in Hard Disk would be considerably easier than installing an additional SSD, but if you know what you're doing and want to give it a go, perhaps these tips will help. You should also consult the iFixit teardown of last year's iMac for details of screw locations and instructions for removing the display cables, which must be done with great care.

    - As described in this OWC blog post, you will need a left-angled SATA cable (8" is enough) and a SATA Power Y-cable (6" is plenty). You should be able to buy both of these cables on eBay for just a few dollars. (Ignore the molex power cables, you need a power splitter with one male SATA power connector on one end and two female SATA power connectors on the other end.)

    - There's no need to improvise any kind of drive cage or attachment mechanism to keep the drive in place. It's such a snug fit that it can't possibly go anywhere.

    - You'll inevitably be touching the innards of your iMac at some point, so make sure you ground yourself somehow to avoid the possibility of static discharge killing a sensitive component.

    - You can remove the glass panel on the front of the iMac with your fingernails alone. No need for suction cups! This is easiest done while the iMac is standing upright. The glass panel won't fall out because of the way it interlocks with the case at the bottom edge, just ease the top edge forward and then lift it upwards to free it.

    - Once the display and HD are out of the way, you'll need to remove eight screws to loosen the motherboard enough to lift it forward and connect the left-angled SATA cable to the spare slot on the back of the motherboard. You'll have to use your head to work out which screws to remove, it's not entirely obvious. There's no need to remove any screws covered with warranty stickers.

    - As mentioned, the space for the SSD is very tight. You'll have to slide it into place behind the wires that are there so that it's resting against the very back of the machine, and connect the SATA data and power cables once it's in place.

    - When you reconnect the HD, make sure you don't forget about the temperature jumper cable!

    - You should invest in some canned air to blow away dust before replacing the glass panel at the end of the installation.

    That's it. A bit fiddly but well worthwhile in the end. I haven't had much chance to test the drive yet, but on a default installation of OS X I went to Applications -> Select All -> Open ... and it took ~2 seconds to open everything — no exaggeration. It shocked me, and I was expecting it to be fast.
     
  2. macrumors 68000

    rkaufmann87

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    #2
    I hope you don't care about your warranty because you most likely just invalidated it.
     
  3. macrumors 6502

    bolen

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    Sweden
    #3
    Thank you very much for the tips, I've been planning to do this when I receive my iMac in a couple of days. Hopefully before the weekend.

    Solid tips, all of them! It's almost as I expected from looking at the teardowns, except that I expected to have to fasten the drive somehow.

    When you say left angled SATA cable, do you mean a cable like this?
    [​IMG]

    IMO left- or right-angeled cable depends on how you look at them. :) Anyway, I've bought one of each already but one of them is a bit slimmer (the one pictured above) so if it's that one it's nice. :apple:

    EDIT: Just want to confirm that the cable in the picture is the correct angle.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    bolen

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    #4
    As long as he didn't destroy anything in there and is able to revert the change I wouldn't worry too much about it.
     
  5. macrumors 68000

    rkaufmann87

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #5
    The warranty says:

    "This warranty does not apply: (a) to consumable parts, such as batteries, unless damage has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (b) to cosmetic damage, including but not limited to scratches, dents and broken plastic on ports; (c) to damage caused by use with non-Apple products; (d) to damage caused by accident, abuse, misuse, flood, fire, earthquake or other external causes; (e) to damage caused by
    operating the product outside the permitted or intended uses described by Apple; (f) to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (“AASP”); (g) to a product or part that has been modified to alter functionality or capability without the written permission of Apple; or (h) if any Apple serial number has been removed or defaced.

    So unless the OP got written permission or is an AASP I'd say his warranty is gone.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
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    London, England
    #6
    Yes, I too am totally unable to tell the difference by sight, sorry. You've got one of each, so you'll be fine.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
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    London, England
    #7
    If you install something, and remove it later without leaving trace or damage, does that count as a modification? I doubt it. The key part is not causing damage, and I'll agree that's something of a risk to take. Unless you know what you're doing, it's not a risk I'd recommend.
     
