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.


  1. McSquid says:

    Unfortunately overheating and breaking doesn’t do much for the sexy factor either. nice fix.

  2. Custard says:

    Could’ve just stuck a fan on the back of course..

  3. Hank says:

    Very cool… I think the fan wouldn’t work well. The imac is like a giant heat trap.

  4. Godi says:

    Depends, what if you consider walking with your private parts out sexy?

  5. Remarknl says:

    I would have liked to see some fancy watercooling. Im pretty sure there would be no other iMac with that

  6. lordraven says:

    Well, maybe a little slower, but he could have setup an external firewire drive and removed the internal one completely.

  7. Psyclone says:

    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.

  8. Flippy says:

    @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.)

  9. click says:

    Poor, beautiful hardware!

    real quick edit: Arctic Silver, not Sliver.

  10. Mike Szczys says:

    @click: I hate it when I get an Arctic Sliver… they hurt way worse than wood ones. Fixed.

  11. nan says:

    that’s a big quarter inch hole

  12. Flippy says:

    @nan That’s what she said.

  13. IceBrain says:

    @Custard: Why? This is cheaper, more silent and doesn’t waste energy.

    Nice hack.

  14. David Murray says:

    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.

  15. aw says:

    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.

  16. paul says:

    what a terrible machine. it seems to have been designed for style over everything else…

    And they still use electrolytic caps? ha!

  17. archaic0 says:

    @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.

  18. DeFex says:

    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?

  19. Geek 2.0 says:

    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)

  20. Flippy says:

    @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.

  21. BruceJ says:

    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,

  22. e says:

    Weren’t all the G5 iMacs white? How many other mods does this machine have?

  23. jack says:

    Most normal people would dump that heap of shit. Fuck Apple. Fuck Steve.

  24. Mike J says:

    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.

  25. matthew says:

    @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.

  26. amk says:

    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.

  27. Frogz says:

    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

  28. Wwhat says:

    Haha, yeah it seems ‘quarter inches’ are going wild these days respecting no traditional bounds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,614 other followers