You know that feeling of accomplishment when you’ve overcome a huge obstacle and you can’t wait to tell the entire world about it? Well, we’ve got it; we’ve overcome the whole “fan/drive sensor” problem found when installing a non-factory drive in the 2011 iMacs. That means we can now officially announce the OWC Turnkey Program for the 2011 iMacs.
We’re also going to one-up the 2010 program by including upgrade options for both the 21.5″ and the 27″ 2011 iMac models.
That drive sensor thing was a big hurdle. Apple uses a custom firmware that sends temperature info in a non-standard fashion. Unfortunately, unless the drive has this special firmware, the fans spin at full speed. We wanted a solution that would be a long-term solution that wasn’t dependent on a software patch or hack. Though those sorts of fixes can be temporarily effective, we didn’t want to rely on them for two reasons:
- they put overhead on the bus which can reduce performance
- a software solution can can fail or be rendered non-functional by a wide variety of actions (software updates, system reinstalls, etc.) which could risk the hard drive and the data contained on it.
So, we went another route and developed a hardware solution that interfaces accurately and properly with what can be viewed as a frustratingly unique temperature data monitoring method by Apple. While our solution adds a little bit to the cost of upgrading the iMac’s hard drives, we feel that cost is more than offset by the advantages it has over software solutions.
While our hard drive solution is proprietary (read as: we’re not gonna tell you how we did it), we can guarantee that—unlike other “solutions” out there—it’s 100% compatible with Apple Hardware Test and maintain proper fan operation.
The 2011 iMac Turnkey Program will allow you to custom configure and have OWC professionally install:
- Up to three* OWC 6G Solid State Drives up to 480GB each.
We all know Solid State Drives are the way to go if you’re looking for the best performance, and our Turnkey Program is the best price/performance deal out there. To get an Apple SSD, it’ll cost an even $600 for a 256GB that runs at 3.0GB/s; for $30 less we can install a comparably-sized OWC 6G SSD in there, which has shown nearly TWICE the performance of Apple’s SSDs in similar setups. Want crazy fast performance with two SSDs? While we don’t offer a RAID configuration as a Program option, you can create a software RAID using Apple’s Disk Utility or 3rd party software such as SoftRaid. By having us install two OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSDs of the same capacity and then self creating a RAID-0 Stripe, you can have data rates of nearly 1GB/s (1000MB/s).
- A Higher-Capacity Hard Drive—Up to 3.0TB
On most models, the largest drive you can get from the factory is 2.0TB; with the entry-level model, your only option is a paltry 500GB! Just because you don’t necessarily need all the processor horsepower the “higher” models offer, it doesn’t mean you don’t have similar storage needs – an 80,000 song iTunes library takes up the same amount of space, regardless of how fast your processor is. And even if you are getting one of the “bigger” versions, doesn’t a 3.0TB hard drive sound a heck of a lot better than a 2.0TB drive? Of course it does. Better to get it right away than not have it down the line – nobody ever regretted getting too big a hard drive.
- OWC Memory Upgrades up to 32GB.
If there’s one thing that we can claim with authority, its that adding more memory to your Mac makes a significant difference to performance; we’ve got pages of benchmarks to back it up. Unfortunately, these iMacs still come with a measly 4GB of RAM from the factory. Sure, you can bump up the RAM on most models to 16GB (that entry-model only has a 8GB upgrade available from the factory), but they gouge you there, too – that 16GB upgrade will cost you $600. That same upgrade from OWC will run you $160 (a little better than a quarter of the cost). You know what, though? We can go higher, too - try a whopping 32GB! While installing RAM in the iMac is easy to do yourself, it doesn’t hurt to have us do it “while we’re in there.”
- An eSATA port
With the 2011 iMacs sporting Thunderbolt ports, you may wonder why you would even bother getting an eSATA port. The answer is really simple: Thunderbolt devices just aren’t widely available yet. And they do come at a premium price. On the other hand, eSATA devices are fairly ubiquitous, reliable, and fast enough for all but the most demanding end user’s needs. We need to warn you, though; while all the other upgrades can be done for both the 21.5″ and the 27″ iMacs, the eSATA port can only be added to the 27″ model…there’s just not enough room in the 21.5″ model.
With the 2011 iMac Turnkey program, you can buy a base-model iMac, send it to us, and in 48 hours have it upgraded to experience the 550MB/s+ speed of an OWC Mercury EXTREME 6G SSD, storage capacities up to six times higher than Apple’s offerings, and up to four times the amount of memory available from the factory (along with the performance benefits that come with those increases).
Speaking of price, we think our service is priced very comparably to rates charged just for labor by professional certified technicians. Check out the video below for the 2010 iMac upgrades, and you’ll see why we’d recommend professional installation; the 2011 models are pretty much the same, and we plan on creating a similar video for the 2011 models
However, for those of you that may “know someone who knows someone,” we’re planning to offer 3TB Hard Drive Kits and SSD Bay Kits that will allow an Apple Certified technician to install upgrades in your iMac without having to send it to us. More on that as things develop so again, just keep revisiting the Blog to learn about those details.
*Installing a third OWC SSD requires that the factory SDHC Memory Card Reader be disabled. When choosing this option, OWC includes an external OWC 68-in-1 Media Reader/Writer that offers the same functionality as the factory card reader as well as supporting additional card types including Compact Flash, SmartMedia, MMC, and more