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

“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,” AppleInsider reports.

“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,” AppleInsider reports. “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.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Those who would opt for this entry-level machine (think school systems) will be fine with 8GB for quite some time and are not the type of customer concerned with upgrading RAM.

If you want a Mac with upgradeable RAM, buy a Mac with upgradable RAM.

Related articles:
Performance of Apple’s new dual-core entry-level 21.5-inch iMac – June 19, 2014
Apple’s new 21.5-inch iMac too cheap? – June 19, 2014
Apple Introduces new entry level 21.5-inch iMac; starts at $1099 – June 18, 2014


  1. Sure – so long as Apple CLEARLY states two version of iMac.
    1) Non-upgradeable version – which I wouldn’t buy.
    2) Upgradeable version – which over time lasts longer and has better resale value.

    1. It may well be that the recycle program that Apple inc. for part exchanged iMacs, Mac Books etc has revealed to them that in the main, the majority of people do not upgrade the RAM let alone anything else.
      Could it be because Apple inc. has successfully sold its hardware to ordinary people who want a computer that just works? What of the iPhone factor? If people trade in their two year old iPhones for the latest iPhone, why then is it a stretch to imagine that they would do the same for their three year old iMacs, Mac Books?
      I have only seen professionals in the graphics and print media hang onto their Mac Pro’s for years because they have needed the extra grunt from the get go, this is now applying to the film and music industry.
      So take the number of Apple customers in the professional industry compared with the customers in the non-professional category, the latter has the biggest numbers of people who would upgrade the entire computer rather than just the RAM. Just my runt over this issue!! 🙂

  2. I agree with MDN take on this. Folks who will be buying this will likely never even think about upgrading RAM. Over on MacRumors the nerds are going ballistic about how this is an outrage and Apple just is out to make money. Yeah, really. They think Apple is out to make money. Why would Apple want to do that? This cheaper Mac will bring many new fans into the fold.

    1. Later on, the buyers of this new iMac may well become buyers of a Mac Pro, or a MacBook Pro. Maybe a Mac mini. Entry level means just that. I guess the “nerds” at MacRumors don’t understand that Apple has to make money to exist, and that they want to appeal to customers who may be sitting on the fence about buying a Mac. This is a great way to get them started. I try to stay out of the MacRumors comment threads. Too much whining, and every time there’s a new OS update, some guy always asks about the shut down time… as if that’s really important. I never actually shut down, so I don’t give a damn.

        1. Why? Marketing spin at best, an outright lie at worst.

          And considering the wired keyboard comes with a numeric keypad built in, I’m leaning towards the latter…

          1. A friend gave me his iMac wireless “full-size” keyboard after I set up his configuration and network. He bought an extended keyboard instead. The lack of a numlock key activated keypad on it disturbs me. That was too much to ask?

            Otherwise, it’s a pretty much a MacBook keyboard.

            1. No num-lock key? Hm, odd. I haven’t used Apple’s keyboards in a long time. Right now I use Das Keyboards, one with blank key caps that intimidates visitors, both black of course. Black is the new black.

            2. Zaphod Beeblebrox: It’s the weird colour scheme that freaks me. Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls, which are labeled in black on a black background, a small black light lights up black to let you know you’ve done it.

            3. I own a laptop but never use it — my computing world consists of iPhones, iPads, Mac Pros, and whatever machines clients happen to have (& a sorry collection of junkyard parts that might make :D)

            4. I do contract work with corporations. Many of them maintain legacy systems under the accounting rubric ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Nothing wrong with that, except that in the front offices where appearances matter, a different rubric, and shinier equipment, are more in evidence.

            5. One of my favorite nightmares was arriving at a department in Kodak (circa 1996) where some, ahem, not technically savvy person had designed a PC that was supposed to be able to boot to various different versions of Windows or OS2. Except this, ahem, not technically savvy person had designed it to boot off swapped SyQuest disks. Being a user of SyQuest myself, I knew exactly what was going to happen, and it did. Each of the disks swiftly went south. SyQuest was never realistically designed for booting computers.

              So I had to intervene and redesign the whole mess so it actually worked. We ended up booting to OS2 which then allowed you to use its multiboot system to switch among various PC compatible operating systems as needed. Happily, that worked great.

              The term “IT doofus” encapsulates my opinion of this, ahem, not technically savvy person, despite his assertions otherwise.

            6. I was quite fond of Syquest drives way back when. I used them (the 5.25″) for data backups at work and for backups at home (the 3.5″) as well as a boot drive for games. Never had a problem with them.

            7. The problem is when you have them spinning all day long, running a computer that is almost constantly in use by a group of several people. They were never designed for that. Thus their sad ending.

              I didn’t graduate to the 3.5″ except at work. I never did any of the Iomega stuff either, again except at work. Instead I went into erasable optical discs, which I loved. I still have my good old reliable Olympus optical drive, not that I use it.

        2. A “full size key board” meets the international standard key and row spacing that was set so that a touch typist could sit at any typewriter and begin typing accurately at speed without looking at the keys. It does not require a ten key accountant like entry pad to meet this requirement as a touch typist would use the number row for that purpose. Many notebooks and laptops do not meet this standard.

