Teardown of Apple's refreshed 21.5" iMac finds LG-built display, soldered & non-upgradeable RAM [u]

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited October 2015
Apple's refreshed, entry-evel 21.5-inch iMac desktop has been given the teardown treatment, revealing that its standard-resolution display was manufactured by LG Display, while the Wi-Fi antenna design has been slightly tweaked [corrected].


Images via iFixit.


Update: This story has been updated to correct the fact that the teardown is of Apple's entry-level, non-Retina 21.5-inch iMac. Apple also offers a different model with an identical external design, but a high-resolution Retina 4K display.

The dissection of Apple's new iMac was performed, as usual, by the repair experts at iFixit, who took apart the updated version. It's identified as the same model, A1418, but it has a new EMC number of 2889.

Like other iMac panels, the smaller 21.5-inch non-Retina panel is also manufactured by Apple partner LG Display.

Inside, the 21.5-inch iMac looks largely identical to its predecessor, but there are a handful of noteworthy changes. For instance, the hybrid Fusion Drive has a significantly smaller flash partition than the previous generation, iFixit found.


New secured antenna cables, via iFixit.


In another small change, the antenna cables are fastened to the AirPort card via screw-secured cable clamps. The AirPort card itself is the same as the 2013 model.

Intel is obviously responsible for both the iMac's processor and its Thunderbolt 2 controller, while Broadcom is the manufacturer of the gigabit Ethernet controller, and Cirrus Logic handles the system's audio controller. Other suppliers include Texas Instruments, Adesto, National Semiconductor, Intersil, Macronix, and Vimicro.


Samsung-built RAM soldered to the system, via iFixit.


Another unchanged part of the 21.5-inch iMac's design: The Samsung-manufactured RAM is still soldered to the logic board, meaning users cannot upgrade their RAM from what they initially purchase. This stands in contrast to Apple's 27-inch iMac, of which the latest model can be upgraded to 64 gigabytes of RAM.

The lack of upgradeable RAM, along with the CPU being soldered to the logic board, and the device's glass panel being fused to the Retina display LCD, all have led iFixit to give the 21.5-inch iMac a "repairability score" of 1 out of 10, meaning it is nearly impossible to repair.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    appexappex Posts: 687member

    Planned obsolescence?

  • Reply 2 of 55
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,543member
    appex wrote: »
    Planned obsolescence?

    Quit with the conspiracy theories.

    Most consumers will never upgrade their machines after purchase. By the time something does go wrong, the tech has evolved enough to where it's better to just buy a new one. Simple fact.

    Nothing to read here. Move along.
  • Reply 3 of 55
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post





    Quit with the conspiracy theories.



    Most consumers will never upgrade their machines after purchase. By the time something does go wrong, the tech has evolved enough to where it's better to just buy a new one. Simple fact.



    Nothing to read here. Move along.

    Simply not true.  The imac 21 users won't be upgrading though.  

     

    I have upgraded my ram in my last two imacs, as well as the ram in my last two macbook pro's.  Pretty much every user I know has upgraded ram after three years.

  • Reply 4 of 55
    aknabiaknabi Posts: 152member

    RAM and HD/SSD upgrades are rather common...

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post





    Quit with the conspiracy theories.



    Most consumers will never upgrade their machines after purchase. By the time something does go wrong, the tech has evolved enough to where it's better to just buy a new one. Simple fact.



    Nothing to read here. Move along.

  • Reply 5 of 55
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member

    How does that work out?:

     

    Apple advices you to have 32GB of RAM while the maximum you could have with the 21.5 inch iMac is 16GB of RAM :???: 





    From the Apple website:



    "The 2TB and 3TB Fusion Drives pair a larger hard drive with 128GB of fast flash storage, providing even more space for your most frequently used files. For the best performance, iMac systems with 32GB of memory should be configured with a 2TB or larger Fusion Drive or all flash storage."

