Model A1311 / Mid 2011 / 2.5 & 2.7 GHz Core i5 or 2.8 GHz Core i7 Processor

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Can I replace iMac's harddrive with an SSD?

hi everyone!

I'm using an Intel based iMac (Mid-2011 model) 21.5 inch. It comes with a 500GB hard drive (ST3500418AS) and I'd like to replace (not add a new drive by removing the optical disk drive) that drive with an SSD (Samsung 840 EVO-Series 1TB 2.5-Inch SATA III Model #MZ-7TE1T0BW)

SSD link below:

http://amzn.to/1Ea56Ok

the ssd itself is 2.5 inch and I'm going to convert that drive to 3.5 inch drive by using a WD icepack which is sold on amazon.com for about $20 usd

WD Icepack link below:

http://amzn.to/1rITB9O

first I'm going to attach the ssd into the WD icepack and then I'm planning to replace the original HDD that comes with the iMac by installing the SSD.

My questions are:

1. does apple allow 3rd party SSD's for iMac?

2. do I need any additional cable kit?

3. is it enough to change just the drives? (I mean HDD comes with a termal sensor, does the SSD need a termal sensor?)

4. do I need any software after installing the SSD (if possible) to control iMac's fan speed [I heard some people complaining about their fan speeds and the loudness of the fans]

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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First you have a spare SATA port in this model so you don't need to remove your current HD or the optical drive.

So you can follow this IFIXIT guide: Installing iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 Dual Hard Drive Kit. Go to Step 46 as you can see you are wedging the second drive (HD or SSD) behind the optical drive. Once you've put the SSD in you can then create a Fusion drive across both your HD and SSD gaining the benefits of each.

If you decide to just replace your HD for a SSD thats fine to. But you'll need to use this special cable: OWC In-line Digital Thermal Sensor for iMac 2011 Hard Drive Upgrade.

Frankly, I think the best option here is swapping out your HD for a SSHD (hybrid HD). Here you'll gain the performance of the SSD but the storage capacity of a HD.

Here's the Seagate web site: Seagate Desktop SSHD and here is the spec sheet for the SSHD series: Desktop SSHD specsheet.

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Thanks for the suggestions Dan. Actually I've ordered the stuff (links available) that I'm going to use for the upgrade on my first message. Do I still need that Thermal Sensor Cable for replacing the original HDD. Because I do not want to use the spinning drive anymore and I don't want to place my SSD under the optical drive (that way it will take about 10 hours for me to disassemble all the parts lol)

May I remove the old HDD and replace my new SSD into its place? I mean, will it work that simple?

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Yes, You can swap out the HD for the SSD. But you'll need the special cable and a standard 2.5" to 3.5" drive adapter frame (you don't need the IcePack frame as the SSD does not get hot like the WD drive the frame was designed for). A standard adapter frame is about $5.00. Why do you want to go with a straight SSD? The SSHD are very close to the same speed and cost much less for the storage space (the difference is about $300 in your case). If I were you I would return both parts to save the money.

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I just installed the Seagate SSHD and the fans of my imac are blowing maximum speed. I thought this particular drive is compatible with the thermal sensor interface and so you won't need the OWC thermal sensor?

Did I misunderstand something here?

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Did you get a drive with an Apple logo on it? The older drives don't have the needed firmware. I would also install this app to see the thermal sensors as it could be a different problem here Temperature Gauge Pro.

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The drive is brand new. It has no apple logo on it. The guys from OWC said if it's not an apple certified drive you would need the sensor cable. I will try the app. Thanks. Is it OK to operate the imac until I have the thermal cable installed?

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If you install a 3rd party SSD you will need to download software to enable the TRIM support. I have been using this program for the last couple of years Trim Enabler.

Otherwise totally go with the recommendations in the previous answer. Personally I am more partial to SSD's especially since the prices have only been falling. I highly recommend the Samsung 840 or 850 Pro drives.

Dual HD upgrade is the way to go!

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I changed my 27 inch iMac (mid 2011) to a samsung SSD 850 EVO, afterwards my hard drive fan went crazy (high rpm, 5500 rpm). Founf the easy fix for this, downloaded this app and configures it with one-click to "SMART":

http://exirion.net/ssdfanctrl/

Then it get the temp data some other way that are used in todays SSD's. Fan reduced to about 1500 rpm and quiet again! :)

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I forgot to mention that I didn't use an thermal sensor when I installed my disk... that's why I had to use the SW above...

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A Q - Sadly, fan control software is not a very good long term fix. Over time you'll kill your system. It's best in your case to use the OWC adapter cable: In-line Digital Thermal Sensor for iMac 2011 Hard Drive Upgrade.

