I successfully replaced the hard drive in my iMac with an SSD today. The result is super fast, and I feel like I have a new mac now. The machine boots in a flash, and apps launch instantly! And the silence is deafening! I’m very pleased. This is not for the faint of heart, and gave me new respect for Apple engineering. A few notes:
New Drive: Crucial M4 256GB SATA3. This drive is actually a 6.0Gbps drive, as many are these days, but it is backward -compatible to the 3.0 Gbps controller in my Early 2008 iMac 24″ Aluminum. The drive is unbelievably light. One wonders if there is anything inside.
Tools & Info: Everymac’s page on this topic was my starting place for this project. They have all the info and links in one place. During the surgery, I basically used the step-by-step guide at ifixit. There were a number of differences, because that guide is a 20″ and my machine is a 24″, but it was more than sufficient. I did not find a plug-in temperature sensor cable, but rather one just stuck to the side of the drive. So I skipped everything from Step 14 on. Also, no invertor cables to (dis)connect at Step 10. The guide specified a T8 torx, but found that all those screws worked with my T9 torx bit. As for the T6 torx, which is truly minuscule, I happened to have a “Teeny Turner” for those. Love that name. You are going to want to have compressed air for cleaning the display panel before you put back the glass on the front. And you may wish to blow the dust out of your computer, but be aware that that dust is going to get all over the place if you do that, including on your display. It crossed my mind that it would have been nice to have a dust mask on, not so much to protect me from the dust, but to keep my breath off the display while I worked.
Installing The Drive: This drive is so light and small, I just did away with all the mounting crap and used a bit of scotch tape to keep it from flopping around in there. See the photo. I just ran the tape along the top edge of the drive and stuck it to the cellophane/foil of the mac. That will be fine, I think. Remember that this drive has no moving parts, and is so light it weighs about the same as the box it comes in! As you can see, I just peeled the temperature sensor off the original drive and stuck it to the new one.
Installing OS X Snow Leopard: When I booted the machine with the install disk, I got to the part where you select the drive to install on, and there were no drives listed. That freaked me out a bit. But, all I really had to do was access Disk Utility via the menu at the top and format (“Erase”) the drive. Then it appeared as a target drive for the install.
Update: Also be sure to see my comment below about the machine running very hot.