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Apple Further Restricts Upgrade Options on New iMacs

Since Late 2009, there’s been a well-documented issue with the iMac line. If you upgrade the hard drive, the fans can start spinning like crazy. The fans at high speed are loud, mainly unnecessary, and have caused a lot of headaches for DIYers everywhere.

The reason the fans spin this way has to do with the iMac’s method of hard drive temperature sensing. Prior to 2009, sensors were placed outside the hard drive to gauge how warm the drives were – if they got too hot, the fans turned on to keep everything nice and cool. This method was simple, effective and made changing, exchanging, or upgrading the main hard drive a relatively simple task.

With the release of the Late 2009 iMac, Apple changed the way the iMac communicates with the drive for that heat-sensing information. Each brand of hard drive Apple used had its own specific thermal sensor cable which connected to certain drives that featured internal temperature sensing. We found that you could still change the drive, albeit with a limited selection. Seagate drives could be swapped with larger capacity Seagate drives; Western Digital could be swapped with other Western Digital Drives; and so forth. There were also reports of other workarounds which included replacing the internal sensor with an external sensor (like the one from the optical drive bay), controlling the fans with software, or purchasing a replacement cable that matched your brand of new hard drive. In any event, there were perhaps a few convoluted ways to upgrade your iMac’s main drive outside of Apple’s offerings for greater speed, more capacity or to quickly restore a machine from a drive failure yourself.

This time around, Apple has changed the game again.

For the main 3.5″ SATA hard drive bay in the new 2011 machines, Apple has altered the SATA power connector itself from a standard 4-wire power configuration to a 7-wire configuration. Hard drive temperature control is regulated by a combination of this cable and Apple proprietary firmware on the hard drive itself. From our testing, we’ve found that removing this drive from the system, or even from that bay itself, causes the machine’s hard drive fans to spin at maximum speed and replacing the drive with any non-Apple original drive will result in the iMac failing the Apple Hardware Test (AHT).

In examining the 2011 27″ iMac’s viability for our Turnkey Upgrade Service, every workaround we’ve tried thus far to allow us to upgrade the main bay factory hard drive still resulted in spinning fans and an Apple Hardware Test failure. We swapped the main drive out (in this case a Western Digital Black WD1001FALS) with the exact same model drive from our inventory which resulted in a failure. We’ve installed our Mercury Pro 6G SSD in that bay, it too results in ludicrous speed engaged fans and an AHT failure. In short, the Apple-branded main hard drive cannot be moved, removed or replaced.

To add insult to injury, the latest iMac EFI Update 1.6 unleashed 6Gb/s speeds on two internal ports – and naturally, one of them is the proprietary, firmware-limited, 7200RPM main drive that can’t take advantage of those speeds anyway.

Now this isn’t to say that our Turnkey Upgrade Program isn’t going to include the new model iMacs. The external eSATA port, or adding hard drives or SSDs in addition to the main hard drive are still perfectly viable and working options in our testing so far. But it isn’t looking good at the moment to have the option to upgrade or even replace the main 3.5″ hard drive as shipped from Apple.

It really begins to raise questions: Is this planned obsolescence at work, or is the freedom promised in 1984 being revoked?

Hard drives fail. It is not a matter of “if” but rather a matter of “when” your hard drive is going to fail. We preach this all the time in regards to having a proper backup strategy in place to prepare from when that failure happens. But it seems now, that when that happens to the main drive on your iMac, you’re left with two options – buy a new drive from Apple and have them install it via one of their Authorized Service Centers, or enjoy the rather large Apple logoed paperweight on your desk. Want a 3.5″ drive larger than 2TB? Too bad – Apple doesn’t offer them.

As die-hard Apple users, we tout all the time that its OK that Apple machines cost more initially, since they’re built better and last so much longer than their PC counterparts. Besides, there’s places like Other World Computing that help keep those aging Macs still powering along as viable machines with upgrades and accessories designed to give you the most out of your Mac investment.

I actually purchased a 27″ 2010 iMac Core i5 earlier this year. I was a bit nervous about Apple’s apparent push toward making OS X more iOS like and wanted the option to upgrade or opt to stay with Snow Leopard for my home machine. I was feeling the buyer’s remorse, just a little bit, when Apple added, not one, but two Thunderbolt ports to the back of the latest model. That kind of speed down the line would certainly allow for plenty of future storage expansion. Once Thunderbolt equipped enclosures finally come to market and all the bugs are worked out, of course. I’m just not the “early adopter” type.

I gotta be honest, I’m not feeling one bit of that remorse anymore. I have a machine that I’m certain I can keep maintained myself with products from OWC for many years to come. If my main hard drive does fail, I know I have options available to replace it. If I need an overall speed boost, I know I can get an OWC Mercury Extreme SSD and install that as my boot drive. If I find I need a faster connection than FireWire 800, I can always add a high-performance eSATA port through the TurnKey Upgrade Program. In short, I have multiple options available to me to configure my iMac to my particular needs.

New iMac envy? Nah…I’ll take the freedom of choice over limitations any day of the week.

The Story Continues… Further Explained: Apple’s iMac 2011 Model Hard Drive ‘Restrictions’

UPDATE 8-23-11:

We’ve developed a workable hardware solution to the fan sensor problems and are now offering it as part of our Turnkey Program for 2011 iMac.

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  • I’m concerned about buying an older mac because of Apple’s policy on not upgrading software. Is this a valid concern? Are there any solutions? Thanks.

    • Regardless of your OS and computer, specific software is going to have specific system requirements. It works in both directions – you can’t run the latest software on underpowered machines nor can you expect to run aging software on the latest and greatest machines without upgrading it.
      The “solution” is to run the version of the software that was prevalent when the machine was released and compatible with that system.

      • Interesting yet disappointing answer. I was considering buying a 24″ iMac that was released in 2009 until I found out about Apple’s policy. It has a dual core processor running at 3.06ghz. By Apple’s rules, it’s going to be obsolete soon. There are brand new pc’s being sold today that are far less powerful. I think that’s ridiculous.

  • The only work around I can think of now for newer drives that won’t allow non-Apple internal replacements is to use a couple thunderbolt hard drives, two for backup, one for source once the main internal drive fails. At least Thunderbolt is fairly fast and probably nearly as fast as the internal if not faster in some circumstances.

    • Hello

      I have a late model 2009 iMac and the hard disk needs replacing. The Disk Utility indicated that it’s been failing and today if\t finally did.

      According to you…

      I should replace the drive with the exact same one that it had.

      Question for you…

      Where do I find this drive to purchase?

      And a Second question for you…

      Based on what you said, with the exact same hard drive replaced in my Late 2009 iMac should I expect it to work ok (Fans & temperatures and all) ?>

      Also, what are the chances the hard disk cable has anything to do with this?

      I have the Install DVD running with it’s Disk Utility and while it CAN see the hard disk the formatted partition (“Machintosh HD”) is greyed out and unrespondsive.

      Any help would be greatly appreciate.



      • If you can still check System Profiler > Serial-ATA, you can see the model number of the drive being used. Otherwise once you open the machine the manufacturer of the drive should be apparent on the label itself. We do carry a wide variety of drives that will work – we just suggest replacing within the same brand family such as Hitachi for Hitachi, Seagate for Seagate, etc.
        Likeliness of it being a cable issue is slim, but I suggest running Apple Hardware Test – the errors given there should provide you with a good idea of which component failed (but most likely Disk Utility was reporting correctly about it being the drive itself).

  • I think we should all make a habit of visiting and letting apple know that we are not ok with this kind of thing. The more they hear this directly the better chance they’ll listen.

    If Apple is going to refer to the imac as it’s “truck” vs the ipad and iphone as the everyday vehicles then it needs to be expandable somehow. Let’s not be ok with a disposable mindset for our gadgets.

    • agreeeeee apple is only allowing the pro tower as upgrade at this time and rumour mill states that the mac pro is an endangered species. they ar espoiled making too much $ with the ipads and iphones that the upgradable marktet a;as is just too small. but we need to be vocal they are dummy ing down each new verson of their software including aperture, i movie and final cut

  • Last time I looked Steve Jobs even looks much like the guy from the big screen in his classic 1984 commercial — figure that one out for yourselves ^^.


  • Does OWC make their own NAND memory used in their SSDs? Or does it buy the memory from someone else?

    • Hi Andrei….other than Intel, Samsung, and Toshiba, no other SSD manufacturer creates their own NAND. We only use Top Tier/Grade 1 flash components from Micron and Toshiba.

      • Does OWC manufacture their own SSD’s or does an outside party make them? If they do make their own, where is the OWC manufacturing plant located?

        • Sorry, but that is proprietary information that is not generally shared by privately held corporations ;-)

        • > Does OWC manufacture their own SSD’s or does an outside party make them? If they do make their own, where is the OWC manufacturing plant located?

          Um, yeah. It would be very improbably cor a company like OWC to manufacturer their own drive. More than likly it is ordered out of China/Taiwan as either an ODM or more likly, an OEM label. Kind of like laptops – no one actually really makes their OWN laptops anymore, they just put their order in with Quanta, Compal, etc. and have it made for them.

          • While I can’t divulge exact locations and information for reason I hope you can appreciate, let me assure you, Buster, that our Mercury brand SSDs are uniquely manufactured to our specifications. They are definitely made in the US and use a proprietary hardware design. That design I might add is just one reason why our brand of SSDs has avoided the the BSOD issue other brands of SSDs have incurred. The SF processor is just one aspect to SSDs. Many more aspects go into the creation of such.

            There’s kinda a reason our drives offer the longest warranty in the industry…and were the first to offer a 30 day money back guarantee…. ;-)

  • This makes selling or exchanging my imac a problem down the road. I can live with a limited capacity, but I cannot send my old computer out the door with the original drive in it that once contained my data. I ALWAYS put a new drive in a computer I’m getting rid of. The only definitive way of protecting your “deleted” magnetic data is absolute destruction of the media. Of course, I’ll get that drive out of there – nothing will prevent me from doing that. But after it’s rendered useless if I can’t get my hands on your proprietary drive to replace it with. A perfectly good computer for the second hand market gone to waste.

    Apple, you screwed up on this one.

  • re:
    .this is about elimination of choice and our belief you should have the right to upgrade as you see fit while maintaining your warranty.


    In fact, this means obsolescene of the full and complete range of “choices” — where we choose what’s best for us, not what’s best for apple.

  • My apologies if this is discussed elsewhere, but I haven’t found it.

    I’m torn between buying a new iMac and picking up a 2010 and tricking it out will all the OWC upgrades that I can get my grubby little hands on.

    Has anybody done a direct comparison between these two options?

    Of course, with the 2010 iMac I wouldn’t have TB, and I’d just have to wait until “next time” to make that jump. And I’d only be able to drive one external monitor (bummer), but perhaps those are reasonable compromises.

    • Hi Grace…best way to familiarize yourself with the 2011 is to search for iMac in our blog and look at all the relevant article. 2011 to us had some significant performance additions: Thunderbolt (for data transfer speed improvement or hooking up second monitor), a Sandy Bridge processor (better graphics) , four cores of processing power versus two, and the latest 6Gb/s data interface.

      Depends on what your individual needs are as well as what you could pick up a used 2010 for…

  • So is it now possible to replace the internal drive with a abitary HDD or SSD without any side effects ?

