Hard drive upgrades restricted in Apple's new Thunderbolt iMacs



  • Reply 81 of 105
    kiltedgreenkiltedgreen Posts: 499member
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

    On the surface this move is stupid enough to impact sales and cause people to look for alternative platforms.

    If you take your "AppleInsider poster" head off I think you'll realize that it won't matter at all any significant number of iMac purchasers. I have owned Macs continuously since 1984 and I have never replaced or upgraded the HDD in any of them. I have had a couple of external disks - plug them in and off you go.

    Just the same way that the vast majority don't care that the iPad doesn't have an XYZ processor or MIDI ports or FireWire ports or a standard USB port, they won't care that their iMac doesn't have an easily upgradeable HDD either.

    If you want to play around there's always the Mac Pro or else it's get a PC and overclock it, add quieter fans, water cooling, bigger HDDs and graphics cards to your heart's content. It will still be a PC though ...
  • Reply 81 of 105
    eksodoseksodos Posts: 186member
    Originally Posted by bwik View Post

    What is the best Windows 7 based iMac alternative? I am suddenly curious.

    Lenovo IdeaCentre

    ASUS EeeTop
  • Reply 83 of 105
    Originally Posted by maxinc View Post


    On the Hard drive side, there is nothing special about it. Just a standard SATA Power connector as described here <img>

    Thank you very much for being the voice of reason in an otherwise chaotic thread full of people who like to complain.
  • Reply 84 of 105
    sandorsandor Posts: 549member
    Originally Posted by popnfresh View Post

    All through the 80's and most of the 90's Apple loved to put proprietary hardware into their computers. Eventually, this design philosophy wound up biting them in the ass because their systems were too closed. With the advent of the first iMac, Apple seemed to embrace open standards, like USB. Gone were proprietary standards like ADB and localtalk...

    On the other hand, Apple used SCSI for internal drives through most of the late '80s and early '90s.
  • Reply 85 of 105
    res1233res1233 Posts: 18member
    Originally Posted by newbee View Post

    Either I wasn't clear or you just missed my point ... no problem ... I'll try to clarify my point.

    As far as I, and countless others are concerned, (judging from the fact that Apple has outperformed, sales wise, their competitors for some time now) ... I don't care how easy or difficult it is to service any computer ... as I have no intention of doing anything more than upgrading Ram, in most cases.

    In fact, this is precisely why I chose Apple over 12 years ago. There isn't the need for me to be a repair specialist to enjoy my Mac.

    In other words, most consumers are like me ... they want to drive a car, not tune it up. They want to watch TV, not tinker with it .... and they want to use their Mac, not tinker with it .... having said that, I accept the fact that the computer industry has a sizable portion of the consumer base that loves to "do their own thing" .... fair enough, but that's not the demographic that Apple is chasing, nor should be, IMHO. ..... and their ever increasing customer base seems to suggest that they're correct with that philosophy.

    The bottom line is this .... the "techies" seem to do all of the complaining about how bad Apple is for not making it easier to take their computer home and "re-design" it. Instead of the constant bitching ... why not do what the rest of us do ... if Apple isn't working for you ... find something that is. At least that way, the line ups wouldn't be so long. Cheers.

    ^ So true. Most people want a computer that works when they get it, and they have no interest in messing with its innards once they have it. Most people would have no clue what to do with the insides of a computer anyway. Even installing RAM is an arcane concept to some people.
  • Reply 86 of 105
    trrosentrrosen Posts: 30member
    Originally Posted by xSamplex View Post

    A non-standard ATA connector? That is totally whack.

    And totally false. Connectors are standard.
  • Reply 87 of 105
    trrosentrrosen Posts: 30member
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post

    Lenovo IdeaCentre

    ASUS EeeTop

    an iMac
  • Reply 88 of 105
    trrosentrrosen Posts: 30member
    Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post

    This image shows a 7pin connector on a Maxtor drive from 2004. If this is what they are talking about it is not new.

    I can accept that they are using pins for something new, but that wouldn't necessarily make anything incompatible as others have shown with their testing.

    Wrong connector the power is the 15 pin connector. Of course there are only 6 actually electrical contacts. Connector on new iMacs is the same old standard connector.
  • Reply 89 of 105
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

    The mods should shut this thread down after this post. Or edit the story.

    It's disappointing -- but not at all surprising -- to see many posters continuing their yapping and venting, without their bothering to read what's been said in the thread so far.

