My cheapo iMac plan for photography

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by carlgo, Mar 15, 2017.

  1. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    What if I bought a good used 27" Retina iMac, put in some more RAM and opened it up to install 1000tb of solid state storage? If the i5 is good enough for Lightroom and occasional PS, my most complex usage, it would seem that this could be a nice system for a decent price. The conversion seems simple enough, but my concern is about breaking the screen even if the proper tools are used to open it. Is that a serious risk?
  2. chrfr macrumors 603

    Jul 11, 2009
    There's nothing simple about taking the display off a 27" Retina iMac; breaking the cover glass is a real risk and if you don't break the glass, getting it properly resealed on the computer is a challenge in itself.
    You can simply use USB 3.0 to connect the SSD with effectively no performance difference, or spend more and get one that connects via Thunderbolt and have no performance difference as compared to installing the SSD internally.
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I fully agree with your conclusion. Far better to go external. USB3 for a single drive (as TBolt is no faster) and then if RAID 0, 10 or 5,6 is used, then Tbolt makes more sense. I admit however if it were me doing the photo work, I would want the best processor possible (along with 16-32 gigs RAM). I base the latter on my own experience and certainly various sites will go even further than this for an ideal hobbyist system.
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Agree with the others, about using external over taking the iMac apart. Its possible, especially if you have some experience with taking computers apart, but I still wouldn't recommend it.

    I'm running off an external SSD on my iMac and its blazingly fast and I'm happy with the setup. As mentioned, check out the ifixit site to get a feel of the work effort.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "The conversion seems simple enough, but my concern is about breaking the screen even if the proper tools are used to open it. Is that a serious risk?"

    Yes, it most certainly IS risky.
    There are numerous reports from folks who "thought they could do the job", opened it up, and then... broke something inside.

    There's a better way:
    Get a USB3 external SSD of sufficient capacity.
    Just plug it into a USB port and use it that way.
    You can even make it into an "external booter" if you wish. The iMac will run great that way.

    Booting and running this way (or just using the drive as "storage") will give you 85% of the speed (or a little more) than you'd get by having the drive installed inside.
    Yes, it's a bit slower (but not much).
    The upside is you DON'T break anything by opening up the iMac.

    Take care:
    If you buy a "bare" SSD and an external enclosure, MAKE SURE the enclosure you buy is SPECIFICALLY STATED to support UASP.
    Or… buy a "ready to go" SSD like this:
  7. carlgo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    --- Post Merged, Mar 16, 2017 ---
    Wow, such unanimity was never expected! Thanks everyone. I was a little surprised by the i7 recommendation. Also harder to find used. But, better, easier to sell and more future proof.

    BTW, are SS drives more robust? My pathetic 5400 Mac Mini HD died after a common power outage, an expensive mess even with a Time Capsule.

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