New iMac is a DIY nightmare

Gregg Keizer
20 June, 2014
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Apple’s new iMac is a cheaper, less upgradable option.

New iMac, apple, 21.5in

Apple’s new iMac may be less expensive than its siblings, but that came at a price, a reseller said on Thursday: Do-it-yourselfers won’t be able to upgrade the stock 8GB of memory in the new all-in-one.

US-based Other World Computing got its hands on a $1349 21.5in iMac yesterday and took it apart. “We found this iMac has the memory soldered to the motherboard, removing any possibility of adding additional memory,” the upgrade-centric company said in an pictorial account of the teardown.

The other two still-available stock 21.5in iMac configurations do not make RAM replacement easy as the system must be pulled apart to get to the memory. But RAM can be upgraded by a dedicated do-it-yourselfer.

The larger iMacs, which boast a 27in displays, have a small door at the back that exposes memory so users can replace RAM without cracking open the case.

The move toward solder wasn’t a surprise: Apple also fixes memory to the logic boards of its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks, another similarity between those mobile systems and the new 21.5in iMac. One way that Apple lowered its costs for the $1349 machine, for example, was to use the same slower 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor found in the MacBook Air line.

In any case, the customers Apple has targeted with the lower-priced iMac – consumers eyeing a Mac as a household computer but looking for the best value – are less likely to be the kind who dabble in DYI.

iFixit, a better-known source for computer teardowns than Other World Computing, has not published a dive into the new iMac, but if or when it does, it’s likely to give the all-in-one a very low repair score.

Last year, when iFixit took apart the then-new 21.5in iMac, the organisation gave the system a score of only 2 out of a possible 10. With the new iMac’s soldered RAM, it’s probable that iFixit will lower the score further.

If iFixit gave the new iMac a repair score of just 1, the desktop would rank alongside the mid-2012 MacBook Pro, which the website called ”the least-repairable laptop we’ve taken apart.”

Apple does not offer a factory-installed memory upgrade for the least-expensive iMac, fixing the RAM at 8GB.


By Gregg Keizer. Computerworld.

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