27-inch iMac teardown shows lack of storage upgrade options

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited August 2020
A teardown of the 2020 27-inch iMac reveals Apple made a few changes to the internals to accommodate its removal of the mechanical hard drive, including the loss of SATA connectors, the SSD being integrated into the logic board, and some small changes to the case.

The 2020 27-inch iMac logic board (via OWC)
The 2020 27-inch iMac logic board (via OWC)


The 2020 refresh of the 27-inch iMac on August 4 introduced a fair few specification changes to the large-screened Mac model, but simultaneously kept the physical design the same. In a customary teardown of the new model, it seems the bulk of the changes were made to the logic board.

For 2020, Apple removed the option for users to upgrade the storage on their own, something the OWC teardown video confirms. Removing the screen of the iMac is similar to earlier models, albeit with an extra cable to detach as the camera is now part of the screen assembly.





Once open, the inside looks quite similar to earlier models, with the two main exceptions being an additional microphone attached to the case, and the lack of a hard drive. An examination of the logic board further proved there wasn't any user-upgradability for storage with the model being examined, as there were no SATA connectors on the board at all.

Some solder points were spotted on the board that didn't seem to have any use by the system, but it is believed the 4-terabyte and 8-terabyte flash storage options install into a slot, which may be placed at that position. For lower capacities, the flash storage is integrated into the middle of the board, giving no opportunity to remove it safely.

Removing the heatsink reveals Apple opted for a socketed processor instead of a soldered version, which could potentially lead to a future upgrade option. The memory is also slotted and fully user-serviceable.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 93
    ajl said:
    Another stupid choice from the think different verb preachers.

    One should pay thousands for a machine that is supposed to last a lot years without any possibility of later upgrades?
    One should spec an iMac machine to last. I always do and my non-upgraded Macs always last me at least 6 years.
    The whole point of an “all in one” is a nicer looking machine while sacrificing upgradeability that most of us don’t need.
    My 2014 iMac currently runs off a choice of external SSD drives so I can switch from High Sierra to Mojave to Catalina on a simple reboot.
    This allows me to use 32 bit apps when necessary, old versions of XCode for older enterprise apps built with older SDKs etc. all with one 6 year old iMac.


    mwhiteStrangeDaysbageljoeypscooter63doozydozenmdriftmeyerJWSCRayz2016dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 93
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,083member
    ajl said:
    Another stupid choice from the think different verb preachers.

    One should pay thousands for a machine that is supposed to last a lot years without any possibility of later upgrades?
    People have a really short-term memory here.  Why this "anger" continues is beyond me.

    It has been shown, written, along with the dead horse being beaten multiple times that most people will NEVER upgrade their PC/iMac after the initial purchase.  FACT.  I do in fact miss those days of upgrading my computers innards, but in the end the math works in Apple's favor, and in the favor of other manufacturers that are beginning to follow Apple's lead.

    We (because I did it to) are in the ridiculously low - but vocal - minority.  If you're an upgrader then either buy something else that you can upgrade, or accept that AIO products like these are toasters.  Accept it.  There's just not enough of us to make Apple take notice and think twice.

    I just bought the 2020 iMac with the 8TB option because I had a feeling that Apple was going to pull a stunt like this with the SSD.  This machine will last for a very long time.  Apparently, the 4TB & 8TB machines have SSD connectors, but with the T2 chip, replacing those drives may still prove problematic down the road so I upgraded to the most I will ever need - credit card be damned - and moved on.

    I suspect what Apple is doing right now on the new 2020 iMacs is just a glimpse of what they're going to do with the new ARM iMacs.  It will look like a giant iPad sleek, beautiful, no-bezels, etc... but Apple will provide zero way of upgrading anything on those ARM iMacs.  Everything will be soldered on the board, and no user-upgradeable memory.  I really hope I'm wrong, but those senses are tingling.

