My trusty 24″ iMac from 2008 was slowly getting less love since i got a i3 3GHz iMac, and when the HD started sputtering I knew what I had to do. Swap out the internal drive with a fast, sexy, silent SSD.
That meant removing the glass and unmounting the LCD. Daunting. But after seeing some YouTube videos and reading every blogpost about it, I realised it shouldn’t be too hard. And I was right!
These are not meant as instructions, just explaining what I did so others might realise it’s not too much hassle to fix yourself. Check out the links at the bottom for better, step-by-step instructions for disassembly.
I bought some torx screwdrivers and used a pair of bathroom plastic suction hooks to remove the front glass. I just put them in the upper corners and pulled out, it came off easier than I thought.
I then removed all the torx screws (T8) around the frame, marking the different screw lengths with a pen. I carefully removed the frame from the bottom, taking care not to break the microphone/iSight cable on top. Then I unscrewed the 8 screws for the LCD, removed the LCD temp cable and unscrewing the large connector that is held down by two screws. This was my biggest hurdle, as the torx set I bought only had 5,7,8,9 torx sizes. You need T6 for these two. I ended up using a flat screwdriver and managed to get them out in the end.
Carefully lifting up the LCD, I peeled back the black tape on the left underside. There’s a black, flat cable that is fairly easy to remove when the tape is peeled back. I’ve read it’s easier to disconnect the cable from the LCD instead of on the logic board. I concur.
After the LCD was off, I yanked the whole HD out. The black plastic frame has a small lever/handle that can be pushed towards the HD and the whole thing can be pulled out. My SSD of choice was an OCZ Vertex SATA2 240GB SSD. It was among the cheaper drives with this capacity, and I’d read others using Vertex drives in their iMacs with success. I was not able to mount the SSD in the 3,5″ frame it came with. It was a useless design which I don’t think would have fit in the 3,5″ plastic frame anyway. So I just used two velcro strips and velcroed the bare SSD to the back of the iMac. I pinned it somewhat under the metal frame, so it’s not going anywhere. I taped the temperature sensor on the SSD and reassembled the iMac.
I booted up in disk utility, formatted the SSD and installed Lion (after having to first install Snow Leopard and then upgrading, I didn’t manage to clean install Lion).
The upgrade has been pretty awesome. Booting takes around 20 seconds, most programs open in a bounce or two. Lightroom is great on the SSD. Loading, previewing, skipping to other photos really benefits from the speedy access and read times. Logic also opens quickly, and everything just feels snappy and instant. I also put a 4GB stick in one slot, giving my iMac 6GB of RAM. This is 2 more than what Apple states is max, but it seems to have worked great. All in all a great upgrade for a beautiful computer that will keep me company for years. At least until the new macs with SSDs come down in price.
Better instructions here: