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Model A1419 / EMC 2806 / Late 2014 or Mid 2015. 3.3 or 3.5 GHz Core i5 or 4.0 GHz Core i7 (ID iMac15,1); EMC 2834 late 2015 / 3.3 or 3.5 GHz Core i5 or 4.0 GHz Core i7 (iMac17,1) All with Retina 5K displays

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HDD Upgrade/Replacement with SSD?

Hi, I have the newest iMAC 27inch Retina 5K 2015 it came with 1 TB SATA Disk. Wondering what the options I have to upgrade/replace the drive for SSD. Can I add as 2nd hard drive or i need to remove SATA disk and install my SSD. If so what kind of adapter I need?

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How would you replace the hdd with double ssd setup using the 2.5->3.5’’ double ssd adapter namely Corsair Dual SSD Mounting Bracket 3.5" CSSD-BRKT2 ?


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Your system has two storage connections 1 SATA 3.5" HD & 1 PCIe SSD blade drive.

To start with the newer 'Thin Series' systems are much harder to open and if you are not careful you can easily damage the display which would be an expensive mistake! Carefully review the IFIXIT guides and make sure you use the correct tools (don't substitute).

As to your choices here, yes you could replace the 1TB HD for a SSD. You will need to get a 2.5" to 3.5" frame and you'll need this adapter cable: OWC In-line Digital Thermal Sensor for Hard Drive Upgrade for 27" iMacs 2012 and Later as you need to replace the thermal sensor for the SMC services from running wild without the HD input. You see, the SSD does not have the needed sensor, the in-line adapter cable replaces the missing sensor.

If you just bought the system you may want to see if you can exchange it for a SSD model, then add in a HD configuring the system as a Fusion Drive. That way you gain the space of the HD but also have the speed of the SSD.

Update >> 8/7/15

The Blade SSD is mounted on the other side of the logic board and requires a lot more work to put in. So far no one offers the custom Apple part. Which is why I was recommending you exchange out your system if you can with a SSD model.

Review these IFIXIT guides to see the differences:

We suspect the Apple iMac 5K SSD is a custom 2 lane PCIe-3 SSD blade drive (Apple hasn't disclosed the SSD it uses spec's).

Here's a good reference on what you could get with a SSD PCIe drive Vs SATA drive. Intel’s 100-series chipsets: DDR4, PCIe 3.0 SSDs, and other Skylake supplements, review the section: PCI Express 3.0, and what it means for SSDs

Image iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display Disque dur


Remplacement du disque dur de l'iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K

Difficulté :


1 - 2 hours

Image iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display SSD


Remplacement du SSD de l'iMac 27" Retina 5K

Difficulté :


2 hours

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Dan, thanks for reply, if I decide to keep SATA drive and add PCIe SSD blade drive do i need to purchase the adapter cable for thermal sensor? Also what type of SSD blade drive will fit?


Only the SATA drive connection requires the custom cable. The PCIe connection don't not have or use a thermal sensor (SSD's just don't get that hot needing extra cooling).


Dan, finally I decided to go with PCIe model SSD and keep my 1TB sata as 2nd volume. I searchee but couldn't find any PCIe SSD for my model. The only place i saw couple is on ebay but not sure which one is for my iMAC Retina 5K mid2015. Can you help me? Was looking for a 256GB. Also i see that there are SSUAX type and SSUBX.. A lot of question i know :))


Yep, thats a problem ;-{ which is why I had stated if you could return your system to get a system with it already. So far no 3rd party offers the custom SSD. We also tried the eBay route awhile ago and couldn't get the right part. You'll need to wait to see what happens as I'm sure someone will intro a solution.


It's too late, I bought it 5weeks ago. Anyway I will wait till someone find solution.. thanks for the informations..


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I have 256GB Flash Storage on my iMac 5K late 2014. I'am looking forward to adding 1 - 3TB HDD to my system.

If i get necessary cable for adding HDD, like one iFixit sold: iMac Intel 27" 5K Late 2014 and Mid 2015 Hard Drive Cable

Is there still problem with 100% fan speed?

Is there any combitable HDDs to get pass this issue, or is OWC's sensor cable still the only way to get pass that problem?

