New iMac Teardowns Reveal Good News And Bad News For Upgraders

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Apple silently snuck up on us all yesterday with new 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs, but short of upgrading them with Haswell processors, what has really changed? As is their custom, everyone’s favorite gadget dissectors over at iFixIt have torn apart their new iMacs to find out.

There’s good news and bad news. The good news has to do with the Fusion Drive. The bad news? The CPU.

Good news first. When Apple released the new ultra-thin iMacs last year, they came with standard spinning hard drives with an option to upgrade to an SSD or Fusion Drive. However, if you bought an iMac with a hard drive, there was no extra port inside the iMac for you to add an SSD and spin your own Fusion Drive. On both the 21.-5 and 27-inch iMac models, this has now changed. “Contrary to last year’s model, users can now put in a second hard drive via the Fusion Drive SSD port, even if they don’t pick the iMac with the Fusion Drive right out of the factory,” writes iFixIt. “That port is now PCIe, which should help get drives/adapters onto the market that will enable a second hard drive installation.”

So that’s the good news. The bad news, however, is that an iMac CPU is no longer upgradeable. Says iFixIt: “The CPU is now soldered to the logic board, and no longer replaceable by the user. As far as we can tell, this is the first aluminum iMac to have a soldered CPU; it’s a silent, but clear, shift to even poorer iMac upgradeability. That’s sad news for Apple’s power user community, who appreciated the ability to upgrade their Macs on their own schedule.”

Personally, I had absolutely no idea this was even an option (and I now have visions of risking ruin and replacing the CPU on my aging 2009 iMac), but that does seem to be another step by Apple away from repairability and upgradeability.

You can find iFixIt’s 21.5-inch teardown and 27-inch teardown here.