  • It does make you wonder why this was done, and whether there was more than just a “technical” reason for the change. Apple has always maintained that the iMac is non-upgradeable and even opening it is supposed to void your warranty. I hope that they have not done this as some kind of anti-upgrade tactic.

    Having said that, I just bought my sixth iMac and not once have I ever felt the need to replace the internal drive. With the new machines (a 2010 i7 and a 2011 i5) I spent the extra $120 (educational) on the Applecare warranty. If the drive fails within three years I’ll get a new one for free. I’ve found I get a lot of value from Applecare, particularly with my laptops and would recommend it to others.

    Last time I asked our local Apple Approved people they said they will replace an iMac drive for $35 (more if they needed to move data). So the question is how much the new drives cost because I think $35 would be money well IMHO.

    I hope Apple comes out and states why this was done, but I doubt if they will.

  • Correct me if I am wrong on any of what follows, but didn’t this same blog make a very similar complaint last fall about Apple’s new SSD options and the connectors they used? Didn’t Samsung announce the same type of SSD for the general market just a few weeks later? Doesn’t Samsung now use those SSDs in their own laptop line and doesn’t OWC now offer them in its mac upgrade options?

    In light of this, doesn’t it seem very feasible that history will repeat itself with these new HDDs? Wouldn’t the decent thing be to disclose some of this pertinent history somewhere in the midst of all this wailing and hand-wringing?

    • Hi David….boy…you got us scratching our heads on that one as we’re pretty sure we’ve never written a post about Apple’s SSD connectors…as our Mercury Extreme Pro SSD are plugging right in.

      Now, we’ve been comparing our performance to Apple’s SSDs…with ours coming out 68% faster….but other than that….

  • I believe there is someone in Apple who is also feeded from the imaginary company called microbesoft, is always trying to put a sour and bitter taste into mostly sweet Apple products. Sometimes I thought who is Steve but I don’t believe he does not busy himself such small things. Who was seen successful last at the dropping firewire issue. And now who shows himself locking iMac hard drive issue, while the mac people wishing and speaking about the iMacs with hard drive replacement openings like memory replacement.
    Please spread this issue in user groups, user forums as exaggerated as much possible.
    I am an Apple e-Store fraud they charged me two times for an order amount of 130 Euros, and the issue still not solved after 8 months. But I did not want to spread it till today. But also I have an 2010 iMac, upgraded it with 3 TB drive and band-aiding it with SMC-fan control. I don’t know, waiting horribly when I fry it, also comes the summer. So the Hard Drive issue still bites.
    Repeating again let spread this issue please. The solution only a software update for Apple. I want to believe they will do that and make us free.

  • why are folks here running owc down for providing us with valuable information re imac hdrive replacement?

    frankly im very grateful for the info,and wholeheartedly agree with owc,s overview,why cant an imac owner at least have the option to replace main bay drive? especially with ssd at sata 3 speeds or larger/faster drive?? ,i think its very poor of apple to proprietise the connector and firmware,
    anyway,hope you find a fix soon,thanx for the heads up grant,say hi to larry,good job!!!

  • Isn’t it past time for an update to this article since this seems to be debunked elsewhere?

    • Debunked? How so? No solution we’re aware of that either doesn’t affect fans and/or Apple Hardware Test…at least one that isn’t very involved, isn’t long term proven, and/or is a serious enough modification that it will certainly void Apple’s warranty.

      • If not – then I withdraw my comment. When I first read this – my reaction was similar – not so much because I happen to have one of the new 3.4 GHz BTO iMacs – but simply because of the principle involved. However – I’ve read so much on the topic since – I’ve lost track of what’s rumor and what isn’t. I do know that folks are reporting no issues in many cases – both on Mac Rumors and in other cases – HardMac is reporting that while the change has been made – it is easily bypassed and there were potentially solid reason behind it. At any rate – I’m just looking forward to seeing a conclusive and stable story on this matter.

  • Funny to read all the Apple apologists actually condone Apple locking users out of choice. The same people must be against Jailbreaking their iphone because they think Apple knows best and I should not have root permissions to my own phone. Soon you might not have root permissions to OSX either. You’ll have to call Apple to get a key to install software. Get ready for that day.

    I bought a 2009 Mac Mini with 2GB of RAM and a 160(or 120) GB hard drive and immediately put in 4GB of RAM and a 320GB 7200 rpm drive. Everything has worked flawless. Yes, I have worked on PC’s since 1984, but it wasn’t so hard following simple instructions from this site. If I had been forced to buy the more expensive Mac Mini with 4GB of RAM and a larger HD, i might have passed. I might have built my own HTPC. This would have been a lost sale for Apple.
    I was planning on getting one of the $1199 2011 iMac’s and upping the hard drive to 2TB and adding a small SSD for the OS. Now I have to pay an extra $900 to go from a 500GB to 1TB+SSD solution from Apple. Yes, I’ll be getting a small spec jump in my CPU and a small spec jump in my GPU, but I don’t really want that. Now I either almost double the cost of my machine or I just live with the small internal drive and no SSD.
    Almost makes me want to wait until some nice deals show up on refurb 2010 units. I could really care less about thunderbolt. Is there a compelling thunderbolt peripheral yet?

  • I used to use OWC until I opened up a really expnsive Mercury and found a refurb drive in it. Brand name refurb stickers and all.

    • We do create various “values” in our lines…like “open box” specials, refurbs, etc…..just like every other CE manufacturer. And we clearly note those and only advertise those in our special newsletters, emails, specials page, etc. So, saying you got a good deal but perhaps didn’t fully understand or read the description. And regardless of the refurb status…how did the product work? Oh, many times we supply our staff and our own personal machines with Apple refurbs. I don’t like telling others about that as it’s the best deal around and often with limited qty so I don’t want the competition ;-)

  • Well, I recently replaced the HD for my mom’s 2008 iMac. She’s on a fixed income and I am not Mr. Moneybags. Being able to buy a quality off the shelf drive and an iMac repair kit for not a whole lot of money and do it myself saved $150…

    I couldn’t imagine digging into this money hole. Sorry guys, but this needs to change. Apple got into trouble in the early ’90s by making it a point to NOT use industry standard parts. History repeating? What is the premium on an Apple blessed HD? :-(

  • I always used to recommend OWC. I have had nothing but good experiences. Don’t worry about the details, just buy from OWC because they only do Macs and you know it will work.

    I am now seriously re-evaluating that advice.

    You could have just not said anything. The fact that a 30-pound closed machine with no user serviceable parts inside is hard to upgrade is not news to anyone. I wouldn’t even consider letting anyone but Apple open this machine until it was out of warranty. Nor would I ever put it in a box and mail it. How much would that cost?

    You could have just stated the facts as you saw them. “We couldn’t get any off-the-shelf hard drives to work reliably in these machines. Don’t try it at home until we get more details.” Stating that wouldn’t hurt your business one bit nor would it hurt Apple. People would have been appreciative of your advice saving them a lot of trouble. Surely a company as well-known and well-liked as OWC could have asked around and gotten the details eventually.

    No. Instead you chose to sex it up. “Is this planned obsolescence at work, or is the freedom promised in 1984 being revoked?” “I’ll take the freedom of choice over limitations any day of the week.” Really? How long have you been dealing with Apple equipment again?

    Do you know how much Apple will charge to replace failed hard drives in 3-4 years? Are you sure that replacement hard drives won’t be readily available by then? Are you sure this isn’t a brand-new-firmware issue? Do you really think that people who buy iMacs even care or plan to mail them to you for upgrading?

    To top it off, your report is more than a little suspicious. There are other reports on the internet that contradict you. Normally, I would always believe OWC over anyone else. But just removing the drive from the bay causes it to fail? Really? That is an extraordinary claim and must be backed up by extraordinary evidence. This is the original drive? Putting it back in the bay restores normal operation? Is there a sensor somewhere for that?

    This post raises far more questions than it answers – from your methods, your technical competence, to your motives. It says nothing new about Apple or iMacs. It sounds like the same kind of crass attempt to gain publicity at Apple’s expense that is all too common these days. I’m disappointed.

    • Keep dreaming pal. You’re just a dollar sign to them. They’re business model is to pick your pocket any way they can. The only difference between MS is they dress better.

    • It is hilarious the lengths that people will go to these days to defend corporations stomping them under. I have watched with a sense of awe at all the people online defending Sony’s terrible response to the playstation network hack. And this is another example with all the usual hallmarks: the corporation/Steve knows best followed by remarks suggesting something sinister about anyone who questions that.

      Apple is a corporation. They have their best interests at heart. Period. Fortunately for all of us that has usually meant some outstanding products. But just because they have made some great products does not mean they fart sunshine. When they have unencrypted location data on a phone or have a very intentional lock-in to their highly marked up brand of a very commodity item like a hard drive, that deserves to be called out.

    • I’ve been a mac user since the Macintosh 128. They are good machines, it used to be that they would run and run well forever. My last iMac though has not lived up to this. I had to swap out the hard drive, and the monitor is covered with lines. And the av port for my external monitor died today.

      I bought a new iMac a few hours ago; but for the last few months I have been considering not buying a Mac. The performance / maintenance issues with my last Mac have been so terrible that I’ve had second (and third, and fourth) thoughts about it.

      When I buy a mac I pay a premium for quality, but that quality hasn’t been there recently. If this computer falls apart as quickly as the last, I will buy a bunch of PC parts and turn it into a Hackintosh.

  • While I’m not a fan of OWC, I’m really shocked to see people commenting as if OWC is upset at Apple because they can’t sell some sort of upgrade. I wonder what these people will do when their hard drive dies and they can only get a replacement from Apple for substantially more than a regular retail hard drive because of the special connector.

    While I was wanting a new iMac with a i7 and a super sweet graphics card(even if it is a Mobile version), I won’t pander to this sort of silliness from Apple.


  • i think the speculation may be a little far a field as to *why* Apple has made this change, but the answers to why one would want to “tinker” with an iMac are simple:

    first of all it’s not very hard for those with a little bit of experience

    second, an iMac is a very cost effective and efficient computer; Mac Pros are certainly easy to tinker with, but they are awkwardly large, they are expensive and they really are overkill for most computing needs, plus they use more electricity and produce more heat (matters a lot to me)

    finally, some of us need to get the most value out of our computers; this means maintaining them ourselves a few years after purchase; Apple’s options are not only more expensive, they are slower — it’s been more than once that i’ve gotten a system with a failed main drive up and running the same day (including restoring from backup) — the result is not only cheaper in raw cost, but in the reduced downtime compared to Apple service

  • As a future PC to iMac convert this coming summer, I was EXTREMELY disturbed by the OWC: Apple Further Restricts Upgrade Options on New iMacs report.

    So I called Apple Sales to further investigate.

    And I was assured that the story was true but only to a certain point.

    yes, these are new hard drives which are not currently available from third parties for custom upgrades or replacements.

    HOWEVER these new hard drives are new to the market they were designed to help with the heat issue in older iMacs. And yes, these types of hard drives are not available to third party vendors at the moment.

    BUT this is because it is a new design. AND the new hard drives will become available to third party vendors for upgrades and replacements by year end. It is just a case of Apple being one step forward everyone else. And the marketplace has to play catch up the same as the Thunderbolt issue.

    But again by years end along with Thunderbolt compatible devices these new drives will become available to vendors such as OWC by year end.

    • I tend to believe the catch up scenario. I am a year into the pc to Mac revolt and love every minute of it. I am fighting to buy a new iMac but only because my macbookpro is such a good machine. Apple has my business for the ret of my life.

    • Interesting… the ‘new drives’ found in the latest 2011 iMacs we opened up are not exactly new models.. in fact they aren’t even current SATA 3.0 6Gbp/s model drives and both have newer versions that are. Hardware wise, these drives don’t appear to have anything different from the retail versions of the same p/n drives (or even a identical model drive tested from a 2010 Mac Pro). Everything we’ve observed and reviewed to this point concerning this after market drive concern points to Apple firmware being the controlling factor. That’s not to say that a future update to the iMacs couldn’t change the situation that is present now. We’ll see… but I don’t buy the Apple rep comment about new drives coming out later when the drives Apple themselves installed aren’t even very recently new models to begin with. Could be standards implemented in firmware in the future… that’s possible… but the physical drive hardware ‘standards’ already there or these drives wouldn’t be part numbers introduced 1-2+ years ago/would have their own unique p/n, etc.

    • No one but Apple has any reason to use drives like these. I don’t see them becoming wide spread.

  • Hey now,

    Lets not fight amongst ourselves. I think both sides of this thread have a point. One is that OWC does need to acknowledge that the whole point of the imac is that is not meant to be tinker-able platform. To those who say they do not want to drop the cash, thats fine but you pay your money you put in your jury rigged solution and you takes your chances. I would not call this monopolistic practices on Apples part either. In fact this entire tempest in a Tea-pot has emerged because apple chose to finally make imacs with real computing nuts in since the start of the new 27 inch model. I think perhaps we might simply be in an awkward time during the product mix when increasingly the Apple tower is becoming a trull vertical market and Apple needs to adjust its policies some. LIke perhaps acknowledging and blessing a certain list of after market DIY upgrades that are designed to either enhance or extend the consumer experience. I think that people like OWC have been great partners for this sort of thing. I do agree that it is important to have the people ready to warn and publicize if choice is being taken away rather than apathy so I for one and not comparing OWC to intego who just cynically want to “scare up some business.” That said one could have put in the blog title something less headline getting or moderating like “initial upgrade impressions. Then say what you worry about but do it from within the context that you are in which is of incomplete knowledge. We are all just starting to look at the new models and realize all the implications. So its important to do that before making ugly claims as finalized conclusions against a company whose products you make your money supporting. I do not not slap people I want to have a good working relationship with and I am sure neither does OWC most of the time. On the other side to ignore that apple over the years has not done some loopy, to flat out unjust things in regards to its customers is to be naive, so it is good to be on the watch. As far as I can tell this is an evolving issue that despite those who are mad at OWC, will likely evolve and be solved quicker by the amount of attention it is getting. Perhaps we can just pull back on the totalitarian slash Orwell references every time we get spooked. Remember without out Apple there would be NO commercial alternative to Windows. yes there are commercial linux options but I still maintain that independent of market share who has brought more amazing changes that have benefitted all of computing as PCs have to respond to beloved featured out on macs. Well obviously that is apple. You can go all the way back to fonts. I mean can you believe that MS did not target that is something people might want and make it a top priority early? I am really glad Windows 7 seems to finally be a decent successor to Microsoft’s confused past of the last ten years, Does anyone doubt that it would look different had not apple already paved a way out of that debacle for them an user experience that they could use for a a guide? My point is only this, I am glad that OWC is on the look out for BS behavior on the part of apple so that consumers can extend and enhance their imacs up to a point. At the same time, it was likely a bit early to be calling Apple ugly names that was more than likely just a symptom of your frustration at not being able to as of yet find a reliable and immediate work around. I think a more useful conversation be had is by some people at OWC with Apple asking while armed with a user signed petition of Imac owners to get some better policy on being able to upgrade apple imacs after they end their warranty period or after purchase so that their could be some sort of agreement there., One were apple would not be bound by any liability but merely by market courtesy to expend a minimal but real effort helping the third party imac enhancement providers with some does and don’t s but more importantly inside the the areas of acceptable enhancements some modicum of engineering consideration or consultation after the products are out. I know I am likely singing a way to hopeful song there but in my humble opinion, you do not know till you try and I know its been tried in the long past, but not recently. Also to me it is clear that the tower form factor along with apple stated strategy or not wanting to go into big business or take on any business that requires any accountability or expense to service a systems integrators means that the tower is going to be a more and more specialized solutions for high end Effects, CAD, and Video folks. So the reasonable follow on for consumer power users that choose the imac, they might want to broaden and spell out their policy for after market enhancements and after warranty end of life upgrades for extensions. I think this would be huge help for users, as well as vendors like OWC. Then it would be clear that there is no conspiratorial plot to take down the empire state building using imacs that over heat. OK so that was never mentioned but I had to take a humorous poke at all the conspiratorial stuff being said. But it would make it clear for folks looking to buy a high end imac for a pretty penny that Apple will cooperate with those home power users that are doing so because the expect to be able to do certain incremental things to speed them up and extend their life. I think if OWC’s post was guilty of anything it was that it made too many harsh statements too early without knowing enough facts. But I for one am glad they are on their guard, But just be on guard there already enough folks who want to find a legitimate reason so skewer Apple and ultimately that is not good for your business so be mindful alert and TACTFUL.

    peace out, Cheers Rob

    • I imaging that its mighty hard to support the position that: “OWC does need to acknowledge that the whole point of the iMac is that is not meant to be tinker-able platform”. I’ve never seen this to be true. At least as far back as the iMac G5, changing internals has been an on-again, off-again piece of cake. If it were truly meant to be a “tinker-free device”, you would see a big fat seal that said: “warranty void if seal is broken”… like it says on other tinker-free devices. The fact that in the past Apple has cleverly designed iMacs with easy access to drive-exchange makes this developement all the more viable.

      Adding RAM and changing hard drives is the key to the longevity of any computer system, whether its the PowerMac 9600 still in use in my studio as a legacy server, my wife’s G5 iMac, the 8-core MacPro I’m typing this on, or my sgi Origin 2000 server still running the fiber-RAID, none of which retain their original drives. I would suggest that of all the computers manufactured by Apple, its the consumer iMac line that should be “tinker-able”. Though there are many non-tech savvy folks who will ultimately pay for another system when their hard drive fails, there are many such as my self that can keep any given system running Indefinately without Apple throwing up road blocks.

  • “Is this planned obsolescence at work, or is the freedom promised in 1984 being revoked?”

    Oh, give me a BREAK.

  • I’ve been an occasional OWC customer for a number of years and think you guys are great, and love the way I’ve been able to upgrade my old Macs with your parts. That being said, I have mixed feelings about this. iMacs clearly aren’t and haven’t been for some time the choice of computer for hobbyists who like to tinker with their build. In fact now that I think about it, I’ve never added anything but RAM to an iMac I’ve owned–my heavyweight upgrades have always gone into machines like my old Quicksilver G4–video cards, CPUs, etc.

    So given that the trend on iMacs has been, for some years now, to make less and less open to consumer replacement, I’m not surprised Apple has taken such a step.

    I don’t doubt there are a lot of people who want to upgrade hard drives on their 1- and 2-year-old iMacs. But I’m sure Apple has run the numbers. They know how many people get AppleCare for, say, 3 years; they know how long people keep their computers after AppleCare has run its course. And they know how many people opt to keep their old machine and try to upgrade it rather than buying a shiny new one with new features.

    How about televisions? There used to be a whole industry for fixing those, remember? It’s gone now.

  • I have a real problem with people complaining about this because the iMac is (with the exception of the G5 iMac) not a user serviceable computer unless you’re talking RAM. OWC seems collectively miffed because one of those cool parts you custom fab’d can no longer be used in the new iMac refresh. Well, that sucks but you knew what you were getting into selling these kits as they are not endorsed or condoned by Apple. Since this flies in the face of what AppleCare traditionally covers I’m not sure why people should feel sorry for you. The average user couldn’t change the drive in their iMac if a life depended upon the task- so, aside from some loud whining from fellow geeks, who is this hurting? It isn’t a serviceable machine. Sorry.

    I can see it now- someone with AppleCare and an OWC add-on goes to the Genius Bar for support. They discover the upgrade and a fight ensues. You’ve essentially created a problem where one did not exist.

  • So, a company who makes money from modding Apple hardware gets grumpy when Apple (probably incidentally) makes it harder for said company to mod said hardware. But of course, this is all about the consumers… ;).

    Every decision has a reason and I would imagine this one might have a lot less to do with trying to make more money off consumers than you might like to think.

    • Wow Marc…kinda calls our ethics into question. Guess I’ll have to say this till blue in face….this is about elimination of choice and our belief you should have the right to upgrade as you see fit while maintaining your warranty.

      Kinda like why the Magnuson Moss Act was created…so someone tinting their windows wouldn’t be denied warranty coverage for a blown motor….

      • Then I guess we have very different beliefs. Full disclosure: I worked (stressing the past tense) for Apple for a couple of years repairing these things. I don’t support the idea that people should have this ‘right’ to mod their hardware and not lose their warranty when they’re running with an unsupported configuration. I’m guessing you guys are ACMT qualified but doing these mods isn’t what ACMT is for.

        I’m of the opinion that Apple make products that are heavily user-serviceable (Mac Pro) and others that aren’t (iMac) and you make that choice when you decide between the two products. As another man who’s no doubt spent hours trying to put back the glass panels back on to iMacs without leaving a speck of dust stuck behind, you must know these are not designed for modification.

        The car analogy doesn’t really work here, everything is in such close proximity inside, nothing exists in isolation. If I was looking at an iMac with, say, a no-video issue and it had been ‘modded’ by you guys, I would have no confidence that a screwdriver hadn’t slipped during the HDD install and caused the problem.

        Both and make interesting points

        Anyway, hopefully when you’re taking a dremel to the front housing for the eSATA, you’ve removed all the innards beforehand… ;)

        • OMG. A PC (and even a Mac isn’t anything else) has to be servicable. I looks alright now, but in 2 years from now, when Apple decides to be bored (again) with something they introduced, you will be left standing in the rain because noone cares about the tiny percentage of proprietary iMac harddisks…

      • What ethics? You are in the business of urging people to break their AppleCare warranties, leaving them with no recourse if your products fail. Very noticeably, AppleCare is not even mentioned in this lengthy attack on Apple. Customers’ hard drive failures are covered under the warranty for as long as four years, so most will never need to pay for a new hard drive if they purchase AppleCare.

        • Well Podesta…In all my years here at OWC, I have not heard of one single instance of a customer having their warranty voided by adding memory, a hard drive, etc….because it is very difficult to be denied such under the Magnuson Moss Act. I recall some flap about this years ago involving the mini and if you removed the cover you voided the warranty….funny how that position went away very quietly.

          Let’s face it, if our upgrades were voiding warranties, we wouldn’t be offering such for a lot of reasons…and wouldn’t have been offering such for the past 23 years.

          You do bring to light a good point…about AppleCare covering the drives. I supposed we didn’t mention that in the article based on our knowledge that most extended warranties are pure profit…most consumer rights media have numerous articles on such. As well as from our knowledge, if a drive is going to fail, it will do so sooner than later…which would be covered by the base 1 year warranty.

          Would be interesting to find out how many Apple machine owners do opt for the extended Apple Care warranty vs base…then your suggestion would really be spot on.

          Thanks for the input and the suggestion…for many with that warranty, then truly not as relevant an issue.