Image iMac Intel 27" 5K (Late 2014-Mid 2015) Hard Drive Cable


iMac Intel 27" 5K (Late 2014-Mid 2015) Hard Drive Cable


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This cable only offers the needed SATA connection & power. You will still need the OWC in-line thermal sensor cable as well. Apple contracted with the HD vendors to build a custom HD for them. Basically its a standard drive with custom firmware so the internal thermal sensor in the drive is accessible to their SMC service within the system. Sadly Apple will not allow the HD companies to resell the HD's with this firmware. Which is why any off the shelf HD you get will require the OWC in-line sensor. This is true with either an HD or SSD SATA drive.


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is it only me?

i purchased a cracked iMac 2015 27 inch 5k on the purpose of learn how to replace the screen and at the same time found out that you can upgrade the 3.5 hard drive to SSD so runs faster.

well not only that

i was able to install a blade apple 256GB SSD and replace the original hard drive with samsung 850 pro SSD 500GB hard drive.

everything runs great! NO need of the thermal sensor cable needed.

i have been using for 3 months no problem, using iMovie and other video softwares. fan runs normal.

i believe saw someone saying that after 2013 iMac you don't need the thermal sensor cable anymore while i was doing research before i started. so i never order one.

after replacing the hard drive. everything runs great !

but here is what i found. using the black magic app i tested the 3 possible update storage methods

1) original apple 3.5 hard drive 1T

2) upgrade 3.5 hard drive to 2.5 SSD hard drive (samsung 850 pro 500 GB)

3) install a thunderbolt enclosure with 2.5 SSD hard drive (samsung 850 pro 500 GB)

4) apple blade SSD hard drive.

here is the result

1 => 100 MB/s

2 => 350-450 MB/s

3 => 300-400 MB/s

4 => 600-700 MB/s

As you can see, there is not much difference between changing the original hard drive to SSD and using an external thunderbolt enclosure with SSD.

so after this i learned that if you are going to update just the internal hard drive. don't bother!! just get an external thunderbolt enclosure with SSD and you still keep your iMac warranty or no need to take the risk of any damage. The internal HD just keep it as extra storage.

If you are going to open the iMac. then you better install a blade SSD that is a high risk high reward.

also for people looking for the Blade SSD

i use the 2013 macbook air SSD works!!!

Oh one more thing! after doing research. only the 27 inch iMac model 2015 5k comes with the PCIe port on the logic board (this i can be sure other i don't know).

on the 21.5 inch iMac, they don't have the PCIe port. so i recommend don't bother to replace the hard drive to SSD, just install a enclosure with SSD instead. you save the trouble.

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The difference you see between the internal PCIe blade SSD and the external Thunderbolt drive is the drives SATA bottleneck and why the drive performance is almost the same between #2 & #3.

To over come that you could get a PCIe external drive, And then to over come the limits of the SSD write operation (which is the slower direction) you could RAID multiple drives (either SATA or PCIe) using a external Thunderbolt RAID drive (this also improves the read operation as well).

Unlike HDD's, SSD's get better performance when the flash cells are denser. So a 256 GB drive is slower than a 1 TB drive moving the same amount of data.

Here's a good reference: The Ultimate Guide to Apple’s Proprietary SSDs It will also explain the differences between the different SSD series Apple offered.

FYI: Fusion drives 21.5" iMac's do have the blade connector as well as bought systems which had a SSD (Apple installed). Only the SATA drive'd only systems don't have the parts populated on the logic board so they can't get the blade SSD.


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I contacted Crucial customer service about thermal sensor problem. Crucial MX200 1TB SATA 6Gb/s 2.5" Seems to be 100% compatible with my mid 2015 27" retina iMac.

They answered that I don't have to use any additional hardware or software to make it work as good as my old 3.5" HDD.

So any advice? Do I trust them? If they say it's 100% compatible without thermal sensor mess. Don't want to open my iMac for nothing.

