iMac 2017 21.5" HDD -> SSD upgrade

jtcameron

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 30, 2019
3
0
Cheltenham
Evening all,

So, I regrettably bought an iMac 2017 21.5" 4k Retina, 3.0 GHz, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD last year...

Compared to my Macbook Air with an SSD it is very sluggish, even whilst completing basic tasks (such as using MS Office and Chrome).

I would like to upgrade the HDD to a SSD. I've been doing some research and I am very tempted to do it myself. I have never done anything like it before, but I fancy the challenge.

I was looking at getting this kit from MegaMac. This is the only place in the UK I can see that sells kits and tools for the job. https://www.megamac.com/products/50...-for-21-5-imac-2012-and-later-owck21im12he500

Reckon it would be any good? Would I need a thermal sensor to go with this or anything else? Or is there somewhere else that would be better to buy the tools from?

Alternatively, I could boot from an external SSD but is it better to swap the HDD and do it properly?

Any advice is massively appreciated!

Thanks in advance,

James :)
 

ThugFreak

macrumors regular
Sep 12, 2018
120
48
California
Evening all,

So, I regrettably bought an iMac 2017 21.5" 4k Retina, 3.0 GHz, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD last year...

Compared to my Macbook Air with an SSD it is very sluggish, even whilst completing basic tasks (such as using MS Office and Chrome).

I would like to upgrade the HDD to a SSD. I've been doing some research and I am very tempted to do it myself. I have never done anything like it before, but I fancy the challenge.

I was looking at getting this kit from MegaMac. This is the only place in the UK I can see that sells kits and tools for the job. https://www.megamac.com/products/50...-for-21-5-imac-2012-and-later-owck21im12he500

Reckon it would be any good? Would I need a thermal sensor to go with this or anything else? Or is there somewhere else that would be better to buy the tools from?

Alternatively, I could boot from an external SSD but is it better to swap the HDD and do it properly?

Any advice is massively appreciated!

Thanks in advance,

James :)
OWC or iFixit
I own 2 (1 terabyte) Mercury SSD's. They are good.
Usually, you need a temp sensor. It's not included in the OWC kit for your iMac.
Maybe you don't need it. I would e-mail or call OWC to make sure.
They have excellent support people that respond very fast.
Buy an extra tape kit in case you mess up. It happens if you never aligned a display before.
It can be too far to the left or right, or a little high where you see a gap on the bottom.
Once the display is attached, there is no way to re-align it.
The pizza cutter tool OWC & iFixit sells works better than the guitar pick. Since your iMac has never been opened, the tape will be easy to cut. Apple uses tape that has a foam layer that cuts easily. The replacement tape is hard to cut. It doesn't have a foam layer. The tool constantly sticks to the tape and it's hard to slide the tool to cut the tape. Don't worry about cracking the glass. There is black plastic glued behind it. It's pretty sturdy. Of course, don't pry on it. Use rubbing alcohol & q-tips to clean the surfaces for the new tape. Also clean the inside glass for the facetime camera.
Temporarily install the display and make sure the iMac boots up. Use tape to hold the display on.
Disconnect the cables so you can raise the display again.
To get a perfect alignment of the display, use painters tape. After the display tape strips are installed, temporarily fit the display getting the left & right and bottom edge perfect. Put the painters tape on the bottom edge like a hinge. Press it down good so the display doesn't move. Lift the display and expose the bottom & side tape strips. Lower the display & prop it up with something so you can connect the cables.
After connecting the cables, expose the top tape strips, make sure bottom edges of the display are still lined up. Lower the display.
 
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jtcameron

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 30, 2019
3
0
Cheltenham
OWC or iFixit
I own 2 (1 terabyte) Mercury SSD's. They are good.
Usually, you need a temp sensor. It's not included in the OWC kit for your iMac.
Maybe you don't need it. I would e-mail or call OWC to make sure.
They have excellent support people that respond very fast.
Buy an extra tape kit in case you mess up. It happens if you never aligned a display before.
It can be too far to the left or right, or a little high where you see a gap on the bottom.
Once the display is attached, there is no way to re-align it.
The pizza cutter tool OWC & iFixit sells works better than the guitar pick. Since your iMac has never been opened, the tape will be easy to cut. Apple uses tape that has a foam layer that cuts easily. The replacement tape is hard to cut. It doesn't have a foam layer. The tool constantly sticks to the tape and it's hard to slide the tool to cut the tape. Don't worry about cracking the glass. There is black plastic glued behind it. It's pretty sturdy. Of course, don't pry on it. Use rubbing alcohol & q-tips to clean the surfaces for the new tape. Also clean the inside glass for the facetime camera.
Temporarily install the display and make sure the iMac boots up. Use tape to hold the display on.
Disconnect the cables so you can raise the display again.
To get a perfect alignment of the display, use painters tape. After the display tape strips are installed, temporarily fit the display getting the left & right and bottom edge perfect. Put the painters tape on the bottom edge like a hinge. Press it down good so the display doesn't move. Lift the display and expose the bottom & side tape strips. Lower the display & prop it up with something so you can connect the cables.
After connecting the cables, expose the top tape strips, make sure bottom edges of the display are still lined up. Lower the display.
This is amazing advice, thank you very much!

