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"Tapered Edge" Aluminum iMac Q&A - Updated November 5, 2014

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How do you upgrade the hard drive in the "Tapered Edge" Aluminum iMac models? What type of storage do they support? Is it possible to upgrade the hard drive? What about the processor?

This Q&A covers the "Late 2012," "Early 2013," "Late 2013," "Mid-2014" and "Late 2014" Tapered Edge Aluminum iMac models (model numbers A1418 and A1419).

EveryMac.com also provides hard drive upgrade instructions for earlier Aluminum iMac models shipped from 2007 to 2012 -- both the 20-Inch and 24-Inch Aluminum iMac (model numbers A1224 and A1225) and 21.5-Inch and 27-Inch Aluminum iMac (model numbers A1311 and A1312).

Officially, Apple does not consider the hard drive and/or SSD module -- or the processor -- in any of the "Tapered Edge" Aluminum iMac models to be upgradable. The RAM in the 27-Inch models is designed to be upgraded, but even upgrading the RAM is an arduous process for the 21.5-Inch models in the "Late 2012," "Early 2013," and "Late 2013" lines and it is altogether impossible for the "Mid-2014" iMac.


Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (21.5" & 27" Tapered Edge iMac, Left & Right, Respectively)

Consequently, EveryMac.com cannot recommend that one upgrade the storage or the processor themselves, as doing so is difficult and voids the warranty.

However, for highly skilled daredevils, it is quite possible to upgrade the storage, but the available upgrade options vary depending on the system. It is possible to upgrade the processor in some of these models, too.

Identification Help

The storage upgrade options vary depending on the system, so it is particularly important to be able to identify the "Tapered Edge" iMac models precisely.

These iMac models all share the A1418 and A1419 Model Numbers, but these identifiers are not exact enough for storage upgrades. For the purposes of upgrading the storage, these models can be sufficiently identified by the Model Identifier in software and externally by EMC Number.

To locate the model identifier in software, select "About This Mac" under the Apple Menu on your computer, click the "More Info..." button, and finally click the "System Report" button.

The EMC number is inconveniently located on the bottom of the "foot" supporting the iMac, but EveryMac.com nevertheless has hand documented the EMC numbers as they are a unique external identifier.

More details about specific identifiers are provided in EveryMac.com's extensive Mac Identification section.

These relevant identifiers can be particularly useful for these iMac models:

Tapered Edge iMac

Subfamily

Model ID

EMC Number

"Core i5" 2.7 21.5-Inch

Late 2012

iMac13,1

2544

"Core i5" 2.9 21.5-Inch

Late 2012

iMac13,1

2544

"Core i7" 3.1 21.5-Inch

Late 2012

iMac13,1

2544

"Core i5" 2.9 27-Inch

Late 2012

iMac13,2

2546

"Core i5" 3.2 27-Inch

Late 2012

iMac13,2

2546

"Core i7" 3.4 27-Inch

Late 2012

iMac13,2

2546

"Core i3" 3.3 21.5-Inch

Early 2013

iMac13,1

2545

"Core i5" 2.7 21.5-Inch

Late 2013

iMac14,1

2638

"Core i5" 2.9 21.5-Inch

Late 2013

iMac14,1

2638

"Core i7" 3.1 21.5-Inch

Late 2013

iMac14,1

2638

"Core i5" 3.2 27-Inch

Late 2013

iMac14,2

2639

"Core i5" 3.4 27-Inch

Late 2013

iMac14,2

2639

"Core i7" 3.5 27-Inch

Late 2013

iMac14,2

2639

"Core i5" 1.4 21.5-Inch

Mid-2014

iMac14,4

2805

"Core i5" 3.5 27-Inch

Late 2014

iMac15,1

2806

"Core i7" 4.0 27-Inch

Late 2014

iMac15,1

2806

EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Lookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app -- also can identify these models by their Serial Numbers.

Storage Details

All of these systems have a 6 Gb/s Serial ATA (Revision 3.0) connector that is occupied by a hard drive in the default configurations -- a 2.5" hard drive in 21.5-Inch models and a 3.5" hard drive in 27-Inch models. An SSD can be installed in this hard drive space and some systems support a smaller PCIe-based "blade" SSD, as well.

Specifically, as first discovered via teardowns from iFixit and others, if the 21.5-Inch "Late 2012" iMac models were configured with an SSD or a "Fusion Drive" at the time of purchase, the SSD module is connected via a dedicated PCIe connector. Unfortunately, if the system only was configured with a hard drive, the needed connector is not present on the motherboard and there is not a way to add a PCIe-based "blade" SSD afterwards.

By contrast, the 27-Inch "Late 2012", "Late 2013" and "Late 2014 (Retina/5K)" iMac models do have this connector on the motherboard even if the system only is configured with a hard drive at the time of purchase, so it is possible to add a PCIe-based "blade" SSD to these models after the initial system purchase.

Unfortunately, as first determined by site sponsor Other World Computing, the entry-level iMac "Core i5" 1.4 21.5-Inch (Mid-2014) does not have the connector for a PCIe-based "blade" SSD if one is not installed at the time of initial system purchase.

Processor Details

For processor upgrades, the situation is a bit different as the processors in all "Late 2012" models -- regardless of display size -- are mounted on a LGA 1155 (H2) processor socket, which makes processor upgrades feasible.

The 21.5-Inch "Late 2013" models, education-only "Early 2013" iMac "Core i3" 3.3 21.5-Inch model, and "Mid-2014" models, on the other hand, have the processor soldered and cannot be upgraded at all.

Finally, the 27-Inch "Late 2013" and "Late 2014/Retina 5K" models have the processor mounted on an LGA 1150 (H3) processor socket.

Preliminary Storage & Processor Installation Instructions

To reiterate, Apple does not support individuals upgrading the hard drive or the processor in these models.

21.5-Inch Models

However, for the 21.5-Inch models, a skilled user likely could use Other World Computing's helpful video -- that covers upgrading the RAM -- to upgrade the hard drive in all models as well as the processor in the "Early 2012" models, too:

27-Inch Models

For the 27-Inch models, OWC provides a video that specifically covers the hard drive upgrade process:

For upgrading the processor in the 27-Inch models, the photos and commentary provided by adventurous MacRumors Forum user "R.OG" also provide details that can be helpful for clever hardware hackers.

Successfully upgraded the storage or processor in any of the "Tapered Edge" Aluminum iMac models? Please share the results of your experiment. Thank you.

iMac Storage Purchase & Professional Installation Options

There are no shortage of places to buy a 2.5" or 3.5" hard drive compatible with these iMac models, but compatible SSDs are harder to locate. Even for a hard drive, though, it always is best to buy from a trusted company with Mac knowledge for the most trouble-free experience.

In the US (and many other countries), site sponsor Other World Computing sells a convenient hard drive upgrade kit (including all needed tools) for these 27" iMac models and hard drives for all others. Mission Repair provides an upgrade service by mail with a 24-hour turnaround time.

In the UK and Ireland, site sponsor Flexx sells SSDs that are compatible with many of these iMac models with free shipping. The company provides flat rate shipping to France, Germany, and Switzerland and inexpensive shipping for all of Europe, too.

In Australia, site sponsor RamCity sells iMac compatible SSDs with a lifetime warranty and fast, flat-rate shipping Australia-wide.

In Southeast Asia, site sponsor SimplyMac.sg sells iMac compatible SSDs with free delivery -- and optional upgrade service -- in Singapore and flat rate shipping to Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea.


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