27" iMac i7 drive failed. Looking for upgrade tips

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Dansk, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. Dansk macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Originally I wanted to buy an i7 with SSD and a conventional but got stuck in a time crunch, needed the hardware fast, so I bought an off the shelf unit at a local Apple store with a single conventional 1GB drive that has just packed it in. IIRC its a Samsung HD if that matters any? I managed to get my files backed up so im not at a big loss here however I figure if Im going to open it up I might as well get the best performance out of it. I also would like to install dual drives so Im going to list some questions out and would greatly appreciate some tips on whats the most reliable and top performing hardware upgrades.

    1. SSD?

    2. Brand and size drive?

    3. Single or dual drive? I tend to fill up 500GB of space or so every few months and do manual bu's presently but always liked the idea of an OS drive that doesnt get used for storage and supplementary dries for storage. Ran my towers this way with success but was curious if there are any downsides that have popped up since the dial drive options was added to iMacs?

    4. RAM. I have 8GB now. Is it enough or do I need to step up to 16GB? Using photoshop a lot

    5. Current OS Snow Leopard. Should I do the Lion upgrade while im at it? Any performance/stability benefits?

    6. Go *******s, toss in the towel and use it as a display only and step up to a fresh tower?

    Thanks much!
  2. WesCole macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
    1. Yes
    2. Crucial M4 512GB
    3. I would just replace the failed drive with the SSD. Then, you could get a cheap Firewire drive (around 2TB or so).
    4. More RAM is always a plus, but I get by on 8GB pretty easily.
    5. I would wait until Mountain Lion comes out to upgrade. It will be out sometime before the end of July.
    6. Don't give up on your iMac yet. I assume it is out of warranty, so you don't have to worry about voiding it when you replace the hard drive. There are many good threads about replacing the iMac's hard drive and it isn't as daunting as you would think.
  3. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Thanks for the tips.

    Regarding the external FW drive. Im currently running a WD my Passport 1GB for time machine. Was thinking seeing as Im opening it up it would be just as cost effective and easier ( ie more compact desk space ) to add the second drive for storage. Im mostly thinking about performance though as in will I need more cooling or is this not ideal or? Plus ive found FW to be a bit cranky over the years with HD's.... Ive cooked a couple over the years.

    Im certainly leaning heavily towards the SSD main drive. I did read there are possible maintenance issues with those however? Im foggy on this thought its been a while since ive researched this stuff.

    As for the work itself? Im a performance and tech fan all around so im actually looking forward to opening it up and juicing the machines performance woot!
  4. WesCole macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
    You can certainly replace the failed drive with another regular HDD and add an SSD if you are technically inclined. You just have to disassemble the iMac a lot more to get to the place to install the SSD in the "factory" location.
  5. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Sounds doable. Does it matter which drive internally is used as the boot disk? Meaning i was sort of thinking to install a 1 or 2GB HDD for storage and use the SSD for boot.
  6. WesCole macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
    You will be able to boot off of either. I would replace the failing HDD with the new HDD, because the other spot to mount the SSD isn't big enough for a 3.5" HDD anyway. Then, you can just select which disk you want to install OS X to and use the other disk for storage. I want to do this setup myself, but am worried about voiding my warranty.
  7. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Thats pretty much what I was thinking. My warranty is up so moot point for me. I was going to mod this machine when i first got it but simply did not have time and you know what its like once you get using something.... it just stayed as is until now when theres a problem.

    I think i'll do a 2 or maybe even 3tb HDD and run a SSD for boot. Thinking about a Kingston HyperX 240 or 480 over that Crucial one. There was some DOA warnings on that drive mentioned earlier.

    Any other SSD suggestions?
  8. chevalier433 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2011
    Replace your HDD with an factory hard disk maybe the 2TB version so you don't have problems with your expensive precious computer and forced to do any kind of mods as i did.If you want a SSD i recommend a highly reliable Samsung 470 or 830 and put it in the extra bracket (not included)under the GPU heatstick.
  9. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Ive been recommended a WD Caviar Black from a tech source I trust. Hes a PC guy bu swears this HD is the best way to go for performance/durability.

    As for the SSD bracket? Im not sure what this is can you elaborate? Meaning do I need to buy this or is it there already?

    Id REALLY like to hear more about the SSD pros/cons with such a retrofit thanks much. Its a Core i7 btw
  10. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Okay guys thanks so much for the replies thus far. Heres what im currently looking to buy. Anyone have any other input or yes/no on this list?

    Samsung 830 128 SSD for boot

    WD Caviar black probably 2TB

    4x Corsair XMS3 Classic 4GB DDR3 1333MHz ( im currently running 4x 2GB )

    Is there anything better or something else I should be adding? I need install hardware ( strap? ) im guessing for the second drive anyone know what PN or where to find?