  • Reply 6 of 55
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,031moderator
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppeX View Post

     

    Planned obsolescence?


     

    I'll take Apple's version of planned obsolescence.  You get the same great experience from the first day of ownership to the last for years on end before deciding to finally upgrade because you want to, not because you have to.  In my case, that means my late-2010 13" MacBook Air boots just as fast as it ever did, runs silent and cool, never experienced a virus or malware, and hasn't needed its drive reformatted and rebuilt like the typical Windows PC.  But no, I cannot upgrade its RAM or internal storage.  Hey, that's planned obsolescence I can live with.

  • Reply 7 of 55
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,076member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppeX View Post

     

    Planned obsolescence?


     

    I wouldn't go that far.  Just means more money up front to get what you want.

  • Reply 8 of 55
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,031moderator
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mr O View Post

     

    How does that work out?:

     

    Apple advices you to have 32GB of RAM while the maximum you could have with the 21.5 inch iMac is 16GB of RAM :???: 





    From the Apple website:



    "The 2TB and 3TB Fusion Drives pair a larger hard drive with 128GB of fast flash storage, providing even more space for your most frequently used files. For the best performance, iMac systems with 32GB of memory should be configured with a 2TB or larger Fusion Drive or all flash storage."


     

    I saw how you completely turned around what the Apple website states.  In no way is it saying you should have 32GB of RAM.  it's saying if you do have such a system, you should configure that with the larger fusion drive or flash storage, [in order that the system performance will be optimally balanced.]

  • Reply 9 of 55

    Thank you AI!

    I was seriously thinking about buying, not now, I can wait.

  • Reply 10 of 55
    I can't take apart my iPhone or iPad and repair them! And my AppleTV is unexpandable too!

    It must be planned obsolescence. They're out to get us.
  • Reply 11 of 55
    "the hybrid Fusion Drive has a significantly smaller flash partition".

    What? That's a bummer if true.

    Update: looks like it's slimmed down from 128 GB to 24 GB SSD on the 1 TB option. That might be enough for light use but even moderate use will use all of that up. A Fusion Drive is great engineering but the diet will make a difference in performance. The 2 & 3 TB drives will retain the 128 GB SSD.
  • Reply 12 of 55
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RadarTheKat View Post

     

     

    I saw how you completely turned around what the Apple website states.  In no way is it saying you should have 32GB of RAM.  it's saying if you do have such a system, you should configure that with the larger fusion drive or flash storage, [in order that the system performance will be optimally balanced.]




    How am I turning this around?



    Here's a screenshot of what the Apple website states:



  • Reply 13 of 55
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,743member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BeltsBear View Post

     

    Simply not true.  The imac 21 users won't be upgrading though.  

     

    I have upgraded my ram in my last two imacs, as well as the ram in my last two macbook pro's.  Pretty much every user I know has upgraded ram after three years.


     

    It simply COULD be true. Please don't use your own anecdotal references as representative of the market as a whole. No one cares who the hell you know or what their preferences are, *according to you*.

     

    I can do that, too. Guess what: Pretty much every user *I* know has NOT upgraded RAM after three years. 

     

    Now what?

     

    If Apple finds that users of 21 inch iMacs aren't upgrading RAM, then they'll act accordingly (soldered on RAM.) If Apple finds that users of 21 inch iMacs tend to want to upgrade their RAM, they'll act accordingly. 

     

    Additionally, the 21-inch iMac isn't a power machine. Apple will treat it accordingly re: upgradability. Don't expect much in the first place, 4k display or not. But why even complain? It's configurable for up to 16GB of RAM. Buyers can simply spring for that out of the gate, and have more than enough for most tasks. 

  • Reply 14 of 55
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ddawson100 View Post



    "the hybrid Fusion Drive has a significantly smaller flash partition".



    What? That's a bummer if true.



