Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Teardown reveals Apple’s new 21.5-inch iMac is surprisingly upgradable

Apple upgraded its iMac range recently and the teardown experts over at iFixit have already got their hands on the 21.5-inch model.

This time around, however, the team didn’t reveal the usual difficult-to-upgrade internals we’ve come to expect from Apple products.

No, this time, Apple looks to have made its AIO surprisingly customisable, with the addition of user-upgradable RAM and a modular CPU.

Related: WWDC 2017

That means users would be able to upgrade the CPU in the future – something Apple hasn’t allowed on the 21.5-inch iMac for years.

Recent models have come with RAM modules and the CPU soldered to the logic board, meaning the average user would not be able to customise either without the help of a professional.

imac teardown

That said, iFixit does make clear that the processor won’t be the easiest to tinker with, writing: “[The CPU] isn’t the most accessible thing in the world—it’s flipped onto the backside of the logic board, trapped behind a lot of other components, and buried under a glued-down pane of glass—but for the first time in years it’s possible to replace or upgrade the CPU without a reflow station, and that’s a big win.”

In terms of the RAM, Apple hasn’t offered a 21.5-inch iMac with expandable RAM since way back in 2013, so it’s a significant finding from the iFixit team.

They add: “It may not be as accessible as the (dead simple) RAM hatch found in the 27″ iMacs—but still, this is a major win for upgradability over all the 21.5″ iMacs with soldered RAM that we’ve encountered in recent years.”

Unfortunately, RAM and CPU accessibility aside, iFixit still opted to give the iMac a low repairability score of 3/10.

That’s mostly due to the issues users will encounter trying to pry the machine open in the first place, but it’s still better than the 2015 model, which scored a lowly 1/10.

Let us know what you make of the teardown in the comments.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.