2017 27" iMac HDD Replacement

Has anyone either replaced or had a tech replace the internal drive on a modern iMac?

Currently I’m running everything via a USB C external SSD (Samsung T5), which works well enough, but ideally I’d like to replace the internal drive (or drives). Best case would be to install a 512GB blade SSD as the sole boot device then use the 1TB drive as a time machine target (or maybe just additional storage).

Will Apple do this for you? Or are you stuck with 3rd parties?
What sort of $$ am I looking at?

I doubt Apple would offer this service. Assuming you specifically want a blade (M.2, NVMe, etc) SSD, even the authorised service providers would have to order an SSD from Apple at stock price (purchasing the part outright, without needing to send a defective part back as exchange), and Apple charges several thousands for even a 128GB SSD at stock price, let alone a 512GB. (Presumably to deter owners from purchasing service parts outright to perform upgrades.)

An AASP may be willing to install a third party drive if they could source a compatible one, or perhaps if you provided one, but if they did, chances are the installation will come with no warranties or guarantees (or a guarantee on workmanship, but not the disassembly a second time should the drive ever fail and need replacement).

A SATA SSD would likely be a different story, since it involves just swapping out the drive with industry standard, readily available parts, making it a lot more cost effective and more likely that an AASP would offer the service, and with some form of warranty. (However Apple themselves still won’t do this.) It does mean losing the internal HDD though since the SSD would be installed in place of it.

Proprietary standards suck, especially when they are buried deep within the machine. I have read about SATA SSDs going in, but from what I understand there is little or no benefit (other than neatness) compared to an external drive. I should probably just keep it the way it is and leave it alone. Still a damn shame that this is the default config and a little more sad I didn’t BTO instead.

I have read the ifixit guide to replacing the blade, so it’s very possible, but as you say finding one is another thing entirely.