    Also one last question on the SSD is there anything software or tech related I need to pay attention to? This will be my first SSD unless you count a craptop netbook I use for auto tuning.

    Thanks again
  11. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    No Thunderbolt. First or second of the core i7 series. Second iirc


    That is indeed an interesting set up though nice little job there ;)
  12. chevalier433 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2011
    Is same the bracket apple put when you preorder the machine with SSD.
  13. hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    I have a mid 2010 27" iMac with the 2.93GHz i7 processor. I added a 120GB OWC SSD, left the 2TB oem drive where it was, and left the optical drive as it was. :cool:

    I had to purchase a SATA data cable, short SATA power Y-splitter, and the oem spacer mounting bracket from a Apple parts store online. The bracket was plastic and replaced the existing one which didn't have a platform to place the SSD on. The Y-splitter cable simply split the original hard disk power cable into 2 power cables, one to re-power the HD, and the other for the SSD.

    Either disk can be your boot disk, but it makes sense to put your OS X boot and applications on the SSD. You can relocate your home directory to the hard disk where you have all the room you need for music and photo libraries. I also made a 500GB partition on the HD for a bootable Windows NTFS volume which I can dual boot to, or use as a virtual machine with VMware Fusion in OS X.

    I followed instructions posted here in threads and it wasn't too difficult. Just go slow and remember where everything went when you go to put it back together again. You don't want to have any leftover parts or screws when you finally get it all closed up and ready to run again. ;)

    Good luck with your project...

  14. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Solid man thanks *thumbs*
  15. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    After doing quite a bit of reading about SSD swaps/upgrades it seems there is two methods. The y Splitter as mentioned or a complete power cable replacement. Im leaning towards this route and think these are the parts I need but in the listing it says different so im relying on you guys here to set me straight.

    To be perfectly clear my machine is an Imac core i7 purchased in Aug of 2010 model A1312 EMC 2390

    Question I have is this kit here the right one for my swap? Please advise thanks

  16. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey

    this says you have a MC510LL/a


    this says it works for a MC510LL/a my guess is you are good
  17. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Thanks thats pretty much what I figured but that number is not my machine though it does share the same set up I guess? This is my model exactly;


    I had no clue until I read this about the possibility of 32GB of RAM.... I want to try that too but need to know if it works on all brands of RAM or whats the skinny there? May need to do another thread
  18. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Had a thought today. Anyone know if USB 3 can be added to this machine while I have it open.... Probably well worth the upgrade right now
  19. specik macrumors 6502


    Jun 30, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    Those all sound like valid things you can do. My only word of warning is in regards to taking apart the iMac yourself. I used to be an Apple Certified Machintosh Technician and have taken apart plenty of iMacs with all of the Apple provided tools. It's not an easy task.

    There's a lot that can go wrong. And if it doesn't go wrong, once you go to put the display and glass back on, it's near impossible to get the dust out from between the LCD and the glass. Additionally I'd recommend wearing gloves when handling either the LCD or Glass. Doing it without will cause fingerprints that are almost impossible to get out without the proper Apple recommend tools.
  20. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Specik I understand and thank you for the good tips. Im aware of the risks and was planning on doing a mad cleaning ( I work in a sock clean environment as it is ) before the build day and raising the humidity in here BIG time the day of to control static and working with Nytril gloves most likely over a plastic table covered with? Im not sure yet but something scratch safe and dust free. Of course as anyone should I do realize anytime anyone does anything internally to equipment like this there is an element of risk and possible total loss. Considering that and my past experience and especially that all the parts are bought and paid for already? I'm going to be taking my chances :apple::D

    Seeing as you have apple experience whats your thoughts on adding USB3 while im at it? Should be possible

    One last question concerning cleaning. Knowing the RIGHT products for the proper surfaces is key.... In case of disaster and Im forced to clean the LCD before reassembly what would you recommend to use as a cloth and which liquid or spray cleaner?
  21. craig1410 macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2007

    Just a couple of things to mention.

    1. I've taken apart my 2007 aluminium iMac 24" several times now for HDD upgrades and never had any problems getting rid of dust. Just keep your work surface as clean as possible, wash hands with soap and water to remove finger grease before working and use an ESD strap. Be slow and deliberate with all screw removals and use your spare hand to hold the screw tip in place to avoid slips and scratched LCDs...

    2. Make sure you have somewhere ready to receive the front plastic cover and then the LCD and store them both vertically to reduce the likelihood of gathering dust while you work on the chassis. The front plastic cover must come off straight forwards as it has dowels to locate it. Don't lift it very high at any one corner or side or you can damage the dowels. I usually use credit cards at each corner and a single sucker to pull each corner just a few mm before slipping a card under each corner. Once it is off all 4 corners, the magnets are far enough away to remove more easily.