        • Once again, opening your iMac does NOT void any warranty. If you break something, sure, they will not cover it. I am so tired of folks just spitting out their opinion like it is written in Applecare or Apples Warranty. If you think you will void your warranty, DON’T open your iMac. I expect knows how to properly open an iMac with ESD protections in place, etc.

          Again, if you say it voids your warranty, please, by all means, share the link.

      • I can see why this is an issue for you. You should also be able to see why you have a credibility issue when you complain about stuff like this. As a non-approved accessory maker, you’ve put yourself at the mercy of a secretive and nimble though kickass roadmap.

        Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods are not designed to be user serviceable. The fact that you could do anything was just pure chance. I have first hand knowledge of the engineering processes at Apple and I can tell you that all of these changes are the result of very aggressive, model after model improvements in mechanical, electrical and overall system design.
        What’s designed in is what works best for the system, both performance and reliability-wise. If you actually were the best hard drive/SSD manufacturer out there, your drive would be designed in. But alas, I doubt you’re considered beyond an infrequent check in every now and then if you’re lucky.

        (deragatory expletive deleted by editor)

        All that 1984 crap is theater. Don’t get all Vic Gundotra. Go find a real business. Also, isn’t the Mac only some single digit share? Why do you care what the Mac does? Go sell to PC makers who love to build their own computers.

        • Well…certainly entitled to your opinion. And if 1984 wasn’t a popular sentiment for Apple to continue espousing, then why the remake of it in 2004 for the iPod? Sorry…I’ve been both an admirer and critic of them since the 80’s…and when they take away flexibility, well…I’m going to give my opinion on it…and that’s how OWC Michael felt too….as well as many others. Doesn’t make us “right”….just our take on it. And if you want additional details on this subject, see OWC Larry’s take where he perhaps wasn’t as critical as Michael:

  • *************************************
    The OWC report is quite inaccurate and I wish they did some more testing or at least read the forums before creating mass panic.

    The SATA data connectors are very standard and so is the SATA power cable feeding the hard drive. The only difference is that they used 7 wires instead of 5, probably some extra grounds.

    I installed a Vertex3 SSD and used a plain 4 wire Y-splitter sata power cable which effectively discards the 3.3V from the apple’s wiring and only feeds 5V and 12V to the original drive. Guess what, fan speed is as quiet as it can get and the Apple Hardware Test passes successfully.

    I went further and moved the internal HDD from SATA0 to SATA1 port to better accommodate the SATA connector for the SSD and this didn’t create any adverse effects.

    Another member of the forum swapped the 1TB WD Black with a 2TB WD Black and again, no adverse effect, Hardware Test completed successfully.

  • Hey OWC guys

    Please comment on the latest TUAW post suggesting this issue is being blown out of proportion and there is a software fix….

    • In short, no software utility or ‘hack’ by itself offers a solution for using a non Apple factory drive. Will have a new post up on this shortly.

  • I am currently writing a blog entry myself that will go into greater technical detail. Michael honestly didn’t expect or write yesterday’s blog with the expectation of it being so widely covered. Pretty exciting, honestly. Being fair, we’ve been blogging on various aspects of the new iMacs from a first teardown/unboxing just hours after their release last week: < That in itself lends a little more context to yesterday's complaint about the hard drive bay.

    #1 – on the logic board, the connector is proprietary for the SATA port going to the hard drive bay:
    It has a SATA DATA port and then a separate, unique power port for the Apple cable going to the HDD bay – different from the standard SATA ports that are present for the optical and SSD bay channels.

    One user says he connected a Y-Power cable, not exactly sure how unless cut into the apple cable? Certainly isn't any off the shelf Y-Cable you can just plug in to the power line. Maybe something that splits out the SATA and the Power at the HDD connector end and then a Y-splitter into the power there? If so, lack of space makes that a non-starter in the 21.5" models and still tight in the 27". And is it then shorting the extra thermal lines (more comment on that below..)… anyway… always interested in options and ideas to solve these challenges and hope that user will post photos, etc to further elaborate on the solution.

    #2 – the iMac fans are pretty quiet, even revved… but – we've tested a variety of different drives and all with the same result – regardless of which iMac (21.5" or 27" – we tested with all the flavors 2011). No Apple hard drive (disconnected or replaced with an off the shelf drive) and the HDD bay fan speed starts to increase within a few minutes of start up. Doesn't matter whether drive is the start up drive or not. While the control systems (which we left on and running during the drive swap testing) maintained an SMCFan control reported 1099-1105RPM speed, the systems with a non-Apple drive installed had the HDD fan speed rev up.

    The fans rev because the system doesn't know the HDD bay temperature, so it goes to the side of caution and kicks up the fans to prevent a heat issue from causing damage, even if no heat issue present. Not unusual or anything new where thermal sensors are present.

    #3 – Running Apple AHT with a non-Apple drive installed (or no drive) results in this test failing very shortly after it's start with the fail code indicating a failed thermal sensor. This isn't a huge deal, imho, other than you can not use AHT to diagnose any other system issues as it doesn't let you skip past this first fail point. Effectively it renders AHT unusable and this can be an issue for some folks.

    Now…. the iMac fans are pretty quiet even when they rev a little. I'd speculate some who have reported swapping their hard drive may not have noticed the fan change. We have tested with what should be the same Barracuda XT 3.0TB drive one user had reported on and it did rev the fans and cause AHT to fail. The other thought… we are watching these quickly rev to around 2700RPM and then slowly rev up from there. I'd speculate some might assume that fan speed up is because their using the iMac rather than it being related to the issue we've noted.

    SMC Fan control is an awesome utility. I've been a user of this utility as well as have widely recommended and endorsed its use. This software got wide use in Mac Pros a few years ago related to a certain video card that had an overheating problem. One should note though, SMC fan control allows you to increase fan speed – it doesn't allow you to slow fans down.

    Another user has reported that shorting the extra leads is a solution to the AHT/fan speed issue. That and also connecting up a proper external thermistor is proving out to be a solution. We haven't seen Apple's SSD equipped solution yet (they haven't shipped that config option yet) – but would suspect that the SATA cable to the HDD bay is still there (SSD will likely be in SSD bay) and will have an end cap on it. Now… that cap could have a thermal sensor in it or might simply close the thermal circuit (short). We'd expect the sensor cap as the thermal environment in the HDD bay has affect on other components potentially and you'd think there would be fan speed control still for that bay related to general heat in the area vs. it being only a concern of the hard drive temperature itself. Either way – we are testing solutions which involve the addition of an external thermal sensor. And also designing a relatively simple piece to make this more DIY friendly as well. We do not believe shorting the thermal line is a good idea in general.

    More to come… on our blog today.

  • I really don’t see what the big deal is, and all these comments about “monopolistic practices” and “megalomaniacs” are ridiculous. You remind me of all the people who complained about the batteries in iPods and iPhones being non-removable. The fact is, Apple makes consumer-focused products that are well designed, well engineered, and easy to use. To help maintain the quality of experience, they make certain trade-offs. One of which is to minimize the number of user servicable parts.

    Yes, this is less than ideal if you are a hardware hobbyist, who likes to tinker inside your machine and upgrade/replace various parts. But if you are such a person, why on Earth would you ever buy an iMac? If you want to tinker inside your machine, get a Mac Pro. An iMac is for people who want a computer that is ready to use out of the box, and have no interest in what’s inside the casing.

    So, what do you do if you have an iMac and the hard drive dies, or you want a bigger one? Well, you have 2 options: 1) Buy a replacement drive from Apple, and have them install it. 2) Buy an external drive of your choice.

    Truly, this is an Orwellian nightmare.

    • “To help maintain the quality of experience, they make certain trade-offs. One of which is to minimize the number of user serviceable parts.”

      How is this specific issue helping to maintain the quality of experience? And for that matter, how is minimizing the number of user serviceable parts helping with the “quality of experience”?

      “why on Earth would you ever buy an iMac? If you want to tinker inside your machine, get a Mac Pro.”

      Just a shot in the dark, but maybe because people don’t want to drop twice the $$$.

      • Well, in general, by not supporting user customization of a particular part, they are free to make changes to that part for engineering reasons, and not have to worry about supporting customers upset with the change, and who theoretically shouldn’t even be affected by the change. And as far as I can remember, the hard drive in the iMac was never officially supported by Apple as being a user-servicable part, going all the way back to the original iMac released in 1997.

        Now, I’m no hardware engineer, but I’m guessing that the new style of hard drive with the new connector allows them to monitor the temperature in a way that is more accurate. Which means better regulation over the cooling fan, reducing the times it comes on unnecessarily, or reducing the amount of time it needs to be on. Which means a quieter machine, which means a superior experience for the user.

        Anyone who buys Apple products knows that what makes them great is Apple’s attention to detail. Which means that they need to be free to change the details whenever they see fit, which means more control over their products. Anyone who claims to like Apple’s products but then complains that they aren’t customizable enough is failing to recognize the fundamental connection between the level of control and the user experience.

    • The big deal is your choice has been eliminated. While true that many iMac users just buy and user without ever upgrading….believe our position industry tells us that many do in fact upgrade their RAM and drives ;-)

      Kinda like if a major auto manufacturer sold you a car and didn’t tell you that if the motor ever fails, you can’t go to any other motor reseller…you must get their motor…

      • I’m really disappointed with you guys. Seriously. I am a customer and to me this “sky is falling” stuff is just unprofessional. This reminds me of our friends at Intego and their rants on viruses the last 5 years…I’ll never buy from those guys and would hate to see you fall into the same practices.

        All this craziness without fully understanding the implementation borders on fear mongering to me. I have no idea if you can short pins 4 & 7, I don’t know what impact that has on the fan and if that is itself cause for concern, but neither do you! Now your headline is splashed all over by people who know and understand even less than you! This is a disservice to your customers. I want to rely on you for factual advice and expert opinion. Until you can fully form one I would rather you kept it to yourself as nothing is served by broadcasting ½ the story. How about you guys study this, talk to people you know at Apple, determine best approach, and then go public. That is “news I can use”, and what I expect from OWC.

        • There are plenty of avg users that would like to just add a new drive. Big diff btwn adding a power and data connector to a new drive and having to short something. Not to mention warranty implications of such. Telling people that they cannot add a non Apple factory drive to the main bay of the 2011 machines without both fan ramp up to high speed and failure of the AHT is not fear mongering…it is proven fact here…and others are reporting same findings.

          And really…perhaps what we should have said was, “really think about what exact configuration you want your iMac to have” as future upgrades concerning the main drive bay HD are not obtainable except thru Apple.

          • Grant, sorry I don’t agree! There seems to me to be a lot more research and understanding is needed before absolute “you can not replace your HD unless from Apple”, claims like this are made. Especially from a respected company like yours. Your customers deserve better and the few that want to upgrade in the first month of ownership will just need to wait.

            • It’s OK to disagree…but believe even Apple according to other independent posters here are confirming these drives are special…so thus I would deduce a drive that likely won’t be available to be sourced by joe upgrader at the corner big box. Time will tell on that drive’s availability.

            • Get real, man. Using screwball hard drives and connectors that can only be purchased from Apple, a company with a well established record of abandoning purchasers to their fate in terms of support, is not good news. All hard drives fail. It is merely a question of when they will fail. Everyone who believes Apple will make SATA III drives available to customers at a reasonable price hold your hand up. (The motion fails.)

              If this trend continues, it will be time to re-evaluate continued use of Apple products, not OWC’s commitment to servicing the Mac community.

