replacing an iMac G5 hard drive

Looking to replace the hard drive on your G5 iMac? Read on. I wanted to replace the hard drive on my 17″ first generation iMac G5. I did a fair amount of research and I share it all here.

Apple’s website gives the following information on the hard drive:
80GB Serial ATA; 7200 rpm 160GB Serial ATA; 7200 rpm.

I managed to pull the exact specs of the stock hard drive put into the first generation iMac G5:
Description: Barracuda 7200.7 ST380013AS 80GB Hard Drive
Manufacturer: Seagate
Capacity: 80GB
Drive Width: 3.5 in
Interface: SATA (Serial ATA)
Interface Type: Serial ATA – 7 pin
Rotational Speed: 7200 RPM
Cache Size: 8 MB
Access Time: 8.5 ms
Internal/External: Internal
Maximum Transfer Rate: 150 MBytes/sec
Weight: 1.4 lbs
Depth: 5.78 in
Width: 4 in
Height: 1.03 in

The most important specs are bolded above. You want a 3.5″ hard drive. The other most common size is 2.5″ which is used in laptops. The iMac G5 uses 3.5″ hard drives. The interface type is SATA also known as Serial ATA. Don’t buy IDE. It won’t work. That’s very important. And it’s smart to get at least a 7200 RPM drive. I’m not sure how well a 5400 RPM drive would work. Stick with 7200 and you’ll be happy.

I did some digging around and found a great deal at Amazon. For about $100, you’ll get a 500 GB hard drive that works with the first generation iMac G5 (3.5″, SATA, 7200 RPM). It doesn’t make much sense to buy anything smaller because you get much better value for this drive. See link below. It’s a Western Digital hard drive. I’ve always had good success with Western Digital.

I purchased the drive below and it works like a dream. It’s very quiet and was very easy to install.

If you’re on a tight budget, below is a 250 GB 3.5″ 7200 RPM SATA hard drive (for about $70) that works with the first generation iMac:

Now that’s not all you need to know. There’s certain tools you will need to replace the hard drive in your iMac. Here’s a list:
standard Phillips screwdriver (necessary)
needle nose plyers (not necessary, but handy to have)
T10 Torx screwdriver (necessary)

Here’s a direct link to a pdf from Apple showing how to replace the hard drive on a 17″ iMac. Don’t be overwhelmed by the 17 pages in the pdf. Each step of the process has a nice, big photograph. It’s really quite simple.

Here’s a brief overview with some insights not offered by Apple:
1. Take the back cover off the iMac.

2. Touch some metal to de-statize yourself. (You don’t want to have a static charge in your fingers when touching the inside of a computer. You won’t get hurt, but the electronics could get messed up. Touching some metal will discharge yourself.)

3. Remove the plastic shield (two screws) above the hard drive.

4. Remove the screws mounting the drive to the iMac (three screws). This will be tricky to get out and back in. A pair of needle nose plyers will help grab the screws to get them out and to put them back in when you’re putting the new hard drive in.

5. Remove the cables going to the hard drive (3 cables).

6. Take the hard drive out of the iMac and remove the metal hard drive carrier (4 screws). This is where you need a T10 Torx screwdriver. You can purchase a T10 Torx screwdriver by following the link below. If you buy it elsewhere, just be sure it’s T10. That’s the size of the head. A lot of Torx sets don’t include T10 which is a small bit head.

7. Follow steps 1-6 in reverse to get the new hard drive in. also offers a detail article on replacing an iMac G5 hard drive.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments