Tear your iMac’s insides out

imac1_external_hdd_ mod

Saying that [Ian] had some overheating issues with his iMac G5 would be an understatement. After losing three hard drives due to heat he decided to do something about it. The first step was replacing the thermal paste with Arctic Silver. The solution for the hard drive was a little more unorthodox.

[Ian] picked up a 320GB Western Digital Caviar Blue drive because of its very low noise rating. He used rubber grommets to mount it outside the case and ran SATA data and power extension cables through a quarter inch hole to the motherboard. He mentioned to us that the cutout seen above the drive is from a previous mod.

This certainly will fix an overheating problem but it doesn’t do much for the sexy style we’re accustomed to with Apple hardware.

28 thoughts on “Tear your iMac’s insides out

  1. Not sure about WD’s (I’ve had very bad experiences with WD) But Seagate drives are safe up to 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit) I’ve never known of an iMac to get all that hot. Did you try checking the drives S.M.A.R.T logs. COuld just be you got some bad drives.

  2. @Psyclone You’d need to have some serious bad luck to get three bad drives. Doesn’t matter the manufacturer, Seagate and Western Digital are on pretty much the same level of quality. Unfortunately, it is a game of luck. :|

    iMac G5s are known for getting quite hot, so hot in fact, that they actually kill the capacitors on the board quicker than normal. (Electrolytic caps really aren’t known for having reliable life either, but immense heat speeds breakdown.)

    I’m sure the hard drives can withstand 60C, but constantly running around or above that temperature… how long could it last? My MacBook Pro spikes at 75+ Celsius under full load, but sustained activity at that level for a long period of time will most certainly kill it. Hard drives are even more sensitive to temperature than BGA packages are. :(

    I like the mod, it’s a cool idea. Get it? Cool idea…?
    (Yeah, I’m hopeless, I know.)

  3. Yes, I’ve worked on G5 iMacs before. As they age, the overheating problems get worse. Usually one has to take everything apart and re-do all the thermal grease and clean out all the ducts and fans.

  4. Why not a laptop drive? They are smaller so it will help with airflow and hopefully will run cooler. Not sure about how they are rated temperature wise, but considering the conditions most laptops go through, I think it can take it.

    Yeah, a SSD would be more elegant but I am assuming this person has a budget.

  5. @aw: a laptop drive may have solved the issue as well, but the price for the same capacity would be much more so if budget was a concern, the full size drive mounted externally would certainly be MY choice as well.

    Some kind of little black plastic shroud to cover the hole as the wires come out would help the look, but it’s certainly not as fugly as some computers are out of the box.

  6. But I though macs used superior hardware and were perfectly designed by saint jobs himself! what do you mean its just a monitor with an asus motherboard stuck inside?

  7. Upgrading to Snow Leopard DRASTICALLY reduces heat. My CPU average temp. went from in the vicinity of 45 degrees Celsius to less than 35 (that is, when not doing processor intensive stuffs)

  8. @Geek 2.0: Are you specifically talking about the iMac G5? Or another machine?

    Heat issues and operating systems are ghost stories most of the time. The overheating in these iMacs is strictly based on design and hardware, and age.

  9. Well it IS the back of the machine, so this isn’t all that visible, and also this is EXACTLY why Apple went to Intel. Anything with a G5 in it’s name is a gigantic space heater,

  10. Looks like this person is dying to upgrade/mod/hack their computer. Should have got a PC, the you wouldn’t have had that problem.

  11. @flippy “iMac G5s are known for getting quite hot, so hot in fact, that they actually kill the capacitors on the board quicker than normal”

    Heat wasn’t the issue with the capacitors on the iMac G5 logic boards. The power supply used on the non-iSight iMac’s wasn’t rated correctly and was frying them.

  12. I would have removed a section of the back panel near the hard drive and mounted an attractive fan over it. I mean, you’ve already payed that $500 fee for the sexy, you might as well try to keep things that way.

  13. I think I’m the first to say it, but, this mod has FAR improved the look, I would personally put a little shielding around the cables, sata breaks easily, on hdd side

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