So what's the consensus on adding an SSD to a 2011 27" iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jackoatmon, Jul 7, 2017.

  1. jackoatmon macrumors 6502a


    Sep 15, 2011
    What's the best SSD to add? Should I take it into a shop and get it done? Is it easy to do at home? Do you just put it in the optical drive slot?

    Sorry about the n00b question. My lady has started using the old beast on a regular basis (she got into Adobe Lightroom), and I figure if it's going to be in service it might as well be working well.
  2. funnyboy88 macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2009
    OWC ( has a lot of info on this, including video tutorials. I've been researching the same for my 2010 iMac. They sell kits to either replace the optical drive or just add the SSD elsewhere inside the Mac. I find the tutorial videos quite intimidating.

    OWC has also a turn-key program where you can ship your iMac in and they'll do it for you.

    I used Apple's Authorized Service Provider locator tool to find a few local shops that do Mac upgrades and got quotes.

    The most affordable option is to toughen up and do the repair yourself. The local shops I called basically charge $200 in labor alone.

    I'm leaning towards doing it myself, but I'm pretty scared haha.
  3. Tjmckay4 macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2014
    Perth, West Aus
    Just use an external SSD for your boot drive instead.

    I've been using a seagate thunderbolt adapter and SSD on my 2011 27" iMac since 2012.

    Still going strong.
  4. EugW macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    Just be happy you have a 2011. You can use Thunderbolt. It will work well.

    I don't have Thunderbolt on my 2010 so I had to use Firewire instead. It works acceptably, but definitely isn't ideal.
  5. b06tmm macrumors regular


    Jul 23, 2009
    South Louisiana
    Do you already have an SSD and fixed disk or just a fixed disk?

    I have a mid-2011 with both and the SSD sits under the optical drive. iFixt has a kit that has everything you need except for the SSD here:

    Here is the how-to guide:

    It's not too hard but you can easily break a cable or component if you're not careful.
  6. jasnw macrumors 6502a


    Nov 15, 2013
    Seattle Area (NOT! Microsoft)
    I used the OWC turn-key program mentioned earlier to replace a 1TB spinner in my 2011 27" iMac last year with a 256GB SSD and a 3TB spinner. OWC turned it around in a week, and it was like having a new machine. I would have gone the DIY route (been working on various PC hardware for years) but I didn't feel like taking a chance mucking up the display. I've had no problems with the machine since getting it back from OWC.
  7. toddzrx macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
    I have a 2010 21.5" iMac that I put a 120GB SSD in several years ago (which itself was harvested from my 2006 17"MBP). The surgery is not that hard to do. Use the iFixit guide and take your time. Even going slowly, you'll have it done in 2 hours or so. And you can get the the guts and screen cleaned up while you're in there.

    I maintain the argument that 2010 and newer iMacs are the perfect machines to upgrade to an SSD if you can get by with the HD screen. It's a very usable, fast computer when an SSD is in there, especially if you're not doing really heavy work. I'll be using mine for a few more years, hopefully about the time USB-C and 4K graphics are taking over the planet.
  8. Bocks macrumors member


    Apr 23, 2015
    I just did this last week in both of my 2011 27" iMacs. If you have ever built a computer or are comfortable with electronics its really not that hard. Remove the glass (I use a plunger), remove 8 screws, lift display out slightly and remove the connectors from the logic board, remove the display, unscrew and remove the hard drive. While I had it open I took them outside and used a leaf lower and got all of the dust out of the unit and cleaned the fans. They run cooler now and I feel better that they are clean on the inside.
    I ordered a Samsung 850 500GB for my iMac and a 250GB for my wife's. Also ordered the OWC Temp sensors and a 2.5" - 3.5" adapter so the drives go in nice and clean.

