[HOW TO] iMac 27" (mid 2011) two SSDs in RAID 0 config + HDD

Discussion in 'iMac' started by th0rr, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. th0rr macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    Hi all,

    a few weeks ago I was asking you how I could add two SSDs in RAID 0 configuration and still keep the HDD. Well I didn't really get the right answer so I figured it out myself.

    You may ask yourself, why would I want to do this? Simply because I was curious if I can and because I found only one person who did something similar before me. Also I'm really excited about writing and reading speeds with two SSDs plugged in two SATA III ports in RAID 0 configuration. It still gives me goosebumps. :D

    I described the following procedure on my blog, but I doubt you understand Slovene, so I wrote this one in English. You can still check out the original link for a nicer guide with detailed photos.

    Disclaimer 1: Please don't do the following procedure if you have no experience with hardware. iMac is an expensive piece of hardware and you don't wan't it broken. Proceed at your own risk!

    Disclaimer 2: Because iMac has only three SATA ports on logic board you'll have to sacrifice your SuperDrive. For me that really wasn't a hard decision.

    And here is what you need if you want to do it yourself:

    SSD cable preparation

    So we've ordered two Slimline 13 pin SATA Female to 22 Pin SATA Female Cables and now we have to prepare one. Do you see the narrower end of the cable, the one which goes into logic board? This one:


    Now take your jewelers saw frame and saw plastic between both cables. Do it very carefully. That's the result:


    Installation of SSDs

    I followed a great guide from Brian Tobey about How to open and remove a logic board. I suggest you follow it too until logic board is removed, then return to this guide.

    Once you removed the logic board you can unplug the Superdrive from SATA 2 port.


    Now plug the slimline cables in following order:
    • SSD 1 plug in with untouched Slimline cable to SATA 1 port
    • SSD 2 DATA cable (blue) plug in SATA 0 data port and SSD PWR plug in SATA 2 port
    • HDD DATA cable plug in SATA 2 port and leave HDD PWR as it is

    I tried to explain the upper instructions in this photo:


    Once you have all the cables in place I recommend you to remove that fake SSD wall so you gain enough space for two SSDs. Now prepare the first SSD and attach some double sided tape on it, then carefully tape it to the iMac's body, be careful and leave enough space for another SSD! Now plug in the cable for the SSD 1.


    Now it's time to place the logic board back. I highly recommend you to remove RAM before positioning the logic board back in its place. I also advise you to be very careful when positioning the logic board so you don't damage it. Once you have it in place attach some double sided tape to the SSD 2 and connect the cable.

    My configuration now looks something like this:


    Put now everything together, plug in all the cables and screw all the screws. Remove all the dust between the glass and the LCD panel.

    Let's make a software RAID 0 configuration

    Unfortunately iMac doesn't have hardware support for RAID 0 configuration, but we can do a software RAID 0 configuration instead. Here's an excellent guide you should follow.

    Now reinstall your favorite Mac OS X.

    Various tests

    Here's a table of various tests I did after the install:


    And the best photo for last:


    Remember to have your Time Machine attached to your iMac at all times, because RAID 0 configuration is a liability. But it's still so awesome! :D What are your thoughts on my installation?
  2. mattb79 macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2010

    I'm getting something similar done next week with a top-spec BTO 27"

    2 x SSD in RAID 0 and a slimline Blu Ray drive in the Optical spot.

    Is one of those SSD's connected to the optical bay SATA port? I thought the Optical bay port was SATA II, not III?
  3. th0rr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    No, the other SSD is connected to SATA 0 port (only DATA) and SSD PWR is connected to SATA 2 port. :) SATA 2 port is from SuperDrive and is only SATA II yes. I connected HDD DATA cable to SATA II port. ;)
  4. pablosu macrumors newbie

    Sep 20, 2011
    This si really awesome! I will love to do it! but I feel a little bit wierd when I think bout opening my iMac :S!
    Would be awesome if u could do a Video Tutorial!

  5. mattb79 macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2010
    Yeah, I don't have the guts to do this myself, so I'm having an Apple authorised tech do my mods for me.

