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STORAGE SHOOTOUT:
'mid 2010' iMac factory
internal drive options

Posted Friday, August 6th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Appended August 13th with results for the Mercury Extreme SSD.

So which option do you choose for your 2010 iMac when it comes to internal storage? We have test results for the three factory options (with a little help from Remote Mad Scientist, Phil from supacu.be). Plus I've added the Mercury Extreme 200G SSD (courtesy of OWC).

LEGEND
SSD OWC = OWC 200GB Mercury Extreme Pro RE SSD (model OWCSSDMXRE200)
256G SSD = Apple 256GB Solid State Drive (model TS256B; presumed to be made by Toshiba)
2TB HDD =
Hitachi Deskstar 7K2000 2TB 7200rpm Hard Disk Drive (model HDS722020ALA330)
1TB HDD =
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200rpm Hard Disk Drive (model ST31000528AS)
NOTE: Apple uses more than one manufacturer when it comes to HDDs. Your iMac may receive a drive made by Hitachi or Seagate or some other company.

INSIGHTS
Obviously, the SSDs are faster than the HDDs in every way. However, it provides only a fraction of what the HDDs offer in the way of total space. Plus you pay much more per GB for the privilege of having a faster boot drive. If I was putting an SSD in my 2010 iMac, I would definitely opt for a second drive -- most likely an HDD of at least 1TB in size -- so that I'm not constricted on how much I can store.

Apple's SSD is not my first choice for an SSD, though. For starters, it's slower than what I consider to be state-of-the-art SSDs such as the OCZ Vertex 2 and OWC Mercury Extreme -- both of which have six advanced features lacking on Apple's SSD (to the best of my knowledge). In the graphs above, the OWC SSD was installed inside the iMac.

"Life finds a way." (Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park 1993)
In a matter of days after the intro of the 'mid 2010' iMac, there were tech companies offering the power and freedom of alternatives to the factory drives. Other World Computing will install their Mercury Extreme SSD in your 2010 iMac. They'll even put two SSDs inside or the HDD of your choice. For more info, visit their "Turnkey iMac" page.

Another approach is to remove the slot load optical drive, put it in an external enclosure, and put an SSD or notebook HDD in its place. There is also a kit to put an SSD in place of the factory iMac HDD. So with both kits, you can have triple SSDs inside the 2010 iMac. Visit MaxUpgrades to read about their kits.

A third approach is to "create" an external eSATA port which is much faster for external storage than a USB 2.0 or FireWire 800 port. See OWC's "Turnkey iMac" page for details. It's not "hot swap" but it is "hot plug" -- meaning you can connect a drive to the port when the iMac is running but you must Restart to mount it.

Be aware that some upgrades you make to your iMac can affect warranty coverage.

HAVE A COMMENT OR QUESTION? Feel free to email me, , mad scientist.

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copyright 2010 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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