    3. Be very careful when removing the LCD inverter connector as, if it is anything like my 24" machine, it is very tight. I find that using a spudger to gently twist between the plug and socket just to "pop" it apart is best, then you can remove it normally. Make sure you are comfortable and at a good height with good light etc before you lift the LCD from the chassis and start on the connector. Also, I suggest making a checklist of connector removals and check them as they come off and cross them as they go back on. It is really easy to forget the LCD temp sensor or the microphone connector in particular.

    4. Give the insides a good hoover (ideally in a different room to avoid dust) and especially clean out the fans. I find my wife's blusher brush very handy for this (sshhh!) as it is very soft. Be careful not to hoover up any parts such as the IR sensor black plastic shield.

    5. When putting it all back together, use the connector checklist and just be careful not to trap/crush any wires. Once the chassis is all back together, put the machine upright before trying to attach the plastic screen cover. I usually use the little chamois leather screen cleaner that came with my iMac to gently brush away any dust and angle the iMac screen to make it easy to see and remaining dust. Do the same with the plastic cover keeping both upright and then just bring them together. Give the machine a test and if all is well then get a JPG of a pure white image in full screen to inspect the screen properly. If any dust particles remain then just pop off the cover and use an air duster or cloth to remove. Worst case it might take a couple of attempts to get it spot on. As someone else said, try to avoid touching the inside of the plastic cover or the LCD.

    6. Final thing - I was listening to a podcast the other week (Build and Analyze on 5by5) and they were discussing SSD upgrades. They were talking about the idea of a "boot SSD" and having everything else on a conventional HDD. However, the conclusion reached was that, if budget allows, it is much better to get a bigger SSD and try to run the entire system from it with only large media files being stored on the HDD. Certainly in my case the only files that take up significant space are iTunes library (inc movies), photo library and virtual machines. Everything else could fit on a 512GB SSD.

    7. Oh, one other (final) thing... I decided this time to install a 2TB WD Caviar Green drive in my iMac. I had a 7200RPM drive in it last time and it was really noisy and ran quite hot. The Green drive is virtually silent and the drive bay is a good 10C cooler too. Even better, the new drive is faster (sequential Read/Write) than the 1TB Seagate Barracuda it replaced even though it is only 5400RPM. If I were you I'd seriously think about having a larger, super-fast SSD (512 or 768GB) but then go for a 2TB or 3TB WD Caviar Green drive for mass-storage. In my opinion, the reduced noise is worth it and if everything but iTunes and other media is coming from the SSD then I doubt you will notice the speed reduction.

    I hope this helps, good luck!
  22. Dansk, Jul 20, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012

    Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Craig that info ROCKS man thanks a ton!

    I already bought a WD 1TB caviar black as I was frustrated at a local store when the listed 2TB in stock online and had none when I got there and didnt want to waste time so.... 1TB it is. Im going to restore my back up to it, clone this machine with another imac, then wipe it and do a fresh install on the SSD with the new Lion on the 25th. I run through a fair amount of files but I was irresponsible with this machine im now rebuilding and abused the drive and paid the price....

    I already bought a 256gb Samsung SSD so thats also what im going to run but had I thought more perhaps the single SSD of a larger size was the smart way to go and forget the second internal.... I dont really "need it" I just want it for convenience between file bu's.

    Anyways other than some tunes I dont need to move the home folder so I'll just stuff everything on the SSD and use the HDD for scratch. Good tips all thanks

    One last thing after searching around the past hour it seems USB3 upgrade on the iMac is not doable.... at least not easily enough to be worthwhile. FW800 stills rules these old ( old? ) machines now....
  23. bottsjw macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2010
    I had the exact same issue today and have the same iMac.

    Did you find this kit did what you needed?

    I plan to purchase the ifixit kit to help crack open my iMac.

    I also plan to get the Western Digital Caviar Green 2 TB Desktop Hard Drive WD20EARX drive to replace the HDD. it appears to support the thermal sensor requirements. I had a WD drive in my iMac.

    Question I have is about which SSD. Is there a special consideration for a thermal sensor with the SSD i should be aware of? If so, does the kit above have the right cabling and which drives are compatible with the iMac's senor requirement without having to install the HDfancontrol software I've read about.

    I'd hate to go to all this trouble and have fans that run out of control.
  24. Dansk thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Yes thats the kit I bought. It just arrived today and I have some things to sort out before I can attack this repair so i cant yet comment on the thermal issues etc but if there are ANY problems I will post up here about it.

Share This Page