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eSATA on an iMac? Maybe…

OMG!!! eSATA on an iMac!!! ::drool::

Update 7/31/2010: No Longer a ‘Maybe..’  eSATA Option for Apple ‘21010’ iMac 27″ is now available!

For all ‘Mid-2010’ Apple iMac 27″ Models introduced on July 28th, 2010: 3.2GHz and 3.6GHz Core i3; 2.8GHz Quad-Core i5; and 2.93GHz Quad-Core i7.

Ever since our Tuesday night post regarding the third SATA port on the Mid 2010 27″ iMacs, there has been a resounding chorus of “we want eSATA on an iMac!” coming at us from all directions.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the project, a kit for such a thing is not very likely to surface.

What if, though, we offered a turnkey service for adding this interface to your new iMac? Much like our Mac mini upgrade service or iPod battery replacement service, you’d send us your iMac, we’d perform the intricate upgrade, then send your iMac back with a custom high speed eSATA port. Would that sort of thing appeal to you? If so, how much would you be willing to pay for such a service?

[poll id=”22″]

M. Chris Stevens
the authorOWC Chris S.
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  • I managed to install a mini pcie stat III card on an imac 2010 and I was even able to boot from it.

    The only downside was that it took 3 minutes for the screen to come at start-up and only then the os started.

    Maybe because the card replaced the airport card. I haven’t found the solution to this issue yet.

    I hope this helps someone.

    • Hello John, I also want to add Sata III via mini pci express to my iMac 2010. can you tell me the exact model of the card that is working in your iMac? Thanks in advance, Jack

  • But if it is a standard mini pcie slot then the card I referenced should work. Someone is using is on a mac mini and it’s works in the airport card slot on that computer. Can you confirm if the slot is in fact standard pcie on the iMac? Thanks

    • Hey John…we don’t sell that card you have…and as OWC Chris S. has noted, we are only familiar with the AirPort card working with that slot. It may be a mini PCIe interface…but whether or not that enables all such cards to be compatible with the slot is something we have not investigated…because again, not offering anything that would warrant such investigation. At this time, we feel our eSATA port addition for the iMac is the best route to pursue.

  • I have a Mid 2010 i7 iMac with the 256gb SSD & 1tb HDD.
    I would like to add 1 or 2 esata ports. I have found a Mini Pci-e card adapter “MPX-3132” which adds two sata ports which could then be extended to esata ports. I personally don’t need the wifi card and I prefer to keep the optical drive. Would this pcie card work in my situation?

    What is the speed of the mini pcie slot?
    Does it support 3GB/s?
    Does this slot support port multiplier?


  • It is possible to do add an external eSATA port on a late 2009 27″ iMac, if you are willing to sacrifice the internal optical drive…see the end of the comments in this other OWC blog post:

    OWC could certainly add the 2009 iMacs to their configuration list, but with fewer options since there are only 2 internal SATA ports to work with as opposed to 3 on the 2010 model.

  • So, sounds like no dice on the iMac 11,1? (2009 27″ Corei7).

    This is almost enough reason to buy the new version of the imac i just got a few months ago.

  • So if I buy a stock 27″, ship it to you, you can add a smaller SSD and a 2 TB HD. At Apple this cost $900, with you a Seagate Drive and 240 GB SSD is $1000. Can yo tell me why this is a good idea? Also, what happens to my warranty at Apple as well as AppleCare? Thanks

  • As an aside what about iMac 11,1? (2009 27″ Corei7).
    Would it be possible to use the connector for the superdrive?
    My idea would be to simply relocate the superdrive to an external USB case so as to use its SATA interface to another serial ATA drive in a powered case of some ilk.

    • Although somewhat more involved due to the need to adapt from a the specialized SATA connection in the optical bay + reliably adding a SATA extension from that port type/location, certainly can’t say that it wouldn’t be possible to do so.

  • I’m assuming the effects on the warranty aren’t good, but could someone actually spell them out, either here or on the OWC site? I can’t find anything precise.

  • I very recently got a MacBookPro6,2 and have been trying to wrap my brain around a way to snake a SATA cabledapterbracketthingy (of as-yet-undetermined origin) out the optical drive slot (after removing the SuperDrive, of course!).

    OWC’s Data Doubler is a great product, but would be oh-so-much greater if it would create an eSATA port!

    What say ye, OWC?

    And, while we’re at it, I’m assuming that (re: OWC Chris S.’s #11 post) y’all have actually tested said configuration and found it actually impossible… :-)

    • The main problem with this is that the eSATA connector is thicker than the CD slot (at least on the models I checked).

      As for the port multiplier… no… it will not work. We are simply extending the single-channel internal port to a more accessible external port.