              Should Apple tire of supplying replacement hard drives the entire device becomes something much less useful than it should be. This is a high risk proposition.

              The simple truth is this. One can equip a PC with quality components at a price that is competitive without having to put up with this proprietary nonsense. Though I much prefer OS x, Win 7 simply is not that bad if the alternative is limited hardware and OS X. What’s next, screwball and/or proprietary RAM that is probably inferior like some that Apple has shipped in the past?

              I will be watching this as I was a potential purchaser of an iMac when Lion comes pre-installed. Now I am definitely on the sidelines. I would regret the loss of a number of Mac only apps, but PS, LR and a host of other image manipulation software have equal functionality on a PC…you just have to get used to using the Control key rather than the Option key and a few other things.

        • @NotTellinYou

          I’m a little perplexed as to why you are dissapointed with OWC. You say that they have provided news of which they are not sure of. This is false.

          The fact that you cannot upgrade/replace your 2011 iMac HDD yourself is true. They’ve done all the tests and this is what they are reporting. They are also reporting the implications of this while stating that they do not know what’s in store for the SSD config since it hasn’t been shipped yet.

          Essentially, OWC is reporting to the end user that their choice re HDD upgrade/replacement (without Apple) has been elimanated. Would you rather know this information or not know this information?

          Fortunately for you, you have a choice in that regard. You’re browser does not force you to this blog while the chair your sitting in locks you in and forces you to read the article. But if this were to happen, wouldn’t you like to know?

          This way, when shopping for a new chair and browser, you’d be more informed and could therefore choose a chair and browser, based on whether or not you’d like to have the ability to choose in the future.

          The issue is choice. Nothing more. And the reason it’s so important to be able to choose is because of the nature of both a HD’s lifespan and the ever-evolving speed and efficeny of drives in general.

          O-Dub Scott

      • ” Kinda like if a major auto manufacturer sold you a car and didn’t tell you that if the motor ever fails, you can’t go to any other motor reseller…you must get their motor…”

        Yeah.., guess that’s one of the reasons why detroit was going bankrupt, and the taxpayer had to bail them out.
        They didn’t have a proper sustainable business plan.
        Maybe if one of the big 3 had used apple’s model as you suggest, maybe you and I would not be footing their bail out bill right now.
        Also, the auto industry tried a version of what you suggest in the 80’s with a tool we all know as Torx to try and stop the home mechanics, so you would have to bring it to the dealer. You see how that went over.

        (via Wiki)

        Torx screws are commonly found on automobiles, motorcycles, bicycle brake systems, hard disk drives, computer systems and consumer electronics. Initially, they were sometimes used in applications requiring tamper-resistance, since the drive systems and screwdrivers were not widely available; as drivers became more common, tamper-resistant variants, were developed.

        Additionally, This stuff is mute because Apple has filed a new patent ( As I’m sure you are aware of ) and already using in some of their products a tamper resistant screw called the Pentalobe.

        The pentalobe screw drive is a five-pointed tamper-resistant system being implemented by Apple in its products.
        Screwdrivers to fit this design are still rare and hard to obtain.

        I don’t have one, but I’m sure you guys do with your turnkey service huh?
        Apple or Turnkey? hmmmm

        • Well Jonesie…we know all about the Pentalobe…we do include a tool with our MacBook Air SSD for the DIYer…so perhaps not that rare… ;-)

    • it is a big deal because I just found out I cannot upgrade my 1TB drive inside my brand new iMac I literally just pulled out of the box last night. I was planning on running the OEM drive for about a year while I await SSD prices to come down and then replace it with SSD in the future. Now I find out I cannot remove or replace the OEM drive…this is ridiculous! I should be able to swap out memory and hard drives myself without relying on apple to do it for me! I also urge Apple to allow video card swap-outs in a future iMac! I sure hope OWC is able to engineer a way around this crappy problem…major disappointment!! Please keep up the great products and R&D!

      • You will be able to upgrade to SSD, the SSD doesn’t even need the fan, and there’s clearly a standard sata power + sata data channel specifically for SSD’s

        And to OWC, it’s not standard for Sata drives to use Molex 4-pin. can we get a photo of the connector at the other end?

      • @ motoxer913

        May 4th 2011

        Apple’s new 21.5-inch, Thunderbolt-equipped iMac desktop discovered the ability to swap out the graphics processing unit board for a new one.

  • this let us know that apple, only think in their company, and not in the customer

  • i have a dream that one day the iMac will have multiple user accessible 2.5 HDD/SSD (like the mac pro) – j o h n n y

  • I see no problem here. Macs are for people who have money to burn, so they shouldn’t mind being robbed by Apple.

    Anyone with more brains than cash owns a PC already…

    • John Gait, thanks for calling me stupid. I wouldn’t mind if such stupidity was married to lots of money…the problems is…I don’t see that huge amount of cash around me. That cash would allow me certainly to reform the G4 Mac mini where I’m writing this reply.

  • Will it be possible to have the bootable main drive to be external via the Thunderbolt port? I suspect this might be a good way around this internal SATA interface problem but still have internal-drive performance. Just a thought.

    • It would be even more expensive then the ‘official’ Apple solution and you’d be stuck with an extra box to your Mac. You’d better use a cheaper non-powerbold type.

  • Wow.. Not cool.

    It is a completely understandable for a business to want their customers to return to them for upgrades, repairs, replacements etc. I don’t think this is something that should be forced, however, so I’m really disappointed in this.

    Treat your customers right, then give them the option to chose and they will come back to you every time, without force. :)

  • Seems pretty obvious to me as to what you would need to do.

    Just construct a cable that shorts out the pins (link removed by OWC as the service manual from Apple is copyright protected as well as we do not condone the use of shorting out pins)

  • I guess people get why they deserve.

    If buy from a monopolistic company run by a megalomaniac, you should expect things like this.

    It would not surprise me if the next Mac-book where based on a proprietary CPU with integrated DRM that allows only applications from an apple store (the way the iPhone and the iPad are).

  • I’m a PC user but what is this 4-pin power connector for SATA?

    The power cable is a 5-wire cable to a 15-pin connector. Pins 1-3 are 3.3vdc. 4-6 are gnd. 7-9 are 5vdc. 10 is a ground. 11 is reserved. 12 is a gnd. 13-16 are 12vdc.
    The data cable is a 7-pin to 7-pin connector. 1 ground. 2 is transmit+. 3 is transmit-. 4 ground. 5 receive-. 6 receive+. 7 ground.

    I even went through my work’s stock of sata devices and cables. Never found a 4-pin power connector for SATA outside of a few molex to sata power converters. Which violate the sata standard themselves because they don’t provide 3.3vdc.

  • Despite the expense I have a new iMac on order 1TB + 256GB SSD option, 27″ i5 2.7Ghz.

    My plan, is *if* the SSD proves to be Apple’s typical slow, lumbering choice of SSD – that I’ll take it out and replace it with a Mercury Extreme Pro. 240GB Sata 3.

    I recognize that nobody has the new SSD’s to test just yet – but you had no problem adding a Mercury Extreme Pro to the 2011 iMac’s SSD space – as long as the original main drive was left alone?

    If so, thats good news for me.

  • This isn’t surprising in the least bit. Apple lives in a world where they own everything. If you buy Apple you buy into that concept. Any Apple consumer who complains about it needs a kick in the butt. Apple has built their little company by widely using monopolistic business practices. Steve Jobs makes Bill Gates look like Richard Stallman. If you don’t like it then don’t buy it.

  • This is what happens when you have one company dictating standards for a whole sub-industry. Mac users: Welcome to the Windows world circa 1997.

  • Pre-ordered one of your Pro 6G SSDs the other day with the intent of replacing the factory 1TB HD. Now planning on putting it in the second bay and using as boot drive. Could you please tell me what else is needed to do this? I found some info on mid 2010 iMacs. Needing Apple Part #: 922-9531, Apple Part #: 922-9485 and Apple Part #: 922-9538. Any idea if these would be the same parts to utilize the second bay?


    • Not sure Scott as we don’t offer any brackets or adapters for self install on the 2010….we only offer our Turnkey Service.

    • Scott, unlike in the 2010 iMac you’ll probably need the cables to the SATA and power port, as well assome mounting fixture. Not sure if the whole power harness needs to be replaced like in the 2010, as Apple has neither yet posted any technicians guide with instructions for the replacement of SSD drives nor are there any parts to order for the 2011 pertaining to SSDs.

  • OK I’m someone who lives with an apple employee. I WAS going to buy a 27″ imac or a mac pro for graphical work, due to available discounts (25% off). I Was until I read this article. the one comment which says that this article is false holds some weight if you follow the link.

    “I believe this rumor about the different SATA interface is rubbish. I removed the harddisk from my brand new iMac and put a OCZ Vertex 3 MI SSD back in (as shown at”

    But I took stock today of what i actually wanted to do and what would give me the best outcome and came to this conclusion.

    iMac – as far as i’m concerned is best suited to people who want a computer that they can take out of the box plug in and use, yes HDD failure is going to happen even with SSD (eventually — and replacment is going to be needed, but i take this on the chin. I know that my iphone battery only has so many charge cycles, and this (unreplacable) element means that i am buying a consumable device, which i plan to replace within two years.
    surely those of us buying iMacs should look at this move to an apple only HDD replacment, and accept that what apple are doing is creating a consumable desktop computer. One which they are hoping we will replace (or upgrade via them) every so often.

    so iMac for me……NO, not even Mac Pro, with apples move to ATI graphics, i’m giving up on macs all together, my g4 quicksilver has lasted me ages but, for me at least its time for a reality check, I want a new computer for graphics, i would like to get the most bang for buck, and no cuda acceleration in adobe products running ATI cards on macs equals me having to buy a new graphics card on top, even further ruling out the iMac.

    Right now the internal difference between a pc and a mac is minimal, I feel this move to proprietary HDD, is more about apple creating profit margins on initial purchase upgrades. If you know your not going to be able to buy the smallest drive for the cheapest price (off apple) and then just replace it with a better drive bought for a fraction of the cost. I imagine you would buy the larger drive to start.

  • ” New iMac envy? Nah…I’ll take the freedom of choice over limitations any day of the week. ”
    Let me correct it for you:
    ” I buy parts and build my own PC’s. Mac envy? Nah…I’ll take the freedom of choice over limitations any day of the week. ”

    As simple as that…cheaper, customizeable, and if you buy good parts lasts as long as any mac or any other machine.

  • Guess I’ll be sticking with 2nd hand G4 and G5 machines then.

    Oh the irony of ‘that’ superbowl ad.. – Apple have been far worse than IBM ever has.

  • This sucks big time! I would have hoped that the HDD could be as easily changed as the RAM – THAT would be nice! What are you up to Apple?

    Someone should create a petition.

    At this moment we will not recommend the new iMac to any of our customers.

  • I’ll say w/out hestiation I’m an apple fan boy- and proud of it!

    However, if it turns out that when you order a 2011 iMac and choose the SSD option for the main bay, which basically no one with even a bit of tech knowledge would ever do because of the absurd prices and relativly poor performing SSD’s, that by choosing this you can now replace the main hard drive w. whatever you like is very shady.

    In other words, it would be forcing people to buy an obscenly priced SSD of a brand that you’re not even aware of, just to have the capablity to do something so necessary as replace/update your main hard drive.

    Furthmore, who really buys the max RAM from Apple?!?!?!? I mean, they must realize this as well.

