iMac late-2013 reborn with Samsung T3 SSD

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MacOSphere, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. MacOSphere macrumors newbie


    Mar 8, 2015
    Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.
    I'm just curious if anyone else has decided to jumpstart your old HDD iMac with an external SSD?

    I know there are many threads about doing a HDD for SDD swap. But, after doing a bit of research on the topic, I decided the simplest way for me to give my late-2013 iMac a second life with zippier performance was to simply buy an external SSD and run MacOS from it. Then it was a matter of settling on a specific drive. It seemed that all signs pointed at the Samsung T3 SSD as the option to go with so here I sit with Sierra running from an external SSD sitting on my iMac stand.

    Specifically, I re-formated the Samsung T3 as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with GUID Partition Map. And from my USB thumb drive that I had used to previously do a clean install on the HDD, I erased and renamed the SSD and went about installing Sierra. I also, out of OCD issues, completely erased the Macintosh HDD. I may re-install MacOS on the HDD but probably not. Not to worry though, all of my documents, photos, videos and music are backed up in iCloud Drive and on an external SanDisk card. Double coverage.

    I must say, after a couple of hours of running MacOS this way, I feel that my iMac is finally performing the way I would want it to. In our house we have a 2014 rMBP and a 2015 MBA so I'm familiar with the zippiness of SSDs. But not with the iMac. Now, I feel like I have a machine I can get my money's worth well into the future.

  2. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 6502a


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    I did that, as have countless others,on my 2011 27" iMac. I purchased a Silicon Power 240GB Thunderbolt hard drive, connected it tother Thunderbolt ports, cloned the internal over, and selected the TB as the boot drive in System Preferences > Startup Disk.

    You can purchase from twelve South Dock a matching aluminium bench with cooling slots to sit the drive on. The bench bolts on to the leg of the iMac.
  3. Anonymous Freak macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

    Dec 12, 2002
    I'm thinking about going for a Fusion Drive setup in my 21.5" 2011 iMac. I can't decide if I want to go through the effort of installing an SSD in to the unpopulated 2.5" drive bay (requiring a kit,) or replacing the optical drive (slightly easier, requiring a different kit.) The 2011 21.5" only has USB 2.0, and only a single Thunderbolt port (that I'm using for a 4K display,) so booting from an external SSD isn't really feasible in my situation. And I don't want to give up my storage capacity on fast internal storage, nor can I afford a 2 TB SSD, so Fusion drive it is!
  4. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 6502a


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    Freak an SSD in the optical drive bay will only run at the SATA II speed of 3Gbps compared to the hard drive 6Gbps. Your answer may well be with a Thunderbolt Splitter, or Dock. Not cheap but you could hook up a Thunderbolt SSD to the splitter.
  5. cynics macrumors G3

    Jan 8, 2012
    I've been toying with the idea but I think I'm either going to replace the internal HDD or just get a new iMac with a PCIe SSD option.

    I have a couple SSD's laying around (Sandisk Plus, PNY CS1311) however I think if I were to perform surgery on my iMac I would want one of the higher end Samsung models in a very large capacity. But the Samsung 850 Pro in 2tb is around 1k and I'd still be limited by SATA (not that I would actually notice).

    T3 looks like a good external but around 800 for 2tb and I'd have even more limitations (bootcamp, trim, not as fast as internal, etc not important to many but it is for me). Then again I'm sure your Mac is blazing fast compared to mine and I could always use the T3 down the road even with a new iMac for various things.

    Argh decisions decisions....
  6. Silvestru Hosszu macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2016
    Arad, Romania
    I have the first slim iMac 27, late 2012.
    I really like it because it is maxed out minus fusion drive instead of pure ssd solution.
    I do have a 1tb external ssd but I use it right now for my photo library.
    The problem is that lately the computer slowed down a lot because of constant beach balling when I open anything.
    To make things clear, once the file is accessed from the fusion drive everything returns to normal (i7 extreme with 32gb of ram).
    The optimal solution was to simply open up the damn thing and put a ssd inside.... But, I myself am a clumsy guy and found nobody I trust wanting to help me out on this job.
    So how to optimally set up the thins to get the max out of it?
    Any help would be appreciated.
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Feb 20, 2009
    Silvestru wrote:
    "So how to optimally set up the things to get the max out of it?"