  8. macrumors 6502

    bolen

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
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    #8
    Precisely, if no damage has been done during the modification and you are able to revert the change you should be fine. Of course Apple wont cover anything that you've damaged your self, that's always the case.

    I'll take the risk, I already have a nice SSD that is working very well and I do not want to pay Apple an extra $600 for a slow disk that's actually too big for the OS + Applications. See you on the other side! :D
     
  9. macrumors 68000

    rkaufmann87

    Joined:
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    #9
    I totally understand the subjective part is what constitutes damage, Apple is the judge and jury on that one at least here in the US. I'm not sure how that might be in other countries.
     
  10. macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #10
    Shivers....bad idea...just pay for the built in SSD if you want one that bad. Ripping my brand new iMac to shreds so I can put in another hard drive would taint the entire computer for me...

    to each his own I suppose...what's the big deal about SSD's anyway? Just take the 1TB drive, back up to a 1TB Time Capsule, and enjoy the machine...
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    You're right that the judgement of damage is subjective and ultimately rests with Apple, but I don't think they'd take a forensic approach to checking returns. Remember that BTO modifications are (AFAIK) installed by taking the machine apart too — not at the factory — so a competent DIY install is not fundamentally different.

    I know what you mean. There's a certain point when you look at your machine, stripped to its ugly guts, and think ... I paid £2k for this chunk of junk?? I'm sure the memory will fade, though.

    Mechanical hard disks are by far the biggest bottleneck in a modern computer. To me, it's absurd to see a blazing fast i7 just sit around waiting for the hard disk to catch up every time I access or modify anything. Once you've experienced an SSD, you'll know what the big deal is.
     
  12. macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #12
    It's too bad you didn't take photos of your installation project.

    Maybe as SSD becomes lower in price Apple will have the boxes all pre-fitted for them to make installation/replacement and upgrade less of a headache.

    I do agree that for the same price that Apple wants to give you JUST the SSD option on the new iMac you can have it shipped to you with the 1TB drive and simply install a very nice very high performance SSD.

    Basically it's a better 'deal' to install yourself if you feel you have the ability to do it.
     
  13. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #13
    No way. The consumer would have had to cause legitimate damage. You are protected by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Its the same consumer protection legislation that makes it illegal for car companies to invalidate your warranty for having a third party stereo installed. As long as installing the hard drive would have worked fine in another computer (eg if any damage caused was because of a design defect of the iMac) and as long as no physical damage is caused, you are fine.
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #14
    Ha, PC users would find a lot to laugh about in this stereotypical Apple user statement.

    Computers are designed from the ground up to be upgraded. Especially something as simple as internal drives.

    The big deal about SSDs is that they have the potential to be A LOT faster than spinning disks, especially at random access. Oftentimes the bottleneck in the speed of your computer is the time its taking your hard disk drive to spool up, get to the data sectors, and transfer the few megabytes of data. SSDs will start transferring data immediately and high quality drives can transfer over 100MBps.

    And the SSDs that Apple sell blow. They are low quality and useless but Apple sells that at prices comparable to what you would pay for the highest performance SSDs aftermarket.
     
  15. macrumors 6502

    bolen

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    #15
    Very true indeed. I will not go back to that mechanical piece of **** again. :) Loooove how the SSD just fly!

    I'll probably be able to shoot some photos later this week when I give this a try.

    I would also love if the iMac had a 2.5" bay that was easily accessible from the outside, kinda like the PS3 hard drive or at least as the hard drive bay in the original macbook.
     
  16. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    #16
    OP, this is just the kind of story I was hoping to hear from some iMac 27 owners. I have been sitting on the fence about buying an iMac because for the price I want it to last for a long time. It's just so painfully obvious that SSD's are the easiest way to improve performance and get the most out of any high end system like the iMac so it will remain viable for many years to come.