    I am reposting it for that reason.

    (Thanks, maxinc).

    Originally Posted by fecklesstechguy View Post

    Could it be that OWC is just trying to drum up business by making these assertions?

    No offense intended towards maxinc, but OWC has been a very well respected Mac components supplier for many, many years. They have a strong reputation for quality parts and service and very high customer satisfaction. I'd trust them far more than a post by an unknown member of this forum. Again, no offense intended, and I'm not disputing maxinc's findings. But would argue that it's a single data point vs testing by a reputable Mac dealer who said they are still working on a solution. Perhaps they simply haven't tested the same replacement drive maxinc used. But they certainly seem to have demonstrated that at least SOME drives cause issues. And that's imprtant for users to know.
  • Reply 90 of 105
    maxincukmaxincuk Posts: 11member
    Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

    No offense intended towards maxinc, but OWC has been a very well respected Mac components supplier for many, many years. They have a strong reputation for quality parts and service and very high customer satisfaction. I'd trust them far more than a post by an unknown member of this forum. Again, no offense intended, and I'm not disputing maxinc's findings. But would argue that it's a single data point vs testing by a reputable Mac dealer who said they are still working on a solution. Perhaps they simply haven't tested the same replacement drive maxinc used. But they certainly seem to have demonstrated that at least SOME drives cause issues. And that's imprtant for users to know.

    The problem here is public ignorance and propaganda effect. This isn't just an isolated case, people on MacRumors have replaced the 1TB Seagate with 2TB WD Black, other guy replaced it with a 3TB Seagate XT, there is plenty of evidence already there which proves there is no thermal data collected via the Power SATA cable. There are screenshots showing HDD temperature readings, fan speeds under control and users confirming the drives have past AHT successfully.

    Yes, some drives may not be compatible and that is indisputable. Probably the safest best would be to use one of the drives Apple has chosen for the iMac already to make sure they are 100% compatible. But this isn't what this is about.

    The problem here is that people are led to believe that Apple uses proprietary technology and that they won't be able to replace the hard drive one the warranty runs out, which is so wrong.
  • Reply 91 of 105
    desuserigndesuserign Posts: 1,316member
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post

    Lenovo IdeaCentre

    ASUS EeeTop

    Holy crap, those are ugly.
  • Reply 92 of 105
    I am currently writing a blog entry myself that will go into greater technical detail. Michael honestly didn't expect or write yesterday's blog with the expectation of it being so widely covered. Pretty exciting, honestly. Being fair, we've been blogging on various aspects of the new iMacs from a first teardown/unboxing just hours after their release last week: <http://blog.macsales.com/?s=imac&x=0&y=0). That in itself lends a little more context to yesterday's complaint about the hard drive bay.

    #1 - on the logic board, the connector is proprietary for the SATA port going to the hard drive bay:


    It has a SATA DATA port and then a separate, unique power port for the Apple cable going to the HDD bay - different from the standard SATA ports that are present for the optical and SSD bay channels.

    One user says he connected a Y-Power cable, not exactly sure how unless cut into the apple cable? Certainly isn't any off the shelf Y-Cable you can just plug in to the power line. Maybe something that splits out the SATA and the Power at the HDD connector end and then a Y-splitter into the power there? If so, lack of space makes that a non-starter in the 21.5" models and still tight in the 27". And is it then shorting the extra thermal lines (more comment on that below..)... anyway... always interested in options and ideas to solve these challenges and hope that user will post photos, etc to further elaborate on the solution.

    #2 - the iMac fans are pretty quiet, even revved... but - we've tested a variety of different drives and all with the same result - regardless of which iMac (21.5" or 27" - we tested with all the flavors 2011). No Apple hard drive (disconnected or replaced with an off the shelf drive) and the HDD bay fan speed starts to increase within a few minutes of start up. Doesn't matter whether drive is the start up drive or not. While the control systems (which we left on and running during the drive swap testing) maintained an SMCFan control reported 1099-1105RPM speed, the systems with a non-Apple drive installed had the HDD fan speed rev up.

    The fans rev because the system doesn't know the HDD bay temperature, so it goes to the side of caution and kicks up the fans to prevent a heat issue from causing damage, even if no heat issue present. Not unusual or anything new where thermal sensors are present.

