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I'm looking at buying a new iMac 27" for university and want the hard drive + ssd but the problem is that its so expensive. So is it possible to install another hard drive without adding in the option? Also I don't want an SSD - I want more storage for the OS, so I would replace it for a 500gb hard drive if it would fit. Has anyone done this, or is it not possible?

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related: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/7997/… –  ghoppe Jun 21 '11 at 20:03
    
The new iMacs have two slots for storage and the cable locations are substantially different. –  bmike Jun 21 '11 at 20:46
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

On the immediate downsides - You will need special tools and be handling some delicate parts. Also, there is concern that the temperature sensing since the 2009 model iMac causes the fans to run faster with non-apple drives.

If you really want to get dust between the LCD and the front glass on a brand new mac and take the chance of ripping a tiny ribbon cable - just do some research at ifixit.com or talk with a local tech that works on new iMacs a lot. Do also research fan control and know if you are not planning on an Apple specification drive to install.

My guess is Apple SSD are expensive because the parts are cherry picked to be the best of a lot (more so than the SSD consumers buy) and perhaps loaded with custom firmware and generally have temp sensors specific to the mac. I could be totally wrong, but even if you feel the drives are overpriced, Apple installing any SSD is better than a consumer due to the labor for for installing them is almost nil as they are installed at the most economical time - at assembly.

If you can't afford it now - why not expand to an external SSD over firewire or ThunderBolt later. They are totally silent and small. It just seems the risks of DIY on a new mac make it better for most people to pay a trained tech to do the install.

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No my idea was to swap the SSD for a 500GB hard drive install OS X, Debian and windows on to that then configure the 2TB drive to run as the document storage to so when loaded in any OS can access all the data. I asked the question to see if I had to order the 2 hard drive option to get the space in the chassis. –  Dean Jun 21 '11 at 21:09
    
That will be a sweet lineup! Do read the take apart - with care and some prior experience, many people that have good physical motor skills and patience can DIY. It's just a whole lot harder than a PC tower or a Mac Pro / portable install. Those are easy to swap a HD - not so with the current iMacs. Do use care to make sure a temp sensor is present - I'm going to edit my answer to call that out. –  bmike Jun 21 '11 at 21:16
    
Yeah I understand that I'm good with apple repairs having repaired several iMacs before. So should be easy. It just takes time. –  Dean Jun 21 '11 at 21:28
    
Phew - I'd hate to encourage someone that was getting in over their head. It would take me maybe 15 minutes to do that repair - so it's easy when you are familiar with the hardware. The 27 are rocket ships - enjoy! –  bmike Jun 21 '11 at 22:20
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Man - I really botched that sentence. no sarcasm intended - I'll edit the answer - you're totally right it makes no sense and is very wrong. –  bmike Jun 22 '11 at 13:23
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The current line of iMacs has space for one 3.5" and one 2.5" drive. You can fit a SSD or HDD in either slot at a later point in time. But be cautious, this is not an easy task due to the space constrained nature of the device.

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Yes you can install an aftermarket SSD into the 27" iMac but there are a few obstacles which you will have to overcome, like the Hard drive sensor cable and cleaning the iMac glass so particles are not stuck between the actual display and the glass.

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Other World Computing have a Turnkey Upgrade program which includes up to three internal SSDs and a three-year warranty.

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