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Over time answers do change and better ways are found as in this case

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Some good news here! OS-X 10.11 (El Capitan) restores TRIM services! Here's the details known so far: El Capitan Opens Door to TRIM Support on Third-Party SSDs for Improved Performance

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Hello,

I'm a bit lost: will the cable sold by iFixit be ok with the thermal control? Or should I go for the one sold by OWC? Is there any specific feature I should look for on the SSD itself before purchasing?

I'm really interested in changing my drive, but don't want at all the software solution to control the fans (program crashes: no control, what about Bootcamp, etc.)

thanks a lot! Pierre

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The issue here is the way Apple leverages HD's which have an internal temp sensor so the system is able to manage the heat created as the drive is used. SSD's while they do get warm don't get as hot as HD's and thats the rub here! So to your question you require a sensor and it needs to meet Apples requirements hence you need the OWC cable for a HD to SSD swap OWC In-line Digital Thermal Sensor for iMac 2011 Hard Drive Upgrade. You really can't use the standard SATA/Power cable setup without having to deal with the systems fan management. True, some people easily on created software to override the fans. Over time its been proven as not a wise choice as the systems lifespan is greatly reduced as the system can't dynamically adjust the fans to manage the ups and downs of heat buildup. I won't put a straight SSD in the newer systems as the primary drive without the cable or get a SSHD that has the builtin sensor and gives you similar performance of a SSD.

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How about going with a SSHD (hybrid drive)? It will give you the zip you're looking for with the SSD and still offer the deeper storage a HD offers. Unlike the SSD solution (swapping out the HD for it) the SSHD has the needed built-in thermal sensor (you won't need the OWC cable). Review this: Seagate Desktop SSHD. Your other option here in the '11 iMac is setting up a dual drive here you leave the HD alone and add in the SSD using the spare SATA & power connections on the logic board. Review this IFIXIT guide: Installing iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 Dual Hard Drive Kit.

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I should point out I don't do HD to SSD swap outs, I will only do HD to SSHD as I have found most people end up getting an external HD to make up the loss of storage (which is less efficient) or come back wishing they went with a bigger SSD ($$$). Given the cost difference I move people to the SSHD solution as being the best here or I'll do a dual drive setup (HD and SSD) when the system allows it (as in this case).

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Thanks Dan. Indeed my intention is to add a SSD (and keep my current 1To HD). But I still read many comments of people having problem with their fan. So to summarize:

- replacement of HD --> OWC cable with temperature probe or "Mac-compatible" drive with any cable

- installation of a second drive (SSD) --> any SSD + iFixit cable will do the trick

Final question: do you know if I can install Windows (bootcamp) on a partition of the SSD if not installed as the primary drive? I understood the PC are less flexible when it comes to this kind of questions...

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OK, so you're going dual drive thats fine ;-} So the SSD with be your primary drive correct? Then you'll install BootCamp and Windows on the SSD (with your Windows Apps) or you'll need to setup a Fusion drive config which is bounding the two drives as one logical drive, letting OS-X manage where the files go. The problem you'll face here is the side of your SSD may not be big enough if you setup a dual drive setup (each independent of each other) you need to have both OS's (and any other OS) on the SSD with the Apps (OS-X & Windows). For both OS-X & Windows you'll need to leave about 1/3 (no less that 1/4) of the SSD free for temp files, virtual RAM and/or Paging files. A Fusion setup can help here but you're then loosing some of the performance you wanted with the SSD. At that point you'll might as well go with the SSHD. You'll need to do the math on how much space you'll need to buy (the SSD) to make it work for you.

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Why replace the existing HD with a SSD, when it is possible to install the SSD and keep the original HD?

I did it on my iMac, SSD is now my startup disk for both MacOS and Windows using BootCamp.

Only question: How does the TRIM work for partitioned drives? Do I have to enable it on Mac & PC, or just Mac?

Thanks!

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I think your first question has ben answered above: No need to replace. As for TRIM services this is a low level function on how the OS handles clean up on the SSD. In the case of a partitioned SSD running different OS's the running OS will deal with its partitioned files clean up. In the case of BootCamp (a type of Virtual Machine), the Mac OS handles the calls from within the VM to the SSD drive.

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Not all of the Mac OS's offer TRIM services, the newest versions Mavericks & El Capitan do. All you need to do is enable it from a terminal command line argument if you have a 3rd party SSD, otherwise its already enabled with the Apple SSD's. MS Windows has it on by default.

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I was thinking about updated my mid 2011 iMac hard drive to SSHD. I was looking at the Seagate 1TB Gaming SSHD SATA 32GB NAND SATA 6Gb/s 2.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive (ST1000LX001). I liked this, because it features a 32GB SSD vs the 8GB in the desktop version. I know I'll need to buy a mounting kit with it since it is a laptop hard drive, but will I need to worry about the thermal control issue? Thanks.

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Why don't you just bite the bullet here and get a SSD and add it to your system via the spare SATA port? I think you'll get a better end result.