  • Apple should install eSATA ports for all their Macs (iMac & Mac Pro). Unfortunately Apple is only interested in packaging glitter without substance. That’s why they still install USB 2, when USB 3 is 10X faster.

  • Any chance you guys could become resellers for Mac? If only for the iMac?
    It’d be nice if we only had to pay shipping just one way for the modded iMac

  • Any chance that the end user could purchase a new iMac from the Apple Store or 3rd party, have it shipped to OWC for mod’ing, then OWC ship to end user? Would eliminate some of the hassle for the end-user as there wouldn’t be extra charges to ship to OWC and then back. If possible, what about also scheduling other services like RAM upgrades, hard drive swaps while the iMac is in the shop? Discounts on external eSata enclosures if purchased with the mod?

  • I would be tremendously happy if this service was offered. I use an OWC 4 bay Mercury RAID and the speed increase over FW800 would be tremendous. Especially for video.

  • I’d love to have two ports for eSATA added to my iMac 5,1. Imagine my dismay when I couldn’t connect two Newertech Voyagers together via eSATA to do file copying, and had to rely on the asynchronous file transfer to my iMac and back to copy files between the two drives. In the end I bought a stand alone Startech SATDOCK22R device to do my second eSATA clones of my first eSATA drive clone. This was much faster for file copying, and saved me easily 18 hours in file copying per 2 TB drive. A mod service would allow me to use existing external SATA drives at SATA speeds, without having to buy a used Mac Pro.

    • Unfortunately, there is no third SATA on the Late 2006 iMacs. For that matter, there isn’t even a second one – the optical drive in that model had an ATAPI interface. The only thing SATA was the internal hard drive. The upgrade we’re offering simply extends the original, unused SATA port on the Mid 2010 iMac logic board to an external eSATA port. A good analogy is it’s like an extension cord. It doesn’t change anything, it just moves the interface to somewhere more convenient to use.

  • So, what if say… I were to drop it off in the morning and spend the day with the fam at Great America? Same day turn-around?

    • This upgrade is simply going to add an extension to an existing internal port so that it is available externally. For the vast majority of users, this is more than sufficient.

  • I wound not pay for a standard estata port, but I would pay 100 For a port multiplier port. Shipping cost, however, would probably make it cost prohibitive.

    • Unfortunately, the port on the logic board that would provide the eSATA connection is single-channel; it was designed only for a single drive (the SSD) so it doesn’t support port multiplication.

  • You could offer a service like this on a Mac Mini (server edition) as well… Rather than the 2 drives inside, put in only 1 and put an eSATA on the outside.

    Or, use a hardware RAID adapter to put two SSDs on the first SATA port, and map the second one out to an eSATA.

    Especially if we’re talking about hacking Macs to provide an obvious, but missing port.

    (re: pricing… Isn’t SHIPPING a big deal on a 27″ iMac?)

    • I’m not going to count out the possibility of similar upgrades for other models, but I’m honestly surprised we’re even going through with this one.

      I think the main difference with this upgrade is that the port is inside, not being used at all. We’re simply adding something, rather than taking something out and putting different thing in.

      And, yes, I’m sure that shipping will be a significant factor in things. That’s one of the many details we’ll be working out as we roll out this service.

  • This is a service that is definitely needed for the iMacs and Mac Minis. I do not understand Apple’s obstinate refusal to add eSATA to these products years ago, but adding it will improve theses products utility.

    If would be very nice to have a Mac Mini with an eSATA hard drive to handle storage chores for a variety of things.

  • I’m sorry, but shipping a big-screen iMac for a retrofit just doesn’t make my day… Too many ways to imagine damage :(

    Too bad you can’t make a kit.

  • Well lets see…I would purchase an SSD from you guys. If you swap/install the SSD and converted the eSATA port, I’d be willing to pay $100.

  • YES!!! Please make this happen.

    I would like to be able to convert the extra SATA port to eSATA, and ALSO have you guys swap out my internal HDD for one of your SSD’s.

    This would be the perfect setup and alleviate all of the shortcomings of the iMac. In fact, this is the ONLY way I will even purchase a 2010 27″ iMac. If OWC offers this service, I will be ready to purchase the new iMac and send it to them ASAP. With my current iMac, I already have an OWC 4bay external enclosure using a firewire 800 port, however it also has an eSATA port. So bring it OWC!!!

    • So Roman, the question is, what are you willing to pay for such a Mac that the factory doesn’t even offer?

      Man, this brings back the good ol’ days of hot rodding both cars and computers. How fast you went was just a matter of how much money you had at the time…and how much you really wanted a set-up that got braggin’ rights because it wasn’t run of the mill.

  • Could be interesting for a Mac mini also, but I’m guessing there is only the 2 SATA connections and you couldn’t easily make a 3rd.