iMac Intel 27". EMC 2309 (Late 2009, Core 2 Duo 3.06 or 3.33 GHz), EMC 2374 (Late 2009, Core i5 2.66 GHz or Core i7 2.8 GHz)

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Which replacement hard drive should I choose?

The 1TB Seagate hard drive failed on my 27 inch, late 2009 iMac. iFixit advises to replace it with a same brand drive and suggests three different models (1TB ST31000528AS, 2TB ST2000DM001 and 3TB ST3000DM001).

1) Is there a difference in performance - or more importantly in reliability - between these three drives?

2) What is the difference between purchasing the drive from iFixit or from a third party such as NewEgg who offers the same models for $30-40 less?

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Each of these drives are the basically the same mechanism other than the number of platters & heads as each is a different storage size 1, 2 & 3TB. So none is better from the other as far as reliability.

Performance is a little different here the 1TB drive has a 32MB cache and is a SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) drive unlike the other two which have 64MB caches and offer SATA III (6.0 Gb/s). All are 7200 RPM so that makes no difference.

The cache depth is what you would expect given the sizes of the drives

But! and that is a big BUT your system has a SATA II I/O connection so using a faster I/O drive could be a problem! Review the spec sheet for what ever drive you go for and make sure you get a SATA II drive or get a SATA III drive that can be adjusted to SATA I or SATA II I/O speed.

Here's the IFIXIT guide to replace the drive HD Replacement guide

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OK now I'm even more confused.

I ordered the 2TB ST2000DM001 precisely because it was recommended/listed on the HD replacement page for my iMac (the same page you linked to.)

Now why on earth would iFixit provide instructions for replacing the HD, and list a set of drives on the same page, along with instructions to choose a drive from the same manufacturer... if in fact any or all of these drives may end up being incompatible or requiring configuration changes that are not mentioned anywhere?

Here's the page describing the drive and compatible machines:

2 TB 3.5" Hard Drive

I see no mention of SATA speeds.

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I'm sure they didn't think the SATA speed would be an issue, and, I'm sure they only offer one drive per MB/TB and when it was discontinued they assumed the replacement model was a direct replacement. As it turns out what many have been claimed as being backwards compatible turned out not to be in all systems! As I stated many drives have jumpers to slow down the SATA I/O speed so you still could be OK here with your choice. You should checkout the spec sheets of the different drives and/or give the vendor a call to see what they say about compatibility.

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Amazon shows specs for the drive I ordered and if I'm reading this correctly it seems to support different transfer speeds...

Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM001

SATA Transfer Rates Supported (Gb/s) 6.0/3.0/1.5

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I think you'er reading something I'm not saying here! IFIXIT is not responsible for the standards changing, or the HD vendors not doing their homework. Nor are they responsible for Apple's hardware design. They as well as anyone else does their best here in a constantly changing world. FYI - I have no trust issues with IFIXIT, and I do my homework before I buy anything, did you do that? NewEgg sells the same drives did they tell you about the SATA setting? So I guess you have trust issues with them as well here ;-}

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Go to the HD makers web site and look for the spec sheet for HD model to see what it tells you what the SATA speed is and how to adjust the SATA speed to match your system.

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