Here's the IFIXIT guide you'll need to follow: Installing iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 Dual Hard Drive Kit. Other than the drive you'll need this kit: iMac Intel 21.5" Mid 2011 Dual Drive Kit.

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If you go with the main drive you'll encounter a few different issues: You'll need an external thermal sensor OWC In-line Digital Thermal Sensor for iMac 2011 Hard Drive Upgrade. If you use a 2.5" drive you'll have problems fitting the adapters cable. In addition, you'll need an adapter frame like this one: OWC 2.5" to 3.5" Drive Adapter Bracket

Frankly, I think you should stick with a full sized 3.5" drive as they are quicker if your primary drive needs replacing.

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Thanks. The discussion above made me think that using spare SATA port would be a bit outside of my expertise. But I don't really think it would be, I was just feeling lazy. Thanks for your replies.

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I was thinking about updated my mid 2011 iMac hard drive to SSHD. Will I need any special cable as well as mounting kit?

Reiko

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Did you read the accepted solution for the info it has? Reread it, as it has all of the info on the parts you'll need here.

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Hello Dan, Just so i understand your amazingly thorough post, if I don't want to use the HD drive in my mid 2011 21.5 iMac, do I just follow the instruction provided, adding the SDD drive using the optical thermal sensor from OWC?? My confusion is that your link shows you how to add an SSD drive to make a dual drive with the HD, but when you mention the option of not using the original HD, you use the word "replace" and then mention the use of the OWC optical thermal sensor. Am I removing the old HD and replacing it with the new SSD or am I adding the new SSD keeping the old HD,but using just the SSD? hope that makes sense. thanks in advance.

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I think you got a bit confused here ;-} The two directions were swap out HD for SSD OR Add SSD.

- For the swap (replacing your current HD) you'll need the OWC inline thermal sensor as the SSD does not offer the needed interface for the SMC thermal services of the system.

- In the case of the Add SSD, no thermal sensor required!

OK, now to really confuse you!

In addition you can even swap out the optical drive with a special drive carrier to then hold a 3rd drive! This is what I think got you here as you were talking about the optical drives thermal sensor.

Here is the older 2010 dual drive setup which you could do 'in addition' to the above but remember, you loose the optical drive which is why I don't do this in this series: Installing iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2389 Dual Hard Drive

Hope it makes sense now!

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Lastly, the comment on using a SSHD was if the current HD drive was dead or just undersized. It offers deeper storage (just like a HD) and yet has some zip like a SSD. It offers a cheaper solution and less work than the dual drive config.

SSD are great! Don't get me wrong.

But the cost is a killer $$$ when you need more storage and only using a single drive. This is where a 512 GB or 1 TG SSD are just to costly for most. A dual drive setup (HD & SSD) is a good solution! Here you're using the speed of a smaller SSD for your boot up and then the traditional HD for its deep storage.

But wait a sec here... Didn't I just say the same things when describing the SSHD?? Yep! Its almost the same thing! The two differences are the drive deals with where the files go in the SSD cache or on the disk, where here you need to manage it across the two physical drives. But wait a sec here... Isn't an Apple Fusion Drive doing that! Yep! And you could convert the two drives into it. And the second is the size of the SSD cache is fixed on the SSHD drive.

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Hey Dan, thanks for your answer. Do you recommend any particular current SSD besides the seagate? I was looking at this Samsung 1 TB SSD 2.5 inch mz-75e1t0Bam. not sure if link will work. It's only $320. I'd like to swap my current 1 TB hard drive out for this one. I have the mid 2011 21.5 inch iMac. Think I should keep my old slow HD? Thoughts? Thanks again for your time and patience.

https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-2-5-Inch-...

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As I sent this I realized my mistake in writing you. I know you recommended the SSHD seagate model, but do you recommend any particular SSD if i went that route? How do the SSHD work with regards to how much SSD space is set aside for often used files, cache, etc.. and how much is HD for deeper storage? I'm assuming the SSDs are double the speed, but see your point about cost. Costs for SSD have gone down. I do have a 4 tb external thunderbolt hard drive as well. Sorry for my misunderstanding. Thanks in advance.

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I think you mis read what I stated here. I won't do a single SSD drive config in this series. I would do a dual drive config! I would go with a smaller drive 256 GB or 512 GB for the primary SSD drive (using the dual drive setup). As to who's drive we use Samsung EVO drives.

If you want a single drive setup (replacing your current HD) I would go with the Seagate SSHD.

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Hello!

I am hanging on for the next desktop release due late 2017 (arrgh) meanwhile I have a slow mid 2011

27 - inch imac. Will installing a SSHD speed it up or should I just say goodbye and rent a machine while I wait? Halp.

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Wondering if this WD drive will work to swap without any additional cables etc.. https://www.wdc.com/products/internal-st...

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