It may seem hard to believe that it's finally happening, but it's true: Apple has an upgradable iMac at last.
Apple's new 4K 21.5-inch iMac all-in-one (AIO) desktop system rocks removable RAM and modular CPU, as a teardown has just revealed. This means that fans can purchase a more basic configuration of the iMac and later on, when they have some time and money on hand, they can upgrade it with a better CPU and RAM.
Each time a major new product makes its debut, the lucrative folks over at iFixit make it their business to take that device and tear it apart to see what makes it tick, how it's made and how easy it would be to repair.
iFixit Teardown Reveals Upgradable iMac
It didn't take long for iFixit to dive into the new 4K 21.5-inch iMac and the teardown reveals that the RAM is removable and the Intel Kaby Lake processor is not soldered onto the device's logic board.
The iMac version that iFixit tore down was the mid-range $1,299, 3.0 GHz model, which comes with 8 GB of RAM, Radeon Pro 555 graphics with 2 GB VRAM, and a 1 TB HDD.
After removing the adhesive securing the display, removing all the glass and reaching the logic board, removing the power supply, HDD, and fan, iFixit gets to the RAM part and notices the great surprise.
"And with a bit more elbow grease, we shimmy the logic board out of its slot to reveal ... removable RAM? We can hardly believe our eyes," notes iFixit.
"It may not be as accessible as the (dead simple) RAM hatch found in the 27" iMacs — but still, this is a major win for upgradability over all the 21.5" iMacs with soldered RAM that we've encountered in recent years."
Instead of being soldered onto the logic board, the new iMac's RAM modules come in the form of two removable SO-DIMM slots, which means that users will be able to upgrade it at home for some extra oomph.
Diving deeper into the machine, iFixit removed the heat sink and the warranty-voiding stickers to reach the CPU, discovering that the Kaby Lake processor is in a regular LGA 1151 socket. This means that users will be able to replace the CPU should they want an upgrade.
Apple hasn't offered an iMac with expandable memory or modular CPU in years and the move will likely have a big say in one's decision to purchase the new iMac, as fans might feel more comfortable investing in a machine that they can later upgrade. The 21.5-inch iMac from 2013 was the last model to sport expandable memory, while the last one with a modular CPU was in 2012.
The company's products are notoriously difficult to upgrade and Apple has always held tight control over all matters of hardware and software, so it's great to see that DIY upgrades are now on the table. It may not be so easy to upgrade it, but at least it's possible.
Overall, iFixit ranked the new iMac a 3/10 on the repairability scale, with 10 being the easiest to repair. That said, tinkering with the device is not recommended unless you really know what you're doing, as it's a bit tricky to tear it apart.