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Apple Limits HD Upgrade Options on New iMacs

Today we have news from Other World Computing regarding the new iMac design Apple released last week.  Apple is using a new proprietary SATA power connector and the factory hard drive has custom temperature control firmware.

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-pin power configuration to a 7-pin 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.

Granted, upgrading or replacing the hard drive on an iMac is not a job for the timid.  But this wrong-headed decision is probably the stupidest move Apple has made since the board of directors fired Steve Jobs in 1984.

This is the sort of crap the old Apple would pull.  In fact, it was when Apple started doing a better job of following industry standards that the company finally realized better adoption of the Mac platform.  If your hard drive failed, you just headed down to the local Fry's or Best Buy and you were all set.

Major fail, Apple!  But thank you for saving me the money I might have spent "upgrading" to a new iMac.


Apple Introduces New iMacs

Apple Inc. introduced new iMac computers this morning.

Apple today updated its signature all-in-one iMac® with next generation quad-core processors, powerful new graphics, groundbreaking high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology and a new FaceTime® HD camera. Starting at $1,199, the new iMac is up to 70 percent faster and new graphics deliver up to three times the performance of the previous generation.


The new iMacs feature the Sandy Bridge quad-core Intel Core i5 processor design.   Apple is offering four models.

  •  21.5-inch, 2.5GHz quad-core i5, 4GB (two 2GB) RAM, 500GB HD, AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 512MB, priced at $1,199
  • 21.5-inch, 2.7GHz quad-core i5, 4GB (two 2GB) RAM, 1TB HD, AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB, priced at $1,499
  • 27-inch, 2.7GHz quad-core i5, 4GB (two 2GB) RAM, 1TB HD, AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB, priced at $1,699
  • 27-inch, 3.1GHz quad-core i5, 4GB (two 2GB) RAM, 1TB HD, AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 1GB, priced at $1,999

A quad-core Intel Core i7 processor is a $200 option on the $1,499 and $1,999 models resulting in Core i7 processor speeds of 2.8GHz and 3.4GHz, respectively.

The 21.5-inch models feature a single Thunderbolt port while the 27-inch models come equipped with two Thunderbolt ports.  Four USB 2.0 ports and one Firewire 800 port are included on all models.  A built-in FaceTime HD camera is also standard.