Teardown of 21.5" iMac with 4K Retina display finds new LG LCD, no PCIe SSD slot, soldered-on CPU

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  • Reply 21 of 96
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tknull View Post



    Hogwash. Ive owned many many many Macs in my life... And ive never upgraded a single one of them, or had to have a repair that wasnt covered under warranty. And i feel quite confident in saying that i fall into the vast majority of their user base. Is irrelevant for most of us.

     

    Hogwash, I have increased the ram in two iMacs and replaced the Wifi card in one when it failed.
  • Reply 22 of 96
    One thing that really bothers me with the newer macs in general - not just the imacs - is the hdd/ssd. That is usually the one part that fails before anything else does, and even though you might get a new one on warranty, for a small business to be down for a week because you have to take it to an apple dealer to replace it instead of just swapping for a new one yourself can be real killer.
  • Reply 23 of 96
    so not even PCIe, these new 21" really are pig with lipstick

    probably because the lipstick costs so much.

    I suppose the good thing is that by doing this they will increase volume and maybe in another two years even the 21" will have useful components
  • Reply 24 of 96
    chiachia Posts: 701member

    Originally Posted by MAJANI View Post

     

    Apple uses LPDDR3 in its notebooks, which is for the lower voltage (1.2v vs 1.5v) and power consumption. It's soldered on to save space and, because of the way that it interfaces with the CPU has no predefined standard, this would require Apple going to the expense of creating a propitiatory one to provide upgradability and I don't see them going this far - not providing it gives them far more profit.

     

    Reliability? Sure, I'll take that reason. Most RAM issues I deal with require a simple re-seating and soldered on eliminates that problem. Though conversely, it introduces another single point of failure (and a common one), and replacing the RAM would require replacing the whole motherboard (as the RAM itself is integrated into the logic board and not really soldered on).

     

    Performance? None. No benefit at all. Cheaper to manufacture? More durable? Likewise. A RAM chip is a RAM chip, just integrated onto the motherboard rather than the standard stick.


     

    Why would Apple waste time and resource creating an upgradeable LPDDR3 interface standard which is less reliable than soldering into place?

    As for RAM issues, few people will have the computer knowledge to realise that badly seated RAM is the cause of their problems.  Even fewer will have the confidence to open the computer, much less unseat and reseat the RAM.

     

    Yes, soldered on RAM chips are a point of failure, just like any other chip on the motherboard.

    So why not put all chips in the sockets, as was the case with microcomputers in the early eighties?

    Probably because the fault rate is far higher with sockets than without, as is the cost of manufacture.

    Sockets also make the printed circuit boards physically larger and thus the computer case larger too.

     

    For example, during the eighties I upgraded my Atari ST from 0.5MB to 1 MB by soldering eight RAM chips, each with their 16 legs into the empty holes of the motherboard.

    Subsequent regions of the Atari ST motherboard used surface-mounted RAM chips, making manufacturing cheaper and easier but DIY upgrades much much more difficult.

     

    I'll hazard a guess that RAM and CPU have generally  remained removable because they're more expensive than all the other components of the motherboard put together.

    It's possible that Apple has calculated that the design, production, reliability and service costs of swapping RAM and CPUs far outweighs that of replacing the fewer failures of more reliable motherboards with their soldered on RAM and CPU.

  • Reply 25 of 96

    Quote:


    Originally Posted by ChiA View Post

     

     

    Why would Apple waste time and resource creating an upgradeable LPDDR3 interface standard which is less reliable than soldering into place?


     

    As I indicated at the end of the paragraph you italicized part of, I fully do not expect them to do this. What I'm wondering is why bother using LPDDR3 in a desktop in the first place? It's not like the iMac needs it to be smaller of more power efficient, it's got a plug int he wall and judging from the photos of the tear down, it has more than adequate space for the sockets seen in previous generations.

     

    Quote:


    Originally Posted by ChiA View Post

     

    So why not put all chips in the sockets, as was the case with microcomputers in the early eighties?


     

    I'd never suggest they do this, but RAM is a commonly user upgraded component that can prolong the life of machines. 16GB may be plenty these days, but in 3 years? Maybe not. It's forcing a customer who wants to future proof (for what little it is worth) a computer to jump for the 64GB off the bat, and force you to pay Apple's overhead.

     

    Quote:


    Originally Posted by ChiA View Post

     

    Probably because the fault rate is far higher with sockets than without, as is the cost of manufacture.


     

    Do you have a source for this?

     

    Quote:


    Originally Posted by ChiA View Post

     

    I'll hazard a guess that RAM and CPU have generally  remained removable because they're more expensive than all the other components of the motherboard put together.


     

    The 21" iMac starts with the $265 (list price) Core i5-5675R, so I kinda doubt that it's worth more than the sum of the rest of the parts but I do think it might come close. The HD3SS2133 displayport controller, from what I can gather on google, costs around $120 a piece, costing way more than the $20/chip K4E6E304EE-EGCF being the RAM (of which it has 4). The various other components cost between pennies and going up to $10 for the Thunderbolt controller and $30 for the Camera processor, but I certainly couldn't source prices for all the components. Replacing the whole motherboard I'm guessing because of a failed CPU would cost (I'm guessing here) around double, part for part, of just replacing the CPU. Replacing the whole board because of a failed $20 RAM chip though... guessing they probably don't like that very much so they must be extremely confident in it, or as I'm thinking earning way more overhead selling excess soldered RAM for almost 10x the profit to really care.