    When I'm finally ready to upgrade to another iMac later in the decade, Apple will have fully polished and baked-in whatever ARM Macs they have I can then be in a good position to decide what to buy next, or just continue using my now-obsolete but fast Intel Mac.
    planetary paulStrangeDaysmacxpressaderutterlkrupprundhviduraharadoozydozencommand_fyoyo2222
  • Reply 3 of 93
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,231member
    bad day reading so I deleted my comment because it had to do with the 2019 iMacs
    edited August 2020 rundhvidtenthousandthingswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 93
    ajl said:
    Another stupid choice from the think different verb preachers.

    One should pay thousands for a machine that is supposed to last a lot years without any possibility of later upgrades?
    Better get used to it.  SSD’s are getting soldered in laptops, even none Apple ones.  Apple is doing it for security.  SSD’s these days last the life of the machine, so there’s less incentive to make them removable.

    Apple actually did customers a solid allowing for future processor and memory upgrades.

    If you need more storage, buy it up front or plan on expanding with an external solution.  The speed of external drives (because of interface improvements) is right up there with internal drives.

    This is whining to whine.   If this configuration is not right for you, get a Mac Pro.

    mwhiteStrangeDaysmacxpresspscooter63lkruppuraharadoozydozenRayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 93
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,117member
    ajl said:
    Another stupid choice from the think different verb preachers.

    One should pay thousands for a machine that is supposed to last a lot years without any possibility of later upgrades?
    Another stupid post from brainless forum trolls.

    One should log in to AI to read this nonsense? 

    I use my 2015 iMac to earn a living, and it hasn't required any upgrading.  You could do post-production on the Mulan sequel with the base 2020 iMac.
    king editor the gratedoozydozenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 93
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,768member
    ajl said:
    Another stupid choice from the think different verb preachers.

    One should pay thousands for a machine that is supposed to last a lot years without any possibility of later upgrades?
    Not surprised to hear the whiners doing their same old thing. Apple doesn't cater to DIY tinkerers, folks -- they're whole thing is and has been appliance computing, going back to the early bible written for the original Macintosh project. Get over it... Myself, as a long-time developer and pro user, I just configure the machine how I want it at the get-go. My last iMac lasted 8 years before I replaced it. I expect to get similar usage now, with a machine that has 4x the storage of my previous.

    Think ahead, or just get a Dell. End your suffering.
    edited August 2020 macxpressRayz2016pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 93
    ajl said:
    Another stupid choice from the think different verb preachers.

    One should pay thousands for a machine that is supposed to last a lot years without any possibility of later upgrades?

    i was thinking, I don’t think any iMac has ever been upgradable. I might be wrong but it seems like it was always this way. 

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 93
    With the iMacs, the most the average person could do is replace the ram. With the old iMacs, you need suction cups to pull the glass, then carefully remove the display without damaging the cables, by removing the right star screws. Once you did all that, you could replace the hard drive and OWC has a kit to replace the CD drive with another hard drive. Then you had to do all that in reverse, without damaging anything to put it back together. But yes you could do more upgrading and it was a lot of fun. I still have my suction cup kit. 
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 93
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,889member
    It’s interesting how everyone dismissing the complaints about the lack of upgradability assumes that everyone knows their needs 4 years ahead of time or that if you buy a computer and find the storage inadequate in a few years you must be a short sighted idiot. 

    There really is no excuse for not making the hard drive user replaceable. The processor has a socket, for God’s sake, is it so hard to have a SATA connector for the hard drive (hint: no, it’s not, apple is just too lazy to do so)

    as far as the argument that no one ever upgrades their computer, there are many things the majority of people never do but are possible. The majority of people never connect an external 4K monitor to their MBP, so I guess apple should not make it possible, right? 




    edited August 2020 entropysmike54elijahg
  • Reply 10 of 93
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,776member
    With the iMacs, the most the average person could do is replace the ram. With the old iMacs, you need suction cups to pull the glass, then carefully remove the display without damaging the cables, by removing the right star screws. Once you did all that, you could replace the hard drive and OWC has a kit to replace the CD drive with another hard drive. Then you had to do all that in reverse, without damaging anything to put it back together. But yes you could do more upgrading and it was a lot of fun. I still have my suction cup kit. 

