Boot MacOS Off Fast External NVME SSD on a 2017 iMac – Upgrade Your Fusion Drive


In this video we show you how to boot your MacOS off an external NVME M.2 SSD hard drive. This is a huge upgrade in performance over your fusion drive on your iMac because of the speed of the NVME drive. This should work with most iMacs with the correct ports and in the video we use the 2017 iMac 27″.

We will provide step-by-step instructions on booting your MacOS off an external NVME SSD hard drive. Many people don’t know that it’s super easy to boot your OS off of external drives on Apple computers and in this video we selected and external NVME SSD for pure performance. It should take less than 1 hour to complete this build.

The first step is building an external NVME SSD and we have a video on this here –

After you build the hard drive then follow our instructions in the video to boot of the super fast NVME external hard drive and increase the performance of your Apple iMac.

I created a few other videos in the past you may want to check out also.

Boot MacOS from a Samsung QVO external drive –

Boot MACOS from external SSD on a 2011 iMac –

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24 comments

  1. Shouldn't that NVMe drive have been formatted as APFS, as is recommended in Mac OS X Mojave or higher?

  2. Hi, thanks for the tutorial. Is it different now in Big Sur? I have gone through the download and install procedure many times now with two different NVMEs. With the 2nd NVME it appeared to get through the install but then said at the end, when I clicked restart, that an error with the applicatio had occurred. It does this every time.

  3. Craig, Hi… Is it possible to "split" the fusion drive in my wife's iMac into "2" separate partitions?

  4. Hi Craig!!! I've been running my iMac since last year off an 512gb NVME external drive I built thanks to you.. But recently, it's going super slow… I have 400 something space on the nvme, why I'm a getting the beach ball now? Thank you!

  5. Hi Thanks. Does anyone know a compatible M.2 upgrade for the Late 2015, 5K 27" iMac?

    God bless.

  6. Thank you for the video! I connected a Samsung T5 ssd to my late 2015 21.5 inch iMac and cloned my internal hard drive to the ssd using disk utility. It gave my Mac new life!! The only problem I have is that it takes around 20 seconds while booting the computer for the apple logo to appear even though I've selected the ssd as the Startup Disk in system preferences. I'm running Mac OS Big Sur and my ssd is formatted to APFS. Any suggestions on how to solve this problem?

  7. Hi Craig, I have Imac late 2009 i7 16Gb, unable to boot with folder ? symbol, Can i do like in this way you showed in video?

  8. If you change your boot drive to external, would that drive be automatically be the swapdrive as well?

  9. What I really appreciate about this is that you didn’t monetize this podcast. Thank you for not doing that. I know it costs you money to do these. It does on my channel as well. But taking the extra step to not monetize it help others I think it’s very special. Well done my friend.

    Larry
    de K7HN

  10. external tb3 nvme for mac os, another one for bootcamp, serperate the fusiondrive into hdd / ssd and use the hdd part as "time machine" 🙂 best investment – imac 2019 1tb fusion 32gb ram

  11. Does this external drive work with Bug Sur?

  12. 3 things need to line up – port, cable and drive. So if you have a thunderbolt 3 (tb3) port on your mac, and use a tb3 cable with tb3 rated ssd, you're gonna get the full 40gbps speeds.

    The overall speed of the connection will be the slowest of these three things. If you use a tb3 ssd with a tb3 port, but use a cable that's rated for usb 3.1 gen 2, expect 10gbps, because that's the limit of cable.

    Most NVMe drives these days are usb3.1gen2, so don't waste money on buying costly tb3 cable. Something like Samsung x5 is tb3, but also several times more expensive than usb3.1g2 drives.

  13. Great Video! Can you enable trim?

  14. The auto sleep mode present into some enclosures can be bad for use it as bootable os?

  15. Will this upgrade be suitable for a late 2015 iMac 27?

  16. Great video! Did you experience any issues whilst running MacOS off the external drive? I'm really thinking of doing this upgrade but, I've boot camped Windows from an external drive before and had all sorts of issues with running programs and compatibility stuff – wondered if you experienced anything like that in MacOS off of the external drive? Thanks so much! 🤙

  17. Hey boss can you answer a question? All of these videos say boot off of external SD. Does that mean also run the OS from the SSD and also you'll be running the applications from the SSD? And then if that's so is it better to run the operating system and applications from the SSD but the files being used in applications should be on the internal hard drive now?

  18. Does anyone know if the late 2015 fusion drive can be removed from inside can be mounted in an enclosure and used as an external fusion drive?

  19. hello, great video … better nvme usb 3.1 or thunderbolt3? how do you think the solution you used? does the apple system work well?

  20. Basically! I like the video

  21. What happens to security T2 chip if you install numerouse apps on that ssd drive? Does it alow intallation?

  22. Can this be done to a 2019 MacBook Pro?