iMac drive replacement - Fusion or SSD?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by StephenAndrew, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. StephenAndrew macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2009
    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    #1
    My 2012 iMac's 3TB fusion drive has decided not to work anymore. I didn't take advantage of the recall...I was busy with work at the time and didn't want to be without my only computer for a week, so I never took advantage of the replacement program (it ended Dec. 2015).

    Apple quoted me $271 to replace the 3TB fusion drive. An authorized service provider quoted me $614 to replace it with a 1TB SSD.

    I do mostly photo editing in Lightroom and Photoshop, and often have several programs open at once (Mail, Safari, Calendar, Pages, Numbers, iTunes, and Lightroom are all usually open simultaneously). I haven't noticed much of a lag until the drive started failing, so I'm considering saving a few hundred bucks and going with the straight fusion drive replacement. But I also want to future-proof myself as much as possible, so I'm considering spending a little more and going with the SSD.

    Any recommendations, comments, suggestions, etc. would be much appreciated!
     
  2. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #2
    If your iMac is no longer under warranty (and it is one of the Macs that originally shipped with a Fusion Drive), I'd give thought to simply replacing the Hard drive with a SATA. You can still use Core Storage to make a single logical volume if you wanted, but unless you needed that large of a single-volume, there's no reason to not just have the smaller SSD that came with it and a much bigger one in tow that you can use for non-OS cache related things. $614 is steep. For that much, you could put in a 2TB SSD which would only have you 1TB shy of what you started out with to begin with!

    That said, I understand that iMac repair isn't for the faint of heart. I am ACMT certified myself and I always refused to work on iMacs. Terribly annoying machines to repair.
     
  3. StephenAndrew thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2009
    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    #3
    Thanks for the suggestion - would you mind elaborating a little on the SATA, and having the smaller SSD and a bigger one in tow? I'm super savvy with this stuff in case you couldn't tell, haha.

    I assume you mean using the SSD portion of the fusion drive for the OS, then having another larger drive (in tow - external, or internal?) for all my documents, etc.

    And you're right, I don't like the idea of working on the iMac myself...I took a look at iFixit, and the whole cutting the adhesive to get the display off makes me nervous!
     
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #4
    Fusion is a software solution not a hardware thing and can be applied to any two drives you have installed, just replace the SATA connected HDD with a SATA connected SSD and have a super fast fusion drive all seen as one volume.

    A crucial MX300 2TB SSD is $550 on Amazon

    https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-MX30...1489746789&sr=8-2&keywords=2tb+ssd+hard+drive

    And you can pick up a 1TB for $280

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_...SSD+hard+drive&rh=i:aps,k:1tb++SSD+hard+drive

    So do ask about and see how much they will charge for the work without the part. It could cost only a few more dollars for far more storage also make sure they leave the 128gb SSD in place as there is no need to remove it they'll just use it in someone's else's machine.
     
  5. stillcrazyman macrumors 65816

    stillcrazyman

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    Oct 10, 2014
    Location:
    In Exile
    #5
    I'm in the same situation with my Late 2012 iMac 27". The 3TB HD is starting to act up more often than not. I am, at this moment, installing and setting up a 1TB internal SSD from OWC. They have a decent kit for upgrading this model.
    I can already tell a substantial speed increase just installing the OS and apps. I opted to get a USB3 external drive instead of dealing with a fusion setup (my iMac was not a fusion drive machine).
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    My advice:

    DON'T open up the iMac to replace the drive.
    Leave the old, dead drive where it is.

    DO re-initialize the SSD drive, and set it up as your boot drive (with OS, apps, accounts.

    Next, buy a USB3 -external- drive of sufficient capacity and plug it into a USB3 port. Use that for additional storage, INCLUDING large libraries of pics, movies, music.

    Faster, easier, cheaper, SAFER to do it this way.
    Open up the iMac and other things could get broken.
     
  7. StephenAndrew thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2009
    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    #7
    Thanks for the additional info. Turns out the AASP won't install anything that isn't purchased through them. I called another place and they said the same thing, so maybe that's just the case with all AASPs?

    I ended up buying a Samsung EVO 2TB SSD on Amazon, and chose the in-home hard drive replacement technician for an extra $50...they use a 3rd party provider, and I'm assuming they're not an AASP, but I'm sure they're more adept than I am, so we'll see.

    Assuming everything goes well, I'll be getting a 2TB SSD for about $100 more than the AASP quoted me for a 1TB SSD. Fingers crossed it all works out!
     
  8. steve23094 macrumors 68000

    steve23094

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    Apr 23, 2013
    #8
    Do I understand you correctly that a technician will come to your home and install the SSD for $50? That's pretty cheap, you get what you pay for and all that. You might be able to do a better job yourself.

    As part of the ordering process did you tell them what type of computer it is? There is a big difference between installing a drive in an iMac and fairly standard PC, an iMac is a lot more difficult and will take a lot longer. They might be expecting a normal PC.
     
  9. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 6502a

    nambuccaheadsau

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    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #9
    If this is the 27" model, the technician does not know much about Macs so I suggest strongly you double check him/her out. He will need a replacement sticky to seat the screen, and for the 27" model a Heat Sensor Kit from OWC for $50 so the tech has made a financial loss before a couple of hours labour!

    https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIYIMACHDD12/
     
  10. tomwvr macrumors regular

    tomwvr

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Location:
    Frederick Maryland
    #10
    I put at 750 GB SSD in my 2012 for 400 dollars at a local authorized - I would go for something like that and get a 3-4 TB External Drive for media storage.
     
  11. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    #11
    Agree - 50 is too low for the task. There are plenty of 3rd party shops in big cities that can do it, and likely quick. 125.00 or so sounds more like it. Non AASP shops typically hire experienced Apple techs. Good Luck
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    I'm wondering if the OP is not going to regret his "$50 repair"... ??
     
  13. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #13

    Sorry, when I typed "SATA" in that sentence, I meant "SATA SSD". The Fusion drive is really a 128GB SSD in the same form factor as the SSDs in the 2010-newer MacBook Air laptops and then the same kind of hard drive you typically have in a desktop PC. So, what I'm suggesting is that you replace that hard drive with a more traditional 2.5" SSD (probably with a 2.5" to 3.5" mounting kit) with a larger capacity so that you use the 128GB for the OS and apps that require they be installed on the same drive as the OS, the larger SSD for everything else and if you still need big storage after that, get a USB 3 or Thunderbolt external hard drive and that'll cover your storage needs.

    Cutting the adhesive is fine if you have replacement adhesive. Just be sure you're careful and you study the process VERY carefully. iMacs are the least forgiving Mac to get into BY FAR!
     
  14. StephenAndrew thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 12, 2009
    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    #14
    Hey guys, just wanted to give you an update on my iMac - sorry for abandoning the thread for a bit!

    Amazon's in-home repair option only gives you the option of choosing laptop or desktop - no options for Apple/PC, model, or anything else. So I sent a message to the 3rd party technician I scheduled through Amazon and basically gave them a heads up that it's an iMac and I know they're a pain to service with the adhesive for the display and whatnot.

    The technician called me the next day and said that while he could do it, he'd have to use a heat gun to loosen the adhesive, it would take a few days, and that he would normally charge triple what I paid through Amazon. Reading through the DIY instructions, I knew that a heat gun wasn't necessary, and the guy didn't really sound very confident in his ability to do it...I also didn't want him to feel bitter or resentful that he was essentially making zero money on this job. So I ended up cancelling the repair order through Amazon.