    Maybe this is a step in trying to make the stock options less appealing and “forcing” the consumer to buy something way overpriced- only to have the ability to replace that very overpiced item.

    This issue is very weird and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s seems totally unnecessary and greedy.

    O-Dub Scott

    • For what it is worth, the Apple factory SSD option is installed into a separate SSD bay whether you select the hard drive + SSD or HDD alone. Apple doesn’t currently offer an option for installing an SSD into the main bay. Hard Mac has reported that Apple disables the thermal bit with a line close/short, like mentioned in our technical followup piece:, when the SSD only option selected. We are not aware of these shipping yet and await the SSD only unit we have on order to first hand verify and review.

      Bottom line, there isn’t any issue (other than the general difficulty with opening up an iMac, which isn’t new) to adding an SSD to the SSD bay. There are thermal sensor connection/firmware complications with this one… unlike changing drives in the main HDD bay.

  • Thanks for the great article.

    In truth this isn’t really a problem; as stereotypically Mac users compulsively keep up to date with the latest Apple hardware – which gives the laptop itself (and hence the hard drive you can’t change) a very small usage lifetime. With the advent of large amount of online storage space (DropBox etc.) you can also back your laptop up to the cloud – especially when you work at the Apple headquaters where internet access is probably quite speedy.

    In all seriousness though, please grab yourself an external hard drive. If it’s speed you are worried about get a powered chassis that supports eSATA. Laptop hard drives (Mac or not) are notoriously slow. Use the internal hard drive for apps; which only need to be read from the disk ‘once’ (bar paging etc.).

  • Everyone has the freedom of choice. The pro and cons of Apple stuff versus others and whether one researches these issues is everyone’s own choice.

    I personally prefer PC’s ( not Dell) some of which have been running well for over 12 years with no problems, and some which last a year before there is some problems. I have no experience with Apple PC’s but without doubt, my iPhone with its battery issues really irritates me a lot. But I LIKE my iPhone, that is my choice.

    All the comments above are in general the users own opinions are in general subjective, and its really amusing to see people getting worked up about stupid things like computers, cars or whatever. Buy a Merc or BMW, and then try putting in Toyota or no name brand name parts …

    • And therein lies the problem. The Mac is not the Mercedes or the BMW, but rather the Geo Prism with a Lamborghini shell.

      The Mac used to be known for it’s superior graphics systems, but what about the last 10 years? Look at their current line of graphics card offerings, they are pathetic at best compared to the PC market offerings. And why did this all happen? Because they chose to do this proprietary crap which means they are limited to substandard equipment that is not frequently updated for this niche market of users. They continue to further do this with all their components and are being obsoleted 6 months after release of a new product.

      They have some impressive hardware from a processor standpoint, but no better than what you could find in the PC market. So what exactly are you getting with a Mac? A pretty shell, an fancy pants interface (arguable), and a logo?

      The Mac only appeals (or should only appeal) to the individual who would otherwise not be able to turn a PC on. Don’t believe me? I’m a software engineer that has to support Mac users. Of all the people in the world, this community is the most likely to break a software product because they can’t follow or understand the simplest of directions if it has even the slightest hint of tech speak in it.

      Does that make them stupid? No, just technologically inept, and that’s OK, we all have our weaknesses, and we can’t all be computer scientists, but this is the only true market for the Mac anymore, and they are making their proprietary products sub-par while raking in 100%-200% sheer profit margins. Brilliant, I guess, if you can find the followers that will pay the premium (which they do).

    • Heh…., BMW, builder of the mini cooper, uses a Toyota built diesel for their Mini One D which is built in the UK, and is very popular. : )

  • I just gut my new iMac 2011 i7 max upgraded on all but Harddisk, since I did not have the extra 1000$ (yes its more expensive in Europe) atm, but was planing on getting that upgrade from OWC later on…… this make me SERIOUSLY considering returning it under my 14 days right to return.

    This seems like a deliberate attempt, (with Evil intent) to limit me as a consumer

  • To OWC,

    You should be ashamed that you are posting information like this. I have no idea why OWC would post this article with so many technical errors in it. I am not about to go into the technical detail about this. Simply cause my technical knowledge if far inferior to the OWC team’s. But why I can say the majority of this article is BS is for the following reasons:

    1.Many people have swapped their hard drives in the new imacs with no issues at all.
    2. The ifixit tear down of the imac would have noticed this. But strangely they do not mention it. And they are not ones to miss any detail no matter now tiny.
    3. The extra wires are just grounding wires or something else. But not to do with the thermal sensors or the like.

    I have emailed Apple and asked them to release an official statement about this. Just so everyone knows the truth.

    And the only reason I am writing this message is cause I do think OWC are a nice bunch and know a lot about computers. But anyone can have a bad day. And this is OWC’s bad day.

    *fingers crossed Apple release a statement soon on this to set the record straight”.

    Even if this article is not approved the OWC team will see what I have to say.

    • Sorry Jim…but that is not our experience. And we’re not ones to create FUD. No matter what drive we try in that main bay…if not that factory drive, fans ramp up and AHT fails.

      The bad day to us is like what OWC Michael and me, since I edit many of the posts, is all about….if and when the drive fails, you have no choice but to go to Apple service if you wish to keep using your iMac.

      And even with that service, you may be limited to what size drive you can get from them.

      Bad day for iMac users wanting choices.

      See OWC Larry’s reply in this thread for more insight as well as new blog posts on topic here on the OWC blog.

  • This is a pretty poor article and is badly researched. The reason that “normal” power is provided via 4 lines is because most power supplies leave the 3.3V line disconnected (+, – so 2 additional lines). It seems in this case Apple has just decided to connect the 3.3V line and perhaps support lower power consumption. There is also the possibility of an extra line used to do staggered startup of the drive.

    I hope you revise this article based on this info.

    • Hi Joel….sorry you don’t see the value in telling people their choices are limited…either Apple or no way. I should clarify one point….the connector cable ends…the drive end is standard 15 pin…but the logic board end…that is a proprietary 7 pin connection.

      • I see that the drives you have tried so far don’t work not that all drives don’t work. You say proprietary 7-pin connection simply because you are use to having a 4 pin connector 12V, 5V, 2 X Ground. SATA’s full voltage support is 12V, 5V, 3.3V, a Staggered Start line and 3 X Ground which is 7 pins/lines/wires required. Please brush up on what is supported by SATA before you begin calling this proprietary.

        Could it be that drive manufactures are now supporting a lower operating voltage? Doesn’t that make more sense than Apple apparently some how creating proprietary drives that doesn’t fit the SATA STANDARD…

  • This is really disturbing. I have 2 2009 and 2 2010 27s, and they would not be worth using in my situation without changing the hard drives. i ordered a 2011 fully loaded with just a 1TB drive, because I knew it would be changed out and turn key upgraded. Is there enough room to stuff a velociraptor and an ssd and still leave the stock drive? I would be willing to sacrifice the optical drive or SD card slot.

  • Have you tried replacing the drive with a pull from other Apple machines? ie a 2010 iMac HD, an 2011 MBP HD or an 2011 MBP SSD? Do they have nice compatible firmware? (Or even TRIM support for the latter)?

  • hahha Buyers remorse! you got played! I got the new iMac 27″ if i was worried about customizing id buy a mac pro tower! hahahahahah

    • I’m not sure what you mean; 4 pin power connectors went away long ago, with the PATA driver; 7-pin SATA power connectors have been the standard for many years. Just look at any 3 year old iMac and you’ll find… the exact same thing reported in this blog.

    • – I have no problem with Apple’s hardware configuration.
      – All that I ask is that they make their hardware restrictions apparent in their marketing!

      Then I and many others could pass on their more restrictive products before purchasing them.

  • Im an owner of both Macs and Windows machines.. By far the most problems I have with hard drives are on the Macs. Losing the ability to change the disc for one of my choosing is a complete deterrent to purchasing another Mac in the future.

    • (off topic/shamelss plug:) switch to Kubuntu. You’ll get the all the desktop niceties a Mac has to offer and then some, access to a repository of several tens of thousands of free apps, the ability to run many Windows apps without a hitch inside Linux (the latest Photoshop being one of them), and complete freedom from any hardware or software restriction. (I did it almost two years ago – had a desktop with unsupported hardware until then – and never looked back. I must state, however, that I am not a gamer.)

  • I got a new 21.5 imac, I had thought all the Hard Drives were WD drives, mine says its a Seagate (ST3500418AS) drive. is that norm.????

    • Yes, out of the machines we’ve received and tested so far, most had Western Digital drives while some had Seagate.

      • Thanks for the quick response. any thoughts on which drive(s) are better, I’ve never had good luck with either drives in the past (5+ years ago)….

        • also, is there anyway to tell where your computer is/was shipped from, I heard from the apple store the other day that they have plants/warehouses in penn. tex. cal. kansas etc….. I had hoped from the serial number but so far no luck….. once again thanks…..

        • I’ve owned both. In my experience, they’re both good drive companies. I’ve had some of each last well over 10 years (not that I use many IDE drives anymore – but when I need to access them they’ve been available.) Usually if I lose a drive it ends up being due to an accidental drop in a portable enclosure.

          • My experience with HD’s from both companies is it is the line of drives that matters, not the company. Both have had some real klunkers and both have had some real winners. When I’m looking at a drive I don’t know much about I head over to the comment section on – that user community seems to really give the drives a good thrashing and is willing to come back and post.

          • Yeah, well I have never had a Seagate drive last more thah 14 months. They are garbage; i won’t buy one. The last device I bought was a USB powered external drive, and it started throeing disk errors within minutes of being plugged in. Internal drives are not much better. I only buy WD.

  • Just a heads up, the current wait time for a SSD on a iMac 2011 is

    2-3 weeks for 21 inch

    4-6 weeks for 27inch

    some food for thought.

  • Great work OWC.

    Just a quick question. Is the SSD Apple are installing a 3Gb/s or 6Gb/sec

    Like some of the other posters have stated, Thunderbolt offerings will make a lot of the drive upgrade points moot, but although I initially was going to but a fully tricked out 27″ iMac for the business, now I will wait and see what offerings are made in the Thinderbolt arena.


    • We’ll be able to find out once Apple starts shipping the SSDs in the new iMacs.

      • No way those SSD drives will be 6G. If the RPM drives they’re shipping are 3G, Apple will never spring for the high premium on cutting-edge 6G SSD drives.

        I can respect the fact that they want to keep their price points low, the masses are where they make their money… What I can’t get down with is when they slap in proprietary doohickeys (which I assume had to cost money to plan, develop, and produce) for the sole purpose of forcing us down a path of their choosing.

  • I believe this rumor about the different SATA interface is rubbish. I removed the harddisk from my brand new iMac and put a OCZ Vertex 3 MI SSD back in (as shown at No excessive fan activity, no failures, it just works fine. Even if the fans would blow crazily, there is software for Macs to control that. But even without any tweaks, the Macs runs fine. And the Vertex 3 MI is faaaaaassttt :)

    • Exirion, have you run Apple Hardware Test on your machine since installing the SSD?

      • Now I have. It fails and it reports error “4SNS/1/40000000:TH00-9.592”. This doesn’t prove there is a proprietary SATA connector though. I guess the machine test fails because the harddisk temperature is bogus (128C).

  • Rather than worrying about messing inside the new 27″ imacs it would be great for OWC to put together a 2 or 4 SSD RAID with Thuderbolt and just use the internal drive for backup or media storage.