    Perhaps you could, but to others point, it was very rare and isn't worth Apple's time and money to engineer/design an AIO Mac for general consumers for the less than 1% of those who will actually do it. Some think its so easy for Apple to engineer the internals with expandable access areas and while it may seem so easy it may in fact not be. How much does it screw with the cooling? The structure of the case itself? The design overall? Etc...
    edited August 2020 doozydozenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 93
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    MplsP said:
    It’s interesting how everyone dismissing the complaints assumes that everyone knows their needs 4 years ahead of time or that if you buy a computer and find the storage inadequate in a few years you must be a short sighted idiot. 

    There really is no excuse for not making the hard drive user replaceable. The processor has a socket, for God’s sake, is it so hard to have a SATA connector for the hard drive (hint: no, it’s not, apple is just too lazy to do so)

    as far as the argument that no one ever upgrades their computer, there are many things the majority of people never do but are possible. The majority of people never connect an external 4K monitor to their MBP, so I guess apple should not make it possible, right? 




    I would probably say that more people connect their laptops to an external monitor than crack open desktops to upgrade them. I think the difference in those numbers is huge.  So while it’s worth supporting one group, it’s not worth compromising the design of the machine to support the other. 

    Given that the processor is still socketed, I’m starting to wonder if this is a security issue rather than a design one. 
    edited August 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 93
    johnbearjohnbear Posts: 160member
    ajl said:
    Another stupid choice from the think different verb preachers.

    One should pay thousands for a machine that is supposed to last a lot years without any possibility of later upgrades?
    Not surprised to hee whiners doing their same old thing. Apple doesn't ca to DIY tinkerers, folks -- they're whole thing is and has been appliance computing, going back to the early bible written for the original Macintosh project. Get over it... Myself, as a long-time developer and pro user, I just configure the machine how I want it at the get-go. My last iMac lasted 8 years before I replaced it. I expect to get similar usage now, with a machine that has 4x the storage of my previous.

    Think ahead, or just get a Dell. End your suffering.
    Apple posted guides on how to upgrade some of their computers
  • Reply 13 of 93
    johnbearjohnbear Posts: 160member
    Nice machine. Glad the ram and CPU are upgradable. It would have been nice if they allowed that for the storage as well. The upgrade options Apple offer are just obscene $$$$$
    prismatics
  • Reply 14 of 93
    rain22rain22 Posts: 132member
    aderutter said:
    ajl said:
    Another stupid choice from the think different verb preachers.

    One should pay thousands for a machine that is supposed to last a lot years without any possibility of later upgrades?
    One should spec an iMac machine to last. I always do and my non-upgraded Macs always last me at least 6 years.
    The whole point of an “all in one” is a nicer looking machine while sacrificing upgradeability that most of us don’t need.
    My 2014 iMac currently runs off a choice of external SSD drives so I can switch from High Sierra to Mojave to Catalina on a simple reboot.
    This allows me to use 32 bit apps when necessary, old versions of XCode for older enterprise apps built with older SDKs etc. all with one 6 year old iMac.


    Please explain why you have to integrate the ssd into the logic board - other than Apple can charge $3000 for a HDD repair because they are the only ones who can fix it. 

    You are completely out of touch. Completely. 
    Nobody is drinking Apple's Kool aid on this. 
    elijahgmuthuk_vanalingamdarkvader
  • Reply 15 of 93
    rain22rain22 Posts: 132member

    sflocal said:
    ajl said:
    Another stupid choice from the think different verb preachers.

    One should pay thousands for a machine that is supposed to last a lot years without any possibility of later upgrades?
    People have a really short-term memory here.  Why this "anger" continues is beyond me.

