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2011 iMac Internal Hard Drives Now Proprietary

Posted: Thu May 12, 2011 3:39 pm
by bluesky
Changes to 2011 iMac deter main drive upgrades
updated 10:50 am EDT, Thu May 12, 2011

Only secondary drives supported

Apple has made modifications to the 2011 iMac which essentially prevent people from doing third-party upgrades to the main hard drive, according to upgrade vendor Other World Computing. The flaw is said to lay with the SATA power connector for the main bay, which has switched from a 4-pin configuration to 7-pin. In combination with proprietary Apple firmware on stock hard drives, the special power cable helps to control fans which regulate drive temperature.
OWC notes that in testing, removing an Apple main drive would result in an iMac's HDD fans spinning at maximum speed, instead of in a measured way. Compounding the problem was that once an unofficial drive was inserted, it would inevitably fail the Apple Hardware Test. The failure repeated itself even when the substitute drive was the exact same model.

"In short, the Apple-branded main hard drive cannot be moved, removed or replaced," says OWC. It adds that while iMac EFI Update 1.6 allows for 6Gbps throughput on two ports, one of them is assigned to Apple's default 7,200rpm hard drive, which can't run fast enough to exploit the connection.

The only way to upgrade a 2011 iMac's main drive is said to be through Apple, whether during the order process or by visiting an authorized service location. Third-party upgrades should still be viable for secondary drives, or when using an external eSATA option.

The lack of easy upgrade options for Macs has sometimes been seen as an obstacle to wider adoption, since PC owners can often improve storage, graphics and CPU power with cheaper off-the-shelf parts.

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Re: 2011 iMac Internal Hard Drives Now Proprietary

Posted: Thu May 12, 2011 4:15 pm
by Stephen Hart
Note that the iMac design makes it rather difficult to replace the hard drive in any case. You need special tools to remove the glass cover, then you need to remove the whole display, all just to reveal the hard drive.

Also, there's been a lot of heated discussion of this issue on Macintouch. Apparently this has to do with the temperature sensors on newer drives.