How-to: Upgrade your 27" iMac with an SSD drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by youds, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. youds macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #1
    If you wish to have an SSD drive in a 27 iMac (mid-2010 onward) you can self install it, saving money and giving you the option of the latest SSD technology. Here’s an overview of what you need, how to do it and an explanation of what was done.

    240GB Corsair Force SSD; Mac OS X only supports the Sandforce controller and this has it, plus it’s a big name with a huge reputation. It out performs the Toshiba and begins a new era in reliability, if you’re upgrading your iMac and they haven’t released TRIM support on Mac OS X yet and/or are still on the same SSD option as at release date for the Mid 2010 iMac, get one of these instead.

    Required Parts

    You will need:

    * Left Angled SATA cable
    * SATA Power Y-Splitter (male to 2 females)
    * Pozidrive T0 screwdriver
    * T8 and T10 screwdriver

    You should have:

    * 2x Suction Dent
    * Anti Static Wrist Band
    * Compressed Air
    * Heavy Duty Sticky Back Velcro
    * Screen Lens Cleaning Cloth

    [​IMG]
    Warning

    Do not try this if you have no experience with computer hardware. This was my first time inside a Mac and I can tell you it’s very compressed inside. If you break your Mac it’s your fault and you will have to pay to get it repaired; I give no warranty with these instructions.

    Before you begin

    Make sure you have plenty of time; it took me about 3 hours in total, however I didn’t have a how-to guide to follow only pieces of information from various forums. If I were to do it again it would probably take no more than an hour.

    About the hardware

    This is a Mid-2010 27” iMac 11,3 with a Core i3 3.2Ghz processor and a 1TB hard drive. There is space for a second drive. For the SSD I got the Corsair Force 240GB model for the install.

    [​IMG]
    Removing the glass

    Put each suction cup in the top corners of the screen. Gently pull one away then the other. It’s very easy, you can do it with your fingers if you don’t have suction cups. The glass is held in place by magnets so there’s no unscrewing etc at this stage.

    [​IMG]
    LCD Display

    Lay the Mac down flat to aid with the removing of the screws. There are 8 screws in total, 4 on either side. Use the T8 screwdriver to unscrew them. There’s casing behind the screws so no chance of them dropping into the Mac.

    The 27” display weighs 20lbs. and lifting it up the first time can be tricky. You need to get your finger underneath the top left and right magnets to lift it. Do one side first, then the other. The display lifts by only about 30 degrees before the wires on the back of the display restrict you. Gently lift the display and then rest it on your hand so you can begin removing the wires.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The first wire is on the right hand side. It appears to have holding clips but doesn’t, simply pull horizontally moving the casing left to right to remove.
    The second is in the middle of the display and is connected in three places. The larger connector has grips which must be squeezed on either side of the connector to free it. The second and third simply pull out horizontally.
    To the right of the connectors you just removed there is another very small cable for the LCD heat sensor. Simply pull it out horizontally.
    Then over to the far right hand side, behind where the first cable was, is the forth cable. It is plugged in the other way round so get your hand behind it and gently pull horizontally away from you.

    You can now lift the display upward and then pull towards you to remove it from the Mac.

    Logic Board

    Now you are in your Mac you can see there is a large logic board toward the top/middle of your Mac spreading right across it. You need access to the underside of it, so must either remove it or lift it up enough to get the SATA cable in.

    [​IMG]
    There are 8 screws in total what you must remove in order to get access to the underside of the logic board. See the image for the location of the screws.

    At this point you must decide if it is necessary to remove the logic board. It’s not as bad as it may seem, make sure you take note of what you are unplugging for when it comes to plugging everything back in. Don’t worry if you get one wrong it won’t short the board from my experience. (you are wearing the anti-static wrist band, aren’t you?)

    [​IMG]
    This is the male and female part of the SSD drive connection. It is just above the stock HDD and can be accessed if you unscrew the logic board and lift slightly. Don’t worry about breaking the board, if all the screws are undone it should lift up and out anyway.

