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A2115 / 2019 / Processors from 3.0 GHz 6-core i5, up to 3.6 GHz 8-core i9. Released March 19, 2019.

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Questions about installing 2 SSDs

So I bought a 27” 2019 iMac with 500gb SSD pre-installed, and I had the intention of replacing it with a 2 TB drive using OWC’s kit.  My understanding is limited, but it appears to me that with the configuration I purchased, there is currently an SSD pre-installed in the PCI express, which is deep within the iMac, and there is a separate, vacant bay that I will actually be able to install an extra SSD into through a SATA connecor, to run on two internal drives (I initially thought I was going to swap out a 500gb SSD out of that slot and replace it).

Since I bought the pre configured 500gb SSD model, is this true? I already bought the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G kit for a 2 TB SSD. Was this a mistake, or will I be mostly okay? Should I return it for a different option, or is it not worth the hassle? The reviews on their storage products seem pretty positive and trustworthy, but that’s only recently. I have seen many people complain about products they were releasing in 2012 and earlier. I can’t find much on the failure rates of the drive I purchased, but I excitingly made the purchase and started researching it more thoroughly afterward.

The last question I have is about installing the drive, assuming that it is true that I have an empty bay. I am guessing that I have to also purchase a SATA cable, which I will prefer manufactured by Apple based on what I’ve heard about reliability. Will this SATA cable be installable in my 2019 iMac? Do I need to worry about purchasing a used cable, or does the cable condition often not complicate/impact the lifespan of the hard drive (in other words, will a SATA cable from a 2013 iMac last as long as a new one)? If I don’t need a new SATA cable, that’s great too, but I would find it odd to have an unused cable flopping around in my iMac, so I’m assuming that’s not the case. If I do need to install the SATA cable, will I have to do a takedown far more thorough than getting to the vacant bay?

Update (08/07/2019); My Solution

(This is mainly for readers who are in a similar position as me)

Thank you @danj for helping me figure out the best thing to do with storage options. His solution worked excellently. Instead of opening the computer and trying to fit an SSD into the bay using a SATA cable that I would have to buy from a third party vendor, I opted for external storage.

I opted for the OWC Express 4M2 enclosure, which is small and convenient, and the spinning fan volume is low enough that it’s a negligible issue. I installed two separate Samsung 970 EVO NVMe M.2 SSD chips with 1TB of storage each, and they are both compatible. I did not use OWC’s software RAID solution SoftRAID to configure any of the drives because I wanted one chip to be used for MacOS and the other to be used for Windows Bootcamp, and so everything I needed to do could be done in Disk Utility.

After installing Bootcamp on the internal SSD I had, I formatted one of the SSDs in the enclosure to work with MacOS (in MacOS Extended Journaled) and the other to work with Windows (in NTFS). The entire process has been seamless, and the external storage is blazing fast. I now have 1 TB of extra storage on each operating system, and I have freed over 400 GB of space from my internal drive (total vacant space when both MacOS & Windows storage is combined) by making the change and moving programs. Note that my internal SSD was only 500 GB in the first place.

In the end, the external solution saved a big headache of opening the computer, it saved the warranty, it’s got great speeds for gaming & moving large files (and would be even faster if I set up RAID storage with the remaining 2 SSD slots I have vacant), and has the advantage that I can plug it in to any computer with a Thunderbolt 3 to access my files. I fully recommend this setup.

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@arhowe00 - If you order an SSD only iMac you will be getting a blade SSD from Apple. You can verify what the given system has by going into System Report which you’ll find under the ‘About this Mac’ Look under Storage to see the drives, then open either SATA/SATA Express and NVMExpress sections.

Your system has two storage ports a SATA port which supports either a 3.5” or 2.5” drive and the PCIe/NVMe blade SSD port.

There’s two issues here to consider. The first is opening the system is a delicate operation if you are not careful you can damage the display. The second is if your system has a problem, Apple has been known to refuse servicing the system under warranty if they suspect user damage. So be sure you want to tackle upgrading your system.

As to getting a second SSD installed this is not overly hard and depending on what your needs are it maybe quite beneficial! I often preach dual drive configs to improve performance for music, video, photo editing or even CAD work. Here we use the blade SSD as the boot drive with only the apps present on it and leaving most of the drive empty! Thats so the OS can leverage it for Virtual RAM, caching, Paging, and scratch space. The second drive is the data drive.

Now the rub! The drive cable you pointed to is for an older system (Late 2012 & Late 2013 A1419 - Apple P/N 923-0312). So far we don’t have access to a parts listing for the newest iMac so I can’t tell you what Apple has done if they have altered things. To help clarify, here is the newest version of the cable iMac 27" Retina 5K Hard Drive Combo Cable (L15/17) Apple P/N 923-00664.

So basically, I can’t tell you if the Late 2015/17 cable will work in the newer 2019 model. It might but I can’t tell you for sure.

You will need to lift the logic board forward to gain access to the header to plug in the cable as Apple does not offer it within the system. So its a bit more work than what this guide implies iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K-scherm Vervanging van de harde schijf which is the best one we have currently.

So there is a risk here, you are just ahead of the rest!

It might make sense returning the OWC kit and instead look at getting something like this OWC Express 4M2 which lets you use faster M.2 SSD’s as well as offer more versatility with future expansion options.

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Thank you for the very helpful response!

I don't think it's worth trying to argue it, but my circumstance is that I will have to have the new storage I get be internal. Also, thank you for pointing me to the fact that I had the wrong SATA cable. If you had to guess, would you think that the iMac 27" Retina 5K Hard Drive Combo Cable (L15/17) Apple P/N 923-00664 you have linked above would work with the 2019 iMac? How often do they change it?

If there is no option but to wait for the parts list to come out, then I will! Seriously, thank you for this advice. The last thing I am down to is wondering if I should stick with the OWC SSD or go for another option? Do you know about its reliability? Do you have a certain option that you know is so consistent and reliable that I should probably just return my OWC to not risk anything?


@arhowe00 - Why are you concerned on using an external drive?

I do a lot of Berkley School of Music students systems who are recording and composing music most prefer the external setup as its faster than the SATA interface!

If this is a must, then I would return the drive to OWC and wait till we can check things out a bit more.


@danj I guess it isn't so bad then, I would have to make some changes to how I transport my computer though. But you're probably right — It's a safer option, and if it's faster I'm not going to be stubborn about it like I see many who want to do the internal job.

So do you recommend OWC's external bay? And then in regards to the drives that I put in the external bay — which kind do you recommend for speed and reliability?


I figured OWC will be more likely to serve you if you are merely swapping the solution. Even still this is a good product. I've set up a few a year ago. There are a few other TB3 boxes out there which have more bays.

I like Samsung SSD's, double check with OWC to be sure which version of Samsung SSD drives they have tested.

Samsung 970 EVO

Samsung 970 EVO Plus

Samsung 970 PRO


Found information on the compatibility:

So I'm going to go with the Samsung SSDs!

Do you think that the 970 EVO will be better:

Or the 970 EVO Plus:

Also, assuming that I will only ever need 2 TB (even if it might not be true), do you recommend I configure with 1 2TB installation, or 4 500GB installations (I've heard it's faster to do the latte)


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