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Sorry, not correct! You will need the OWC sensor cable to offset the needed sensor the system requires (see above OWC link). What the rep was implying was SSD don't get hot so they don't need cooling like a HD does and that is correct! But, the issue is not the device but the system here! It's expecting the input from the now missing SATA HD so you need to replace it so the system (SMC) get the input it needs so it doesn't race the fan thinking the sensor is bad.


The recent OS did away with firmware/fan/temperature issues, especially after 2012. I upgraded my late - 2012 (21.5") and late 2015 - 5K (27") with SSD and the fans act just fine. However, I did have my 2010 and 2011 using the in-line thermal adapters.



@schen_winthrop so based on what you said do you think replacing just the conventional section of my 3Tb fusion drive with a WD 3tb drive will "just work"? (I have a late 2014 5k iMac)


@rossfarr - Sorry, Sam C is not correct!

SMC still requires the input of the thermal sensor. Apple didn't change anything within Sierra.

I just did a 27" 2012 and the sensor cable disconnected on me somehow in the process so I had to go back in to plug it in. The system starts off normally but after a few minutes it races the fan as the sensor input is missing.

Now the 21.5" models use a 2.5" drive and they use a different method! I'm suspecting Sam was confused between the different series.

Please do your self a big favor here and just put the OWC adapter in if you are upgrading the SATA drive. As you have a Fusion Drive you'll first need to break the drive set before you replace the HD out.


@danj Thanks for the clarification, I will certainly buy this adapter. I have already broken the drive set and currently have the iMac booting and running just from the SSD and i have no issue rebuilding the drive set.

With regards to the HDD, if I buy the OWC adapter can I replace it with any "off-the-shelf" HDD, such as a Western Digital? (currently installed is a Seagate)?

1 last question. Do you know if there is an iFixit version of the OWC adapter?

thanks again for your help.


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Do any one find the solution for PCIe blade SSD's used in the iMac 2015? Two years gone by already :)

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Sadly, Apple uses a custom part and so far they are still the only suppliers. The blade drive in this series is a PCIe x4 version. While there have been reports of people using the older PCIe x2 drives. I'm not sure if its worth downgrading to a slower drive.


Any updates about this? Is it possible to add a 3rd party branded blade SSD?.


Nope nothing yet! OWC has a tease posted for something in the spring.


Any news on this one?


Update! Here's a good source for the custom Blades SSD's The Ultimate Guide to Apple’s Proprietary SSDs


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Thanks for providing this information! After looking at your speed bench results, it seems like if your going to open up the computer, it would make a lot more sense to upgrade the Blade SSD and leave the hard drive in the computer tied together as a fusion drive, so I’m curious, what would be the downside to upgrading the Blade SSD to an Apple OEM 2TB unit. Do you think their might be restrictions to the amount of Blade SSD accessible memory or do you think the computer would recognize the 2TB and fusion drive it with the 2TB Hard drive. I’m thinking that it might be the best option as down the road if I ever wanted to expand the memory to anything more than 4TB (unlikely), I would be able to do so (fairly) easily. The part number and link below:

Is there any information regarding the PCIE 2.0 vs 3.0? I read on some other threads forums that the 2.0 will work but will be slower and some mixed information of the 2 lane vs 4 lane pcie options.

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Hi Dan, I'm going to replace my HDD with an SSD.

What should I do with the Fusion Drive? Should I un-fuse or refuse with the new SSD?

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You'll need to break the fusion drive set. Keep in mind you can't use the two SSD's in a Fusion Drive set.

Here's how: How to split up a Fusion Drive

Frankly, I would return the SSD and get a better PCIe blade drive it will over much better performance and leave the HDD alone. Review this: The Ultimate Guide to Apple’s Proprietary SSDs and this IFIXIT guide: Remplacement du SSD de l'iMac 27" Retina 5K


I cannot find any pcie blade spare parts,what’s the exact name of those drives?

So I can’t use the two ssds as a fusion drive,is that right?

Should I made a backup after unfusing the original drive or could I make the backup of the old fusion drive,then install the new drive,unfuse it and restore the backup on the new drive?

Thanks for any suggestion


Go to the guide I linked to the Gan 5 section you want a SSPOLARIS NVMe/PCIe 3.0 x4 drive 512GB or 1TB


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