2019 21.5 4K iMac - storage options at purchase, HDD or SSD, upgrade path, PCIe vs SATA connector

jam2morrow

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 17, 2013
11
2
Hi,

I’ve just purchased a new (refurbished, from Apple) 2019 21.5 inch 4K iMac, configured with 16Gb RAM but just the standard 1Tb HDD. For the moment I intend to use the computer mainly for internet browsing and word processing.

I’ve just checked back and they now have the same spec machine but with 512Gb SSD available for £310 more (refurbished, from Apple again).

I was willing to try out the 1Tb HDD to see if I could live with it, knowing there is always the unofficial option to install a SSD later (and for slightly less cost than a factory configured SSD iMac from Apple, for apparently the exact same end product).

However, according to EveryMac only the factory supplied Fusion Drive or SSD drive models come with a PCIe connector, whereas the HDD model comes with SATA connector only (6 Gbps). So that might be a difference. Is that going to be a problem at all?

I'm told that Apple use the PCIe connection for a factory configured SSD, and this is 2 or 3 times faster than the SATA connection, is that right?

My other slight concern with getting the SSD installed myself is random unforeseen issues. For example, I read something about some iMac models requiring removal of the temperature sensor when upgrading to an after-market SSD, then issues with having the fan running at full speed all the time or needing a software hack to control the speed. But after watching some installation video tutorials, this doesn't seem to apply to the model of iMac I have. Some people also worry about future issues with firmware updates.

What would you recommend doing? The box is unopened and I have a 14 day returns period. Thanks!...
 
Last edited:

jam2morrow

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 17, 2013
11
2
Just going to add some answers to my thread, in case it helps anyone else.

My other slight concern with getting the SSD installed myself is random unforeseen issues. For example, I read something about some iMac models requiring removal of the temperature sensor when upgrading to an after-market SSD, then issues with having the fan running at full speed all the time or needing a software hack to control the speed.
I'm told the temperature sensor thing has not been an issue since 2011 iMacs and there was an easy solution anyway, so probably nothing to worry about if you have a more recent model.

Some people also worry about future issues with firmware updates.
Apparently, problems with Firmware updates has been an issue with some of the aftermarket PCIe SSD blades. The guy I spoke with said this was one of the reasons they don't currently offer PCIe SSD as an upgrade option, they've not proved reliable yet. However, there've not been any issues with SATA attached SSD, this remains a reliable option.
 

chscag

macrumors 68040
Feb 17, 2008
3,705
1,274
Fort Worth, Texas
The problem with the 1 TB HDD you currently have is that it's a 5200 RPM drive. That may or may not be something that will slow you down depending on what your use of the machine is. However, paying another £310 for a 512 GB SSD is something that only you can decide. I have a 512GB SSD in my iMac which I paid extra for (another $300) and am glad I chose that instead of the Fusion drive or an HDD.
 
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