    #3 - Running Apple AHT with a non-Apple drive installed (or no drive) results in this test failing very shortly after it's start with the fail code indicating a failed thermal sensor. This isn't a huge deal, imho, other than you can not use AHT to diagnose any other system issues as it doesn't let you skip past this first fail point. Effectively it renders AHT unusable and this can be an issue for some folks.

    Now.... the iMac fans are pretty quiet even when they rev a little. I'd speculate some who have reported swapping their hard drive may not have noticed the fan change. We have tested with what should be the same Barracuda XT 3.0TB drive one user had reported on and it did rev the fans and cause AHT to fail. The other thought... we are watching these quickly rev to around 2700RPM and then slowly rev up from there. I'd speculate some might assume that fan speed up is because their using the iMac rather than it being related to the issue we've noted.

    SMC Fan control is an awesome utility. I've been a user of this utility as well as have widely recommended and endorsed its use. This software got wide use in Mac Pros a few years ago related to a certain video card that had an overheating problem. One should note though, SMC fan control allows you to increase fan speed - it doesn't allow you to slow fans down.

    Another user has reported that shorting the extra leads is a solution to the AHT/fan speed issue. That and also connecting up a proper external thermistor is proving out to be a solution. We haven't seen Apple's SSD equipped solution yet (they haven't shipped that config option yet) - but would suspect that the SATA cable to the HDD bay is still there (SSD will likely be in SSD bay) and will have an end cap on it. Now... that cap could have a thermal sensor in it or might simply close the thermal circuit (short). We'd expect the sensor cap as the thermal environment in the HDD bay has affect on other components potentially and you'd think there would be fan speed control still for that bay related to general heat in the area vs. it being only a concern of the hard drive temperature itself. Either way - we are testing solutions which involve the addition of an external thermal sensor. And also designing a relatively simple piece to make this more DIY friendly as well. We do not believe shorting the thermal line is a good idea in general.

    More to come... on our blog today.
  • Reply 93 of 105
    bongobongo Posts: 158member
    Maybe the Y-splitter is being attached to the Optical or SSD power ports and then being used to supply power to both the main HDD and the other device? That is the only thing that I can think of for the Y-splitter.
  • Reply 94 of 105
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,229moderator
    I think Apple assumes users shouldn't be replacing their hard drives but the reality is that many people will know someone capable of switching a drive out of standard computer models in the case that it breaks. Hard drive failure rates are listed around 0.5-5%, which I'd say is fairly high.

    Why irritate the users who are unfortunate enough to experience a drive failure by forcing them to ship their entire machine back to Apple and wait a few days for a repair? For a business computer to be shipped away to fix a drive that could be switched in minutes doesn't make sense.

    Apple could put 2.5" drive slots at the bottom of the machine beside the RAM and just have them slide in (behind a screw plate for security). This means the drives are easy to replace if broken, they'd share a form factor with laptop drives so they can be swapped and it's trivial to slot in an SSD drive. They can still get 2TB by having 2 x 1TB 12.5mm drives either concatenated or in RAID 0. They could fit 3 side by side in the 27": e.g 256GB boot SSD + 2 x RAID 0 1TB.

    They also wouldn't be in the centre of the machine where it gets hot. The cool air would come in from the base.

    If the connections are proprietary now and replacing drives with certain models doesn't work, this is a move in the wrong direction.

    Apple have made it clear what changes their mind on their designs though and that is sales. If people don't like the iMac design for whatever reason: inaccessible hard drive, glossy screen, limited display adjustment, don't buy one. I doubt enough people will refuse to buy one for these reasons but it will make a dent and you can recommend others not to buy one too.
  • Reply 95 of 105
    macologistmacologist Posts: 264member
    OWC is great! I am looking forward to them investigating this further, and reporting results on their Blog http://blog.macsales.com/10146-apple...s-on-new-imacs

    Maybe Apple just thinks like this:
    1. You bought an iMac! It's a Consumer machine, not a Pro machine.

    2. It's jam packed, not much space!

    3. Things can go wrong during the install, unless it's done by a real pro!

    4. We don't know if you or someone else is going to do this Install.

    5. We can only trust our certified Apple Techs using our approved HDs!

    6. If things can go wrong during the install, you are gonna ask Apple Care to fix it! That costs us $$! And why should we pay to correct someone else' mistakes, just cause you wanted to save a few $$ by buying an HD elsewhere, and not from us!

    7. If your HD dies within 3 years of Apple Care, we'll replace it for free, cause it's our HD!

    8. If your HD dies after 3 years of Apple Care, we'll replace it with our HD for a Fee, and we'll Guarantee it for 3 month or whatever our policy is!

    9. If you buy a Pro Mac, like Macbook Pro or Mac Pro Tower, then we'll make it a bit easier to customize!

    10. When you buy a Pro Mac, like Macbook Pro or Mac Pro Tower, you are telling us not only that you could afford that price, but that you can afford Pro Installation Fees of ours, or by any of our Certified Apple Techs!

    So... Maybe all this boils down to that Apple just wants only Certified Apple Technicians to get inside their Consumer Macs?

    In that case, if OWC gets their Apple Certification, OWC will be able to do the Installs, right? But then what's the difference in Price and Turn Around Time between sending a Consumer Mac to OWC or Apple Care?

    OWC can still sell parts for Pro Macs, like Macbook Pro, or Mac Pro Tower, or All Older Macs, but for Newest Consumer Macs, like iMac, Apple doesn't want to be responsible for $$ fixing somebody else' mistakes, if those mistakes happen within 3 Years of Apple Care!

    Such is my understanding of this situation for now... I understand that some people are gonna be upset, but... Non of us know the statistics of Apple Care! How often does Apple Care have to fix someone else' mistakes? How much does it cost to do that?

    Simply blaming it on Apple being Greedy, or a too Controlling might be unfair, unsupported by facts! Apple is a business - they need to make profits to grow, to keep their investors happy etc... Just cause they've been doing great doesn't mean that they should continue giving as much stuff away as they have been.

    In the end, it's a difference of a few $$ over the long life span of one's Mac, when HD has to be replaced! It's a gamble to see when that replacement takes place - before or after 3 Years of Apple Care! And that's assuming that the Mac is being treated well, and nothing else goes bad within 3 Years! So... Apple gets to be an Insurance Company, and base such decisions on their Statistics, which they don't have to disclose... If one doesn't agree, one can buy a Windows Machine and play with those Warranties, Parts, Repairs etc... I would never consider Windows... To me Mac is a Tool of Expression, an Appliance to get the job done! It's like car analogy! It supposed to get one from Point A to Point B!!! I am not looking to constantly spike specs on that "car" so that I can brag about it! And obviously I am not gonna build my own car/computer either!

    Again, before all the complaints, let's give OWC a chance to dig into this further! And iFixIt is also welcome to Comment on this! If their Solutions are better than OWC's than they will Score a PR Victory over OWC and others... But the same works in reverse - if OWC proves that there is an issue, and documents where iFixIt is wrong on this topic, then OWC Scores a Victory!

    In the end we'll all learn more than we know as of now! But, the bottom line is to use and enjoy our Macs, AAPL Stock Prices, Life.... All Computers, like cars and people eventually die... All we can really do is use them in good health, back up our data regularly [ Time Machine, SuperDuper Clone], and eventually transfer that data onto our next Mac...

    Someone please let us know when OWC Updates their Blog http://blog.macsales.com/10146-apple...ons-on-new-ima and let's take it from there...
  • Reply 96 of 105
    Originally Posted by bwik View Post

    What is the best Windows 7 based iMac alternative? I am suddenly curious.

    The iMac with Boot Camp.
  • Reply 97 of 105
    Originally Posted by Mode View Post

    Wow... the greed. Insatiable epic greed.

    I knew I bought my last Mac Pro a few years ago... but always thought the iMac would be around as an option.

    The environmental impact of this alone should make Apple completely ashamed.

    I replace HDD's for people all the time (as it's the main reason older systems fail). People aren't going to fork over laughable extortionist prices for a HDD. It will be like when a logic board fails... just throw the whole machine away.

    Apple is pushing out their ethical investors faster then predicted.

    Consumerism is a sickness - not something to be celebrated and base an economy on.

    Success based on the size of our landfills.

    1. Macs are highly recyclable, and Apple has a recycling program for old technology, as do many other companies to properly dispose of things like mercury in old LCD backlights and the chemicals in laptop batteries. If you aren't recycling, then the size of our landfills is partially your fault.

    2. Before you whine about "laughable, extortionist prices for a HDD" you might want to consider that where there is demand, there's bound to be supply, and I expect to see a market for iMac compatible HDD drive upgrades from non-Apple vendors and repair shops. Ever seen the DIY kits for replacing your old iPod batteries? If you're 1337 enough to DIY, then this shouldn't be an obstacle for you. If you are not (and that's the average consumer), better stick with Apple Care, in which case, it's not a problem either. If you thought an iMac was a cheap box filled with commodity parts, then stick with a DELL.

