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.
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.