Model A1419 / EMC 3070 / Mid 2017 / 3.4, 3.5 or 3.8 GHz Core i5 or 4.2 GHz Core i7 Kaby Lake Processor (ID iMac18,3) / Retina 5K display. Refer to the older iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display (Late 2014 & 2015) guides as the system is very similar.

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The New iMac 27" 2017 model can upgrade ram and ssd?

Hi, just wondering the new iMac 27" 2017 model can easy upgrade the ram and ssd hard drive? Think the get the lowest specs and upgrade myself. Got any issue from fusion drive to SSD? Thanks for advice.

Update (06/22/2017)

But the main point I need the OS & software run it faster instead of need a largest storage. Just wondering is easy to change it to SSD if the specs is Fusion Drive not. Or get the SSD specs is better, so if need to upgrade in future is still feasible.

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Sorry Simon didn't see your post.

Then you want the largest PCIe SSD model you can afford. It will be the fastest! Great for running your OS & App's and hosting the OS & Apps cache & paging files. Then use an external Thunderbolt HD or install your own internal SATA drive (dual drive config).

While a Fusion Drive is in truth a dual drive setup, Apple does not offer a very large SSD so it may not offer the speed you are looking for and even if you broke the Fusion Drive set to be discreet drives you might find the limited space of the SSD won't be enough to hold your OS, Apps as well as what the OS & Apps need for cache & page files.

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Thanks Dan!! Appreciate your reply and the answer is helpful :)

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9 Answers

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The new 27" iMac's do have the same access door in the back as the last model, as seen here: iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display RAM Replacement.

Upgrading the PCIe SSD requires almost completely tearing down the system as seen here: iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display SSD Replacement. So far we don't know if you buy a HDD mode only if the PCIe SSD slot and the sundry parts are even present as Apple has in the past has not populated the logic board. This is the case in the 21.5" model as you can see here in the IFIXIT teardown:: iMac Intel 21.5" Retina 4K Display 2017 Teardown

So I would recommend you get the PCIe SSD based system and I also recommend you get the largest SSD you can get as Apple is still the only source for their custom SSD..

Then if you want to add more storage (HDD or SSD). You can then add in the SATA drive later.

Just keep in mind these 'Thin Series' systems are a bear to open so make sure you follow the IFIXIT guides to the letter and use the correct tools as you can easily damage the display in the process of taking the display assembly off which would be a very expensive opps!

Update (06/19/2017)

The term 'Hard Drive' is passé, instead we use terms HDD or HD for the older traditional spinning disk drives or SSD for the solid state drives. If you don't know which then just use the term 'drive'.

So yes, its best to get the SSD only model or the Fusion Drive model which has both a HDD and SSD fused together as one logical volume (two drives seen as one).

As to the PCIe SSD its self, Apple does not sell it as spare (only as an exchange of the same size) and the parts houses which buy compete systems and tear them apart for the parts charge premium prices! So get the largest PCIe SSD you can afford now.

As I stated if you got the PCIe SSD only system you would still have a spare SATA drive bay (3.5" is what we expect here until IFIXIT does the teardown to verify) which will allow you to add in your own drive which could be a HDD or SSD. But! It's still a bit of work as you'll need to get the proper SATA/Power cable harness from Apple and as you are putting your own drive in you'll need this: OWC In-line Digital Thermal Sensor for Hard Drive Upgrade for 27" iMacs 2012 and Later as unlike the custom Apple HD drives you need to add in a thermal sensor for the system to work properly.

If you get a Fusion Drive'd model you will have a dual drive system so you would need to swap out the SATA drive to a larger one if that was your direction later on.

Frankly, Apple is really making it harder to do any drive upgrades these days with the 'Thin Series' iMac's. If you can, get what you want now for drive storage.

Given the risks of damage and the amount of work to even get into the system it's not something I recommend for someone who has not opened one of these newer 'Thin Series' systems before.

iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display RAM Image

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iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display RAM Replacement

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iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display Blade SSD Image

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iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display Blade SSD Replacement

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iMac Intel 21.5" Retina 4K Display (2017) Image

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iMac Intel 21.5" Retina 4K Display 2017 Teardown

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Thanks for advice! So if I place order is better to get the SSD hard drive instead of fusion drive right? By the way, as you mention you recommended to get the largest SSD from Apple, so is better like don't upgrade ourself? The upgrade SSD price from Apple is reasonable?

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Correct get the SSD only model and get the largest SSD you can afford now.

Apple's SSD is custom and very expensive if you try getting one on the open market as they can only be gotten from a parts system. Don't even think of doing the blade SSD upgrade later its just not worth the risks. I wouldn't waste my money buying q the Fusion Drive system either as the you'll end up with a very small blade SSD (128 GB) the straight PCIe NVMe blade SSD will give you much better performance.