    3. If consumerism is a sickness, blame yourself for wanting to buy stuff, not companies that sell technology. They only sell it because you and I are so willing to buy it.

    4. Apple can't "push out" any investor(s). Their stock is freely available on an open market. Apple doesn't choose who owns their stock. Boy, you're just looking to blame Apple for everything!
  • Reply 98 of 105
    maxincukmaxincuk Posts: 11member
    @OWC Larry

    1st of all thanks for making the effort and join the forums discussion, hopefully this won't be your first and only post around here. I will quickly refer to your point by the number you raised them an offer my experience with them.

    1) Power connector. It is indeed a special connector on the Logic Board as pretty much most other connectors but the end connecting to the HDD is still a standard SATA Power Connector and surely you must have had this figured out. It is this end I used to connect the y-splitter which transforms the 7 wire power cable into a more standard 4 wire power cable discarding any 3.3V lines and the theoretical thermal lines. Reconnecting everything this way, the iMac powers on, AHT succeeds without errors, the iMac correctly still reads the temperature from the HDD and adjusts the fan speed to about 900-1000 rpm which. This proves pretty easily that the system must get it's temperatures differently and not through the SATA power connector as it has been speculated.

    2) Since this is all connected to the sata power cable, this user has replaced the 1TB Seagate with a 2TB WD Caviar Black and used a y-splitter sata power cable as describet at (1). As you can see from the screenshot, temperature readings and fan speeds are correct as user reported AHT was successful.

    Original post and thread here.

    This proves that Apple is NOT using proprietary firmware on their drives since the upgrade was purchased off the shelf. Since Apple is using the Caviar Blacks already in the 2011 models (good choice btw) the more likely explanation here is that they have a list of compatible hard drives that they have chosen for the series which are likely to work out of the box.

    3) This has been proven not to be the rule. While certain hard drives may not pass AHT because their thermal readings are not recognised by the iMacs, certain drives like the 2TB Caviar Black or the 3Tb Seagate XT seem to provide the necessary info to the system and pass the AHT no problems. The claim that EVERY non-apple HDD would fail in AHT needs to be rectified as this is clearly not the case.

    I don't think there is a need to short any wires (which wires by the way?) as there is no external thermal sensor connected to the Logic board on the new iMacs 2011. Would you care to explain what wires are you trying to solder toghether?
  • Reply 99 of 105
    I posted the testing we did and there's been a lot of additional discussion of what's gojng on in general...


    Hardmac reported that for Apple's SSD only configured iMacs Apple shorts the pin and ground at their connector side used for the thermal. This tells the iMac there is no HD in the bay and no thermal monitoring to be done. It doesn't impact the SATA port from operating.

    The Y-power splitters connected to the end intended for the HDD apparently ground/short same line with the same affect. That's why Apple AHT passes and why the fans aren't reving with the non-Apple drive... The detail is that you also added a 2nd drive and have that y-splitter in play with the unintended affect.

    So - it's a good idea to get a SMART monitoring application like iStat of HDD Fan Control if you have done this. While we're still looking into other solutions.. at the moment, without an app that can rev up the fans when your drive is under load and kicking up the heat - you could very well be allowing it to cook (or even other components near the bay) and have early failure. As this kind of option is a solution we're testing, still working on thresholds that will match up with normal Apple fan speed control or at least ones that will error on the side of caution.

    That's what we got so far... Pretty sure all the non-Apple HD upgrade reports where all is well have also done the SSD too with the y-power... so - hopefully all this discussion will help save some drives.
  • Reply 100 of 105
    crunchcrunch Posts: 180member
    All of this back-and-forth about something that is nearly obsolete. The minute the first ThunderBolt hard drive is released, we'll be able to boot from an external RAID array like I do with my 4TB WDC RAID 0 NAS via FireWire 800.

    Obviously, the internal drive still boots faster than the 800Mbps FW (1394b) port, but it's great that that's even possible. This is one of my backup methods, co-incidentally and it works great.

    Now think how fast the ThunderBolt connection will be at 12 times the speed of FireWire 800. SATA-III at 6Gbps will be our new bottleneck haha...
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