How I fitted 2x SSD's and a 3tb drive into my 2011 iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by dannys1, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. dannys1 macrumors 68020

    dannys1

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    I thought id post a thread on this - and possibly re-write it later on as a resource for anyone looking to mod their 2011 iMac as the modification thread is full of untruths, lies and people thinking they're right but have actual misunderstood the situation. This makes it very difficult for anyone trying to carry out any mods to their 2011 when they can't tell which is the right answer.

    First of all I've got the 3.4ghz i7 27" Mid 2011 iMac. Ive fitted 16gb of ram (you can go up to 32gb but even I considered that overkill at present…especially with a price performance stake) Ive got the Amd Radeon with 2gb of ram on it so its pretty maxed out at stock. Ive since fitted 2x Vertex 3 MAX IOPS (thats the level up from the standard Vertex 3 drive…the enterprise version if you wish which much faster random 4k times) on the two sata 3 buses running raid 0 and put a 3tb drive in place of the original drive.

    This enables my system disk to run at a read and write of 1000mbps. I previously had a 2009 iMac with two Intel X-25m G2's fitted in it running again raid 0 and I can safely say for day to day activity this computer is even snappier and faster than that.

    Ok - so for anyone with even a basic competence in electronics opening the iMac is not difficult at all. There are people in the thread saying its scary, really difficult, they broke stuff. Im not sure how they broke stuff. If anyones ever built a PC opening the iMac is slightly fiddlier but no more difficult. I would say due to the size taking apart and putting back together an iPhone is much more difficult.

    All the connectors come off the motherboard very easily and they're all uniquely shaped (even the speaker ones, one is 5 pin one is 4) so you can't go wrong plugging them back in. I took the logic board out and flipped it over to get a good look at the sata ports.

    Apple have decided to allow Sata 3 on the port the original hard drive is on (that can't make use of it) and on the spare SSD socket. The middle socket which is for the optical drive is only sata 2.

    Obviously we want to get our hard drive running on this bus and save the 6gbps sata ports for the SSD's. This is the trickiest bit as it requires some cable modification (although not difficult) as Apple has done this…

    They have a propriety connector for the power for the hard drive. You have to use this to power any 3.5" hard drive you put in as it carrys the correct voltage, the other two are slimline sata ports and will only power an SSD (or an optical drive)

    Much ridiculous fuss has been made (and plenty of scaremongering articles) of Apples power cable and the inbuilt fan system. ITS REALLY SIMPLE. You can do one of two things. The power cable conveniently has 7 wires for each pin, you can cut wires 2 and 7 and short them together - this is what Apple do when you only have an SSD fitted and no hard drive with a connector on the logic board. Or you can use a Sata power splitter which also shorts pins 2+7 and use of the plugs to go into your new drive (leaving the other spare)

    Thats it…no fan issues. Its really that simple. The sensor is now off. Ive fitted a low power green drive (you don't have much choice with 3tb drives anyway) which doesn't create any heat. Either way I bought the SMART OSX program which monitors the hard drives SMART stats (the same way every other computer in the world does) and sets the fan to the correct speed to keep it cool. I did a 24 hour stress test on the drive copying files to it and monitored, the heat never rose enough for the fans to go over 1300rpm. Its perfectly safe to have this fan stay at its 1000rpm it'll run at now, the heat inside the case is fine and anyone worrying about that is again, mistaken fool.

    I ripped out the optical drive. I mean really. Its 2012 folks, why on earth you'd want an optical drive wasting space inside of your powerful iMac I don't know. There is nothing super about the super drive. I haven't used optical media at all since 2003, but even if you do…get a USB drive - the speed of these things is so slow why on earth would you waste a valuable Sata bus on an optical drive??? The mind boggles that people would rather cripple their hard drives by having them run on USB or Firewire externally whilst keeping an optical drive inside their computer that will run perfectly well on the rare occasional they use it over USB. Rip that bastard out now and put something useful in its place!

    In my case the hard drive ran on that bus - but I had to take a junior hacksaw to my slimline sata to sata cable. Why? Because I needed the power from the original sata port for the drive and I needed the data from the second sata power which is a slimline sata connector on the logic board. Hard to explain in words - easy when you see it in pictures (they're coming) You basically have to take the power from one port and the data from another to have the hard drive use the slower port. You can then take the data from port one and the power from port 2 for your first SSD and the final spare port is a simple Slimline Sata to Sata cable straight to your SSD.

    I could have spent an extra £70 ($130ish) or more on an optibay and the Apple SSD mounting part for a really neat job but to be honest its not necessary for SSD's. Its like paying to mount your USB stick with no moving parts inside of a fancy hand bag. SSD's will sit anywhere - so I popped them on top of each other in the space for the optical drive and stuck them there with 3m tape. They don't generate any heat what so ever, but I left the optical fan connected anyway. I probably could have safety removed this an reduced the iMac to 2 fans but I left it active and now cold air blows out of the optical drive slot on the side of the case.

