A1418 / EMC 3069 / 2017 / 3.0 GHz quad-core i5, 3.4 GHz quad-core i5 or 3.6 GHz quad-core i7 Processor. Released June 8, 2017.

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Upgrading to SSD/32 gigs RAM

I am thinking about buying a 21.5 imac for sketchup design work. I would love to know for sure that I can upgrade the RAM myself as well as the hard drive. Does anybody know if a SSD or fusion drive can be installed in place of the one it comes with? Does anyone know what drives are compatible?


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OK lets start from the top:

Adding RAM - While you can do this its a very big job as you'll need to remove the logic board to gain access to the RAM slots which are on the back side. Review this IFIXIT guide: iMac Intel 21.5" Retina 4K Display (2017) RAM Replacement.

Adding a HD - This is tricky!

  • If you have gotten a SSD only model then all you'll need is the cable and rubber cushions.
  • If you've gotten a Fusion Drive model you'll end up throwing the HD way that makes up half of the Fusion Drive set, and the SSD which is used with a fusion drive config is only a 128 GB so its on the small side unless you re-create the Fusion Drive set with the drive you would be putting in.
  • If you have only gotten a HD only model then you will not have the needed mountings on the logic board for the PCIe blade SSD.

Here's the IFIXIT guide for the HD: iMac Intel 21.5" Retina 4K Display (2017) Hard Drive Replacement and here is the IFIXIT guide for the PCIe SSD: iMac Intel 21.5" Retina 4K Display SSD Replacement

So in a nutshell I would recommend you get the largest PCIe SSD only model you can afford for now, forget about the internal HD (or Fusion Drive). As far as RAM: Pay for going to 16 GB now so you don't need to open the system.

Instead put your money into a good external Thunderbolt RAID 0 HD system. It will be faster than the slower internal 2.5" SATA III 5400 RPM drive Apple uses. If in a years time, you find you truly need more RAM for what you are doing, then do it (basically wait until the warranty expires before opening).

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As for adding your own SATA HD: This system is limited to a 2.5" 7mm high drive. Just keep in mind the risks of opening this system is unique as you can damage the display quite easily which would be an expensive Opps! Follow the IFIXT guides to the letter and use the tools they use. Don't try cutting corners here and take your time!


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