It’s impossible to upgrade the entry-level iMac’s 8GB of RAM

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If you plan on buying one of Apple’s new 21.5-inch iMacs for $1,099 and then upgrading internal components yourself later on, then listen up. Upgrade experts OWC have torn down the new entry-level all-in-one and discovered that its memory is soldered to the motherboard and cannot be upgraded.

The new iMac comes with 8GB of RAM as standard — and you cannot upgrade that at checkout. If you want to add more memory, then Apple wants you to spend extra on the more expensive 21.5-inch machines, which start at $1,499 with 16GB of RAM. Apple does allow you to upgrade internal storage, however, all the way up to 1TB.

Not going anywhere.

Not going anywhere.

It’s impossible to buy the entry-level iMac in a standard configuration and upgrade the memory yourself, then. If you attempt to do so, you’re likely to cause some serious damage the motherboard and it’s going to cost you a heck of a lot more to repair it than if you’d have just bought a more expensive iMac to begin with.

While the new iMac looks like a good buy at $1,099, you actually get a heck of a lot more if you spend the extra $200 on the slightly better model. Not only do you have the option to upgrade its RAM — either at checkout or by yourself later on — but you also get a significantly faster Intel Core i5 processor, twice the storage, and a much better graphics chip.

Unless you really, really don’t have that extra $200, then — and you’re only going to be using your Mac for basic tasks — steer clear of the entry-level iMac when it’s time to upgrade your desktop.

  • popeyoni

    1) 8GB is not just for basic tasks. You can do plenty with that.
    2) The more expensive 21 inch model can’t be upgraded either, unless you rip open the case.

    • dcj001

      And the 27″ iMacs’ RAM cannot be upgraded either, unless the small doors on the backs of the iMacs are opened.

      • popeyoni

        That door is meant to be opened by the user. Ripping open the case is not a simple matter and will void your warranty.

    • Owen Brady

      yea ram doesn’t last forever….. you get a bad stick I guess you toss the whole computer in this case……

      • Morgan Blackpowder

        Actually if you get a bad stick you take it back to the apple store and they exchange it for you.

  • Ron Hawkins

    No one will ever need more than 8Gigs anyway!

    • Milan Kragujević

      “No one will need more than 637 kB of memory for a personal computer” – IBM

      • G0dDamnIdiots

        it was 640

      • Ron Hawkins

        Thank you. It was also Bill Gates, not IBM

      • Milan Kragujević

        ^ [citation needed]
        No it was not. If you actually read the Wikiquote page, you will know that it wasn’t Bill Gates. It’s a myth and he debunked it.
        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bill_Gates#Misattributed

        Also, below is the excerpt from the interview…
        QUESTION: I read in a newspaper that in 1981 you said, “640K of memory should
        be enough for anybody.” What did you mean when you said this?

        ANSWER: I’ve said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No
        one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is
        enough for all time.

        The need for memory increases as computers get more potent and software gets
        more powerful. In fact, every couple of years the amount of memory address
        space needed to run whatever software is mainstream at the time just about
        doubles. This is well-known.

        When IBM introduced its PC in 1981, many people attacked Microsoft for its
        role. These critics said that 8-bit computers, which had 64K of address space,
        would last forever. They said we were wastefully throwing out great 8-bit
        programming by moving the world toward 16-bit computers.

        We at Microsoft disagreed. We knew that even 16-bit computers, which had 640K
        of available address space, would be adequate for only four or five years. (The
        IBM PC had 1 megabyte of logical address space. But 384K of this was assigned
        to special purposes, leaving 640K of memory available. That’s where the
        now-infamous “640K barrier” came from.)

        A few years later, Microsoft was a big fan of Intel’s 386 microprocessor chip,
        which gave computers a 32-bit address space.

        Modern operating systems can now take advantage of that seemingly vast
        potential memory. But even 32 bits of address space won’t prove adequate as
        time goes on.

        Meanwhile, I keep bumping into that silly quotation attributed to me that says
        640K of memory is enough. There’s never a citation; the quotation just floats
        like a rumor, repeated again and again.

      • Milan Kragujević

        ^ [citation needed]

  • TonyLA

    “While the new iMac looks like a good buy at $1,099, you actually get a heck of a lot more if you spend the extra $200 on the slightly better model. Not only do you have the option to upgrade its RAM — either at checkout OR BY YOURSELF LATER ON — but you also get a significantly faster Intel Core i5 processor, twice the storage, and a much better graphics chip.”

    I thought that none of the 21.5″ iMacs could take a post sale user RAM upgrade. Did I miss something?

  • killwatch

    Wow what a steal! Leave it to Apple to show us what “budget” really means! Clearly inferior (50% worse in some cases) hardware for ONLY $200 less! What a ripoff, and I wouldnt be surprised that this is some marketing bs that will give the geniuses a reason to say “But for only $$$ more look what you can have!”. Full disclosure; im a PC but I have owned Apple products for a long time and find them useful for many tasks.

    • Ron Hawkins

      I find PCs useful for many tasks too. Like, keeping my boat from drifting away!

      • killwatch

        Quite right, but living on a houseboat with your cousin Edd and his 12 children in order to save money for new useless apple products is a life choice that im not ready to commit to. Plus I heard Edd gets pretty “handsy” after a couple of beers…

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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