If you need gobs of storage go with an external Thunderbolt RAID 0 drive it will be faster than the internal SATA III HD. While adding a HD is possible, I would wait till the warranty period has ended as Apple has refused servicing systems which are not factory. Then if you really want an internal drive do it then. I think you'll find the external RAID drive will be superior.

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Just for the record, I got the 27in with the 512GB SSD and it is blazing fast (think NVMe speeds). I would recommend the SSD over the Fusion Drive as you can't (or shouldn't due to Apple Care concerns) upgrade the internal system drive after purchase.

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Thanks Jack!!

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Agreed! A straight SSD model is faster than a Fusion Drive model.

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How much memory?

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Minimum is 8GB, upgradeable to 64GB. I got a 32GB kit to add to the default 8GB for 40GB total.

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At this point its easier to just buy an external 4tb drive and just use that via Thunderbolt 3 than go thru the hassle to upgrade the HDD.

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Up to a point I do agree with you!

Sadly, a traditional SATA III HD within a TB3 enclosure won't be as fast as the PCIe mounted SSD. You would need to RAID the drives and ideally you would want SSD's in the external enclosure.

So having the internal SSD hosting your OS, Apps and cache/paging files, then have your RAID'ed external drive for your bulky data makes the best sense! That way you leverage the best storage by usage.

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Agree with getting an Apple SSD to start, it's the fastest. The SSD in the Fusion drives is NOT as fast as the SSD only models. I have a late 2013 model that started as Fusion, replaced the HD with SSD myself, not much difference in speed gain at all. The PCIe/NVMe connection is a game changer in speed.

Just ordered a loaded 2017 iMac, except I will be adding the RAM myself. This one has the 1TB Apple SSD and NO Fusion this time.

From personal experience and my buddy's iMac:

Mine is a loaded late '13 27" iMac....I installed a Crucial 2TB SSD.....i7 3.5 and 32 GB RAM.

My buddy has a refurbished late 2015 27" iMac, i5 3.2 and 16 GB RAM.

I use a lot of Lightroom, Photoshop & FinalCut Pro daily for work. Tested a bunch of stuff on his and it's faster than mine without lag. For example, in Lightroom, 8 large RAW images export to Photoshop in exactly 1/2 the time on his than mine. On the Black Magic test, his is 3 times faster than mine. In practice, his is twice as fast and adjustments in Lightroom happen in real time instead of a second or two lag.

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So true! It's the drives I/O that's the killer when working on large projects like RAW images. RAM is important too here.

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Retail:

Amazon:

  • Samsung 960 PRO Series - 512GB PCIe NVMe - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V6P512BW) $339.99
  • Samsung 960 PRO Series - 1TB PCIe NVMe - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V6P1T0BW) $619.00
  • Samsung 960 PRO Series - 2TB PCIe NVMe - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V6P2T0BW) $1,297.99

Apple:

  • 512GB "SSD" $200
  • 1TB "SSD" $600
  • 2TB "SSD" $1400

Buying the 512GB or the 1TB drive you come out ahead or even. Open that iMac up and install a 2.5" SSD.

You can now create a fusion drive with two SSDs. Should be plenty fast. Not sure if there will be a cable from the motherboard to the empty spot where the 2.5" drive fits. A temp sensor and harness can be purchased from OWC in any case. I am assuming Apple is using Samsung flash SSDs for their iMacs.

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Well, you got a few errors here... The Samsung M.2 drives won't fit or work in your iMac. Yes, Apple contracted Samsung to make the custom blade SSD's for them to Apples specs. But these are not the same as the M.2 drives!

As for using a 2.5" SSD sure you can! And it can be the Samsung drive. But! And thats a very big But! The data rate from the custom Apple SSD is vastly faster (5 GT/s) than the SATA III (6 Gb/s)!

The last point here is you really can't use a dual SSD setup in a Fusion Drive set.

The bottomline here is your numbers show it makes sense to spend the money upfront for the better Apple custom blade SSD's than to slide in a much slower 2.5" SATA SSD. Which I agree!!

It makes the argument to just do it day one and then later go with an internal SATA HDD or better stick with an external RAID'ed drive solution if you really need more deep storage.

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You surely can use a dual SSD setup in a fusion drive set. You can even you 2 SSDs and 3 external drives if you like. You would just need to build the CoreStorage container with the drives that you want to fuse. You can even use USB sticks if you like, it is really just LVM.

