or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › Teardown of Apple's low-end iMac reveals non-upgradeable soldered RAM
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Teardown of Apple's low-end iMac reveals non-upgradeable soldered RAM

post #1 of 97
Thread Starter 
Hours after Apple released its low-cost 21.5-inch iMac on Wednesday, a teardown of the all-in-one desktop reveals users will be unable to easily upgrade system memory as the compute's RAM modules are soldered onto the logic board.


Source: OWC


In a follow-up to its teardown of Apple's latest iMac model, Mac reseller Other World Computing found the $1,099 machine comes with soldered-on memory, meaning users are stuck with the 8GB of RAM installed at the factory.

That Apple chose not to include upgradeable memory is not surprising given the new iMac's internals are largely borrowed from lesser machines like the MacBook Air. Even the Online Apple Store hints at the non-upgradeable feature, saying the cheapest iMac comes with "8GB memory," while other models break out the specification by noting "8GB (two 4GB) memory," referring to two 4GB DIMMs.

While memory is not a configurable option, the new model can be fitted with a 1TB hard drive for an extra $50, while an additional $250 buys a 1TB Fusion Drive or 250GB SSD.

Apple introduced the low-end computer earlier today as "the perfect entry-level Mac desktop." In making the machine affordable, it seems the company does not want to encroach on more expensive iMac models, especially the $1,299 21.5-inch version that now fills a mid-tier role in Apple's lineup.

With Apple cutting $200 off the previous least expensive iMac model, authorized Apple resellers are already offering better deals on the computer, which comes with a 2.7GHz Core i5 CPU, 1TB HDD and discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics chip. As seen in the most current AppleInsider Price Guides, the model is going for $999 after $70 mail-in-rebate (PDF) through MacMall.
post #2 of 97
Meh, 8GB should be fine for a long time, especially for someone opting for the cheapest iMac. If there was a 4GB model, I would have an issue.
post #3 of 97
And...that's article number four 1wink.gif

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #4 of 97
On the one hand this seems shitty for pretty everyone that would read this site but so few customers ever update any components in their system, especially those that are deciding to opt for the lowest-end model. If that's an issue then pay for the next one up which I think is a better deal, but if you're opting for the 21.5" model you still have a RAM access issue that makes this non-starter for even the majority of people reading this site.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #5 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

On the one hand this seems shitty for pretty everyone that would read this site but so few customers ever update any components in their system, especially those that are deciding to opt for the lowest-end model. If that's an issue then pay for the next one up which I think is a better deal, but if you're opting for the 21.5" model you still have a RAM access issue that makes non-starter for even the majority of people reading this site.

 

Right. I don't think Apple customers tend to worry about upgrades as much as the tinkerers, hobbyists and hackers that gravitate to PCs.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #6 of 97

This cheap, budget priced iMac is obviously not meant for anybody who would ever be doing anything that requires more than 8 GB of RAM, so 8 GB of RAM is plenty for this machine. I'm surprised that Apple is even shipping it with 8 GB and not 4 GB.

post #7 of 97

dont forget that with mavericks OSX, the RAM is pretty much doubled. 

post #8 of 97
Steve Jobs' reality distortion field was true it seems, because it's definitely not working here. The Geekbench marks for this machine are equivalent to my 2007 iMac Core 2 Duo.

This should have been an $899 machine.
post #9 of 97

That may or may not be true. Mavericks ran just as slow as Mountain Lion on my 2007 iMac with 4GB of RAM. I couldn't have more than 3 apps open at a time to keep the spinning beach ball for appearing every time I did something in Safari.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by netrox View Post
 

dont forget that with mavericks OSX, the RAM is pretty much doubled. 

post #10 of 97
This machine is so pathetic. Not so much the RAM but rather the processor chosen for the machine. Soldered in RAM is actually a good thing for reliability, coupling it with a slow poke of a processor isn't a good thing at all.

Maybe Apple is looking down the road towards Broadwell in this machine.

One other thought, Safari for Yosemite should be a massive improvement in performance so maybe this machine won't feel so bad for its primary usage. Even on iPad, Safari for iOS 8 is vastly improved if a bit buggy. So it is possible to see acceptance for this machine, especially if it goes on sale agressively.
post #11 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Meh, 8GB should be fine for a long time, especially for someone opting for the cheapest iMac. If there was a 4GB model, I would have an issue.

 

In a couple of years 8GB will feel like 4GB today.

post #12 of 97

I don't understand why people keep complaining about the CPU in this machine.

