3 Hard drives in 27" iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by eskomo021, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. eskomo021 macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2011
    Hey, this is my first post on the forums!

    I've been looking around this site and others for a way to install a second hard drive in a 27" iMac, and discovered two methods of doing so.

    Method 1: Installing a drive in the empty SSD drive slot that comes in all iMacs, and either purchasing a bracket to secure the drive. Or securing with some heavy duty velcro. There's slightly more to it than that, this link is where i'm referencing from


    Method 2: Buying a super drive caddy, and placing a 2.5" hard drive in the caddy.

    this is the link i'm referencing from for that


    My question is this; Since there are two methods of outfitting second hard drives to the iMac. Would it be possible to have three hard drives in one machine? Or is there some sort of complication/compatiblity issue in doing so? I'm not super familiar with the inside of the iMac, but i'm fairly comfortable taking things apart and poking around.

    Also; i'm wondering.. If i went the route of using velcro/bracket for securing the drive in the SSD slot. Would i have to install a solid state drive? Or would any 2.5" hard drive do?

    Thanks for the help, and if this question has been asked before i apologize. But i searched for it, and didn't find anything.
  2. Ben Simpsy macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2011
    you can use the 3x sata ports for whatever you wish. however just educate yourself on how a 3rd party hard drive will run in your imac as it could affect your fan. you dont need to use an SSD in that spare spot either, any SATA device will work provided there is enough room in there.
  3. likegadgets macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2008
  4. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    why 3 drives?

    are you going to install a SSD as one of them?

    realize that the optical drive is only SATA II. so if you are going to spend all the time getting into your iMac. make sure its for a good reason.
  5. eskomo021 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2011
    I'm not planning to do it any time soon, just seeing if it's at all possible.. I would like to have one of the drives be a SSD, that way i could make it the boot drive. I guess it depends on my budget when i'm actually planning to do the operation.
  6. A Macbook Pro macrumors 6502

    Aug 22, 2009
    I'd definitely consider adding an SSD in the future but if I did I sure as hell wouldn't do it myself. Way too risky.
  7. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    Im just missing the point.

    A SSD makes sense. But another internal 2.5" drive... limited to 750 gigs, seems kinda silly.

    There are deals for 2TB FW800 drives for just over $100. So if you need more space... thats a no-brainer.
  8. RealEvil macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2007
    Can anyone confirm that ALL 2011 27" iMacs have 3 usable SATA ports (even if one is SATA 2)? I thought maybe it was just those that have a SSD installed?

    Anyway, I would love 2 SSDs and a large mechanical drive in an iMac. I use a lot of a VMs and a decent SATA 2 SSD just to run a few VMs would be amazing (in addition to a SSD for the OS and a large mechanical drive for data).
  9. amanpatel, Sep 13, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011

    amanpatel macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2011
    If you have a 2010 or the 2011 27" iMac, I can confirm that it does indeed have 3 SATA ports.

    For 2011 model, 2 ports are SATA 6gbps ports, and 1 is 3gbps port (connected to the optical drive). All ports use the standard SATA data connectors, BUT they use "slimline" SATA power connectors. The best option is to buy a SATA Y splitter to siphon off some power from the cable already installed for an SSD.

    If you plan to use all 3 SATA ports, you will lose the sata connection to the optical drive. There are adapters available that will let you remove the optical drive and install a SSD cradle that fits nicely.

    If you have modding experience, you can do the whole upgrade yourself. If you have never opened anything, I would sugget you have AppleCare do it for you (for around $150), or you can send it in to OWC to do myriad upgrade choices/option. OWC will even install an eSATA port for you if you so desire.

    I would only open the iMac if you are going to install 1 (or more) SSDs. It would be silly to open up the iMac just to add another spinning hard drive...

    If you are all about speed and have money to burn, I would suggest you buy two OCZ Vertex 3 240GB and connect them directly to the 6gpbs ports. In RAID-0 config this setup would let you achieve 700-1000MB/s !! (insane). Its about $460 per drive!

    If you want to be cost conscious while improving speed, a best bet is the OCZ Vertex 3 128GB drive (connected to the 6gpbs port). This would set you back around $200

    A 60GB version is available, but at that point, I would debate why are you opening up your iMac for such a small upgrade (albeit much faster than any spinning HDD).

    A full tutorial/breakdown for the 2011 iMac 27" can be found here:

    iFixit also has step by step guides for the 2011 21.5" iMac (most of these steps and pictures will apply to the 27" iMac as well).

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