Upgrading my mid 2011 iMac (27″) with an SSD

Back in early 2012 I banned the last PC from my home and bought an iMac:

Bildschirmfoto 2014-11-09 um 19.25.35

It had the fastest processor back then and I upgraded it to a total of 24GB of RAM (it was shipped with 2x2GB – I chose the minimum config because RAM is so much cheaper if you buy it from Amazon). The only thing I did not buy, was an SSD. The price would have been an additional €600 and that would have pushed it towards the €3000 barrier. Too much. So I ended up with a 2TB hard drive, spinning at 7200rpm.

The machine was (and still is!) powerful enough to do al the work I demand from it. But at some point I installed Windows 8 in a Virtual Machine (running Parallels 10 meanwhile) and the HDD became more and more of a bottleneck. If Mac OS wasn’t accessing the disk, Windows surely was. The rumbling sound of an HDD being accessed became my constant company.

So I thought about buying a new Mac – but what for? Just to get an SSD? I mean the new 5K iMac is great but mine is still powerful enough. Too much money. Next, I talked to Gravis about adding a Fusion Drive. They asked for €450; that would include a Samsung 840 Evo SSD with 250GB, installation, configuration, backup and restore of the current system. They also would allow me to keep the Superdrive. The SSD would be an additional device, hidden somewhere inside the iMac. When I saw the price for the SSD alone at Amazon I thought: €120 – can’t I just buy it there and install it myself? I started googling about installation guides and opinions about Fusion Drives vs. pure SSDs. Finally I decided:

  1. It cannot be too hard to install an SSD
  2. I do not want a Fusion Drive but rather put the OS on the SSD and large data (Aperture library e.g.) on the HDD for maximum performance.
  3. I can sacrifice my Superdrive

I want to share my experience because it is actually really easy to install an SSD into the mid 2011 iMac! If you have ever assembled together a PC, you will be able to do it, believe me! The whole procedure took me 40 minutes.

Please be aware that I won’t be responsible for any damage!