SSD hard wired or through Thunderbolt?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by chameleon01, May 15, 2013.

  1. chameleon01 macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2013
    Hi folks first post so be gentle :) I have a late 2011 27" iMac with stock 1TB hard drive i5 cpu 24gb ram. I intend to fit a M500 480gb hard drive but need to know the best route to go i.e. connect the SSD via a go-flex caddy and connect to iMac via thunderbolt cable OR connect the SSD to the spare SATA connector on the macs motherboard? I intend to install the os and apps onto the SSD and use the original hard drive for storage. What option will give the best result?
  2. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    Depends on how comfortable you are cracking open your iMac and placing it inside. I did that using OWC's SSD and excellent video for doing so, and am very happy with the results.

    As far as using it through Thunderbolt, I think you'd get very similar performance. There's plenty of threads on this forum discussing both alternatives.
  3. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    Opening up a pre-2012 iMac is more trouble that its worth. It's nigh-on impossible to get the glass back on without getting dust in there. I'd say go Thunderbolt. I'm doing that on my 2012, and have been very happy.
  4. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502


    Oct 7, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Yep I second that, so far my ssd in my seagate thing has been rock stable for me.
  5. macthefork, May 15, 2013
    Last edited: May 15, 2013

    macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    No, it's not "nigh-on impossible" to get the glass back on without getting dust back in there if you have the correct tools. I used what Apple uses when they re assemble pre-2012 iMac, which is a dust free/static free cloth, and compressed air from a can.

    No visible dust in mine. I used a bright LED light at an angle to the glass to be sure there was no dust before letting the glass magnetically snap back into place.

    Taking apart the iMac isn't at all difficult for the technically inclined. However, if you're all thumbs, I'd recommend against it, because you do need patience and a gentle touch.

    SSD performance is similar with both external or internal, so the choice is simply a personal preference.

    You can check this video and see if installing it internally is something you'd feel comfortable doing.
  6. Raima macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2010
    I disagree. I've had my 27" iMac opened several times and if you're careful, you can avoid getting crap on the glass. If you had a look at my iMac, you wouldn't know it's been opened up before.

    I agree. Just youtube some videos before doing it. It'll give you an idea what steps are required, tools, and preparation.
  7. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I have a pretty strong preference for having my boot drive internal to the machine. It is too easy to inadvertently pull the wrong cable... snag it on something and yank it out... etc. Humans routinely do such things. Surprise removal is often not a good thing.

    Of course... many of these problems can be minimized by careful wiring, tying off wires, strain reliefs, etc. Still... keeping it all inside minimizes you or someone else yanking the wrong cord.

    I do have an external data drive (Pegasus R4) for most of my media. That can have the same issues of surprise removal... and for that reason... I clone it each night as an extra safety measure... so I always have my media ready to move to a different computer to continue my work.

    I would have loved to have had the option for the 768GB SSD + 3TB internal to the iMac... but that is not currently offered. I went for the 768GB to use with the Pegasus that I already had. In the future... I will be able to go 100% SSD... but I estimate 2-3 years before SSD capacities exceed my needs.

  8. toddzrx macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
    As others have already stated, no.

    Cracking open the '09-'11 iMac is a not at all that big of a deal, and somehow got a bad rap early on (probably from people trying it that weren't thorough). Dust? A good wipe with glass cleaner and then compressed air gets rid of it completely.

    As for the OP's specific situation: why are you only putting your OS and apps on a 500GB drive? Why not put all or most of your data on there and enjoy the performance of an SSD all the time? Or, put your media files on an external with everything else on the internal SSD?

    I'm running a 120GB internal SSD; the 1TB HD now sits in an external enclosure and contains my iTunes music and iPhoto library. The OS, apps, and all non-media files stay on the SSD. Works like a champ.
  9. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    Well you must be pretty amazing. I found it very difficult to not have any dust. It was especially obvious when the sunlight hit the screen.
  10. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    If your system is under AppleCare, you will want the SSD drive external and since there will be no performance difference, I'd recommend having the SSD externally on Thunderbolt so you don't need to bother taking apart the iMac.
  11. chameleon01 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2013
    Thanks for your input guys. Im happy to strip my iMac and go that route. as toddzrx suggested I will be using the ssd for everything apart from a very large media collection. I have read that there is problems running a 500GB ssd on the thunderbolt due to power issues on the larger drive so that was one of the issues I was looking into. I will crack open the mac on Sunday and fit it that way and post my results.

  12. symber macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2012
    I've got the 2011 iMac and will be installing an SSD very soon. But one option that you very rarely hear on these boards is getting a professional to install it for you. I got a quote back in January (been waiting for an empty workless weekend to box it up) of £214.80 for a new 256GB SSD and install. Considering these usually go for £200.00 or so on Amazon, that sounds like a pretty good deal.

    The technician's leaving the HD where it is, and the ODD, and will be connecting the SSD to the spare 6GB/s SATA III cable.

    For such a small amount more, seems worth the piece of mind, don't you think?
  13. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    Make sure you get the correct cables though.

    You don't need to remove the optical drive - there's a 3rd SATA port on the MLB - but be sure that when you put them back, you put them back in the same place - the ODD port is only SATA2.

    There's room behind the ODD itself for the SSD - use a bit of strong velcro to attach it :p.
  14. toddzrx macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
    You bet, especially if the shop is an authorized Apple repair center and you have AppleCare on the machine. Mine was out of warranty, and I like to fiddle anyway.
  15. chameleon01 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2013
    well fitted a crucial m500 on sunday and very impressed. very straight forward to fit. Only thing I would say is that the wires are very thin and the connectors were tough to come off. You need to be careful in removing them but easy to do and no dust on the inside of the screen. I used a micro fibre cloth and a can of air on both surfaces before refitting the screen. Took around an hour and a half (tea break in-between ) One thing I did do was wear a pair of laytex gloves so that I would not mark the screen. My advice is if your any way handy with the tools go for it. It is worth the upgrade for the speed an ssd gives. My Imac now boots to the desktop ready to go in 19 seconds :) apps open in the blink of an eye.
  16. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    Congrats on that. Yep, I've been very happy with the results in mine, too.

    Yep, on the connectors, too. I used the spudger to gently rock a few of them out because they didn't want to just pull out as easily as the video showed. And, the screen is no problem if you do as you did to remove any dust. I used gloves, too, but film handling gloves, which are also lint and static free.

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