Monday, July 25, 2011

For Mac Fans in a Hurry: An Idea

The MacBook Air uses an SSD, a solid state disk, available in 128 GB and 256 GB sizes. The current iMac has space for two drives, one of which can be an SSD, letting you put software you want to run fast, such as the OS, on the SSD, while using the physical hard drive for bulk storage. Other World Computing offers a range of replacement SSD's for the Air which, at least according to them, are considerably faster than Apple's. For someone who has an iMac, would like to add an SSD to it, and is thinking of getting an Air, this raises an interesting possibility.

Get an air with a 128 GB SSD. Get the 240GB SSD from OWC, or an even bigger one if you are feeling extravagant. Replace the Air's SSD with the upgrade. Put the drive you took out of the Air into your iMac. 

Cost (assuming you get the 240) is $479. That's $179 more than if you bought your Air from Apple with the larger hard drive—but you end up with not only a faster Air but a faster iMac. Buying your iMac with an SSD and a standard drive—admittedly, that would be a 256 GB rather than 128, but I'm not sure how important the difference is— costs $600.

I can only see one problem with this approach, assuming you are willing to pay the price to speed up both machines. Apple does not support third party installation of an SSD into an iMac. A little casual browsing suggests that it is possible but not easy, and I am not sure if at this point there are places that will do it for you, and if so what price.

But it is a tempting thought, for anyone who really likes fast machines.


Eric Hanneken said...

That's not going to work. The MacBook Air's SSD has a different form factor and interface than the usual HDD-shaped, SATA-connected SSDs that go in other Macs.

David Friedman said...

Your link is to the OWC page, which describes an SSD that apparently can replace the one in the Air; I don't think it says anything about whether it can go in an iMac.

What is your reason for thinking it can't, or for thinking that the SSD in the Air wouldn't work in the iMac?

Lucas Wiman said...

The SSD in the air is a circuit board. There may be drive bay adapters, though that would add to the cost. See

Josh J said...

I don't see how anything on the OWC page that claims, as you stated, that their SSDs are faster than the ones that come with the MacBook Air.

Hernan Coronel said...

A quick check on youtube shows how to remove the air hard drive here so I am not sure Lucas' post is right claiming that the HD is onboard and I don't have time to check that now but usually the interface is some kind of standard and there are always adapters available over the web so it should be feasible.

Eric Hanneken said...

This is what the SSDs in MacBook Airs have looked like since October 2010. I believe the shape is proprietary and the connector is mSATA.

This is what a typical SSD looks like. It uses the same shape and connector (SATA) as a 2.5" hard drive. These are easy to adapt to the 3.5" HDD shape that iMacs expect.

Hernan, your video was from 2008, when MacBook Airs used (I think) 1.8" drives with SATA LIF connectors.

It may be possible in theory to adapt the current MacBook Air SSD to an iMac, but I'm not aware of a product you can buy to do that.

Eric Hanneken said...

This product looks like it would get you part of the way, by adapting mSATA to SATA. I think you're still on your own when it comes to a drive enclosure.