    How much room is left on the external 1tb SSD?

    Put a copy of the OS onto it, along with your applications and your account.
    Now it can be used as an "external booter", and things will run MUCH faster.

    You won't understand unless you try it and see for yourself.

    This will give you about 85% of the speed of putting the SSD inside, but you don't risk breaking anything by keeping it OUTside.
  8. Silvestru Hosszu macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2016
    Arad, Romania
    just simply put a copy or do I have to clone the inner drive?
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Feb 20, 2009
    "just simply put a copy or do I have to clone the inner drive?"

    You can't just "copy over" the OS. There are hidden files and folders that the finder won't copy, and other considerations involved.

    You COULD "clone over" the inner drive, BUT…
    … you MUST BE CAREFUL to set up the cloning app (I recommend CarbonCopyCloner) so that it doesn't delete files that are already there. The setting is there, you have to choose it. On my version of CCC, I -think- the choice is "preserve newer files, don't delete anything".
    Disclaimer: I've never tried to clone a volume this way, have had no need to. Do so at your own risk.
    IF you do it this way, when done you should have all that was on the internal drive, AND your files on the external will still be there, untouched.

    Another way to do it:
    Do a "fresh install" of the OS onto the external drive.
    Then use setup assistant to "bring over" your apps, accounts, and data from the internal to the external.
  10. Silvestru Hosszu macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2016
    Arad, Romania
    Thanks for the advice. The external drive can be erased. I want to format it anyway because it is exFat, so not problem for that.
    How do I change the boot drive? (sorry for the dumb questions but I'm much more knowledgeable with windows than OS X).
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Feb 20, 2009
    "How do I change the boot drive?"

    Do this:
    1. Download CCC from:
    CCC is FREE to download and use for the first 30 days.

    2. Put CCC on the INTERNAL drive.

    3. If you're absolutely sure you don't need to save what's on the external, re-initialize it to HFS+ with journaling enabled. You DO NOT have to do a "secure erase". Just a quick one will be fine.

    4. Have the external mounted on the desktop. Give it a name you like.

    5. Launch CCC. Your internal (source) should be on the left. The external SSD (target) should be to the right of it.

    6. You can accept CCC's defaults. It will clone over the internal drive, AND it should clone over the recovery partition as well.

    7. Let CCC do its work. It may take a little while (depending on how much is on the internal drive).

    8. When CCC is done, quit it.

    9. Open the Startup Disk preference pane (System Preferences). Now select the external SSD to be the boot drive (click lock and enter password if required).

    10. Reboot. You should now boot from the SSD. That's it.
  12. sboychuck macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2014
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    I brought back to life an early 2008 17 inch MacBook Pro 4,1 and an early 2009 24 inch iMac 9,1 back to life. Each received a Crucial MX300 525GB SSD, with a fresh install of El Capitan. Did the work myself and got good pricing on the parts. Already had the tools from previous repairs. I was stunned about the speed of the two machines. So much faster, even though they will not ever see the true speed of the SSD's. They are going to be my daughters computers for now. She is going to be 10 in July and they are perfect for her. Running Windows on Bootcamp for her as well. Doing the SSD saved me a good deal of money on new ones. If something fails inside of them, we will then decide on what to do, and I can still pull the SSD out and re-use. These Mac's just do not let me down!
  13. Silvestru Hosszu macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2016
    Arad, Romania
    Thanks a lot Fishrrman for your advice.
    I did follow it step by step and everything is working quite nicely excepting some confusion in my dropbox account.
    I'll test the setup for a few more days and of everything is ok I'll reformat the internal drive to gain some space.

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