    Infact with the optical drive removed and the hard drive sensor running at only 1000rpm the whole system is general a few degrees cooler than it was at stock! Figure that out (less power draw from my new hard drive, optical drive removal allows for better air flow and SSD's draw little to now power and make no heat)

    Sticking the thing back together was a breeze and it booted first time as id CCC'ed my old OSX over onto the 3tb drive before starting and it picked it up straight away. I then set up my SSD's and raid array, cloned the operating system over to them and rebooted…hey presto job done.

    Everything runs so smooth and fast it makes my heart happy. Working in Final Cup Pro X is like working in real time just grabbing any video from anywhere you want and instantly scrolling through it all. Every single tasks the system does is snappy I love the small file performance of these drives…I'm super happy.

    If anyone is stuck on any part of this procedure just drop me a PM and if anyone in the UK wants me to do it for them again send me a PM, I realise its a specialised job for this level of customisation but seriously this iMac is going to be screaming faster than any stock iMac for 2-3 years to come. I'll probably be able to stick a 4tb drive in at some point, maybe even upgrade the SSD's slightly - 32gb of ram will also be an option at some point and of course with the thunderbolt port at 10gbps there is no reason I couldn't attach an external SSD that saturates that and possible achieve 2000mbps speeds in the future with a 3 disk raid-0 array and possible a nice 500gb of storage at that speed. Im glad I moved up from the 2009 iMac as it didn't have this kind of expansion potential.

    [​IMG]

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  2. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #2




    I gave you a plus and it is nice work.


    "I ripped out the optical drive. I mean really. Its 2012 folks, why on earth you'd want an optical drive wasting space inside of your powerful iMac I don't know. There is nothing super about the super drive. I haven't used optical media at all since 2003, but even if you do…get a USB drive - the speed of these things is so slow why on earth would you waste a valuable Sata bus on an optical drive??? The mind boggles that people would rather cripple their hard drives by having them run on USB or Firewire externally whilst keeping an optical drive inside their computer that will run perfectly well on the rare occasional they use it over USB. Rip that bastard out now and put something useful in its place!"



    ⇧⇧⇧⇧⇧⇧

    this is important. you have the nicer iMac. adding on a dvd player is easy to do and the dvd player that you pulled from the iMac can be used externally in a case via usb.



    http://www.amazon.com/External-Encl...2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1326381191&sr=1-2
     
  3. amanpatel macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    #3
    This is a great post. Thanks for detailing your experience (glad I found it from the front page).

    I would love to hear more about this (including close up pictures if you have them). I also was wondering if you can tell us what parts did you order (or perhaps what parts would work). A close up of the pins you shorted (and how) would also help.
     
  4. macmastersam macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Essex, england
    #4
    and i bet he does that just to surf the internet LOL

    jkes jkes
     
  5. dannys1 thread starter macrumors 68020

    dannys1

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    Hopefully it will help a few people - although I know that particular post isn't very concise and perhaps a bit too "ranty" in parts. Its just I know, as someone who has knowledge about the insides how these things how confusing it was for me at the beginning to find the differences between the 2009 iMac and the 2011 iMac.

    I mean there is one thread 40 pages long discussing the power adapter because some fools put up a daft blog post when the 2011 iMac first came out saying you can't put your own drive in it.

    I have got plenty of pictures and I do plan on writing up a decent, well written and thought out and hopefully easier to follow and understand article on this that will hopefully appear on Google for anyone trying to find the correct information and not hearsay, untruths, misconceptions, myths and chinese rumours.

    I know most people are only interested in sticking an SSD in on the spare port which is really not much harder than fitting the ram to be honest - if you can use a screwdriver anyone can do it…its just a longer process (Ironically I think one of the most difficult things to do in the process of almost completely stripping down the iMac is pushing the ram sticks back into their blocks at the end…can cause some finger damage if you're not careful! :D

    Oh and also, no you don't void your warranty doing this. There is one warranty sticker inside the iMac and it appears to be underneath the CPU. If you remove that you void your warranty. This is a 1-2 hour job to return to stock if you ever wanted to sell it that or have it repaired by Apple. Handy when you've got the extended 3 year education warranty!
     
  6. smartbot macrumors member

    smartbot

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    Jun 15, 2009
    #6
  7. dannys1 thread starter macrumors 68020

    dannys1

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Read my bit about the optical drive. Im not sure why you'd want to leave it in there wasting a usable sata bus a hard drive could use?

    I still don't understand why its considered the acceptable to have external hard drives running at half their speed at the detriment to keeping dying optical drives inside wasting a fast sata bus when they'd work perfectly well on USB or Firewire as its slow, painful, dated media anyway.
     
