27" iMac (13,2) - What are my SSD upgrade options?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ascender, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. ascender macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    My wife has a 27" iMac which is starting to lag a little. Its a 3.2 I%, late 2012 and has a 1TB SATA, so going for an SSD would be the first thing, but the more I look at 3rd party upgrade sites the more I struggle to get a definitive answer as to what SSD I should be buying.

    Is there an idiot's guide anywhere online which would help, or does somebody have experience with upgrading one of these and can advise please?


  2. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    You just need a 2.5" SSD that is specified as "Serial ATA (6 Gb/s)", the "6" being the important part. This is the same thing as saying "SATA III" but be sure to verify. Most current SSDs sold will meet this requirement. I've purchased most of mine via Amazon.

    The guide for replacing can be found here at ifixit.com. Be sure to read the comments below the instructions before proceeding!
  3. moonjelly, Nov 30, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016

    moonjelly macrumors regular


    Aug 18, 2016
    I recently did my imac. I used otherworld computing/Mac sales. They have tool kits with just the tools and cables you will need, a good video how to. You can watch that to decide if you are comfortable with diy. I also used their kit to keep the stock drive as a second internal drive. Good luck.

    They also bundle the Costa
  4. T Coma macrumors 6502

    T Coma

    Dec 3, 2015
    People's Republic of Chicago
    It seems you're asking about changing your boot drive to an SSD, my apologies if you're asking about something else.

    Best I can reckon, you have 3 options if you want to do this on your (13,2) iMac, assuming no RAID setups. Others may have additional ideas, but these are what I came up with when I did my research:

    1. Replace the stock HDD with SSD of your choice.
    As mentioned already, and if you're relatively handy and confident, you can crack the Mac open and swap the 1 TB HDD for whatever size SSD you like. Prices continue to come down, so even the 1 TB is pretty cheap these days. Kits and info available at OWC and iFixit.

    Cheapest option, most effort.

    2. Add a SSD in an external USB enclosure.
    Since your (13,2) comes with USB3, you can still take advantage of some bandwidth improvement by booting this way. Keep in mind that not all enclosures and cables are created equal, which seems to be the reasons for varying results booting from USB, specifically with your model iMac. Some set-ups can do this, and some can't; you'll have to research online as to others' experiences. When I was doing my research, I found that not everyone was able to boot via USB3, or some were, but at USB2 speeds, and some were able to at USB3 speeds. Also, I believe running TRIM is not an option via USB3, but again, do your research to confirm.

    Somewhat more expensive option, very little effort, assuming no hardware issues.

    3. Add an SSD in an external Thunderbolt enclosure.
    The t-bolt has none of the issues associated with USB, as well as none of the risk of opening up an all-in-one like the iMac. Booting from Thunderbolt is easy and fast and rock-solid reliable with option to run TRIM. Of course, it costs more than your other options, but the reliability and simplicity may be worth it for you. It was for me, which is why I chose this option when moving my iMac to SSD boot. There are various t-bolt enclosures or drives out there; I got a Lacie external drive and swapped out the included 2.5" HDD with an SSD, installed the OS and switched the boot drive, and I haven't looked back. The speed difference while perhaps not the fastest possible, was still nothing short of amazing compared to stock. And the bonus is of course that I still was able to keep the internal stock 7200rpm 1TB drive which of course runs in SATA configuration.

    Most expensive option, least effort. I think I spent about $300 but that was a couple years ago. Also, I got a refurbed Lacie external t-bolt drive from Macmall. Not sure how much they are today, but you can find with a minimum amount of research. There are quite a few discussions on this forum and elsewhere.
  5. ascender thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    Thanks all, that's much clearer. I've work on computers for years so am quite happy to take it apart and do it myself. The screen was cracked in a burglary, so I figure its a good time to do the HDD swap and replace the screen too.

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