Apple Restricts Hard Drive Replacements on New iMacs

Hard drive from Early 2011 iMac (Source: iFixit)

As noted by Other World Computing, Apple has implemented a new temperature sensor system on its latest iMac models that significantly hampers the ability of users to replace their original hard drives in the case of failure or a desire to upgrade. Without the custom 7-pin hard drive cable and proprietary firmware included on stock hard drives in the new machines, the new iMacs' fans spin to full speed and the machines fail to pass the Apple Hardware Test.

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).

As the report notes, the change does mean that anyone seeking to replace the hard drive in a new iMac will have to go through Apple, limiting options and increasing costs.

It is not a matter of "if" but rather a matter of "when" your hard drive is going to fail. We preach this all the time in regards to having a proper backup strategy in place to prepare from when that failure happens. But it seems now, that when that happens to the main drive on your iMac, you're left with two options - buy a new drive from Apple and have them install it via one of their Authorized Service Centers, or enjoy the rather large Apple logoed paperweight on your desk. Want a 3.5" drive larger than 2TB? Too bad - Apple doesn't offer them.

Apple has not officially supported do-it-yourself hard drive replacements on the iMac for many years, but many users have still elected to take on the task themselves or have others not specifically authorized by Apple perform the swap for them.

Related Roundup: iMac
Buyer's Guide: iMac (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
124 months ago
That's some bull. Just an unnecessary Apple hurdle. Don't they realize this is the kind of thing that really pisses off with regards to their company?

Sometimes I appreciate the closed ecosystem/"walled garden" but I don't need to wear a helmet and straight-jacket in my private garden.
Score: 65 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
124 months ago
WTF? Seriously? :mad:

Honestly, I was very close to jumping on board with a new i7 - but this tanks my ambition. Even when someone invariably makes a workaround, I'm not sure about it.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
124 months ago


You've got to be kidding me. :mad:

No, seriously, this is a joke or a misstatement, right? Apple makes dick moves every now and then, but this can't be for real. If so, well, looks like I'm never buying an iMac again (at least until this crap stops). Because **** all if I'm ever going to pay the Apple tax on crap like HDDs and RAM.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
124 months ago
UGh! Seriously! I've updated the hard drives in every Mac I own just to extend the useful life of each of the machines. If I have to pay a Mac tax on adding hard drives now, Hacintosh may be next on the list instead of a shiny new i7 iMAC. That said I hope they reverse this horrible decision and don't decide to extend it to the laptop side of the business.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
124 months ago
Bad idea.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
124 months ago
This is the reason I switched on Windows 7. It's very hard to be a power user on Mac. Great OS, but the hurdles Apple makes you go through sometimes, are flat out annoying. 99% of the people using an iMac, however, would never know this is an issue.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

First iPhone 12 Mini Hands-On Video Surfaces [Update: Video Pulled]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max aren't set to be available until November 13, but a Romanian YouTuber got his hands on the iPhone 12 mini and showed it off today, offering a size comparison between the iPhone 12 and the 12 mini along with going over some of the device's features. The iPhone 12 mini is identical to the iPhone 12 in design and functionality, but it has a...

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

After Mocking Apple, Samsung May Remove Power Adapter From Galaxy S21 Box

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:29 pm PDT by
Samsung's Galaxy S21, coming in 2021, may not include a power adapter or headphones in the box, according to reports from Korean media sites highlighted by SamMobile. Rumors earlier this year also said that Samsung was considering removing these accessories from future smartphone models, but that didn't stop Samsung from mocking Apple for selling the iPhone 12 models without a power adapter...

Report: Apple Silicon iMac Featuring Desktop Class 'A14T' Chip Coming First Half of 2021

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
The first iMac powered by Apple Silicon is set to arrive in the first half of next year and will feature a desktop class "A14T" chip, according to Chinese-language newspaper The China Times. Codenamed "Mt. Jade," Apple's first custom-made desktop processor will be twinned with its first self-developed GPU, codenamed "Lifuka," both of which are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, ...

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield Still 'Scratches at Level 6 With Deeper Grooves at Level 7' in Mohs Hardness Test

Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:10 am PDT by
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new Ceramic Shield front cover that is "tougher than any smartphone glass," according to Apple, but the displays on the devices still have similar scratch resistance as previous iPhones based on a new test. Zack Nelson today shared his much-anticipated iPhone 12 Pro durability test on his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, and based on the Mohs...

2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Tuesday October 27, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design and ...

MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter [Updated]

Monday October 26, 2020 3:38 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum. Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple...

Apple Files Mystery 'Personal Computer' With Placeholder 'B2002' Name in Bluetooth Product Database

Tuesday October 27, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
Last week, a listing appeared in the Bluetooth product database for an Apple product with a placeholder name "B2002" and a model number of "TBD." MacRumors was alerted to the listing by health and fitness tech website MyHealthyApple. The product is filed under the "personal computer" category, which Apple has used for previous Mac and iPad listings in the database, so it is hard to pinpoint...

Apple Releases First macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 Beta to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today seeded a new macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 beta to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta replacing the existing macOS Big Sur 11 beta 10 update that was released two weeks ago. The macOS Big Sur beta can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, subsequent betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...

iPhone 12 Models Might Support Reverse Charging of Future Apple Accessories According to FCC Filing

Tuesday October 27, 2020 6:25 pm PDT by
iPhone 12 models could have an inactive wireless charging feature for accessories, according to an FCC filing discovered by VentureBeat's Jeremy Horwitz. In the filing, Apple said that 2020 iPhones support a wireless charging function that will seemingly be enabled for at least one future Apple accessory:In addition to being able to be charged by a desktop WPT charger (puck), 2020 iPhones...