iMac upgradeability?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by doobybiggs, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. doobybiggs macrumors 6502


    Mar 5, 2012
    I am waiting on the new iMacs to hit the market before picking one up but had a few questions.

    I know no one knows for sure what the new ones will be like or anything so I guess if this department all stayed the same with the new iMacs could you answer the following ...

    I am prefacing this with I have built PC's for about 15 years, so upgrading a mac does not scare me and it pretty easy unless Apples tries to be a dick about it with their screw choices haha.

    Are they easy top upgrade? Like the back panel just unscrews giving you access to everything?

    On the website, you have the option of adding 2 hard drives. If I wanted to just add my own when it came will the connections I need still be in ther the iMac, or does apple take them out since I did not order the 2nd hard drive? Are the hard drives 2.5" or 3.5"?

    Is RAM just an easy switch out like it was on my MBP?

    Can I swap out CPU's if wanted to? Or does Apple somehow stop you from doing so?

    I am looking at getting the 27" iMac, but I want to add the stuff I already have laying around and not pay outrageous prices for Apple to put it in there ... If I do not have to.

    I think those are all my questions for now ... :D
  2. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    I built few PCs years ago but honestly, I wouldn't go digging into iMac. There are people on this forum who did this many times and they will tell you it's not so hard - they're not far from the truth but I am amongst the crowd who do not like voiding the warranty by opening the machine.

    The only thing that is user upgradable is RAM, there is access door to four RAM slots, if you need to add any harddrives, you must first take off the glass on the screen and dismantle the front of the iMac to get to the necessary components.

    So it's not really easy upgrade. Older iMacs were accessible and you could replace the internal components but it's history now.

    Older iMacs had slots for mobile GPUs I think (MXM slot or sth like that) but now it is part of the motherboard. CPUs cannot be switched from what I know but maybe I'm wrong.

    iMac isn't very upgradable machine. If you need native Apple desktop and want to use your own components, I suggest looking at used Mac Pro from 2009 (one CPU version) which can be upgraded in many ways, including hex-core Xeon that is present in current MPs - it'll give you a lot performance.
  3. Luap macrumors 65816


    Jul 5, 2004
    Generally iMacs are not user friendly to work on, largely because inside they have more in common with a laptop. Self installed ram upgrades are about the only thing that is easy to do. HD changes in my experience are not difficult, but are tedious.. And if you hoped to swap out CPU's and GFX card's etc, then you are mostly stuffed.
    Thats not to say they are not good computers though. But they were not made for tinkerers.
    HD's are 3.5", except for SSD's which will be 2.5", likely with some kind of adapter bracket. From what I have read, an iMac with a single drive fitted likely doesn't even have the wiring to enable you to install a second one yourself either. Although some Mac specialists can supply the parts required.

    If you want a Mac you can meddle with, you might want to consider either Hackintosh, or perhaps a Mac Pro.
  4. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    Yes and no. RAM is a snap, literally one screw to open the panel, swap in or add in new RAM sticks, done. Hard drives... that's another story. It requires a complete disassembly and is definitely NON-trivial.

    The PCB connections will be there but the cables won't be. An Apple Authorized Service vendor can get them added in later though if you need. The SSD is a 2.5" Samsung and the HDD is a 3.5" Seagate Barracuda.

    Even easier, if you can imagine that.

    This I don't know. Anyone? I can tell you the GPU is NOT upgradeable.
  5. 12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    RAM is super easy, Just take a few screws out of the bottom.

    Hard drives in the SSD spot can be done, but involve taking the motherboard out and disconnecting a lot of things. It's nowhere near as easy as a tower PC, and is major surgery, but can be done.

    CPUs have been done, but I've heard a lot of failure stories, so I would be weary.

    GPUs are NOT on the motherboard on the current iMacs, but you can really only put in what options your machine had and hope for it to work (i.e. get the lower 6770m and put in a 6970m, since that's an upgrade option).

    If upgradability were first and foremost to me, I wouldn't get a Mac period. Even Mac Pros are finicky about which GPU's, etc. they'll take.
  6. doobybiggs thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 5, 2012
    hmmmm OK, seems like I will just stick with a RAM upgrade and go with external storage then and should be good to go.

    Also, I am thinking apple care would come in extremely handy with the iMacs as well. Being they are big and expensive ...

    what do ya think?
  7. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    That depends. Do you have kids or a dog?
  8. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

    Apr 1, 2008
    Access from the back would make sense, but the only way in is to remove the screen :D

    It's not that difficult, but once you're in and have disconnected the monitor cables you're faced with the back of the motherboard so lots of things to disconnect and unscrew before you can actually do anything.

    That said, if you've built PC's in the past there's no reason why you couldn't open up an iMac successfully.
  9. ihuman:D macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2012
    The CPU and GPU IS upgradable.
  10. plucky duck macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2012
    The ram and primary HDD is easily accessible. The optical drive is easy to replace if it dies on you. The spare SATA connector is not as easy to access as it requires partially removing of the logic board.

    Doing any kind of open surgery on the iMac takes patience, but it's not impossible.
  11. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    You can put in one of the other BTO options but you can't just slap in some other video card, is what I meant. By comparison, any RAM of the appropriate clock and pinout can go into the iMac, regardless of brand.
  12. rdubmu macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2012
    Mac Book pro with Retina

    I read somewhere that if you buy a MBP with Retina, nothing is upgradeable due to the ram being soldered to computer. I wonder if the iMAC 2012 if they are ever released with retina will have this same issue.

    I am personally thinking of upgrading Ram on my iMac 2011.
  13. apolloa macrumors G4

    Oct 21, 2008
    Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
    The rumours are for a total re-design for the next iMac? So we can but hope that Apple make the system upgradable in terms of memory and hard drives, especially if they ditch the DVD drive.
    With the new iPhone they have thought about it's re-parability and you just lift the screen up and get access to change the screen, home button and battery etc very easily.
  14. spartig macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2012
    If you want to know just how to get into an iMac and assess how difficult it may or may not be, visit
  15. ihuman:D macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2012
    In some older models (e.g. a 2010 model) you can swap out video cards of newer models (e.g. a 2011 model) .

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