 

This is basically a current MacBook Air in a non-notebook form, attached to a 21.5" monitor. Apart from the hard drive (which can be upgraded to a fusion drive or flash drive), this is identical hardware to the recently updated MBA which runs all of the iLife and iWork applications well enough.

 

For the main audience of this particular computer (schools, businesses), this CPU is quite adequate.

 

I have a four-year old Mac mini server with 8GB RAM and it runs Mavericks fine today, and it'll run Yosemite fine when the latter OS is released this fall. Also, I have last year's MacBook Air -- also with 8GB RAM -- and it too runs Mavericks fine.

 

Neither one of my machines would be a suitable tool for professional video editing or CAD work, but then again, I don't do that sort of stuff and neither do the people who will be buying this new entry-level 21.5" iMac.

 

Saying that this machine is pathetic is completely out of touch with reality. Apple sells way more MacBooks than desktop Macs, and a huge percentage of those notebooks are MacBook Airs. Therefore, this Mac is quite suited for a certain (and plentiful) segment of Mac users.


Edited by mpantone - 6/18/14 at 7:12pm
post #13 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I'm surprised that Apple is even shipping it with 8 GB and not 4 GB.
because they don't want to totally embarrass themselves?!?
post #14 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by netrox View Post

dont forget that with mavericks OSX, the RAM is pretty much doubled. 

Memory compression in OS X does not double your RAM. It compresses inactive application memory to free up more RAM to your active application. So if you are playing Diablo III on a 8 GB machine with tons of apps open, OS X will try to compress the memory of the other applications to free up as much of that RAM to the game. It does not compress Diablo III's memory to make it fit 16 GB in 8 GB of space. Also, memory compression only occurs under certain conditions, not constantly.
post #15 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

This cheap, budget priced iMac is obviously not meant for anybody who would ever be doing anything that requires more than 8 GB of RAM, so 8 GB of RAM is plenty for this machine. I'm surprised that Apple is even shipping it with 8 GB and not 4 GB.

I believe Apple is going forward to set 8GB as standard for all desktops.  I wonder when the price of single 8GB ram for desktop will drop to a reasonable range.

post #16 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

This machine is so pathetic. Not so much the RAM but rather the processor chosen for the machine. Soldered in RAM is actually a good thing for reliability, coupling it with a slow poke of a processor isn't a good thing at all.

Maybe Apple is looking down the road towards Broadwell in this machine.

One other thought, Safari for Yosemite should be a massive improvement in performance so maybe this machine won't feel so bad for its primary usage. Even on iPad, Safari for iOS 8 is vastly improved if a bit buggy. So it is possible to see acceptance for this machine, especially if it goes on sale agressively.

I think for the sort of workloads this machine is targeted at, the 5400 rpm hard drive is more likely than the CPU or RAM  to be a performance bottleneck.

post #17 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

On the one hand this seems shitty for pretty everyone that would read this site but so few customers ever update any components in their system, especially those that are deciding to opt for the lowest-end model. If that's an issue then pay for the next one up which I think is a better deal, but if you're opting for the 21.5" model you still have a RAM access issue that makes this non-starter for even the majority of people reading this site.

Back in the day, computer manufacturers (including Apple with the power mac) made a big deal about RAM expandability, and always advertised the maximum amount of memory the user could add after purchase. Even if you weren't looking for bottom-of-the-barrel performance, it made sense to buy cheap and upgrade RAM later because RAM prices would inevitably come down. Have RAM prices more or less stabilized?

post #18 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by d4NjvRzf View Post
 

 Have RAM prices more or less stabilized?

 

On the contrary, they fluctuate because DRAM has become completely commoditized. I bought 2x8 GB DDR3 SODIMM in late 2012 for $66 total. Today it's at $140.

 

Due to the push for speed, RAM is also the most difficult component to design on the motherboard, and the highest IO power consumer. This leads to technical constraints. For example, Intel's mobile chips are often limited to 1 DIMM per channel at the highest speeds.

post #19 of 97

Apple learned nothing from the 5c, going cheap won't cut it.

post #20 of 97
And if it was $899 someone would complain it should be $599.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #21 of 97

What's pathetic are the posters here hammering Apple for this. It's a low-end Mac. Get over it.  People here on this forum for some reason think that what's best for them surely should be the standard for everyone else.  Not.

I can count on one hand the number of people I've known that have ever upgraded the RAM on their PC's since they purchased them.  It's the norm, not the exception.

8GB is fine for the folks the market the iMac is meant for.  As long as Apple doesn't do this to their higher-end models, I couldn't care less.  

"If" Apple does decide to do this to the higher models, they better price the memory competitively or there will be a rebellion.  From a reliability standpoint, I think soldering it to the board is a good idea simply because it eliminates yet another potential issue caused by the interface connection.

 

post #22 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post
 

What's pathetic are the posters here hammering Apple for this. It's a low-end Mac. Get over it.  People here on this forum for some reason think that what's best for them surely should be the standard for everyone else.  Not.

 

I agree. What part about "low end" do these whiners not get?

 

Is English not their native language, or do they simply need to remove their heads from their butts?

 

Would I personally buy this iMac? No, I require more power, but luckily I'm not moronic enough to live inside my own delusional bubble and declare it a bad machine, simply because it doesn't meet my particular needs. For many people, this will be all that they need for their tasks.

post #23 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

The Geekbench marks for this machine are equivalent to my 2007 iMac.

Yeah, I can imagine all of those women, OAPs and casual users who just surf the web, read emails, FaceBook and Skype friends, who want to get a new computer.
The first they are going to do is check out and compare Geekbench scores.1rolleyes.gif
post #24 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evilution View Post


Yeah, I can imagine all of those women, OAPs and casual users who just surf the web, read emails, FaceBook and Skype friends, who want to get a new computer.
The first they are going to do is check out and compare Geekbench scores.1rolleyes.gif

So true.

iMacs are not for us here.  Now in addition to a screen failure trashing it, ram failure can too.

This is a volume Mac for the casual masses!

post #25 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danox View Post

Apple learned nothing from the 5c, going cheap won't cut it.

Yeah, as with the 5c, Apple is going to be so disappointed when people go in the shop, attracted by the low price option, and then are easily upsold to an even better machine. What are they thinking?!
post #26 of 97

Breaking News - Apple has introduced the first desktop with no way to upgrade the RAM.

iMac 21.5" 2.7 GHz (2011), 1TB HDD, 8GB RAM; iPhone 5c 16GB White; iPod Touch 4G 8GB Black; iPod Touch 2G 8GB
Reply
iMac 21.5" 2.7 GHz (2011), 1TB HDD, 8GB RAM; iPhone 5c 16GB White; iPod Touch 4G 8GB Black; iPod Touch 2G 8GB
Reply
post #27 of 97

Absolutely fine for this unit. (and most certainly for Mac OS X)

post #28 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

[...] What part about "low end" do these whiners not get?

 

I don't know if I count as a whiner (I think 8GB is plenty for this machine and soldering it in is fine), but the part about low end I don't get is the price.

 

I think (and it's just my opinion, not a scientific analysis) that the price point this unit hits is too high to attract the kind of buyers at which it seems to be targeted. How many of the people who only want an internet appliance are shopping in the >$1000 range? I'm sure there are some who see the value of Photostreams and other iCloud benefits, but I don't think MOST computer-as-appliance buyers are going to see this as good value. I'm not even sure *I* do. That's pretty long coin for such a basic machine.

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

Reply

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

Reply
post #29 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by freediverx View Post
 

 

In a couple of years 8GB will feel like 4GB today.

 

..and 4GB feels absolutely fine today, so am not too worried about that. Also, I doubt it. Memory requirements, especially for desktops, are not going to keep doubling linearly. I do heavy lifting in all the adobe applications daily on 4GB of RAM - the average user doesnt do 10% of what I do. What mainstream task exactly do you presume will need 16GB of RAM 2 years from now? Nothing. Also, OSX is getting MORE memory efficient, not less. This is a complete non-issue for the target audience. 

post #30 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I agree. What part about "low end" do these whiners not get?

Is English not their native language, or do they simply need to remove their heads from their butts?

Would I personally buy this iMac? No, I require more power, but luckily I'm not moronic enough to live inside my own delusional bubble and declare it a bad machine, simply because it doesn't meet my particular needs. For many people, this will be all that they need for their tasks.
How is $1099 low end?
post #31 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by spacerays View Post

Breaking News - Apple has introduced the first desktop with no way to upgrade the RAM.
Or a MBA with a 21.5" display. 1smile.gif
post #32 of 97

It's fair enough to say there are plenty of potential users for whom this machine will have adequate specs, but it is also fair to say the price is too high for something with those specs.

post #33 of 97
I for one totally agree with Apple][ and SolipsismX!

This is an entry-level machine for people who don't want to even know what "RAM" means, or who don't intend to ever tinker with what's inside the aluminium.

