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

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Can I swap the optical bay SATA port?

After a lot of research and a lot of confusion on the topic I decided to install an SSD on my mid-2011 21,5" iMac. At first I thought I would have to accept SATA II speeds from the optical bay. Then I realised that there are 2 SATA III ports, one of which is free (i'm adding an ssd but not removing my hdd). Then I searched on google for photos of these ports and I'm wondering... Can't I just put the Optical bay cable on the SATA III port and suddenly make it a SATA III connector, instead of buying new SATA cables ? I wanna do that because I want to remove the optical drive and install the ssd there (not underneath the optical drive) at the same time I take advantage of the SATA III speeds.

So, for short: If I unplug the optical bay from the SATA II and plug it to the SATA III connector, will the optical bay now have a 6gb link speed ? (So I can then replace it for an ssd)

Thank you.

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To be clear this system has SATA III ports. The optical drive is SATA II running thru the SATA III port


It's already connected to the SATA III then ? That means If I replace the Optical Drive for an SSD that supports SATA III, I'll get "6/gbps" ?

As I can see from the System Information, the Optical Drive "link speed" is 3 gigabit and the "negotiated link speed" is 1.5 gigabit. So I assume it's connected to a SATA II, isn't it ?


Oops! Your right the optical SATA port is SATA II (3 Gb/s) not SATA III (6 Gb/s) and its running SATA I (1.5 Gb/s)


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Yes, you can support three SATA drives if you want to (two SATA III & one SATA II).

The optical drive cable would mate up with the special frame to hold the SSD with in it. Here’s the IFIXIT guide from the 2010 model which is the same process: Installing iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2389 Dual Drive

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Sorry, I think I complicated my question too much, let me be clear:

I don't want to use 3 drives, just my default HDD and a new SSD.

What I want to know is, there is a cable that links the DVD Drive to the motherboard. This cable is by default connected to a SATA II port on the motherboard. Can I simply connect it to the free SATA III port instead? (then I'll replace the DVD Drive for an SSD). I mean, is the port equal? Does this cable support this transfer speed?

Sorry for the confusion.


I think your being penny wise pound foolish here :-}

I can think of a few reasons you don’t want to do this the first is the cables length is not likely to make the pathway to the case where you what to mount the SSD. The other is if. Someone forgets the optical drive is not working I could see someone inserting a CD or DVD.

The cost of the cable is just not that expensive not to do the job right. All of $20 US from IFIXIT: iMac Intel 21.5" (Mid 2011) Dual Hard Drive Kit


So if you want to move the cable over using the Dual drive carrier to get the full SATA III (6 Gb/s) that makes sense.


Actually it's not about the money. I was worried about filling up that space underneath the Optical Bay. I found an information somewhere about that space being necessary for air to flow from the fan to the gpu heatsink. However I found out that the connectors I wanted to use are actually different and the optical drive cable is not long enough :(

I'll keep it simple and just install the ssd underneath the optical drive anyway. Never seen anyone complaining about gpu overheating after this upgrade, after all.

Thanks for the answers, Dan.


I have it setup underneath and I've not encountered any airflow issues nor over heating GPU. You'll be fine!


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A lot of unhelpful discussion here, but if someone is still wondering - yes, you can use the optical drive cable to connect to the secondary SATA III port of the iMac. The optical drive cable has two plugs - data and power. You have to reconnect the data plug to the SATA III port and leave the power plug in place.

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Thanks for the clarification, I was looking for the same answer, the answer Yes, you can do it was obvious but good to see your response, as nobody wants to tear down the imac to find out the cable is different as you never know with Apple...

The amount of unhelpful and irrelevant comments are unreal, why can't people just simply reply to the question without trying to be clever? I removed the optical drive myself as well and never dropped a disc in the empty "void", nobody in the family did.


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Henrique Mazer will be eternally grateful.
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