  • Well, this is the second time I have had to put off ordering the 27″ iMac 3.4Ghz. The first being the mention of no 6G SSD support. As I’ve said before, Apple’s premium price tag is starting to lose its’ luster. We are already restricted to what we can do in the Mac OS and IOS environments, now it appears that Apple is determined to restrict typical user upgrade components.

    Really Apple, it’s not enough to have record profits during an unstable economy, you’re now taking away our limited choices. Good luck with that. If what is happening to Sony and there PS3 isn’t enough to curb this behavior, waiting until the Apple user community decide to have a mutiny!

    I have a 2011 MacBook Pro 17″ (March). If my OWC 240GB 6G SSD doesn’t work, I’m giving this laptop back to apple and demanding my money back. $3000+ (with Apple Care) is too much to be make compromises!

  • I work at a university and do support for students and faculty. The perception has always seemed to be that Mac’s outlast/perform better/don’t break as much as PCs. This isn’t an “official” study. But by observation, we have more Mac’s being worked on that we do PCs at ANY given time. We do know that on campus the number of Macs has increased from 5% to between 10-13% of the computers used. So there has been a significant increase of the number of Mac’s, but they failure rate is way higher than PC’s.

    This past week we have seen 4 staff computers (Macbook pro’s) infected with Malware, and at least 4 or five students. The semester has ended so it will be interesting to watch how this trends.

    I have a Macbook, as well as PC’s so I am not a Mac hater, just an observer.

    • this is total bs. your case is totally, completely unscientific. anecdotal. has no basis in fact. i sys admin a facility w over 200 Macs & a few random PCs. the PCs are constantly dying from all sorts of causes: HD failure, power supply, MLB, etc. the only Macs i work on are ones that are 5 or 6 years old & that have been in constant service.

      i am not going to try & use my anecdotal evidence to say that all PCs are shit & Macs never break, they way you have tried to use yours. I am going to say that your experience does not make your weak claims factual reality.

      • LOL. I know you are full of S&%t because you just said you sys admined 200 macs. Macs are banned from the enterprise.

        • Please pay this dillhole no mind…

          …he thinks that the uber-rich buy Hyundais as their toy automobiles and that the first two mods you do to make something a “track toy” are tinted windows and a new stereo.

    • “This past week we have seen 4 staff computers (Macbook pro’s) infected with Malware, and at least 4 or five students. The semester has ended so it will be interesting to watch how this trends.”

      “Malware” really? Like what?

      And 4 of them were “infected”? How? A rogue student installing stuff on unsuspecting fellow-students, or a virus of which noone has ever head about but you somehow got 4 instances of it?

    • Guess they should stop downloading from torrent sites.
      Go looking for bin laden…, you find bin laden….

  • “New iMac envy? Nah…I’ll take the freedom of choice over limitations any day of the week.”

    Funny, that’s exactly how I feel using Linux instead of OS X.

  • I am no engineer, but how does Apple’s system work better than the built in heat sensors the HD manufacturers install?

    • Hi Bob….don’t need to be an engineer to realize Apple firmware is reading and interacting with the HD built in sensor….and that’s the crux here….it’s not about being better…it’s about being a ‘closed’ system…

  • OK, OWC, you tried substituting a same-brand/model hard drive for the Apple-branded hard drive, and it didn’t work. Why not simply swap the interface boards? I seriously doubt there’s a firmware chip *inside* the hard drive case, so give this a try and let us know if it works. I’m betting it will.

    Also, how much do you want to bet Apple will start using proprietary interface board screws to stop just this sort of experiment from happening, a la the iPhone “special” screws?

  • Michael,

    iFixit did a tear-down on the 21.5″ iMac and made the assumption that the secondary SSD that is an available option on the 27″ model would be mounted behind the DVD drive. Is that the case? And, in the same line of questioning, are the mounting holes available for adding an SSD drive or will a bracket of some kind need to be purchased along with an SSD if one were to add an SSD in their 2011 iMac in the secondary SATA position?


  • This has been the case since late 2009 models where apple firmware is required for temperature reading, to solve the problem I wrote software that reads the temperature from the drives S.M.A.R.T data and sets fan speed from this.

    Its available at



    • Hi Ben….as we hope you noted, the post did link to you in terms of being a fix for 2009 models.

      Have you tried your routine on the 2011 models?

  • Is this only on the 27″ machines? iFixit took apart the 21″ and didn’t make mention of any changes to the SATA power – of course they weren’t trying to run it without/with a different drive

  • That’s why I’m sticking with my Mac Pro as my desktop machine of choice…

  • OWC: Here’s something to try: Remove the interface board from an Apple-branded iMac hard drive and swap it with the one from an otherwise identical-model non-Apple-branded hard drive. I’ll bet that will work. I can’t imagine there would be a proprietary firmware chip *inside* the hard drive itself.

    Now, the next thing I suspect we’ll see will be Apple-proprietary screws used to secure the interface board to Apple-branded hard drives, a la the special screws Apple uses with iPhones to keep inquiring hands out of the innards.

    • Replacing the circuit board does not help. Each hard drive batch can have different firmware specs and just replacing the board can make the drive inoperable. Learnt that when I’ve tried to recover data from dead circuit board drives. You have to get the same firmware version etc circuit board that matches the one in there. So in essence you’ll be replacing it with another apple hybrid board.

  • In fact, did you see that Apple have options to sell iMac with just a SSD, without hard drive. could you search in this case how Apple disable the thermal sensor ?
    (sorry for my bad english).

  • “last so much longer”

    Are you (expletive deleted by editor) kidding me? I bought a Dell Dimension in 2000. I installed XP on the thing a couple years later and the computer lasted me EIGHT YEARS. It didn’t break, it was just too slow. Beat that, Apple (expletive deleted by editor).

    Second, Apple doesn’t WANT you to think that their computers last at all. They want you buying a new iPad, new iPhone, new iMac, new Macbook EVERY YEAR.

    Furthermore, please give up worshiping at the altar of the 1984 ad. That cliche has grown so, so tiresome over the years of Apple Fanboyism.

    • Only 8 years? My nephew’s still running my old PowerMac G4 from 1999 – that’s 50% longer than your Dell, and it’s still going strong.

      He’s planning to replace it though as he wants to play StarCraft 2, which requires an Intel CPU. When that happens, it’ll be handed down to his younger brother.

      • My 2 household macs are currently an Oct ’05 dual core G5 and a G4 with an accellerator running 1.5 gHz and both are working and stable with no hardware-related problems worth speaking of. I will say this, though, I have upgraded the hard drives in my G5 tower a couple of times. Once to increase capacity (160 to 500 GB) and the 2nd time to be safe, as I was not thrilled with the pre-fail SMART warnings (which turned out to be bogus) on the 1st 500 GB Seagate drive I had added. (I still use it as in internal storage drive for less critical items).
        Thing is, I really appreciated the ability to change by own drives when I felt I needed to. I am not thrilled to read that the new iMac will prevent this. I was about to pull the trigger on a 27″ 3.4 gHz iMac. Now I’m not sure I want to put in the money for a top end machine, as the longevity is now in question, past the 3 year Applecare.

    • First of all, if you love your Dull Dementia so much why are you trolling Mac-relevant comments???

      Next, I’m sure you have no idea that your individual experience has NOTHING WHATEVER to do with averages. Macs last longer **on average** not every single time. Macs have higher resale values, better reliability and higher customer service satisfaction ratings, beating Dull by at least 20 points in the last survey I read.
      There are some Ford Escorts still on the road but that doesn’t make it a good car.

      My old G4 iMac STILL looks better than the latest designed-by-the-blind Dull and unlike a Dementia it has never needed anti-virus software.
      Beat that.

      • Actually I would say that’s exactly what makes it a good car. 10k for a car that lasts well over 10years with only basic maintenance? It may not get you there the fastest or with the best leather seat, but it defiantly will do its job the longest for the least $$. My BMW 335 is in the shop so much that I’m glad I kept my Escort just so I can still get to work. It’s served me well for over 12years and it cost me only 10k.

        Also your Dell faming based on appearance is totally just your OPINION. Personally I find any Mac before the G5/intel MacBooks to look like utter junk. I have a Mac, this is actually my *thinks* 6th Mac and I was just down stairs looking at a partners Dell desktop and thinking that it looked rather nice an sleek. I may own Apple hardware, but I don’t fool myself into thinking they are better than they really are.

        Also as for reliability there was a chart in 2009 released and Apple was only average on the reliability chart. Between Sony and Dell I believe. Asus, Toshiba, and Sony beat Apple, and the difference from Apple and Dell was only 1%.

      • You are just bashing about aesthetics here and unfortunately you are barking up the wrong tree here with most users. Most users want their computer hardware to behave how they want it to and reliably. Who gives a crap that its got smooth lines and looks like some wanky designer handcrafted the case? BORING!

        From my experience of Apple products over the years is that they are determined to dumb it down to the masses which doesn’t help them understand how the freakin’ thing works and that’s a terrible shame. They are just making us into a society of drones who uses products blindly and with no real understanding and when something does go wrong, we have to send it in for repair and pay some ungodly price for what is probably a simple fix.

        Now back on topic…

        What is up for debate here is how Apple is making products which completely lock you into their gear and any replacement parts to said gear. Considering how far the computer industry has come with standards and interoperability you would think Apple would go the same line considering how they moved to Intel processors a while ago rather than PowerPC processors. This decision opened up a world of choices for Apple which now seems to be going in the other direction for choice for users.

        It’s a terrible shame to see such things go on.

    • “””It didn’t break, it was just too slow. Beat that, Apple (expletive deleted by editor).”””

      Well, quite easy. Almost every version of OS X has been faster than the previous one. Snow Leopard has even been leaner (less gigabytes of installation).

      So, you kept it running but “it was just too slow”? What use it that?

    • i can’t believe the pathetic Apple envy on this thread. so you had a Dell that lasted for 8 years? wow! you’re amazing! if i could get Dell to make their website easy to use, get their customer service staff to speak English, send their stuff on time, not screw up every single order or constantly send me the wrong parts i might be impressed…

    • Disco

      I have a Mac 128k built in 1984. It still runs just fine. Since you will run out of fingers and toes, I’ll just tell you that’s 27 years. Beat that!

  • I was thinking of buying a new imac and installing an a 128 gb ssd in the second drive slot and using it as the boot drive. Will this work, or will it need the 7 pin sata pin also?

    • The secondary bay utilizes a standard SATA connection for both data and power. We’ve seen no issues in adding an additional 2.5″ hard drive or SSD to the iMac.

      • So than you can adress this extra SSD as the boot-drive and use the standard HDD as ‘media storage’ or something, no?

          • just to confirm, if i purchase a 27′ with the 1TB drive, i can buy a 128 SSD from OWC and install with no issues? (i really don’t want to get the SSD from apple to save on $$)

            • I just yesterday put an SSD in place of the hard drives in both new iMac models and didn’t notice any fan issues.

              To install the SSD as an additional drive in the 27″ would require a different power cable, an additional data cable, and a bracket, as well as partial removal if the motherboard. All 3 are service parts available online. There’s an ifixit article that enumerates which parts you’d need. The process of installing the necessary supporting hardware is tricky.

