Model A1419 / EMC 3070 / Mid 2017 / 3.4, 3.5 or 3.8 GHz Core i5 or 4.2 GHz Core i7 Kaby Lake Processor (ID iMac18,3) / Retina 5K display. Refer to the older iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display (Late 2014 & 2015) guides as the system is very similar.

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Replace 1TB OEM HDD with two SATA drives. One SSD and a Hybrid HDD

I have a nice 2017 27" iMac i7 no nvme.

Ok. I would like to install a 1TB blade drive (1TB Western Digital Blue with appropriate adaptor) where the Apple one would go on the back of the logic board.

But my question is will a 2TB HDD (Western Digital Hybrid hard drive) and a 1TB SSD (Crucial 2.5" SATA) work in place of the Apple 1TB HDD, which is acting wonky?

The reason for using these drives is simple, I had intended on upgrading my 27" 2011 and 27" 2013 iMacs, but "Life" put a few year "not happening big boy delay" on my ability to hold most anything, much less a teeny tiny, itsy bitsy screw or twenty.

And I was given this 2017 27" iMac with aforementioned wonky hard drive.

So I have the drives, a dual HDD bracket (no clue how or why I have it). I am guessing I will need a SATA/power splitter cable? Two temp cables, ya know the not cheap ones?

Is it doable? Thanks in advance.

Have a day most swell, Mark.

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OK, let’s start off with what this system can support for drives. It offers one SATA port and one Custom Apple PCIe/NVMe blade slot. So you can’t use two SATA drives.

As far as what SATA drives can be used a hybrid HDD which has a SSD cache imbedded in its logic board is not a bad drive. Basically it speeds up the slower I/O of repeated writes/reads of the same data!

Now let’s look at the Apple PCIe/NVMe blade drive. You really need to stick with the Apple blade drives or OWC who reversed engineered what Apple did. I’m not a fan of force fitting a M2 SSD into this system as it’s a lot of work to get to it and they just don’t last! Between adapter failures and how Apple deals with the drives housekeeping tasks which the M2 drives can’t access as they don’t access the signals Apple has.

Here’s a good writeup on the Apple drives The Ultimate Guide to Apple’s Proprietary SSDs I iFixit also offers the OWC SSDs iMac Intel 27" (Mid 2017-2019) SSD Blade Upgrade Bundle

Now the last aspect! Running a dual drive setup offers some unique improvements in performance! This also effects the size of the drives to get the most out of your gear.

First I recommend using the PCIe for your boot drive installing the OS on it as well as holding your apps. Don’t undersized the drive as it will also be your Virtual RAM drive and cache, depending on your apps it can also hold your scratch space they use. So consider having a sizable amount of unused space here! So the system has enough space. I recommend no less than 500GB, ideally 1TB.

Then use your SATA HDD for your stuff!

You’ll find the guides here iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display (Mid 2017) Repair

iMac Intel 27" (Mid 2017-2019) SSD Blade Upgrade Bundle图片


iMac Intel 27" (Mid 2017-2019) SSD Blade Upgrade Bundle



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Thank you for the concise and appropriate answer.

Couple thoughts, I have seen a few dual drive (SATA) in iMac, way back before I started the project. Maybe it only works on the earlier iMac's?

As for NVME blade drive, I already have drive and adapter from previous attempt (which bites, because I can now get twice to four times the capacity for about what I paid for the 1TB or the same capacity for less than half.

So trying to make lemonade from lemons.

Again thanks for the info, very useful.


@ozdawg99 - As far as I know only one company offered a 3.5”dual drive - WD it allowed the two physical drives to share the one SATA connection. It was unique! Sadly it didn’t work very well…

Todays hybrid drives are boosted HDDs! They have a larger cache which unlike the standard drives is based on Flash Vs RAM.

So unlike the older drives which had very small RAM caches, todays drives have much larger Flash which holds the data without needing power unlike the RAM. Even still power loss is not a good thing even with Flash. Make sure you do a proper shut down and use a good UPS!

But I drift… Apple did something a bit different! A Fusion Drive is like the hybrid drives I just spoke about, but instead of managing the Flash within the one physical drive, Apple took a PCIe/NVMe drive and made it a cache drive! Unlike the hybrid this cache is managed within the OS. This was done to gain the performance of the SSD but not the cost at the time was quite high!

Today the delta cost difference between HDDs and SSDs is getting very close! So the need from a cost perspective is less today. But, the I/O speed is still a problem! Which is why Apple took the leap to placing hardwired RAM and Flash very close to the M series SoC unit in the newest systems.


@ozdawg99 - Please do the right thing here. Every time you open the system you put it at risk! M.2 SSDs are better used in MacBook Pros than iMacs at least you can get to it without taking the system fully apart!

I cleaned out a drawer I had with these SSDs and adapters last year I had over 50 sets! Out of them I was only able to get 8 SSDs working, but there lifespan is very low. Not something I would use in a system 😢

Don’t misunderstand, I love M.2 SSDs!

The issue is using them correctly! I have two RAID sets which I use for my main hobby now, photography! I was making ultra large images used backdrops for theater and galleries. But COVID and age did me in! Now it’s just a few group of clients I’ve worked with and now spend more time here helping others!


Thank you for the info. Gives me more to ponder.

My plan was to add the NVME blade drive as the System disk, and apps as well.

The two SATA drives as storage. The 2TB WD Hybrid Hard Drive (part mechanical, part flash) as the Back-up drive (Time Machine,etc) and the 1TB as more of a daily use drive.

The NVME is going to happen. Other Macs I have put SSD's, even a SSD SATA drive in have gained a few more years and a bit of zippy do dah in daily use.

So time to decide on the 1TB SSD for speed, or the 2TB Hybrid for a teeny tiny speed bump (maybe), and larger storage.

The 2013 mostly for web, office and some light, simple video, photo editing.

The 2017 for PS, Illustrator, video editing, maaaaaybe some music creation. The RAM is maxed out already.


@ozdawg99 - I would go with as largest of a blade SSD you can afford. Leave your SATA drive as is. Save up for an external Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C connection but TB which is still faster) RAID drive.

You need dual storage to get the most from your system. Using the Blade for your OS & Apps and leaving a fair amount of free space for V-RAM, caching/swap space and if the app allows it scratch space. Even still your data drive for the stuff you are doing benefits with fast access as well via a second channel. SATA is not bad for the start of small stuff, but as your projects grow you’ll need more performance. Here getting to a faster and deeper storage makes sense over SATA.

For reference I use a 2013 Mac Pro with a 2TB blade drive and two RAID boxes. Read up on RAID here Understanding RAID Performance at Various Levels




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