    My next option was Micro Center, a local Apple Authorized Service Provider. I called them and explained that I wanted an SSD swapped out for my failing HDD. They said "No problem, just bring it in." Awesome - so I brought it in that same day, got checked in, and gave them my computer. I wanted to talk to one of the technicians about the performance benefits of keeping the 128GB from the fusion drive separate from the 2TB SSD. When he came out, he said that the swap was impossible, because of the extra cable I'd need for the temp sensor. I showed him the OWC cable and asked if that would work, and he basically said that no, it wouldn't work. Feeling frustrated, I took the computer back, and left.

    I did a little more research online, ordered the OWC cable and decided to do it myself. A few days later, the cable arrived, I followed the instructions in their video and on iFixit, and an hour and a half later I had a nice, fast 2TB SSD installed in my iMac with zero issues. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be - cutting into the adhesive was a little scary, but once that was done it was smooth sailing. The walkthroughs online helped a lot, and I wish I had just done it myself from the get-go.

    Thanks everyone for the advice in the thread - I appreciate everyone's helpful comments! 2017-03-28_0001.jpg
     
  15. stillcrazyman macrumors 65816

    stillcrazyman

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    Oct 10, 2014
    Location:
    In Exile
    #15
    Nicely done. I did mine last week at work (I'm an Apple Tech) so I had the tool to cut the screen adhesive already. Easier than the 'guitar pick' OWC includes with their kit.
     
  16. TheChemist macrumors regular

    TheChemist

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    #16
    I am looking to replace my HDD with an SDD on a 27" iMac (11,3).

    I have been looking at mac sales. Should I get everything from them or is there a premium I could avoid paying?
     
  17. cynics macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #17
    You ended up paying less and having a sense of accomplishment (probably). Well done!

    Did you run into any snags or did everything go without a hitch?
     
  18. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 12, 2005
    #18
    So are you running the two drives as separate drives or did you fuse them back together?
     
  19. adamhoolhorst macrumors newbie

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    Jul 6, 2017
    #19
    Quick question here as I'm looking to do this myself this weekend. Is that HDD bracket a standard 3.5 --> 2.5 bracket?

     
  20. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

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    Mar 10, 2011
    #20
    Not specifically directed to your question but why would someone want to create a Fusion drive out of 2 SSDs. Seems like a waste to me. Just use them as separate drives. Use the smaller one to store the OS and Apps, and use the larger one for user accounts and user data.
     
  21. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 12, 2005
    #21
    Not saying it is the right approach. I actually have two SSDs and use them independently one for OS & Apps, the other for user accounts. I was just curious what approach he chose. I know others have manually created a "fusion" drive of pairing of their NVME SSD with a SATA SSD.

    From a reasoning perspective it would provide a single logical volume which for some is a nice benefit. Also because the current NVME SSDs are significantly faster than the SATA SSDs it can provide a performance improvement by storing the most frequently used data on the faster SSD.

    I've got my 2009 iMac with a 128GB SATA SSD, and a 960GB SATA SSD setup with two volumes, and all the user home directories on the 960GB SSD using the following procedure.
    https://computers.tutsplus.com/tuto...-folder-to-another-drive-or-volume--mac-48822
     
  22. Taz Mangus, Jul 7, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017

    Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #22
    I am not sure you can specify which SSD to use as the cache for the Fusion drive. I would just use the faster SSD for the OS and apps and the other SSD for the user accounts and user data.

    That link you posted is how I move the user accounts. One thing that that article does not speak to is that when you move the administrator account you will need to clear PRAM and reboot.
     
  23. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    #23
    Hmm I thought it cached based on the order you add the drives to volume, maybe I wrong though. Like I said I haven't done it. I'll be surprised if SATA survives in an iMac much more than a few more years anyways.

    I left a simple administrator account on the main OS drive. That way if my user account drive ever fails I still have a working administrator account I can login to. It doesn't get used on a day to day basis, but I think this is a good approach.
     
  24. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

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    Nov 20, 2012
    #24
    I read through this thread with interest since I've done SSD surgeries before. Congrats on just doing it! Too many posts on these types of threads warn you not to do it because you might break something. Rubbish!
     

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