    [​IMG]
    You will need to remove this from the top of the logic board if you are going to lift it up and/or take it out. It simply pulls back from the board, pull firmly horizontally to remove it. There is no chance of breaking it, it’s designed to be pulled out. I didn’t know about it and pulled the logic board out with it – caused a bit of a loud sound as the board was at an angle so beware of this.
    If you need to remove the logic board don’t forget to remove the RAM from the other side of the machine, otherwise you’ll have to prise it out!

    [​IMG]
    This is the logic board being removed. There are 3 cables underneath the board so make sure you take note of that when removing it. And don’t forget, there will be 4 when you put it back in.

    [​IMG]
    Here’s the board fully removed – looking good so far. Now you need to get the sticky back velcro and put the SSD in place.

    [​IMG]
    Here’s the Mac re-assambled, you can see the SSD fits in place nicely. Notice the Power Y-Splitter is rather compact in its home – that’s the 6 inch version.

    [​IMG]
    Close up of that SSD drive nicely in its new home, again, look at the space the Power Y-Splitter has, don’t be tempted by the 50cm version, 20cm/6inches is plenty.

    [​IMG]
    Finally, put the Apple Mac OS X install DVD in the SuperDrive and press/hold down D while booting up. Run the AHT utility to check everything is OK!

    Warranty
    I didn't have to remove any screws with warranty stickers on them and everything went back together nicely. I'm not saying you won't invalidate your warranty, but everything I did I could undo.

    -youds
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #2
    Nice, thank you! I was waiting for something like this to show up soon :p I won't really benefit off this but I'm sure there are plenty of people who are more than thankful for this :)
     
  3. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a

    milbournosphere

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    Mar 3, 2009
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
  4. MIKE666 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2008
    #4
    is the ssd that ships with the imac not very good? how much better is this one?

    any benchmarks anywhere?
     
  5. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Location:
    Cold beer land
    #5
    Any before & after benchmarks?

    benchmark compares with a factory install SSD in said iMac 27?
     
  6. jonwd7 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    #6
    Thanks for this guide, but it sort of confirms for me that I'm not going to be willing to ever manually install an SSD in an iMac unless they start including the cables and bracket for it. I've built many computers over my life, but I had no idea the process required to add the cabling involved taking the entire logic board out.

    Instead I'm just going to go with my original plan and get the BTO Toshiba SSD (It's not so terrible at student prices)... And then maybe once AppleCare is up on the machine, and if I still own it and want to keep it, I will pop it open and put in a newer, faster, higher capacity SSD like the 3rd gen Intels which should be as big as 600GB and blazingly fast. Hope the Toshiba SSD is easily removable though...
     
  7. wirelessness macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    #7
    Thanks for posting this information!!!

    I will probably be making this upgrade soon so this is very welcome information.
     
  8. Jaffaman27 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2010
    Location:
    Tampere, Finland
    #8
    Thanks for the guide.
    Helps a lot.

    But for some reason on your site ssd.youds.com I can't see the full size pics, so it's really hard to see the details on them.
    Is it just me?

    Cheers.
     
  9. bigmacman macrumors member

    bigmacman

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    #9
    Nice walk-through. Can I easily replace the hard drive in my 21.5" i3 with a SSD?
     
  10. youds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #10
    [​IMG]

    Apple uses Toshiba
     
  11. youds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #11
    Yes you can, but you will need one of these. I got one myself incase there was space for it in there (which there wasn't), I had a quick look at the optical drive's connectors and they do indeed match the ones you get with the linked enclosure. Very cool.

    I'm selling mine on eBay if you want to place a bid, it's condition is new.
     
  12. bhagiratha macrumors newbie

    bhagiratha

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    #12
    I read that you can only use Sandforce controller SSDs in a mac. Is that true?
    I want to replace my optical drive with an SSD in my 2009 27" imac, but still haven't decided on an SSD. But I have thought about this one ...

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231378
     
  13. youds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #13
    I'm no expert on SSD's but yes, Sandforce is currently the preferred option for Macs as OS X doesn't have TRIM support.
    Because of this, running a utility like http://diglloydtools.com/manual/disktester.html will help once every 6 months.
     
  14. wirelessness macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    #14
    It is not true that you can only use Sandforce controller based SSD's in OSX. Obviously that is not the case because all of the SSD's installed OEM from Apple are NOT Sandforce based. The Toshiba's do not use Sandforce controllers.

