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"Tapered Edge" Aluminum iMac Q&A - Updated July 27, 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" and "Mid-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 "Late 2012," "Early 2013," "Late 2013" or "Mid-2014" 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 is impossible for the "Mid-2014" system altogether.


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 "Late 2012," "Early 2013" or "Late 2013" iMac models precisely.

These iMac models share the A1418 and A1419 Model Numbers, but these 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

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. An SSD can be installed in this 2.5" space and some systems support a PCIe-based "blade" SSD, also.

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" and all "Late 2013" 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 partially reversed and the processors in all "Late 2012" models -- regardless of display size -- as well as the 27-Inch "Late 2013" models are mounted on a LGA 1155 (H2) processor socket, which makes processor upgrades feasible.

The 21.5-Inch "Late 2013" and "Mid-2014" models, on the other hand, have the processor soldered and cannot be upgraded at all.

For the education-only "Early 2013" iMac "Core i3" 3.3 21.5-Inch model, the safest assumptions are that the PCIe-based connector is not present unless the system is equipped initially with an SSD and that the processor is soldered in place, but both are subject to confirmation. If you work for an educational institution and have access to one of these systems, please do get in touch. Thank you.

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" provide just about everything a clever hacker needs to know.

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


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