  8. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040

    ezekielrage_99

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #8
    Great post btw. Tempted now to buy a refurb iMac and put 3 drives in it :cool:
     
  9. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000

    aliensporebomb

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth
    #9
    Hmmmm

    Interesting. I have the 2009 Corei7 iMac. I could take out the optical drive to add a second internal sata drive or add an SSD for booting I suppose.

    Still, now reading this it makes me want to upgrade. 3 is better than 2.

    Then I'd put the optical in an external case (I burn a fair amount of discs to listen to in the car and to back up certain data).

    Thinking, thinking...
     
  10. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    Apr 6, 2009
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    somewhere
    #10
    i wish i had the guts to do this but for some reason i don't think i could take the screen and glass off. plus i tend to upgrade each update cycle.
     
  11. dannys1 thread starter macrumors 68020

    dannys1

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    Honestly its really easy. If you've got hands anyone can do it :)

    All you need for the screen are two mini glass sucker. Its only held on with magnetics and it just lifts off. The monitor is held in with 4 screws on each side, unscrew, lift up, unplug 4 cables - lift out. Job done.

    Anyone on this forum could do it and probably should try as it'll give you a new found confidence with your electronics (it also gives you a new found confidence as soon as you start handling the bits inside you sort of realise these things are not as delicate as you think)

    RE 2009 models. If you're going to do that with an SSD might as well save yourself some cash and put the Vertex 2 in as they only have sata 2 buses. Also 2009 iMacs don't have 3 sata ports only 2x Sata 2. Which is why I had previously 2x Intel X25-m G2's inside and an external firewire hard drive.
     
  12. macmastersam macrumors 6502a

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    Essex, england
    #12
    why do i keep getting thumbs down on everything?
     
  13. Schranke macrumors 6502

    Schranke

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    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    #13
    i was wondering about if you could link the SSD and other stuff you used (+ the holder things you didn't)
    I would like to look a bit more into this. seams like a nice thing.
    Love my system snappy and it could be any snappier it is worth checking out.
    When a complete guide are done, post it here plz, would love to see steep by steep, since the wire things confused me a little...
     
  14. iMarvin macrumors 6502

    iMarvin

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    Sep 29, 2011
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    On the internet!
    #14
    +1, when the ol iMac seems sluggish i don't mind giving it a shot of adrenaline. :rolleyes:
     
  15. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    #15

    I might attempt this down the road .. if the iMac goes 6 core ill get the new one .. if not then I might just pull the 1tb out and put in an sad and a 3tb or something like that
     
  16. StaticPaul macrumors newbie

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    Jan 22, 2012
  17. monkeymann macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    #17
    inspiring job!
    though how do you reinstall osx or add new OS's for example, without being able to boot from an optical drive? (i didn't think the imac could boot from an external drive)
     
  18. dannys1 thread starter macrumors 68020

    dannys1

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    UK
    #18
    Macs can boot from almost anything you give them. I've never used the disk for OSX for years. One of my favourite things about OSX is how robust it is - in my head I imagine it like a box which you can put anywhere and it keeps all its contents in side. Unlike Windows which is like a tray full of water and if you move it somewhere else you're bound to mess up the contents.

    You can boot from any USB or Firewire drive on any Mac, you just hold down option during boot and select the bootable partition.
     
  19. SteVenRoJjeER macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    #19
    The mind boggles that people would rather cripple their hard drives by having them run on USB or Firewire externally whilst keeping an optical drive inside their computer that will run perfectly well on the rare occasional they use it over USB.
     
  20. Bear macrumors G3

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    Sol III - Terra
    #20
    Some features of OS X do not really like USB optical drives unless it's the official Apple one on the Air and current Mini.
     
  21. Skyldig macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    #21
    I would very much like to see the "decent, well written and thought out and hopefully easier to follow and understand article", if its done yet.

    Couldn't find on Google...
     
  22. macmastersam macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    how fast was the 3 tb hard drive? was it one of the 6gb/sec SATA III hard drives?
     
  23. PaulKemp macrumors 6502

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    Jun 2, 2009
    Location:
    Norway
    #23
    I like it! But you do indeed seem crazy for just doing this :) This is how progress is made and you do warm the souls of the rest of us geeks.
     
  24. dannys1 thread starter macrumors 68020

    dannys1

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    Sep 19, 2007
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    UK
    #24
    There is only a Sata II bus less, regardless I'm not sure of any mechanical hard drive that can saturate Sata II properly let alone Sata III. SSD only territory.

    ----------

    Such as? I wouldn't know as Ive not used optical drive features for years - there is always a faster/better alternative as far as I'm concerned.

    For the record though I popped the super drive in a look a like Macbook Air style Apple external drive enclosure apart from testing it I've never plugged it in though - but the last on the 2009 iMac I just threw in the bin so...
     
  25. sinitry23 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    #25
    I have a late 2009 iMac27. If I wish to keep my 1tb drive and add a ssd drive as the boot drive what would be the best way to do so? Would I just remove the cd-rom drive and 3m tape the ssd drive where the optical drive use to be?
     

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