    What you need is a drive that supports background garbage collection which. Most of the newer drives support this. The only top tier drive that I think is not optimal as far as long term wear leveling/bgc are the Crucial Real models. Which is too bad because they are awesome drives.

    As for that G.Skill Phoenix Pro drive you linked. That is an AWESOME drive. It is one of the very few drives on the market right now outside of OCZ Vertex 2 models that have the latest Sandforce firmware unlocking the drives max IOPS up to 50,000. Is this a big deal? Probably not, but considering they are priced very similarly to other drives that do not support this feature yet (like the Patriot Inferno) there is no reason not to buy a drive that doesn't have the same capabilities as the Vertex 2 models.

    I don't want to be opening my iMac up a bunch of times to replace or upgrade the SSD drive so my plan is to get the most available space and the best performing drive I can afford and make this upgrade last.
     
  15. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #15
    No need for the SSD to have SandForce controller although that's recommended due the lack of TRIM in OS X. Plenty of people have Intel SSDs which do not have SF controller
     
  16. bhagiratha macrumors newbie

    bhagiratha

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    #16
    Thank you for that explanation. I also want to do a one-time-only install in my imac. Really want to put a 256GB SSD, but with all the confusing info out there about SSDs ... still I am unable to make a decision. I am not worried about the cost. My concern is performance and long term reliability. I am hoping on keeping my 27" i7 imac for another 2years, so am looking for something that can hold-off until then.
     
  17. lily69 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2010
    #17
    This is a great guide! Enjoy the reading.

    I got one question, if one only want to replace the stock HDD with SSD, would be much easier, just remove the original one and put a 2.5" SSD with 3.5" bracket, connect the original cable, and don't have to remove the logic board, am I right?
     
  18. youds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #18
    Correct yes.
    I only removedt the logic board because I couldn't get enough of a look at the connector on the underside. If you were adding another Drive, with the above pictures you'll be able to lift the logic board and put the cable in, it's right next to the edge of the board. There's a closeup of the underside of the board which will help.
    I had no idea which screws to remove etc and had no problems. Was my first time inside a Mac and at most can only say am an enthusiast, I'd do it again no problems.

    Thanks for all the comments!
     
  19. giantsuper macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    Boston
    #19
    Quick question, youds. So you were trying to replace the optical drive with that enclosure that you mentioned above? What happened? It didn't fit? I added my first SSD in the same manner as you did. Now, I'm thinking that I'd like to replace the optical drive with a second SSD. Wondering if you had any insight into replacing the optical drive?
     
  20. youds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #20
    Hi, I was going to try and use the enclosure in place of the stock Apple one. I tried putting it where I ended up putting the SSD (it didn't fit) and underneath the Optical Drive enclosure, but again it didn't fit. This is a mid-2010 iMac so there was designated space for the SSD but my enclosure was too big.
    You could of got the SSD underneath the optical drive but if you replaced your original optical drive with an SSD I'm guessing it's not a mid-2010 iMac?

    Thanks
     
  21. agon macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    #21
    Hi,

    Since I'am not an expert, I do not feel like to do it myself. I have a iMac 27" i7. I contacted 2 Apple approved retailers in my town. The first one was ok to do it. I explained it very well the way it has to be done (folowing youds tutorial) and he was still ok. I assume they take full responsability of the iMac if something has to happen during the upgrade.

    The other one told me they can't since it's not an official Apple mod. He also told me that it can be very dangerous since we split the alim cable and the default iMac alim (without SSD option) is barely enough to support them. Also warned me about overheating.

    I already bought a sandforce Corsair SSD 120go and the good cables. That being said, I'am still wondering if it's a good option since the iMac is brand new. I think this overheating and alim problem is kind of ********, what do you guys think ?
     
  22. DannyBres macrumors 65816

    DannyBres

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    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    UK
  23. agon macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    #23
    Yes sorry, Alim = Power, power cable
     
  24. symbology macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #24
    Where did these numbers come from. The Crucial C300 scores better than that in all the reviews that I have seen.

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/SSD/65
     
  25. symbology macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #25
    Agreed..... it is *********
     

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