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@pcworks_jason - I think you have things confused here. A Fusion Drive is a unique two drive config which is a SSD and a HDD 'fused' The SSD is acting as a cache for the HDD. This must be internal of the system and you can't use two SSD's as you'll confuse the OS. A dual drive config thats not setup as a Fusion Drive is quite workable! As an example my own system has a 512 GB SSD and a 1 TB HDD. Each is discreet (I can see them both on my Desktop unlike a Fusion Drive set will only show the HDD hiding the SSD)

What you are really describing are RAID sets. This is were two or more drives are inter-connected to offer faster I/O or mirroring. Review this great writeup: Advantages and disadvantages of various RAID levels

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I'm sorry...I don't speak english very well and If I understand well, for a future upgrade, it is better to buy the SSD version instead of the one with FusionDrive. Right?

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Just like Simon:

Get the SSD only model and get the largest SSD you can afford now.

Apple's SSD is custom and very expensive if you try getting one on the open market as they can only be gotten from a parts system. Don't even think of doing the blade SSD upgrade later its just not worth the risks. I wouldn't waste my money buying q the Fusion Drive system either as the you'll end up with a very small blade SSD (128 GB) the straight PCIe NVMe blade SSD will give you much better performance.

If you need gobs of storage go with an external Thunderbolt RAID 0 drive it will be faster than the internal SATA III HD. While adding a HD is possible, I would wait till the warranty period has ended as Apple has refused servicing systems which are not factory.

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Hi Dan. I just wanted to ask, if i buy the fusion drive model, can i add a SSD later on? I mean does 2017 Imac support double disk drives? In this particular case an SSD plus a Fusion drive?

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I don't think is work. should be can put 1 HD in iMac only. If you planning to upgrade SSD, follow the public answer you should get a SSD version instead of Fusion drive. And received a news from Mac rumors the New Apple File System Coming in macOS High Sierra Won't Work With Fusion Drives too

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Correct Simon! Best to go full out with a straight SSD system and get the largest you can afford!

Then Later decide if you really need still more storage and if it should be internal or external. I recommend you go externally! With a nice Thunderbolt RAID 0 solution!

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So, as I see this, could be synonymous but a Samsung SSD 960 EVO 1TB, M.2 function. It also has PCIe 3.0 x4 and NVMe memory. It is extremely fast and inexpensive. Am I wrong?

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Sorry @dukemax - While the Samsung 960 EVO M.2 drive is a great drive, it won't fit into the custom Apple SSD connector. Your only choice presently is using an Apple PCIe NVMe x4 blade SSD or install a slower SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) 2.5" SSD replacing the HDD.

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I've got an iMac 5k 2017 with 2tb fusion drive, it is possible in the future add an SSD instead of the 3,5 HHD? I mean, how the system will read it? As a fusion drive or as two separated internal drives? Will it be significantly faster?

Thanks a lot

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A Fusion Drive based system uses 2 drives a HDD and a SSD which is 'fused' to look like a single drive.

Your system supports two drives a 3.5" HHD and a custom blade SSD. It only has two drive ports which with a Fusion Drive setup are in use.

So adding a drive (replacing) will require you break the Fusion Drive you currently have to free up a drive port.

Ideally, the largest SSD (Custom blade drive) you can get will offer the best performance! The SSD used in a Fusion Drive is quite small so its what will hold you back if you alter the 3.5" drive (with either a HDD or SSD).

So if we look at which is the better performance between a HDD Vs a SSD only system the SSD based system (SATA) will offer better performance by a long shot! But the cost of the SSD drive is about four times (1 TB Seagate HDD $60 Vs 1 TB Samsung $250 US).

Now the SATA interface is holding us back even with the latest SATA SSD's! Which is one of the reasons Apple went with a custom PCIe/NVMe type of SSD interface. SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) Vs PCIe/NVMe x4 (8 Gb/s).

To help make the cost to performance ratio better Apple intro'ed the Fusion drive by using a small SSD as a cache drive to the HDD. Similar to a hybrid SSHD like Seagate's FireCuda drive which had the cache as part of the drive Vs independent in the case of a Fusion Drive.

As you've already bought your system I would leave it alone and look at getting an external Thunderbolt-3 RAID-0 SSD drive and configure it up as your boot drive. The Thunderbolt-3 port is faster than the internal SATA port and very close to being as fast as the PCIe interface. As we are RAIDing the SATA SSD drives will offer more performance as well being very close to the same performance as Apples 1 TB blade SSD drive. Yes, this is more costly than if you had bought a SSD only based system from the get go. but you can't improve what you have without risk and the cost of the needed SSD now is quite high (in fact more expensive than what I'm recommending)! The other option is what Amir Neshati above did sold his system and got the SSD model.

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Good evening,

I do not understand everything but:

1- can we change the hard drive 3.5 internal not a 2.5 SSD with a size adapter?

2- must we necessarily remove the ssd behind the motherboard if it is possible to put an SSD in place of the hard drive 3.5?

Thx! ;-)

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Simon Yong will be eternally grateful.
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