There is a problem with this 21.5-Inch (Mid-2011) iMac. After removing the SuperDrive and installing the SSD (some OCZ model), there is a problem with installing Windows via Boot Camp. The idea is to have OS X on the SSD and Windows on the HDD. Also, on the HDD should be HFS+ partition for OS X accessible data.

This is a pretty much Boot Camp-supported configuration. I had no problems with installing Windows 8 with Boot Camp Assistant in past, before the upgrade.

Installing Windows in EFI mode on this older iMac is a no-go, because in this mode the internal graphics and audio never works and system often crashes. So the only option is CSM-BIOS.

What I've tried.

USB booting is not supported on this old machine, but I tricked Boot Camp Assistant that it is capable to boot from USB only to make sure it actually isn't.

So I've fell back to the SuperDrive connected via USB. The Boot Camp Assistant does its job well, preparing the USB with support software and partitioning the HDD. However, when I try to boot from the SuperDrive, connected via USB, there is only a blinking cursor.

I've tried every USB port for SuperDrive and support USB connection, tried to disconnect the support USB, tried to explicitly boot from the SuperDrive in Boot Manager, but there is only blinking cursor. Windows installer never starts.

I've tried OS X Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan and even macOS Sierra Public Beta. I've tried Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 (installation images of which were generated by Media Creation Tool provided by Microsoft, so they are purely genuine). I've tried to disconnect HDD and install Windows on the second partition of the SSD. I've even tried another SuperDrive, from Mac Book.

And still all I've got is a blinking cursor.

What else can I check?


Okay, I finally installed Windows on this iMac. It was incredibly tricky.

Little excursus about SATA ports on a logic board of this particular model.

Although this iMac comes with two devices: HDD and ODD, there are three SATA ports available. One marked HDD, one SSD and one ODD. This gives us opportunity to add an additional aftermarket drive. Perhaps this logic board is used in some models where there are three kinds of devices installed. Here is a board layout:

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Since I've removed the original 3,5-inch HDD (it was too old and slow) and replaced it with an SSD, it got connected to the SATA port designated as HDD Data. It is a port #1. Secondary drive for a second HFS+ partition and Windows is connected to the port #2, designated as SSD Data (by the way, I've tried to connect my HDD to ODD Data and ODD Power ports and in this case system won't even start. Lame). SuperDrive is removed and connected to the USB (via external box).

This configuration works for a single installation of OS X (or maybe a couple of separate OS X'es), but not for a Boot Camp for sure. Long story short, what I did to fix this is the following.

First, I've placed the SuperDrive back in the iMac and connected it to the SATA port #3 (designated as ODD Data on the scheme).

Second, I've prepared support USB and partitioned HDD with the Boot Camp Assistant.

Third, when the Boot Camp Assistant rebooted the system, I pulled the power cord out, opened iMac and detached my primary drive with OS X (SSD). Weird? Weird. So, the only SATA-connected drives remained connected were a secondary drive (HDD) and SuperDrive (ODD). When I booted to the Boot Manager (with Alt pressed) and chose to boot from the Windows 8.1 Installation DVD (not EFI), the Windows installer finally launched.

I've fully installed Windows, removed ODD and connected SSD back. So now the goal achieved: there is SSD with OS X and HDD with HFS+ partition and Windows. As a bonus, I've upgraded to Windows 10 and found out that everything, except sleep, works. I changed sleep to hibernate where applicable and now the configuration is pretty superb.

Hope this helps someone. I've spent a lot of hours to solve this puzzle.

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