Unfortunately I'm in the UK and the link I posted seems to be the only place that sells kits together. I wonder if I can buy the bits separately...
 

ThugFreak

macrumors regular
Sep 12, 2018
120
48
California
This is amazing advice, thank you very much!

Unfortunately I'm in the UK and the link I posted seems to be the only place that sells kits together. I wonder if I can buy the bits separately...
Your kit has everything you need.
Make sure that you don't need the temp sensor. It looks like you don't need it.
Call or e-mail OWC and ask them. They respond fast.
I think you should be fine with the guitar pick since you're removing the original easy to cut Apple tape.
The pizza cutter tool is faster of course, but not necessary.
The tape your kit includes is generic strips, but should work the same.
Make sure you use rubbing alcohol to clean the surfaces. The tape will stick better.
Also, while the iMac is open, blast the fan blades & heatsink with air to remove dust.
You have to remove the fan to expose the heatsink. It's just 2 screws.

edit:
I found the pizza cutter tool & foam tape strips in Europe here.
How about this whole upgrade kit?
 
Last edited:

jtcameron

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 30, 2019
3
0
Cheltenham
Your kit has everything you need.
Make sure that you don't need the temp sensor. It looks like you don't need it.
Call or e-mail OWC and ask them. They respond fast.
I think you should be fine with the guitar pick since you're removing the original easy to cut Apple tape.
The pizza cutter tool is faster of course, but not necessary.
The tape your kit includes is generic strips, but should work the same.
Make sure you use rubbing alcohol to clean the surfaces. The tape will stick better.
Also, while the iMac is open, blast the fan blades & heatsink with air to remove dust.
You have to remove the fan to expose the heatsink. It's just 2 screws.

edit:
I found the pizza cutter tool & foam tape strips in Europe here.
How about this whole upgrade kit?
Thanks for this! I've ordered the first kit as I've only just seen your amazing link.

Two questions... what's the best/easiest way for a novice to clean the existing hard drive on to the new one? Will it need formatting? Also... do I need a bracket for the OWC hard drive or will it fit in the same?

Thanks :)
 

TwoH

macrumors regular
May 19, 2019
238
104
For the 27"+21.5" slim model - and installing an SSD 2.5", you do not need an OWC temperature sensor.
Simply all the tools you will need to complete this task, would be the pizza cutter tool which has been linked up above by ThugFreak, and I would strongly advise this tape kit for your iMac. This tape works exactly as the original, and will make it easier to open the iMac again - if you ever have to.
Edit: And you'll need a T10 screwdriver.

I would not follow ThugFreak's suggestion on the iFixIt tape kits, as they are bad.
 
Last edited:

ThugFreak

macrumors regular
Sep 12, 2018
120
48
California
For the 27"+21.5" slim model - and installing an SSD 2.5", you do not need an OWC temperature sensor.
Simply all the tools you will need to complete this task, would be the pizza cutter tool which has been linked up above by ThugFreak, and I would strongly advise this tape kit for your iMac. This tape works exactly as the original, and will make it easier to open the iMac again - if you ever have to.
Edit: And you'll need a T10 screwdriver.

I would not follow ThugFreak's suggestion on the iFixIt tape kits, as they are bad.
Thanks for the advice on the iFixit tape kits.
I was thinking of ordering some.
I read that they were good. And they are the "foam" type like Apple uses.
I've only used "OWC" tape kits. They are good, but are hell to cut with the pizza cutter tool.
Why are they bad?
 

