iMac hard drive upgrade

Discussion in 'iMac' started by WorkerBee2015, Sep 4, 2015.

  1. WorkerBee2015 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2015
    #1
    A neighbor has a 2010 21.5 inch iMac and he was having problems with it. I tested it with Scannerz and the original 1TB drive is having problems. I'm considering replacing it for him, but have a few questions.

    First, he needs big storage. I suggested that he let me pull the optical drive and I could put in an SSD and a hard drive to make a Fusion set up, but he said no because he uses the DVD. Then I suggested a big SSD, but when he saw the prices, he cringed. Finally I came across this hybrid on another site:

    http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=1190

    WD is calling that a dual drive, a 120GB SSD with a 1TB hard drive.

    Here are some questions:

    1. Is anyone familiar with this thing? It's pushing his price limit as it's nearly $200, but it's within range and it looks like it's almost an internally housed Fusion-like drive, if I'm reading the description properly.

    2. The drive is a 2.5" form factor. I assume that I could still use something like that in an iMac because most SSDs use that and people get them to work.

    3. Fans! I know at least one type of iMac had some type of issue with fans causing people to put a fan control program in it. Was that limited to one year or is it now everything since? I think the model year with that problem was 2009, but feel free to correct/enlighten me.

    4. Other cost effective solutions. If you have some, feel free to suggest.

    I could consider a regular hybrid or even a regular drive, but I'd like to give the guy the impression of "Wow" when I'm done, but once again, SSDs standalone seem out of the question. Most hybrids seem to have too little flash memory on them for me to be impressed with the performance.

    Questions? Comments? Feel free, and thanks.
     
  2. ZVH macrumors 6502

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    Apr 14, 2012
    #2
    That's a weird drive. I'd re-read all the documentation because it doesn't sound like it's a true hybrid, more like a some type of SSD/hard drive combo. I noticed in the FAQ section it states the SSD and the HDD are treated almost like separate entities.

    Regarding the fans, the units with the biggest problems are 2009-2010. You can buy a kit from OWC for about $40 that will fix it. It includes a thermal sensor that attaches to the drive and then plugs in where the Apple one used to. Basically it takes the place of and/or emulates what was going on in the original drive. Here's a link to the part:

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIDIMACHDD09/

    There are other ways to go about doing it, usually with software. Do a Google because I don't know how up to date they are. Remember, anytime you upgrade the OS you run the risk of such an application being out of date. The OWC solution, although kind of pricey should work with anything.

    The 2.5 inch drive will need an adapter if you're going to demand that it be seated 100% like it used to.

    All of these little add-ons cost money.
     
  3. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

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    Sep 6, 2013
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    US
    #3
    I have a WD backup drive. When I got it I initially installed the drivers etc because, believe it or not, some of the features like the on-off switch aren't activated until the software is installed. The icons were annoying and stupid looking, so I removed the stuff and just dealt with the on-off problem by leaving the thing on. It's a Time Machine drive and it sleeps probably 90% of the time anyway.

    In any case, right after I got rid of their drivers problems with Mavericks and the WD set started cropping up and the WDs could be wiped because of some bug. Imagine that - your backup drive's software deletes what it exists for.

    My point is that if the thing relies on non-standard software from a third party it may be a problem down the road. It sounds like that drive won't even work unless you use some of their stuff. How about El Capitan? Will it even be allowed to run/access the drive?

    Things to think about. I'd stick with a standard configuration.
     
  4. BradHatter macrumors regular

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    Oct 7, 2014
    #4
    If it was my system I might try the WD just to experiment with it to see if it works and how well. Someone else's machine is a completely different story. Since he can't afford an SSD that big and still wants his optical drive I'd just get either a regular big hard drive or possibly a hybrid drive. I'd look for a drive using an AF format with a large cache (32M-64M) because the newer drives have much faster disk to system transfer rates. Steer totally away from green drives of all types.
     
  5. BradHatter macrumors regular

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    Oct 7, 2014
    #5
    WD doesn't identify it as a hybrid, they identify it as a "dual drive" FWIW.
     
