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The black screen is not necessarily a hard drive giving up. The Graphics card is just as likely to be the culprit. But replacements are not always available. Our clever flat designs make replacing components far more difficult than old fashioned towers. My 2011 iMac was coming and going with black screens. The culprit was traced to the Graphics card. A replacement was not available and my consultant advised me to stay well clear of e-bay offers. Suck or blow the dust out by all means, you might get lucky. There is a technique called re-flow but it's likely to be short term. These big iMacs are more like jumped up laptops and getting at the insides was not really intended. If you have the earlier slightly fatter iMac with CD/DVD slot on the side, you have the option of lifting off the screen (take great care!) replacing the main drive with a SSD (1 TB have come way down in price) chucking out the DVD drive and replacing with a small hard drive (say a 2 TB 2.5 inch). But if your Graphics card is on the way out, none of those are viable. If you have the later thin-edged model, the screen is harder to get off and back on and you have only the one space for a drive.

Edited by Robert M Estall

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6 hours ago, Robert M Estall said:

 These big iMacs are more like jumped up laptops and getting at the insides was not really intended. If you have the earlier slightly fatter iMac with CD/DVD slot on the side, you have the option of lifting off the screen (take great care!) replacing the main drive with a SSD (1 TB have come way down in price) chucking out the DVD drive and replacing with a small hard drive (say a 2 TB 2.5 inch). 

 

Removing iMac's glass display panel is not really for the faint-of-heart.  Some special tools are needed as well as model specific special pre-cut double-sided adhesive gaskets used to bond the glass panel to the chassis.  Or pay a repair shop or Apple to remove panel and replace HDD.

 

If the internal HDD is/has gone bad - there is an easier way.   Most of the iMac's in at least the past 8-10 yrs will have a Thunderbolt port on back of the chassis. Thunderbolt is a 2 channel 10 Gb/sec/ch interface.  I purchased a 2 bay external Thunderbolt dock, Thunderbolt interface cable, and 1TB SSD. Plugged the SSD into the dock along with a big HDD for data.  Installed MacOS on the SSD as the boot drive. This bypasses the internal failing HDD without need to remove the display panel.  Works great - my mid-2011 iMac much faster.   

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Phil said:

Removing iMac's glass display panel is not really for the faint-of-heart. 

It's a shame to hear that they've made that difficullt, I found it quite easy on my A1224 as it's held on magnetically. You can buy rubber suckered handles for this purpose easily and cheaply but I just stuck some gaffer tape 'handles' to the screen. Getting to the hard drive was quite easy also. I vaguely heard something about the EU forcing manufacturers to make their products more easily serviceable, Apple might need to take note.

 

Right to Repair

Edited by Harry Harrison

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The thicker iMacs had a screen which was magnetically attached and you could lift it off with little suction cups. Still not for the faint-hearted. But they had firewire ports, not yet thunderbolt. I'm surprised your mid 2011 was one of the thinner models with the tricky seals. My recently deceased 27" was a mid-2011 and thick. As it turns out when we had it apart, the hard drive was not quite right, the Graphics card very not OK and there was a powerswitch cutting out every 20 minutes. Replacing the drive had lots of choices, but a replacement Graphics card was not available. Apparently it was a well known fault. I've heard of these external drive caddies mostly as a back-up solution but didn't know you could use them as a main drive

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3 minutes ago, Robert M Estall said:

The thicker iMacs had a screen which was magnetically attached and you could lift it off with little suction cups. Still not for the faint-hearted. But they had firewire ports, not yet thunderbolt. I'm surprised your mid 2011 was one of the thinner models with the tricky seals. My recently deceased 27" was a mid-2011 and thick. As it turns out when we had it apart, the hard drive was not quite right, the Graphics card very not OK and there was a powerswitch cutting out every 20 minutes. Replacing the drive had lots of choices, but a replacement Graphics card was not available. Apparently it was a well known fault. I've heard of these external drive caddies mostly as a back-up solution but didn't know you could use them as a main drive

 

My mid-2011 iMac is a 21.5" wide-body model with a CD/DVD drive and Thunderbolt, Firewire, etc. ports.  Thunderbolt ports are small and not obvious on back chassis unless looking specifically for it.

 

I never used the Thunderbolt port until my old internal HDD began causing crashes.  I then discovered that the Thunderbolt's high-speed interface was very suitable for booting MacOS and running storage drives.  Considerable info on internet/YouTube on Tb docks and booting/running off Thunderbolt   Firewire too slow except perhaps for data/backup.  