    If that optical bay had been SATA III as well, I'd have likely considered a triple SSD RAID 0. But two is good enough and I'm looking forward to having a Blu-ray drive built in for ripping.

    If Lacie ever get around to actually releasing their Little Big Disk, I'll be using one of those for Time Machine backups and daily Carbon Copy Clones. Until then, I've got a USB WD drive for that.
  6. th0rr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
  7. mattb79 macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2010
    Yeah, forget that then.

    I'll wait for Western Digital to release a My Book Studio with a Thunderbolt port.

    Although, do you guys think using an FW800 connection on a WD My Book Studio (single mechanical drive, not raided dual) will be good enough transfer speed for storage files (music, photos etc.)?

    I like the idea of Thunderbolt speeds, but not if it's going to be a huge premium over FW800 with very little transfer speed improvement on a single mechanical drive.
  8. accessoriesguy macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2011
    Faster Faster Faster! I saw someone had RAID 0 their macbook pro (late 08, same model as mine) by delete kit of the CD drive for the second drive.

    RAID makes everything wonderful :)
    Congrats and thanks for the guide!!!
  9. ctzbz macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2011
    Hi, th0rr
    There's a lot of talking at this moment about the fans speeds. Many have reported maximum fan speed after SSD instalation, due to a lack of a thermal sensor for non-Apple SSDs.
    I know that OWC promised a DIY solution for their SSDs, but at this moment they still have us waiting for it.
    I also intend to make a RAID0 matrix, but from two 240GB OWC drives.
    Could you please tell us your experience regarding the fan issue.
    I can't wait for your reply, if everything's ok I'll order my SSDs right away ;)
    Thanks in advance,
  10. th0rr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    Yes, let me explain this. If you only add two SSDs and not touching HDD or leave it in, there are no fast spinning fans. Because I removed Superdrive and I left its fan unplugged and because of that, CPU and HDD fan speed is slightly elevated, from 1000 rpm to 1500 rpm. iMac is not noiseless anymore but it's also not a flying airplane turbine. :)

    My conclusion is if you don't remove main HDD you have nothing to worry about, just don't reconnect Superdrive's fan, otherwise it'll spin with around 5000 rpm and that is very noisy :)

    Anything else? :)
  11. jsolares macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Land of eternal Spring
    Be careful, i believe the superdrive fan is also in charge of cooling the GPU
  12. ctzbz macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2011
    Anything else? :)[/QUOTE]

    Yes, did you considered this:
    http://www.hddfancontrol.com/ ?

    I'm planing to strip the HDD, strip the DVD (lighter iMac and more important less consumption) and control the fans through that soft.
    Anyone used it, is everything fine?

    Thanks for the previous post.
  13. th0rr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    That piece of software is only for controling HDD fan. I didn't have to use it :) I tried to use SMC Fan control but no luck :/
  14. ctzbz macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2011
    Yes, i know :)
    I should have to ask: "Would you considered this BEFORE?"
    Nevermind, thanks again.


    One last question.
    I'd like to have two partitions on the RAID0 matrix.
    One for system/apps/docs, one for the Photoshop scratch.
    (At this moment I have the same scheme on a 4XHDD RAID0 matrix in a MacPro)
    Do you use something similar or you RAIDed just one partition per disk?
  15. th0rr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    I might considered it before although I decided not to remove HDD.

    I only have 240 GB combined so I really didn't see much point doing partitions. :)
  16. WardC macrumors 68030


    Oct 17, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    I sent my 27" iMac into OWC (www.macsales.com) for the turnkey upgrade, I just had one 120GB Mercury Pro Extreme 6G installed in there....

    They said you could install a second SSD in there which you would have to remove the Apple SD card reader and they would replace it with another device which doubles as an SSD mount with a 3rd party SD card reader...and then you have your HD bay, which you could also put a SSD where the HD is...

    But, I decided to keep my stock 1TB HD in there and just get the single SSD...since it the 6G it should be capable of about 430MB/sec which is fine by me, mainly just using it as my boot disk and for all my apps....

    I plan to purchase a LaCie LittleBigDisk Thunderbolt SSD RAID disk to use for my Aperture Library (I have a Nikon D7000 and the photos are HUGE)....I think Apple has that drive listed now for $899 but it will not be available until next Month.

    But the thing that sucks is, I ordered the Next-Day Air re-delivery on my iMac, and when it came back to me last week, my WiFi would not work at all, it simply would not pick up any router or network whatsoever. Apparently the AirPort antennas were not connected properly -- either they forgot to hook them back or they got jarred in shipment and disconnected.

    So --- I sent the iMac back to them, and they said they have fixed it (I called them today), and I should have the machine back tomorrow. I can't wait to start playing with the "new" machine with the SSD. It's the 3.4GHz Quad-Core model, so it's going to fly with the SSD. Now I just need to add some RAM and I will be set to go...

    Thanks for sharing your install experience, but the iMac upgrade on these "newer" machines is just too daunting of a task for me to try to undertake myself, I don't want to risk damaging my machine. I have upgraded many MacBook Pros, and Mac Minis, and of course the Mac Pro (which is the simplest to upgrade, and most upgradable Mac of them all)...I am a bit upset at the difficulty that Apple is making in end-users being able to self-upgrade their machines these days, it's almost like they DON'T want you do it, and they make the machines (like the iMacs) such that upgrading them is nearly impossible (except the RAM which is user-accessible)....but adding SSDs, etc to these machines is a chore. Glad you had some good success with your project, enjoy your SCORCHER of a machine...that is one fast beast!
  17. kucyk macrumors regular

    Sep 24, 2007
    th0rr - thanks for great how to. I am going to do this in the next couple of days as well :D
  18. CocoJohnson macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2011
    2 X OCZ 120gb SATA III's Raid

    Hey buys just installed 2 X OCZ SATA III 120GB in my iMac I7 (3.4ghz) in a Raid configuration.. Ran DiskSpeedTest and here are results.. While very fast, the Write sped is nowhere near what thOrr got.. Any suggestions .?

    Other than that very pleased with results.?

    Attached Files:

  19. th0rr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    uau, that's very unusual. can you somehow verify that's everything OK with your disks?
  20. AtlasDC macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2011
    Same problem

    I just installed (2) 240GB OWC 6G drives in RAID 0 on a 2011 3.4 i7 iMac and have great read and about 50% of write . . . what's going on? Anyone have a clue what would do this. Seems fishy now that others are having the same speed reduction on write.

    Attached Files:

  21. th0rr, Nov 15, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011

    th0rr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2011
    I tested speed of my disks before the update of program DiskSpeedTest. I remember that they wrote in the updated version that they made some tweaks to tests and should now show results more accurately.

    If I repeat the test I got similar results as you guys. Only half speed when writing data. Should we try any other disk speed software? Any suggestions?

    Edit: I started googling after taking another Disk Speed Test and found interesting comments about the update of a program on the Mac App Store application page:

    and this one:

    Source: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blackmagic-disk-speed-test/id425264550?mt=12

    So is completely possible what they're saying.
  22. muski macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2008
    EFI 1.7 update bricked my iMac with RAID 0 SSDs

    I have a 2011 i7 iMac with a 2TB HDD and two 120GB SSDs (installed by OWC) that I run under Software RAID 0 (same performance as th0rr's machine). The iMac EFI 1.7 update bricked it. Thankfully OWC has agreed to fix it, as Apple refused.

    Wondering if anyone else had this problem.

    I wrote about it in another thread:

  23. AtlasDC macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2011
    I installed my 2 OWC drives yesterday, did a clean install and installed the EFI update without issue. Machine is cranking along nicely:)
  24. muski macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2008
    Helpful and interesting - thanks. I had a couple of questions about the configuration of the machine when you did the update.

    1) Are you using RAID 0 on them?

    2) Is it your primary boot drive? If so, how did you install Lion? (clone, recovery, etc.).
  25. hleewell macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2009
    Holy Sh...COW !!!!

    800 MB/s !!?!??!:eek::eek::eek:
    Apple should really offer this in their next iMac line-up.
    Even Sony offers Quad SSD in RAID 0 ....in their 13" laptop!
    This is an amazing upgrade, my friend!!

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