    Update: looks like it's slimmed down from 128 GB to 24 GB SSD on the 1 TB option. That might be enough for light use but even moderate use will use all of that up. A Fusion Drive is great engineering but the diet will make a difference in performance. The 2 & 3 TB drives will retain the 128 GB SSD.

    Deary me.  Apple really sinking to new lows on the stingy up sell thing.  As opposed to upping the Fusion from 128 gigs to 256 gigs SSD.

     

    At least on some options of iMac you can opt for the 256 gig SSD for the 'same' price.  And just buy an external SSD or HHD for little coin.

     

    Every device Apple sells has SSD.  What the hell is going on with the iMac?  It's historically more expensive than the old bubble wrap iMac.  Still including 5400 rpm spinners?  SSD drives up to 256 gigs cost next to nowt for a large company like Apple.

     

    Include a 128 gigs SSD like the Air.  Let the customer buy a cheap, crummy external HD for £30-50.

     

    The Macbook Air has SSD as standard and it's cheaper than the entry iMac.

     

    Bizarre.

     

    Lemon Bon Bon.

     

    PS.  Nice that the 21 incher got the 4k screen.

  • Reply 15 of 55
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mr O View Post

     



    How am I turning this around?



    Here's a screenshot of what the Apple website states:






    There is nothing wrong with Apple's wording. It is your initial statement:

    "Apple advices you to have 32GB of RAM while the maximum you could have with the 21.5 inch iMac is 16GB of RAM"

     

    Where in the Apple's statement does it say you should have 32GB of RAM?

     

    It states if you would like, or have a requirement for, 32GB of RAM you should configure the system with a 2TB or larger fusion drive for best performance rather than just using the 1TB fusion drive.

  • Reply 16 of 55
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mr O View Post

     



    How am I turning this around?



    Here's a screenshot of what the Apple website states:






    Where is this?

  • Reply 17 of 55
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ScartArt View Post

     



    There is nothing wrong with Apple's wording. It is your initial statement:

    "Apple advices you to have 32GB of RAM while the maximum you could have with the 21.5 inch iMac is 16GB of RAM"

     

    Where in the Apple's statement does it say you should have 32GB of RAM?

     

    It states if you would like, or have a requirement for, 32GB of RAM you should configure the system with a 2TB or larger fusion drive for best performance rather than just using the 1TB fusion drive.




    Ok, my mistake. 



    The wording is a bit confusing (to me).

  • Reply 18 of 55
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CustomTB View Post

     



    Where is this?


     

    When you configure the iMac you can click the Fusion drive header to read additional information about Fusion drive.

  • Reply 19 of 55
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,594member
    quadra 610 wrote: »
    It simply COULD be true. Please don't use your own anecdotal references as representative of the market as a whole. No one cares who the hell you know or what their preferences are, *according to you*.

    I can do that, too. Guess what: Pretty much every user *I* know has NOT upgraded RAM after three years. 

    Now what?

    If Apple finds that users of 21 inch iMacs aren't upgrading RAM, then they'll act accordingly (soldered on RAM.) If Apple finds that users of 21 inch iMacs tend to want to upgrade their RAM, they'll act accordingly. 

    Additionally, the 21-inch iMac isn't a power machine. Apple will treat it accordingly re: upgradability. Don't expect much in the first place, 4k display or not. But why even complain? It's configurable for up to 16GB of RAM. Buyers can simply spring for that out of the gate, and have more than enough for most tasks. 

    This obviously is the truth. Statistically very few users ever upgrade anything. Having said that you'd imagine that I am not in favor of non-upgradable ram and HD. On a laptop I am more inclined to understand it but on a desktop it ought to be possible.
  • Reply 20 of 55
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    I'm not a big fan of it, but I think it can be reasonably argued that people buying the smaller model aren't power users anyway. The previous 21" model was not very upgradeable anyway given you have to cut & later replace the adhesive.

    I'd suggest the 16GB & Fusion drive if you can swing it though.
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