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

Reply

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

Reply
post #34 of 97
If it had 4GB RAM, it would be more of a concern but 8GB is plenty for an entry machine and I'd even say 4GB is adequate. The RAM in the other 21.5" models is stuck behind a glued-on screen so although it can be upgraded, it's not easy and given the move to DDR4, DDR3 might be stuck at 16GB max anyway. I wouldn't be surprised to see more models solder RAM in with DDR4. I could see them making the two entry 21.5" models with 8GB soldered and the top 21.5" with 16GB or have it BTO; the 27" ones with 16GB and just the top-end with a 32GB upgrade but all soldered.

The laptops make up over 75% of Apple's sales and except for the cMBP (should be dropped soon), they all have soldered RAM so the vast majority of Apple's customers don't mind buying machines with soldered RAM.

An alternative to the entry iMac would be to buy a Macbook Air for $899 with a $200 IPS display. For the same price you get the same performance, 128GB SSD, portability and a larger display but 4GB RAM - it's $100 more for the 8GB. I'd personally go for the Air + display but for someone just getting a basic desktop, you'll get a similar experience to the Air.

PC manufacturers are pushing AIOs and the sales volume is increasing quickly. They now go below $500. A $1099 model isn't going to rival that price but it's a lot better than $1299.
post #35 of 97

It is a good machine for the money and has good value also.

post #36 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

And...that's article number four 1wink.gif

 

Each article on this is for a particular time zone. Sometimes you jump into a thread when it has already died because you are in a different time zone.

This way, people from every time zone can complain about this iMac!

 

You can say that AI is an equal opportunity click-bait site!

post #37 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

What's pathetic are the posters here hammering Apple for this. It's a low-end Mac. Get over it.  People here on this forum for some reason think that what's best for them surely should be the standard for everyone else.  Not.


I can count on one hand the number of people I've known that have ever upgraded the RAM on their PC's since they purchased them.  It's the norm, not the exception.


8GB is fine for the folks the market the iMac is meant for.  As long as Apple doesn't do this to their higher-end models, I couldn't care less.  


"If" Apple does decide to do this to the higher models, they better price the memory competitively or there will be a rebellion.  From a reliability standpoint, I think soldering it to the board is a good idea simply because it eliminates yet another potential issue caused by the interface connection.


 
I've maxed out the RAM in every computer I've ever owned, given availability. That includes two macmini's and a laptop. You're right people generally don't upgrade their devices, but that's usually because by the time the device is showing it's age, the availability of upgrade parts have disappeared or now are more expensive than buying new. We have a really wide window right now for upgrading because the performance increase from the Sandy Bridge parts through to the current parts is negligible, while the DDR3 memory have been going down in price. So if you can, you max out the RAM before DDR4 comes out. Once it comes out there will be a fire sale on DDR3 parts. DDR4 will be expensive for 3-4 years. When I worked for a computer store, only two upgrades were ever asked for. RAM and Hard drive, and the latter was usually because they dropped the laptop and killed the hard drive.
post #38 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshA View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evilution View Post

Yeah, I can imagine all of those women, OAPs and casual users who just surf the web, read emails, FaceBook and Skype friends, who want to get a new computer.

The first they are going to do is check out and compare Geekbench scores.1rolleyes.gif
So true.
iMacs are not for us here.  Now in addition to a screen failure trashing it, ram failure can too.
This is a volume Mac for the casual masses!

Apart from the fact that Apple can replace the RAM if it fails, and that the RAM is more reliable than that used in any other desktop because it’s soldered, and is therefore less likely to fail.
Post from mstone to Benjamin Frost - "Perhaps that explains your lack of mental capacity. If I was your brother, I probably would have repeatedly smashed the side of your head with a cricket bat."
Reply
Post from mstone to Benjamin Frost - "Perhaps that explains your lack of mental capacity. If I was your brother, I probably would have repeatedly smashed the side of your head with a cricket bat."
Reply
post #39 of 97
This is not a big deal for reasons already stated. The average user never upgrades anything. 8GB is plenty for the average user. I always love how power users argue this point but they are always wrong. One thing Apple does well is spec the machine for who the machine is intended for. Not just to satisfy the spec chasers who need the enhanced performance.
post #40 of 97

It's a low-end iMac for ~$1000. It's an entry point into the Apple ecosystem that will last the *casual* user quite a long time. Entry level iMac is entry-level iMac. 

 

It is an iMac (well-made, well-designed), and it is a platform from which to enjoy the Apple ecosystem. Seems a perfectly reasonable price for what it is and for all you're getting. This isn't some OEM junk-PC with the latest awful version of Windows. 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Current Mac Hardware
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › Teardown of Apple's low-end iMac reveals non-upgradeable soldered RAM