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iMac SATA Card (mini-PCIe) Install/Mod for eSATA use
Last Updated: Sept 20th, 2010

(This was the first report on using the mini-pcie SATA card in an iMac that was previously used for mac mini eSATA mod. That page has links to the Mini-PCIe SATA card used as well as the drivers page and also a report from one owner using a Mini-PCIe to (full size) PCIe card adapter. To save you a click, here's one source for the Commell MPX-3132 Mini-PCIe card (Globalamericaninc.com). Silicon Image Reference drivers are at www.siliconimage.com/support/ and select "Sil3132 PCI Express (1x) to 2 Port SATA300" from the "Product Support" Menu to see a list of drivers for OS X. (IIRC, most use the non-RAID in the past but YMMV.))

I recently added a Commell MPX-3132 with two eSATA and port multiplier compatible SATA ports to my iMac (Late 2006).

It was relatively easy considering that is was my first time opening the iMac. The hidden latches, which you release with a bent credit card inserted through the upper venting slot, posed the greatest difficulty. This is because you don't see whether or not you have engaged the latches. Furthermore I really recommend getting a plastic blade or tiny spatula for gently removing the EMI tape covering the lower interior of the iMac that contains the Mini-PCIe slot.

I had to cut holes into the two layers of material of the lower right air intake. I did not have the right tools for the job so it's quite crude. I used a wire cutter to cut the holes in the inner cage and a small cutting disk for the outer perforated metal plate. I plan to clean this up at a later date when I get around to swapping out the HDD.

(Have you used the eSATA interface OK?)
Yes. It's working OK. I am having problems with hot-UN-plugging on Mac OS X 10.5.8. Hot plugging works fine, though. On my other machine (10.6.4) I am using a SiI 3124-base card and it's working perfectly. I will upgrade to 10.6.x in the near future and see if it fixes that.

(Did you have to use the RAID SI3132 drivers? (Mac Mini owners said only the RAID drivers worked with this card/mod.))
After reading about people having issues with the non-RAID driver I didn't bother with it. I am currently using the Silicon Image 3132 r5 (RAID) driver.

(Thanks again for taking the time to send this.)
The idea came from your site. So I am glad to be able to give something back. :)
Cheers, Jan
(His photos follow)

Empty mini-PCIe Slot (Airport card removed)

Empty Cable Path

Cutting Markers

Mini-PCIe slot with Commell MPX-3132 and Cables

SATA cables passing through Freshly Cut Openings in Frame

Crudely cut opening in outer perforated metal plate

Another View of rough cut opening

(You may be able to use some Rubber Grommet (or U-channel) material to install around the cut opening/sharp edges. This would protect cables and hide the rough cut edges)

Update/FYI: (Sept. 24th, 2010) Another iMac owner (this time a 2009 model) sent his Photo Gallery/Guide on iMac eSATA Card Install/Mod

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