  6. BradHatter macrumors regular

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    Oct 7, 2014
    #6
    Regarding fan control, you might want to look at an application like SMC Fan Control. It appears a lot of people have put that in their systems and it seems to work OK, but you might want to read about the potential problems. That thing from ZVH above from OWC used to list for $100 now they have it on "special" for $40. OWC also wants $29 for a "drive doubler" which looks to me like a plastic adapter to fit an SSD or HDD into the OD slot. Am I the only one that thinks their prices are a little on the high side for what they are?
     
  7. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    #7
    Yes, I would say OWC is a bit pricey. That said, their hardware is top of the line stuff; you never worry about whether it will work or not.

    As for the OP: I have a 2010 21.5" iMac that I did surgery on to replace the HD with a 120GB SSD. I also have a 1TB portable laptop drive plugged in via USB. You'd think the external drive is slow, but to be honest, it works pretty well and is pretty quick, especially compared to the old IDE hard drive it replaced. So the way I run things now is that I put OS X, applications, and all non-media data on the SSD. All music, movies, TV shows, and photos are on the external HD. This setup works great for me. iTunes has to access music on the HD, but it's quick enough that I don't notice much of a delay when first opening iTunes or playing a song on the computer (usually over Air Tunes to my stereo). And working with Photos is fine too; it's not slow or choppy due to the HD. I do like having the rest of my data on the SSD, such as finances and such. The SSD is of course fast and pdf's or Office docs load quickly (this is where an SSD is a huge benefit over an HD in my mind). Oh yeah, I use HDD Fan Control to get around the lack of temp sensor on the SSD. In short, if you install a drive without a temp sensor, you've now got an open circuit that isn't reading any temp at all, so the CPU commands the fans to go full blast top make sure the HD isn't overheating; it's an "emergency" measure. HDD Fan Control overrides this and lets you control fan speed. With the SSD in my iMac, I never even notice the fans at all; it runs a lot cooler just without the HD in place.

    Finally, i suggest going to iFixit to do the surgery; they're directions are easy:

    https://www.ifixit.com/Device/iMac_Intel_21.5"_EMC_2389
     
  8. TheBSDGuy macrumors 6502

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    Jan 24, 2012
    #8
    I think the data doubler adapter is a little over priced. Anyone slightly clever with tools could easily create their own adapter. The interface adapter, however, at $40 is a reasonable price. It's a circuit adapter that measures the temp of the drive and then feeds it back to the system properly and has cables as well. For $40 I don't think that price is too high, at least in my opinion.
     
  9. BradHatter macrumors regular

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    Oct 7, 2014
    #9
    Most of the decent fan control programs monitor the SMART temps of the drive as well as other temps in the system to circumvent the problem. I haven't heard of anyone having problems but then again, I don't follow every report.

    IMHO the "correct" way to do it would be either get an Apple replacement drive or use the adapter from OWC, which incidentally costs almost as much as some drives. That would be the correct way to do it, but to save a few bucks I'd look into SMC fan control (or others) and see if anyone is really having problems with it.
     
  10. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

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    Sep 6, 2013
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    US
    #10
    I did a little look into item 1. No, it's not a Fusion like drive. They can apparently be configured to act like Fusion drives, but the SSD is supposed to look more like a "super cache" for the system. With a Fusion drive the data on the SSD may be moved off of it onto the HDD, and vice versa. With this thing all data is apparently on the HDD at all times and the SSD holds the most commonly used data. It apparently functions and performs like an SSD most of the time, whereas a Fusion drive can give you bottlenecks because it relies so much on the HDD part.
     
  11. BradHatter macrumors regular

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    Oct 7, 2014
    #11
    Another option people often forget about is to connect an external drive to the system and use that as the boot drive. The fstab file can be modified so the internal drive doesn't even mount. This way you don't have to fool with fan control programs, opening the system up, or anything else….but it will be slower. Too bad that unit doesn't have a thunderbolt connection otherwise it would either nearly as fast of simply as fast as an internal drive.
     
