Kaby Lake Apple iMacs have upgradeable CPUs and RAM

By | August 5, 2020

Earlier this week Apple held its annual WWDC, where quite a lot of shiny, slim new Apple hardware (and new OS software) was launched. We duly noted the first content creator professional targeted iMac, the aptly named Apple iMac Pro, and also a pair of powerful and sleek new iPad Pro tablets, again fishing for high-end content creator customers. With such headlining products the refreshed iMac line didn’t earn many column inches. However, as revealed by a new iFixIt teardown, the refreshed Kaby Lake iMacs are the first since 2012 to feature a non-soldered Intel CPU, and the first to offer removable / upgradeable RAM since 2013.

The precise model of iMac taken to bits by iFixIt was the $1,299 Apple iMac Intel 21.5-inch Retina 4K Display 2017. This model is equipped with the following hardware:

  • 3.0GHz quad-core (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz) Intel Core i5-7400 Kaby Lake processor in a standard LGA 1151 CPU socket
  • 8GB 2400MHz memory, configurable to 16GB
  • 1TB hard drive
  • Radeon Pro 555 with 2GB video memory
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Retina 4K 4096-by-2304 P3 display

Apple can fit upgrades before you buy; the processor can be upgraded (to a 3.6GHz i7 for an extra $300), to 16GB of RAM (extra $200), and to better storage choices rather than the default 1TB HDD (Fusion drive, or various capacity SATA SSDs). However it’s good to know you will be able to buy and do the upgrades yourself at some future date, if you feel the need.

While these upgradeable / swappable components are welcome, the new iMac still doesn’t fare that well on the iFixIt reparability score. Three out of ten is awarded, as even though its quite easy to get into your new iMac, most upgrade-targets like the RAM are still hidden beneath the logic board so extensive disassembly is required to access them – it isn’t a trivial task.

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