    This makes a HUGE difference in overall speed and for me will add a few more years of life to the systems. Awesome systems!
  9. T Coma macrumors 6502

    T Coma

    Dec 3, 2015
    People's Republic of Chicago
    A leaf blower? That sounds like the old sledgehammer approach! Living in a 100 year old house presents a constant battle with dust for me and despite the various air filters running 24/7, I still get plenty of dust in my office. My 2011 27" imac has been running hotter than normal lately and I can only imagine how much dust is inside. I guess I'm going to have to open it up sooner than later for a proper cleaning. Still, a leaf blower can't be the recommended tool for operating on a delicate system like this, eh?
  10. pixelatedscraps macrumors 6502


    Jul 11, 2017
    Hong Kong
    Your options are (in order of cost vs ease):
    1. iFixit + Amazon (purchase your well-researched SSD choice) = DIY and a good couple of hours later with a pat on the back and a cold, deserved beer.
    2. Amazon + Local computer store = You kill a couple of hours at the nearest dive bar, pat yourself on the back and go and collect the computer.
    3. OWC (this could be on par with no.4 in terms of cost). Send it off and ask yourself when its going to arrive every day for a week.
    4. Apple Authorised Service Centre = ditto, see above, though it may only take 3-5 days.
    5. Apple Store = ditto, see above.
    Numbers 3-4-5 don't deserve any forms of pats on the back or a cold, deserving beer so why not take the plunge and challenge yourself. Follow said instructions very carefully and you can't go wrong. I upgraded to SSDs on two of my 2010 iMac 27"s, replaced DVD units, keyboards and trackpads on MacBooks from 2006-2008 after having only ever had PC-building experience and as soon as you unplug the last cable and you lift off the LCD / LED, its a whole new world of internal computer design. Thank the universe there are the guys (and girls) on iFixit and this forum to help. May as well go and put a couple of beers in the fridge now...
  11. Bocks macrumors member


    Apr 23, 2015
    When I say leaf blower I mean my 40V Li-Ion Black & Decker blower. Its not overpowering and wont knock the imac over. Plus its electric and doesn't blow the smelly 2-cycle exhaust smell all over the insides of the unit.
    I have done this numerous times and it works great to clean the inside of the unit up.
  12. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    Did this to mine. Replaced the internal spinner because I was sick of the constant waking from sleep to spin up and down before going back to sleep. I found a suitable 2.5" to 3.5" inch adapter, got a sensor kit from eBay for the 2011 series (the internal spinner has temperature firmware on it) and set to it. Quite easy to do and managed to avoid dust between the glass and the LCD on reassembling.

    I run two more SSDs on Thunderbolt.
  13. Khaleal macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2013
    I've done this in the past and it's not difficult on 2011 models. You just need to be gentle with the screen and avoid getting any oils from your finger on the screen (as it's very difficult to clean). Dust is also an issue (you don't want dust landing on the screen).
    I've also done the upgrade on the 5k model and I can say the upgrade on 2011 models is way easier.
  14. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    Does the 5k require a sensor kit for the HDD replacement like the 2011? Thinking of attacking my sister's 2015 iMac with a super slow 5400rpm drive inside. It is slower in use than the 2010 iMac it replaced.
  15. Khaleal macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2013
    I didn't have to use any sensor kit when replacing the 3.5" HDD with a SAMSUNG EVO SSD and fan didn't run full blast.
  16. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    Good to know. That is some compensation for the major surgery involved in pulling the skinnier iMacs apart.
  17. Khaleal macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2013
    As an advice, if you're going to open your iMac be very gentle with the screen and make sure to use iFixit "pizza cutter" tool to open it. It's essential! using any other tools risks damaging the screen which costs a small fortune to replace.
  18. MichaelDT macrumors regular

    Aug 18, 2012
    Meh, I used a razor blade duct taped at the maximum safe depth which a google search with reveal, didn’t hurt anything.
  19. nambuccaheadsau, Aug 26, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017

    nambuccaheadsau macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    OP consider a Thunderbolt external SSD and install your operating system etc on that, and select it as the boot disk in Startup Disk in System Preferences. I did this when I had that model and it worked a treat. That model only has USB2 which is simply too slow to do this via USB.
  20. racoop macrumors member

    Oct 13, 2012
    I did this on my mid 2011 iMac - quad core 3.4 GHZ i7. I used the OWC kit and installed a 480 GB SSD into the original HD location. It was easy, took about 30 minutes. It's a whole new machine. Runs cool and so fast - I see several more years with this iMac. I love it because it still has the IR sensor for the remote control too.
  21. Khaleal macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2013
    You were lucky. I learnt to use the pizza cutter the hard way.

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