    2. Those Super Geek Nerds are of course going ballistic at all the sites. Which is really stupid of them. This iMac is not for them. I would get this as a family shared iMac and media server for all in the house. It’s perfect for that use. 8gb is plenty for its lifespan. Those guys needs to relax or get laid. lol

  3. This product doesn’t appeal to me, but I still think it’s a good solution for basic Mac users. I have a MacBook Pro w/retina display. Since I knew that I could not upgrade the RAM later on, I bought the top of the line model with 16GB of RAM. I’m not concerned about swapping out the 512GB SSD with a bigger one since I’m not anywhere near filling it up, and I have several USB3 and Thunderbolt drives to store extra data on. The people who criticize this new iMac really need to stop being so full of themselves and shut the hell up. Let people make their own choices, and mind your own business.

  4. Apple has to stop with the soldered RAM BS. While I understand why they’ve been doing it with their laptops, there’s no excuse for doing it on a machine that has room for sockets. Think about it, how much do sockets cost?

    Apple needs to get together with whatever standards committees exist and work out new standards for low profile RAM and for low profile SSDs. I’ve been an Apple user for a long time and it was a breath of fresh air when Apple adopted industry standards, now that they’re abandoning them it’s getting to be a real pain in the ass.

    1. I also disagree with MDN on this one. What is most important is making the best product. We can all agree on that. But, in no way does having non-upgradable RAM make this iMac better.

      For a phone, or MacBook Air, other device where extreme low profile is critical then soldering might provide a form factor advantage. But it doesn’t for a desktop computer.

      1. Yes, it does make it better. Ask any Apple technician and Improperly seated ram and socket issues are responsible for a host of Mac failures. And when 95% of folk never upgrade their ram after purchase, it’s a very smart move on Apple’s part to ensure customer satisfaction, especially to those who can least afford to pay for needless repairs.

        1. Seriously? I go back to when RAM was installed chip by chip in 256K banks and have never seen a problem due to faulty installation. Not to say it never happens, but I’d say faulty RAM installation is a pretty rare problem, especially now that RAM is preinstalled on cards keyed to prevent installation problems.

      2. You have to take the computer half way apart just to get to the RAM. Why waste the effort of installing sockets and RAM when you can just solder the RAM?

  5. I was going to do a Face Palm, but I think MDN got it right: Think school systems. For situations where the users are prone to berzerkery and thievery, this makes sense. 🙂 For tech savvy Mac users, not so much. 🙁

    Of course, as ever, it would help if Apple wasn’t historically infamous for gouging customers on installed RAM prices. Not to knock their RAM! It’s typically top notch. But the tech savvy buy RAM upgrades elsewhere.

    1. Derek, think basic office computer as well. What does it take to run the client end of an office database, a word processor, connect to the Internet, office email, etc.? This iMac is ideal for that position. In medical, dental, chiropractic, optometric offices, this iMac meets the specs to run Macpractice in a multitasking environment, display radiography (including 3D tomography), work as a dictation station for medical input, medical billing, in room patient education, and a host of other duties as well. The high resolution IPS screen with 185° viewing makes it ideal for many of those tasks. . . and it can be wall mounted and voice controlled. An iPad can be directly linked to it for the doctors’ to have direct access to medical charting and control. . . and the doc can throw a display onto the iMac from his iPad with Continuity to show the patient far easier than trying to show him on the iPad.

      In other offices, this come complete with an office suite of software pre-installed with no annual per seat licensing to be concerned with.

      1. Totally right. Good points.

        I’m enjoying keeping up with my MD and his hospital as they adjust to a totally new database system. My MD enjoys chatting with me about their trials and tribulations. This isn’t my father’s medical profession any more. My dad left, among other reasons, because he hated the paperwork and he is incredibly button phobic. I’m not sure he ever typed in his life. The computers my brothers and I run freak him out.

  6. Anyone remember that Compressed Memory was added in OS X Mavericks?

    That 8GB really seems like enough on it’s own, but when you consider that OS X can now quickly compress and decompress active memory as needed, 8GB is plenty.

    If 8GB ain’t enough for you needs, that means you must be doing some really intense computing. There’s absolutely no reason for anyone in that position to even consider the cheapest Mac available. Like MDN said, think school systems for this.

  7. One thing to consider is that this is an i core machine. The MBA with the same processor and speed clocks in at over 6000 on Geekbench while the fastest core 2 duo iMac clocked in at about 4700. (per MacTracker) It may be the lowest end iMac but it’s no slouch.

  8. Soldiered RAM is probably better in a school environment, where removable memory is more likely to be stolen by delinquent kids than upgraded by faculty.

  9. MDN you’re completely off on this. First many people can’t afford anything other then this “entry” level machine. By computing standards in this price range this is not an entry level machine. Try running Apple’s Aperture with 8GB of ram and you’ll wonder why it’s such a dog. At this price point, which is expensive by comparative standards, you should at least be able to upgrade the ram to your needs. I’d never buy this machine. I’ll be sticking with my older “entry” level machine with gobs of memory so I can run Aperture and Photoshop.

  10. Apple seems to be bringing out too many versions of the same product at different price points.. Instead with their margins they can reduce the price of the existing products which will increase their volumes and keeping their bottom line intact..

  11. So $1,100 US does not get you upgradeable memory. Jony Ive must be proud now that he has closed off the battery compartment, the memory slot, the optical drive and most of the ports on many Macs. His next great innovation will be the headless laptop- but it will still cost $2,000.

    One expects a certain amount of compromise on an entry level machine- but $1,100 is not entry level for a desktop.

  12. My first Macintosh was a Quadra 800 that I bought in 1993 for $5500 with 14″ monitor. Cry me a freekin’ river that a vastly more superior computer is selling for 1/5th the price 20 years later.

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