TwoH

macrumors regular
May 19, 2019
238
104
Thanks for the advice on the iFixit tape kits.
I was thinking of ordering some.
I read that they were good. And they are the "foam" type like Apple uses.
I've only used "OWC" tape kits. They are good, but are hell to cut with the pizza cutter tool.
Why are they bad?
Ooh, wait -- have iFixit swapped to foam-type tape kits?? The last time I used some from there - they were the horrible basic just double-sided tape-type kits (the usual type horrible to get off).
 

ThugFreak

macrumors regular
Sep 12, 2018
120
48
California
Ooh, wait -- have iFixit swapped to foam-type tape kits?? The last time I used some from there - they were the horrible basic just double-sided tape-type kits (the usual type horrible to get off).
OWC sells the double sided "no foam" tape kits also. :mad:

From iFixit:
The unique design of the 21.5" iMac requires the replacement of the adhesive strips whenever the display assembly is removed. Fortunately, these adhesive strips are actually a foam tape, easily cut with an iMac Opening Wheel. Unfortunately, the display has to be removed every time anything needs to be replaced or upgraded inside the machine.
 

ThugFreak

macrumors regular
Sep 12, 2018
120
48
California
Thanks for this! I've ordered the first kit as I've only just seen your amazing link.
Two questions... what's the best/easiest way for a novice to clean the existing hard drive on to the new one? Will it need formatting?
Also... do I need a bracket for the OWC hard drive or will it fit in the same?

Thanks :)
I usually do a clean install, so not really sure.
Maybe use Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper. Everyone uses Carbon Copy Cloner.

Yes, you format the new SSD with "Disk Utility"

On the 21.5'' iMac, you re-use what holds the HD.
 

taoisawesome

macrumors member
Jun 10, 2019
42
6
I have to say, the SSD and Ram will give your iMac a boost, if you are not heavy on Video game or 4k editing
 

tiger168

macrumors newbie
Jul 16, 2020
3
0
OWC or iFixit
I own 2 (1 terabyte) Mercury SSD's. They are good.
Usually, you need a temp sensor. It's not included in the OWC kit for your iMac.
Maybe you don't need it. I would e-mail or call OWC to make sure.
They have excellent support people that respond very fast.
Buy an extra tape kit in case you mess up. It happens if you never aligned a display before.
It can be too far to the left or right, or a little high where you see a gap on the bottom.
Once the display is attached, there is no way to re-align it.
The pizza cutter tool OWC & iFixit sells works better than the guitar pick. Since your iMac has never been opened, the tape will be easy to cut. Apple uses tape that has a foam layer that cuts easily. The replacement tape is hard to cut. It doesn't have a foam layer. The tool constantly sticks to the tape and it's hard to slide the tool to cut the tape. Don't worry about cracking the glass. There is black plastic glued behind it. It's pretty sturdy. Of course, don't pry on it. Use rubbing alcohol & q-tips to clean the surfaces for the new tape. Also clean the inside glass for the facetime camera.
Temporarily install the display and make sure the iMac boots up. Use tape to hold the display on.
Disconnect the cables so you can raise the display again.
To get a perfect alignment of the display, use painters tape. After the display tape strips are installed, temporarily fit the display getting the left & right and bottom edge perfect. Put the painters tape on the bottom edge like a hinge. Press it down good so the display doesn't move. Lift the display and expose the bottom & side tape strips. Lower the display & prop it up with something so you can connect the cables.
After connecting the cables, expose the top tape strips, make sure bottom edges of the display are still lined up. Lower the display.
OWC or IFIX, that is the question.

Has anyone done a comparison as to which HDD/SSD uprade kits is better than the other? and in what way? Customer support compared? iFix doesn't really have a technical support perse. They refer your question to the forum or the internet. You help is greatly appreciated.
 

ThugFreak

macrumors regular
Sep 12, 2018
120
48
California
OWC or IFIX, that is the question.

Has anyone done a comparison as to which HDD/SSD uprade kits is better than the other? and in what way? Customer support compared? iFix doesn't really have a technical support perse. They refer your question to the forum or the internet. You help is greatly appreciated.
OWC: I have bought SSD's, upgrade kits and memory from OWC several times. I've sold old memory (RAM) to them several times. Their people answering the phone are very professional & knowledgeable. Their shipping is fast. Their tape strips are fine, but if you have to remove the display again, it's a pain. They sell plastic tape strips. Not the easy to cut foam tape strips.
iFixit: I bought a dozen foam tape strip packs from them. They are the best. Their shipping is faster. 1 day for me in California.

P.S. If you attach a temp sensor to the SSD, don't trust the stick on tape. It falls off after a few hours. Use a drop of glue and let it dry.
 
Last edited:
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