  12. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

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    Nov 24, 2012
    #12
    I'd skip using a Fusion setup all together. If he wants an SSD and a big drive, you can put the SSD into the systems main bay and then either put the "big data" drive into the other or connect it externally. The OS and nearly all applications can fit on a smaller low cost SSD easily and having a data partition on the big HD will allow the OS to be changed without necessarily impacting the data. Just beware that Apple has now decided to "upgrade" some of the data libraries (like iPhoto) so how long data will be accessible across OS versions is a crap shoot. Using this type of setup makes the backup process easy. Fusion Drive's are a mess because you never know what data is located on what drive at a given time.
     
  13. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #13
    Assuming the mac can detect it as 2 separate drives it'll offer you the option to create a fusion drive.
     
  14. ZVH macrumors 6502

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    Apr 14, 2012
  15. WorkerBee2015 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 23, 2015
    #15
    Hi.

    I used the OWC interface adapter, the one that puts the thermal sensor on the drive onto a WD black hard drive. Works like a charm. I think all together it was about $90. Original owner was that interested in high performance just decent performance.

    Why did Apple do this to this drive, and are they doing it to any other systems? Having to use an adapter to monitor the temp seems a little odd to me.

    I read some bad posts on the fan control programs. Personally they sounded like people talking about what might happen if such and such occurred and I don't know if I really believed them, but with the OWC adapter I felt safe.
     
  16. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

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    US
    #16
    Still relatively cheap. If your neighbor had taken that to the Apple store they probably would have charged about $500 for that repair, and only after subjecting your neighbor to a barrage of sales pitches.:p
     
  17. ZVH macrumors 6502

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    Apr 14, 2012
    #17
    Who knows. To date to the best of my knowledge the only things they've done that with are some of the iMacs. Just hope with SSDs they don't start soldering them into the logic board creating a real "throw away" computer (i.e. once the SSD goes, get a new unit).
     
  18. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

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    Nov 24, 2012
    #18
    They're already soldering the RAM in some of the Mac Mini's so they can't be upgraded. As far as I'm concerned that basically kills those units with 4GB from using El Capitan unless you're really fond of swapping to disks and molasses like performance.
     
  19. ZVH macrumors 6502

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    #19
    They're also now doing the same thing with some of the iMac (soldering RAM).

    Pretty soon older systems will be commanding a premium.
     
  20. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

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    Nov 24, 2012
    #20
    Making these things totally unconfigurable will be the last straw for me. They haven't done it yet but if they do, that will be it. Fortunately so far they've only done it to one of the iMacs. Maybe they've already learned their lesson. That Mac Mini with the soldered RAM in it with 4GB will probably have a hard time with El Capitan, and presumably anything else in the future.
     
  21. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

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    Nov 24, 2012
    #21
    One of the iMac's has everything soldered into it. On the low end iMac's that had the Fusion drive/SSD/regular HDD option, if the system is ordered without a Fusion or SSD, the port to connect the SSD isn't there. You can still switch to an SSD on the HDD model by swapping it, but you can't have both. See some of the videos and tear downs on newer models at iFixit.com for more info. Fortunately with the newer iMac's it seems the idea of soldering the RAM in has been trashed….I hope so anyway.
     
  22. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

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    #22
    Apple is still using slower, non-AF formatted HDDs in their system as well (Caviar Blue). You would think for the cost of an iMac they would buy higher end parts.
     
  23. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

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    Nov 24, 2012
    #23
    Yes, especially considering that the price difference between the new drive formats and the old is only a few dollars. I can't even explain the 24GB SSD move in a low end iMac with a Fusion drive.
     
  24. dogslobber macrumors 68020

    dogslobber

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    #24
    I'd do this as who is liable if you bust the neighbors computer?
     
  25. ZVH macrumors 6502

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    Apr 14, 2012
    #25
    If it's a Firewire 800 externally connected and the user isn't a power user they probably won't notice the difference between an internal and external drive. I'd notice it, but some people won't, especially if what they do is use it for e-mail, printing, and light web browsing.
     

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