    It has been shown, written, along with the dead horse being beaten multiple times that most people will NEVER upgrade their PC/iMac after the initial purchase.  FACT.  
    *facepalm* FACT: That's because Apple has made it impossible to upgrade their PC/iMac. FACT: When it wasn't a nightmare to upgrade your PC/iMac... people did it ALL THE TIME. Stop worrying about your stocks and start thinking about the planet. Apple is the least eco friendly tech company in the world. Fact.
    elijahgmuthuk_vanalingamchemengin1darkvader
  • Reply 16 of 93
    rain22rain22 Posts: 132member
    macxpress said:
    With the iMacs, the most the average person could do is replace the ram. With the old iMacs, you need suction cups to pull the glass, then carefully remove the display without damaging the cables, by removing the right star screws. Once you did all that, you could replace the hard drive and OWC has a kit to replace the CD drive with another hard drive. Then you had to do all that in reverse, without damaging anything to put it back together. But yes you could do more upgrading and it was a lot of fun. I still have my suction cup kit. 

    Perhaps you could, but to others point, it was very rare and isn't worth Apple's time and money to engineer/design an AIO Mac for general consumers for the less than 1% of those who will actually do it. Some think its so easy for Apple to engineer the internals with expandable access areas and while it may seem so easy it may in fact not be. How much does it screw with the cooling? The structure of the case itself? The design overall? Etc...
    The 2006-2012 Cheese graters were the best selling pro computers Apple ever released in the history of the company. So I guess that completely blows your entire argument out of the water.
    "TopDog"elijahgchemengin1darkvader
  • Reply 17 of 93
    Joer293Joer293 Posts: 29unconfirmed, member
    I just wish this came out 2 days earlier before I placed my order.  This is a deal breaker for me. Tomorrow Apple will get a call to cancel my $4,000 computer, they just lost my money. Is there any one who knows for certain that the 4TB ssd model includes the expansion connector?  Or would it be just the 8TB model?  

    I would really hate to switch to a Dell, but I will and do vote with my money. I know apple doesn't care they have so much money they can't even count it all. 

    prismaticselijahgdarkvader
  • Reply 18 of 93
    Joer293Joer293 Posts: 29unconfirmed, member
    It is very short sighted of Apple to eliminate a future source of revenue from overpriced storage upgrades. They included the connector on last years model, and on the iMac pro's.  That connector is designed into the board, and costs less than 1 penny to install by the robot during manufacture.  Now they are selling a new iMac, that they can't make any overpriced storage upgrade money on in the future. People will have to buy 3rd party thunderbolt NAS's that sit on their desks and make other companies rich.
    prismaticselijahgdarkvader
  • Reply 19 of 93
    I own a 2013 iMac with a 32GB RAM and an HDD.  In my country the Apple distributor doesn't stock any SSD iMacs or the higher spec ones, so I had no choice.

    After so many OS upgrades it has become really slow to work with design softwares so last year I upgraded it to SSD,  and it's fast like a totally brand new machine. I love that I can at least squeeze another 3+ years of life to it, not because of the money (the machine has pretty much paid for itself already), but because I don't have to throw away a perfectly good machine every 5-6 years because it slowed down to a crawl. It's just better for the environment.

    When the new apple chip macs hit it's 2nd generation in 2023, and everything's stable I'll upgrade. I don't know if 7 years after that a storage drive faster than the SSD will be available, but I'd definitely love the option to be able to upgrade it so that we can use the machine longer and create less electronic wastes.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 93
    I can see an issue if your SSD fails, you have to replace your whole logic board and vice versa if your logic board fails, you better have had a backup of your data. The repair itself is going to take longer since now you have to remove everything in order to get the logic board out. Plus, if there happens to be a bad batch of SSDs then get ready for a backlog of logic boards. 
    dysamoriaelijahgdarkvader
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