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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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Replacing the Fusion HDD with a SATA SSD?

I have a iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017) 3.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5. With 1TB fusion drive. I purchased a ‘2TB Samsung 860 QVO MZ-76Q2T0B/AM 2 TB Solid State Drive - SATA [SATA/600] - 2.5”’.  As well as the OWC toolkit for doing this.

I was planning to replace the HDD with this SATA SSD. I found it is not possible to create a fusion drive with two SSDs. I really hate mechanical hard drives.

Would it be okay to replace the HDD with the SATA SSD and use the Apple blade (which is apparently only 24gb on the 1tb systems) to keep Catalina installed on and use the 2tb SSD for all my internal storage?

I know I’ve seen Dan say to just get the OWC external SSD tower but the price is honestly just too much.

Should I use the PCIE SSD to run the OS on and use the SATA SSD for my storage or should I ignore the PCIE SSD and install MacOS on the SATA SSD?

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@chemicalsam - I love Samsung drives! I’ve got a few internal and external.

You are in a bit of a pickle! The blade SSD is just to small for a bootable drive other than an OS installer. The problem is you really need a full OS on the drive which is much larger and the virtual RAM and cache for your OS and apps need space on the boot drive. The smallest I would go with is 128 GB which still too tight for anything heavy.

So what to do break your Fusion Drive following this guide Split Your Fusion Drive Apart that will allow you to remove the HDD. Install your SSD and prep it as your boot drive (ignoring your blade SSD altogether) You’ll be fine!

If you need more then you need to replace the blade SSD with either an Apple custom SSD or OWC Aura X2 drive. If you can swing it I would go with at least a 500 GB or larger if you are doing music or video work.

The OWC external RAID drive was for someone who needed something much faster & deeper storage than a single SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) drive could offer.

Just like people buying a car you need to think about what you are carrying within it. Do you need a coupe just to get you to work on the autobahn or do you need a family car to carry the full family and pets, or are you moving or going cross country with a trailer. Each of these are very different vehicles!

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Thank you for the reply. I am a graphic designer, so all my work is mostly vector and raster files. I may look at getting a owc raid drive someday.

When installing macos on the new drive do I need to make an external boot drive or will the recovery partition be on the small SSD?


You'll be using internet recovery to install a fresh copy of OS or a faster way is to setup a bootable OS installer thumb drive.

How to create a bootable macOS Mojave installer drive

How to upgrade to macOS Mojave


I believe the lifewire fusion drive is out of date as Macs no longer use CoreStorage with the new apple file system.

I’ve had zero luck trying to separate the fusion drive. I’ve tried numerous methods and commands and nothing works.



I haven't needed to split a Mojave or Catalina macOS so it wouldn't surprise me Apple changed things once again!


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