  • Reply 26 of 96
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nathanimal View Post



    Don't know if anybody has noticed, but desktop machines haven't had any significant spec changes in the last four years. CPU power has increased 30% at best in that time. Can't say that there's a compelling need for machines - especially in the market Apple is targeting with the 21" iMac - to be upgradable these days. As far as repairability... well, not much has changed since the Mac 128k. It's the Apple way. iFixIt is a broken record when it comes to Apple hardware.

    Exactly. Better to buy a machine that will likely not break or need an upgrade in 5 years than one that you can tinker with but will likely need tinkering.

  • Reply 27 of 96
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tknull View Post



    Hogwash. Ive owned many many many Macs in my life... And ive never upgraded a single one of them, or had to have a repair that wasnt covered under warranty. And i feel quite confident in saying that i fall into the vast majority of their user base. Is irrelevant for most of us.

     

    Hogwash, I have increased the ram in two iMacs and replaced the Wifi card in one when it failed.

    That doesn't disprove his assertion, which I believe is correct, that the vast majority of Mac users (I would extend it to all computers), never upgrade their components. No one wants to (or knows how to), so making it impossible harms almost no one.

  • Reply 28 of 96
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    Frankly I don't get why these guys persist in issuing ratings for stuff that they know isn't remotely repairable by the average consumer. Anyone who really cares about repairability ratings is building their own Linux system from off the shelf parts anyways.

     

    Then they are stuck with Linux and, compared to OS X, it's pretty miserable.  I know; I've got five Macs and three Linux systems (as well as Windows PCs).  I've tried more different Linux distributions over the last 20 years than I can count.  Linux works great -- until it doesn't.  Then you're stuck delving into some kind of arcane nonsense on which Google turns up 24K hits, most of which are people saying things like "did you try power-cycling it?" and "it's open source so you can just look at the source code for the graphic card driver to see what's wrong."

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jameskatt2 View Post

     



    The iMac 21" is not meant to be user serviceable - other than the RAM.

    It is for all intents and purposes, a MacBook Pro that was reshaped into a desktop.

    The CPUs of Mac without PCI slots are never meant to be replaced anyway.  So no need to complain.


     

    That's all iMacs have been for years.  They've used laptop components, like slow, 2.5" hard drives, to create slim, quiet, desktop machines that satisfy a very large number of consumers (who will never run CPU, graphics, or hard drive benchmark software in their lives).

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

     



    How many times must it be said.  Most consumers will NEVER upgrade their machine after purchase.  That's just the way it is.  Why spend extra money on engineering and components that most will never use?  Honestly.  What's the issue here?


     

    Exactly!  And it's not only the extra money and engineering.  It's also the reliability.  Every connector, from CPU to RAM is a possible failure point.  My career was largely in the embedded systems arena and one of the first things I learned is that solder joints are a lot more reliable than connectors.

     

    If you want a high-performance Mac which is expandable, Apple will sell you a Mac Pro, which iFixit rated 8 out of 10 for repairability.  And it starts at less than an Apple II with 48KB and a floppy drive used to cost even before adjusting for inflation (adjusted for inflation, the cost of that Apple II is over $12K in 2015 dollars)

  • Reply 29 of 96
    cnocbui wrote: »
     
    tknull wrote: »
    Hogwash. Ive owned many many many Macs in my life... And ive never upgraded a single one of them, or had to have a repair that wasnt covered under warranty. And i feel quite confident in saying that i fall into the vast majority of their user base. Is irrelevant for most of us.

    Hogwash, I have increased the ram in two iMacs and replaced the Wifi card in one when it failed.
    That doesn't disprove his assertion, which I believe is correct, that the vast majority of Mac users (I would extend it to all computers), never upgrade their components. No one wants to (or knows how to), so making it impossible harms almost no one.

    Everyone is overlooking that when iMacs were running at 233MHz or so, the issues of user upgradability are far less then when the iMac is running in the Gigahertz and over range. Personally, I can't even put my heard around designing high-production hardware at those speeds, and yet many in this thread think swapping out CPUs and memory chips should be a user's option. Even putting chips in sockets at these speeds adds a capacitance variable that highly affects design criteria.

    My thinking is that Apple is making a lot of these changes to drive down failure rate during production... not a failure rate like bad components, but one of out-of-specs. The higher the clock rate, the more engineering looks like black magic.

    If you want to have flexibility of upgrading, get the 27" iMac where Apple has made some things possible.
  • Reply 30 of 96
    People keep confusing
    [I] "let me tell you everything wrong with this product"[/I]
    for
    [I] "this product isn't for me" [/I]
  • Reply 31 of 96
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    People keep confusing

    "let me tell you everything wrong with this product"

    for

    "this product isn't for me"



    You're correct.  It's like someone who complains that the latest Corvette is too hard to get in and out of and doesn't have anywhere for the kids to sit when going to soccer practice.  If you need a minivan, then buy one and stop complaining that the Corvette isn't a minivan.