    I'd love to hear any more information on how warranty issues have been handled by Apple after user upgrades have been performed. I tend to agree that the warranty should not automatically be null and void just because you open the case.

    Also, if I am going to go to the trouble and risk of opening the case up to add or upgrade an SSD drive I'd like to also add an eSata port. Any thoughts on how difficult that would be as a DIY project? I know OWC offers this as a service. I wonder when/if another company will sell the kit you need to make this modification? Ideally, you would want to be able to reverse this mod if warranty enforcement becomes a problem.
     
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    #17
    Lol, this is the last place I'd expect to find the Apple moral police.
    I mean something i'd find at the apple discussion forums.

    I think its good info, and of course ANY upgrade you do wether it voids your warranty your not it still a risk.

    Good info though, way better than putting an eSata port on your own. hah.
     
  18. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #18
    Nutter,
    First of all thanks for being the first on here to post the mod. OWC says you have to do the following:

    "Connect a data cable to the empty SATA port on the back of the logic board (a process requiring the removal of several screws and partial removal of the logic board."

    Was that difficult or tricky? Speaking of tricky, which is the most difficult part of the mod?

    Would you mind posting a link to where you bought your SATA cable and power supply cable. I want to make sure I don't buy the wrong thing.
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

    InvalidUserID

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    #19
    I'm thinking I should call my local AASP and see if they are willing to install an SSD for me should I get an iMac. Hmmm...
     
  20. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #20
    You've obviously never seen or used one of these new SandForce SSD's. Forget about the Apple built-in ones. They are atrocious.

    An SSD is probably the single most important upgrade you can make to a computer. Forget i5 or i7. An SSD will change how you use your computer completely and will probably make you never want to go back to a mechanical drive again.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Location:
    London, England
    #21
    I have no idea how hard it would be to drill a neat hole through the aluminium enclosure, but aside from that it would be no more difficult than the internal installation. I wouldn't recommend it though, as it's an irreversible modification that would certainly void your warranty.

    My pleasure!

    This was indeed the hardest part of the whole process, for two reasons: firstly, it's not obvious which eight screws need to be removed to allow the logic board enough play; and secondly, it's still quite hard to locate the free SATA port and connect the cable. I'd say that unless you're very confident you should consider just replacing the HD, which is a much easier mod.

    These are the cables I bought:

    Left-angled SATA cable
    SATA power Y-cable

    Both of these cables were a good 2" longer than they needed to be, so you have some leeway. You wouldn't want them to be much longer, as there's very little space.
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    bolen

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
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    #22
    Hmm okay, the ones I bought was 50cm (the store didn't have shorter). Hopefully I can manage otherwise I'll have to shell out for a shorter one. :)

    Anyway, I've been looking at the teardown images and so far it looks like it's these screws. Could you confirm if I'm correct or not?

    [​IMG]

    EDIT: I can confirm that the screws illustrated in this pictures are the correct screws to use for loosening your logic board.
     
  23. macrumors 6502

    bolen

    Joined:
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    #23
    double post..
     
  24. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    #24
    I keep reading in this thread and others that the Toshiba 256 G SSD is so bad.
    But has anyone tested this in the new iMac i7?
    The link below does not give such a bad impression about that ssd.
    http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1230/1/
    Anyhow my iMac i7 with ssd will arrive some time next week. Than I can compare it (the ssd) with the intel 25 160 G presently in my MBP.
    If it is as bad as most people say it is then I will swap it with the intel 25, as soon as the warranty time has expired. (apple care)
    At least I don't have to perform the tricky install operation as described above.:D

    peterwillem
     
  25. macrumors 6502

    bolen

    Joined:
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    #25
    It should be OK once OSX gets support for TRIM. Until then a drive with a really good Garbage Collector is needed to maintain the performance over time.
     

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