iMac SSD Upgrade

I completed upgrading the spinning HD in my iMac to a Crucial SSD. It is quite a difficult procedure, I would not recommend it to the faint of heart. Nevertheless, everything went pretty well. I probably should have taken more photos, but here are a few shots of the process.



Let me begin by describing the things I did to prepare for this upgrade. Of course, backups are at the top of the list. I made sure my clone of my iMac was up to date (I clone once a week usually). I then ran all the different backups of my Photos Library, just to be safe. If your iMac or Mac mini has a Fusion Drive like mine, then you have to split the Fusion Drive apart before upgrading. Keep in mind, splitting the Fusion Drive erases the SSD Card AND the spinning HD! There are different places on the web describing how to do this. As previously mentioned, the Fusion Drive consists of a SSD Card combined with a spinning hard drive via a technology called Core Storage. It really is faster than a spinning HD, but not as fast as a dedicated SSD drive, more on that in a bit.

The Upgrade

Here are a few photos of the upgrade process. You have already seen a photo of the Crucial MX-300 SSD in the hard drive adapter in my previous article. Here is everything, ready to begin. The iFixit take apart is on my iPad as you can see:

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You use the small wheel or a guitar pick to separate the Display from the iMac. This is not an easy process, you just have to be patient. Once the top portion of the Display is separated you lift it up about 8” and disconnect the two Display cables from the Logic Board. Then, you hold up the Display almost perpendicular to the machine and remove the adhesive strips from the bottom of the Display. Then the Display can be removed and placed elsewhere (I should have taken more photos of this, sorry). Then you have an iMac without a Display:

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It still has some of the adhesive on the sides, top and bottom. That is removed later before replacing the Display. Here is the Display:

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It still has some of the adhesive strip on the edges as well.

After removing the Display you just sit the iMac upright and use the Foam Wedge (see my previous article) to hold it in a workable position. After disconnecting the left side speaker and power button cables you have to remove the left side speaker (that big black thing, T-10 Torx Screwdriver):

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You can see the original spinning HD in the brackets connected to the SATA cable. Next, all you do is remove the left HD bracket (T-9 Torx Screwdriver) and pull out the HD.

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You have to remove the drive mounting studs from the old drive and then screw them into the SSD mounting sled so the sled can be mounted in the HD slot once again. Next all you do is install the new SSD in the drive slot, connect the SATA Heat Sync Cable with the iMac SATA cable and stick the little heat sync tab onto the SSD. The heat sync tab enables your iMac to control the fans in relation to the heat buildup of the hard drive.

Then it is all about reconnecting left side speaker and the cables. Once you are finished with the hardware portion then you get to the most difficult part of this procedure.

The most difficult part of this procedure is removing the old adhesive strips from the iMac and Display and then installing the new adhesive strips. The iFixit take apart has a great sub-section on how to do this, those people are fantastic. Take your time in this part, the strips have to be pretty much right on the mark.

Once the strips are all on you set the bottom of the Display in place while still holding the top and sides away from the iMac. You then connect the two Display cables and lay the Display down on the new adhesive strips. You use a microfiber cloth to help seal the sides and top. Then, you are done! Well, almost done anyway.

Migration & Cleanup

Once you have the hardware repair completed you need to use the OS X Migration Assistant software (Utilities Folder) to move your stuff from your clone back onto your new SSD. Please note, before installing the SSD I formatted it using the drive dock and then installed macOS Sierra on it. So, when I booted up my ‘new improved’ iMac it went right into the new OS, with a couple of setup items of course. I booted up Migration Assistant and moved all my stuff over. This took about two hours.

The files, apps and folders all seemed to move over just fine. I had to add a couple of passwords to websites, but mostly everything was just as it should be. I did use the Onyx program to run Permissions (there were tons of fixes) and Restarted a couple of times.

At this point, all seems to be just fine. I would say I have maybe 40-50% increased speed with my new SSD compared to the previous Fusion Drive. Most operations are way faster. Plus, the previous Apple SSD Card is formatted and available for storage, it is 128 GB. Oh, and one more thing. I turned on the TRIM function using the excellent Disk Sensei application:




All in all it was a successful upgrade. The iFixit take apart says this is supposed to take about an hour. Are you kidding me?! It took me about two hours which included vacuuming out the iMac, lots of dust in there. I think if I did it again it would take about 1 ½ hours. If you are tech savvy, this is very doable, but it is not easy.