  • Reply 32 of 96
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post





    Overall repairability was rated at a dismal 1 out of 10 due to soldered-on RAM, soldered-on CPU, fused glass display and missing Fusion Drive connector.

    The iFixit article states a 2 out of 10 repairability rating, not 1 out of 10. Not that it makes much of a difference....

  • Reply 33 of 96
    kotatsukotatsu Posts: 1,010member
    Frankly I don't get why these guys persist in issuing ratings for stuff that they know isn't remotely repairable by the average consumer. Anyone who really cares about repairability ratings is building their own Linux system from off the shelf parts anyways.

    Well done on spectacularly missing the point of iFixit. Hint: the clue is in the name.

    Apple should at least offer user upgradeable RAM. PCs are not telephones or VCRs. They're supposed to be upgradeable.
  • Reply 34 of 96
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,979member
    kotatsu wrote: »
    Well done on spectacularly missing the point of iFixit. Hint: the clue is in the name.

    Apple should at least offer user upgradeable RAM. PCs are not telephones or VCRs. They're supposed to be upgradeable.
    Not really. I never upgraded my 2011 Mac Mini RAM and it still runs like charm with 8GB RAM in El Capitan. I can get it upgraded to 16GB but it doesn't add much benefit for an additional $100...maybe 0.001 sec faster for right click.
  • Reply 35 of 96
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,162member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post





    Apple should at least offer user upgradeable RAM. 

     

    They don’t and there’s nothing you can about it so...

  • Reply 36 of 96
    indyfxindyfx Posts: 320member

    Yeah I don't see the downside. Less than 1% of users upgrade their CPU's and of that 1% group less than 10% are likely to buy a Mac (they typically cobble together witches brew boxes, as much for the economy (and if you search and have lots of time and patience you can get  significant discounts on components, but if you add $10/hr your time it is defiantly, at best, a wash) but also (perhaps primarily) for the hobby aspect. They find it fun to spend endless hours tinkering with hardware and software.

    Serviceability (of the new design) can easily be covered with a MB swap (and is likely cheaper than attempting to analyze faults at a component level)

     

    That said, it is then likely that the only likely customers "impacted" by the "soldered in" cpu are less (likely far less) than one tenth of 1% of poterntial Mac buyers, for the remaining 99.99% of customers it makes the design cheaper, faster to assemble, simpler to service and more reliable.

     

    edit: corrected typo; hobbits to hobby

  • Reply 37 of 96
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,674member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MAJANI View Post

     

    Because they've purposefully made it sodlered on and not user replacable for no benifit whatsoever. It's basically identical inside. Rather than asking "why would they have it" ask "Why would they remove it?" Apple's answer seems to have been "Not many people upgrade their RAM, so lets make it far more expensive for them by forcing them to buy it through us for extravagant prices rather than buy cheaper, better RAM from amazon."


     

    Nonsense.  If one has to explain to you the benefits of soldered memory versus user-replaceable (from a reliability standpoint), after all the posts, articles, personal-experiences, etc.. then you just don't get it, or are purposely being ignorant even with the facts staring you right in the face.



    However, I will meet you halfway on it.  I will be purchasing the new 27" iMac within the next couple weeks.  It will be the top-of-the-line BTO model, but will only order it with 8GB since the first thing I will do is install 64GB and be done with it.  I agree with you that Apple does charge a premium for their RAM that irks even me.  Perhaps one day Apple will remove that feature from their 27" line as well and in particular, that move would surely irritate a larger community since the 27" is considered a "poor-man's" Mac Pro.



    I come from the times where part of trouble-shooting a PC involved removing RAM, cleaning the slots, and re-inserting.  It was always a pain.  Soldering removes a big trouble area which again, if 99% of users never upgrade their RAM, it seems like a perfect way to increase reliability of their machines.

  • Reply 38 of 96
    Why the f**jk anyone wants to take a gorgeous iMac apart beats me. Just order it with the right specs to suit you, and enjoy.
  • Reply 39 of 96
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post



    so not even PCIe, these new 21" really are pig with lipstick



    probably because the lipstick costs so much.



    I suppose the good thing is that by doing this they will increase volume and maybe in another two years even the 21" will have useful components



    It isn't PCI-E because the one they dissected didn't have a Fusion Drive or SSD; what they are complaining about is that Apple doesn't put the socket onto the motherboard on models that are ordered without an SSD from the factory, meaning you can't add one later. The models that have a Fusion drive or SSD have a PCI-E connector for it.

  • Reply 40 of 96
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post



    Apple should at least offer user upgradeable RAM. PCs are not telephones or VCRs. They're supposed to be upgradeable.

     

    Says who? Your BYOPC worldview?

    The Mac has had soldered-in RAM chips since 1984. This is not a new thing for Apple.

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