              On the 21.5 it looked like there was space and screw holes for some sort if bracket underneath the optical drive. Unfortunately Apple isnt providing the parts needed to anyone, the bracket is not there. It looks like you could order another optical drive power/data cable and with slight modification route the cable to a position under the optical drive and use double sided tape or similar to affix the SSD to the optical drive. That is pure speculation however.

              • Not sure how you put any drive in that main drive bay and do not have fans ramp up. Regardless of the drive we put in…and just leave idle, the fans ramped up to 5600RPM after 1 hour. And even found we were locked out of System Profiler.
                Let your system run for awhile and see what happens perhaps….

              • thanks for sharing good information. so the lowest 21.5 model requires more effort and part.

                data cable/power cable/bracket + some works to plug cables to logic board..

                I hope this will be available soon from 3rd party..

                so the remaining question is, whether it connected as 6GB and apple care.

                it looks void warranty (or not. if I remove them before I go to apple center for service.. )

            • same question here. now we know that we can add SSD at secondary bay and make it as primary. is there any performance issue? does it connected as 6GB? how about applecare? installing 3rd party will void warrenty? coz I have to open front glass?

      • can I add a sata 6gpbs owc ssd drive to the 2nd bay in my new 2011 imac, and use it as a boot drive? My imac has a 1 tb drive stock from apple.

  • “is the freedom promised in 1984 being revoked?”

    The truth of 1984 is that “freedom is slavery”.

    • The freedom in the “1984” ad from Apple, which “opposed” the “1984” book future by promising freedom.

      Everything has to be explained.

  • I remember working for Apple when Scully arrived to replace Jobs. Apple became Pepsi Corp. and that was not a good thing. Back then they did every trick they could to prevent upgrades of the Mac with non-Apple product and invention was replaced with profit pursuit. The question at Apple became how many more quarters will the faithful keep buying this product? History has a nasty way of repeating itself.

  • boot drive, is this a viable solution? and if yes, what else is needed (cables,adapters…)?

    ps. hopefully you can find a workaround for the main 3.5″ drive too.

  • i’ve never posted to a message board before this however, i feel as if this news warrants my entry into the fray that is internet message boards.

    dear apple, (expletive deleted by editor) you.

    (and i am/was a huge fanboy)

  • I should explain the nomenclature here. The power connector uses 4 active pins for electricity out of the 15 pin connection. The remaining pins are either grounds or unused (till now). The seven pin cable connection is for data transfer. So when I mention the 4 pin power, I’m referring to the 15 pin cable.

    • Thats interesting, it was my understanding that there were 3 pins for each voltage: 3.3V (not generally used), 5V and 12V, as each pin on it’s own could only handle 1.5A due to their size thus three are needed to supply sufficient current, then the other 6 are for ground.

  • There’s two separate issues you’ve brought up.
    (1) what this means to upgrade DIY style
    Thunderbolt will allow fast peripherals (though likely expensive at first) to supplement any space needs. Other than adding an SSD, I’m not sure why one would choose to open the box and go through the internal hassle instead of getting a fast external raid enclosure or something of the like. The big disadvantage comes if you want an internal boot drive of significant size down the line.
    (2) what this means if your drive fails
    To me it means you should’ve had Applecare. Three years is a solid bit of time for a computer to last. With apple care, you’re guaranteed three years of no hassle and then you can ride out the computer after that until it dies, and hopefully replace the hardware in it more easily at that point. Maybe these seven pin drives will be in the discount bins in 2014.

    Just a couple thoughts.

    • agreed. but the issue is, someone prefer specific hard disk brand or SSD. and apple took the freedom of the basic modification. RAM/HDD should be free to replace.

      even I want to do CTO for SSD, the entry 21.5 model doesn’t have SSD CTO option. upper 21.5 model has it but only offer 256GB SSD which is expensive than 120GB and no choice of brand.

      as per my calculation, i have to spend 700$ more to have CTO SSD model..

  • As long as we’ll be able to select Thunderbolt attached storage as a boot drive it won’t matter to me. How’s that coming along anyway ;)

  • I have had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that Apple was going to do this. There are other examples of having to live with the “Apple Way”. No matte screen options, only 27″ monitors, etc. I am sure folks can think of others. While OSX is my OS of choice, it is getting to the point where I may have to go back to Windows because I can afford the hardware and as far as I know, all the manufacturers adhere to the standards. This choice by Apple ensures I will not buy an iMac. It also ensures I will not recommend Apple computer products to other folks. Proprietary does not ensure that Apple products are the best. This hard drive issue is an excellent case in point.

  • So….it appears my dream of a 2011 iMac sporting a Raid 0 set up across two Mercury Pro 6G SSDs is dead. Needless to say, this is beyond upsetting news from Apple. First and foremost, where is the best place to start posting comments and calling to complain about this “strategy” to keep us from upgrading our machines? I’m no PC, I don’t have to build the latest and greatest every time it comes out, but when I buy my machines (every 5 or 6 years) I like to make sure its the top of the line, or at least has the ability to be easily upgraded, so it will last me that 5 or 6 years. Since I’m rockin’ the early 2006 iMac, I’ve been patiently waiting for these new machines for some time now. I’m crushed that Apple is obviously and actively trying to make the end user experience less than it could be. I don’t understand why they are doing it, or what sense it makes. Did they get their mega billion dollar glut of cash by selling people after market hard drives? Of course not…whether or not I slap some new hard drives in my new iMac should mean nothing to them. After all, I am springing for the iMac to start! How long before I can only use the massively over priced Apple RAM?

    My rant over, I do actually have some questions about the 2011 iMacs. 1) The main hard drive, is it a 6G drive? I know a 7200 RPM drive won’t be able to keep up with that bus, but I’m just curious if Apple gave us a 6G bus and then a 3G drive that can’t be replaced. 2) If I get one of these new iMacs, will OWC be able to put a 6G SSD in the ONE drive bay thats left, and then boot off that drive? Its no Raid 0, but it would be worlds better than a 7200 RPM drive. 3) I know you guys are hard at work, trying to make a Mac firmware updater… if you are successful (and I have faith that you will be), will this fix the issue of the fans? 4) Finally, are you currently working on adding Thunderbolt to your external RAID setups? Are you able to give any kind of broad based time frame on when we might see these come to market? I know this questions seems off the wall, but IF we can boot from an external Thunderbolt SSD, then this whole 3G/6G SATA conversation becomes moot. Apple can take their internal drives and shove ’em, while I crank out at 10G speeds.

    Lastly, I just want to thank you OWC guys. As a pseudo tech geek that is in the market to buy one of these shiny new paper weights (no need to flame me later, I’m just being sarcastic), I like to know everything I can before I make a purchase that will be with me for at least half of the next decade, and you guys are the ones breaking all the news. I read more tech blogs than I should and I have to wonder, do they all just watch your blog and wait for you to tell them whats in the newest machines? Keep up the hard work so I can send you my money!!

    And for Apple…. If I want to rip open my $2400 machine and turn it into a fish tank, that is my business. You have my money, what do you care? Think different, Apple, think different….

    • To answer your questions….
      1) The WD1001FALS is a 3Gb/s 7200RPM hard drive. The two hard drive bays are 6Gb/s after the firmware update and the optical drive is a 3Gb/s SATA bus.
      2) We’re still working on what we’ll be able to offer for our Turnkey Upgrade Service – and I should mention, we’re not giving up on this not being able to replace the main hard drive thing. There are still avenues to go down, but we need time to design and test alternate solutions. As far as setting up an SSD as the boot drive and using the existing hard drive for storage, that is definitely going to work. We found the original drive just needs to be present, not necessarily as the boot drive.
      3) Once the firmware updater is ready, we can test to see if it does. More likely thought is that the absence of the Apple drive firmware is still going to cause the AHT failure. But as I said before, we’re not giving up.
      4) We are still working on Thunderbolt, there’s no ETA at this time as it really is an emerging technology and, as you can see from this post, we try to cover every aspect of a product before we bring it to market. We’re not the type of company that is going to beta-test with our early adopter’s purchases.

  • It is sad that there is no way to add more than 2TB inside the new iMacs and at $150 it is an insult in their price anyway up from the 1TB stock size on most models but lets try and look on the bright side here. There is still room for a second super fast 6Gbps SSD drive to boot from and the new iMacs are even easier to open and upgrade than before; we are simply swapping our putty knives for suction cups as tools to get the job done. While that stock HD will die eventually, hopefully Apple doesn’t charge an arm and leg to fix their failed drive and restrictive upgrade path.

    Now while an ESATA port is nice on the 2010 models it still requires you to use a big external box to benefit for the extra storage but there is no daisy chaining that ESATA port for another monitor or video I/O card. Now throw in two thunderbolt ports on the new iMacs and not only do you have more display options but far more expandability for storage and I/O. So now I can run that same 4 drive external box as I would with an OWC 4 bay using ESATA but instead of just getting over 200MBps and still not maxing out the RAID throughput of the 4 drives ], I can get over 800MBps and not even the fastest 4 drive RAID 0 SATA drives can sustain that as the drives fill up.

    So having a port that can transfer at least 4x of eSATA and having a boot drive with 500MBps read/write times seems like a sweet machine.

    • No doubt, Thunderbolt is going to be great once it is available in the market. Hopefully, the first external Thunderbolt storage solutions will be available in the upcoming months and render the internal storage speed moot in these machines. Or better yet, we’ll see Apple adopt a Thunderbolt speed data bus internally on future models of iMac. The future looks promising indeed.

  • So, where does Apple installs the SSD when configuring the iMac with it? In the main bay? What about replacing the SSD in the main bay? It shouldn’t have any heat control, right?

    • That’s my question as well. In iMacs with only the 256GB SSD, there is no HDD in the bay. How are the fans controlled and how does the hardware test pass in this situation?

      • SMC reset will do it. Not everyone remembers that step when replacing a drive.

    • This is the question I have as well. If the iMac fans spin up and it fails the hardware test when the Apple-supplied drive is so much as out of the bay, how do the SSD only machines get around this?

    • That’s the question on everyone’s mind. I wish OWC would chime in with an answer. At this point it feels like this post may be premature without details on the factory SSD only setup.

      • I should reiterate a comment I made earlier… We’re still working on what we’ll be able to offer for our Turnkey Upgrade Service – and I should mention, we’re not giving up on this not being able to replace the main hard drive thing. There are still avenues to go down, but we need time to design and test alternate solutions – including getting our iMac with the SSD option.

        No testing can be completed yet as, to date, Apple hasn’t started shipping the factory SSD only setup.

        • Hi Michael,
          first of all sorry for my bad English.
          If I have misunderstood the problem occurs when I want to replace the primary disk 1TB 3,5″ with another HDD not Apple certified.
          But if I want to to combine the main drive with a secondary SSD OCW Mercury drive I would the same problems?
          Many thanks in advance for a kindly reply since I would like to place an order for SSD as soon as possible.

          • Hi Andrea:

            No…if you keep the Apple factory stock hard drive where it’s connected (SATA 0 bus connector on logic board) and just connect the SSD to the SATA 1 bus connection (which is the other 6Gb/s SATA connection on the new iMacs btw) then you’ll not experience any of the reported problems.

    • I too would like to know the answer to this. OWC… Have you considered getting your hands on an SSD only” iMac and figuring out whether what they’ve done in that machine contains a solution that you can emulate as part of your turnkey solutions? Hell, if I had known this was going to be a problem, i would have ordered the thing with the factory SSD. I was really counting on OWC being able to mod this new Core i7 3.4 for me.