 

The chassis even runs cooler.  After the occasional reboot I use  Disk Utility to unmount the old internal HDD volume. This will power the internal drive down after a while and allows the chassis to run cooler.

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1 hour ago, Phil said:

 

My mid-2011 iMac is a 21.5" wide-body model with a CD/DVD drive and Thunderbolt, Firewire, etc. ports.  Thunderbolt ports are small and not obvious on back chassis unless looking specifically for it.

 

I never used the Thunderbolt port until my old internal HDD began causing crashes.  I then discovered that the Thunderbolt's high-speed interface was very suitable for booting MacOS and running storage drives.  Considerable info on internet/YouTube on Tb docks and booting/running off Thunderbolt   Firewire too slow except perhaps for data/backup.  

 

The chassis even runs cooler.  After the occasional reboot I use  Disk Utility to unmount the old internal HDD volume. This will power the internal drive down after a while and allows the chassis to run cooler.

 

I agree. I have been using Thunderbolt (v1, 2) drives for several years as my main working image drives although I boot up from the internal SSD. However, the Thunderbolt drives are definitely fast enough to use as boot drives.

 

I did speed tests and found that these Thunderbolt drives are almost as fast as the internal SSD. The latest iteration of Thunderbolt (v3) is way faster again it seems. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, the G-Technology Thunderbolt drives are superb, built like tanks and totally reliable to date. I have had one running almost continuously since 2014. 

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, MDM said:

 

I agree. I have been using Thunderbolt (v1, 2) drives for several years as my main working image drives although I boot up from the internal SSD. However, the Thunderbolt drives are definitely fast enough to use as boot drives.

 

I did speed tests and found that these Thunderbolt drives are almost as fast as the internal SSD. The latest iteration of Thunderbolt (v3) is way faster again it seems. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, the G-Technology Thunderbolt drives are superb, built like tanks and totally reliable to date. I have had one running almost continuously since 2014. 

 

I should note that the Thunderbolt dock I chose utilizes standard off-the shelf SATA storage devices. No special Thunderbolt drive required - just any common SATA SSD or HDD.

 

What I'm using:  

https://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA_new/series_RS5212-overview.htm

 

Note that an Apple Thunderbolt cable is required.

Edited by Phil

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On 18/01/2018 at 07:33, MDM said:

If you do find the spare cash at some point for an extra monitor, these BenQ Wide Gamut 27" stills photograpy monitors are very good value at $595 considering what wide gamut monitors from the likes of Eizo tend to cost. I got one of these a while back and it is very good - holds in highlight detail which tends to get lost on the Retina screen on my MacBook Pro.  It has all sorts of other functions not available on the iMacs.

 

Thanks for providing this info MDM. I am hoping later this year to be able to buy a new computer (fearing the potential imminent demise of my 10 year old iMac). From the research I've done so far, the BenQ was standing out to me as a good, affordable option, so it is great hear your opinion on this. As I'm on a limited budget, I was thinking of going with a mac mini and hooking it up the the BenQ monitor. While mac retina displays look fantastic, I've read that they may not be the most optimal for photo editing. I was wondering what were the other functions the BenQ has that you would recommend it for?

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5 hours ago, Sally R said:

 

Thanks for providing this info MDM. I am hoping later this year to be able to buy a new computer (fearing the potential imminent demise of my 10 year old iMac). From the research I've done so far, the BenQ was standing out to me as a good, affordable option, so it is great hear your opinion on this. As I'm on a limited budget, I was thinking of going with a mac mini and hooking it up the the BenQ monitor. While mac retina displays look fantastic, I've read that they may not be the most optimal for photo editing. I was wondering what were the other functions the BenQ has that you would recommend it for?

 

I think I meant that there are various buttons on the BenQ that you can use to change all sorts of settings whereas the iMac is extremely limited. I think the only thing you can control on the latest iMacs is the brightness.I would always advocate using hardware calibration anyway. I don't know if they are stlll making that same model I mentioned but they are very good value for wide gamut monitors (or at least they were when I bought mine). 

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8 minutes ago, MDM said:

I think I meant that there are various buttons on the BenQ that you can use to change all sorts of settings whereas the iMac is extremely limited. I think the only thing you can control on the latest iMacs is the brightness.I would always advocate using hardware calibration anyway. I don't know if they are stlll making that same model I mentioned but they are very good value for wide gamut monitors (or at least they were when I bought mine). 

 

Ah got it, thank you. I do calibrate (with Spyder) though probably not as often as I should. Still a few months away from purchasing a new computer, but the BenQ is looking like a good option for a monitor at the moment. Cheers, Sally

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