A Tale of Two (New) iMac Teardowns

Apple sent out a little press release this morning and announced a minor spec bump to its now-ancient 2012 iMacs. Not resting on our iPhone 5s/c teardown laurels — nor on anyone else’s laurels, for that matter — we harassed the folks at the Apple Store until they sold us a couple of units. So what did we find? Cha-cha-cha-changes!


The mini-teardowns:

But if you don’t have time, here’s the short, short version:

21.5″ iMac

Sporting an all-new EMC 2638 designation, the 27″‘s kid brother has two pretty significant changes. Contrary to last year’s model, users can now put in a second hard drive via the Fusion Drive SSD port, even if they don’t pick the iMac with the Fusion Drive right out of the factory. That port is now PCIe, which should help get drives/adapters onto the market that will enable a second hard drive installation.

But it’s not all good news. The CPU is now soldered to the logic board, and no longer replaceable by the user. As far as we can tell, this is the first aluminum iMac to have a soldered CPU; it’s a silent, but clear, shift to even poorer iMac upgradeability. That’s sad news for Apple’s power user community, who appreciated the ability to upgrade their Macs on their own schedule.

The AirPort/Bluetooth card, now conforming to the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, still clings to the back of the logic board — making replacement no easier than before. Broadcom BCM4360 802.11ac transceiver and BCM20702 Bluetooth 4.0 chips lurk within, as well as a Skyworks SE5516 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WLAN front-end module.

An update to the hard drive SATA power/data cables — they now come together in a glorious union — and a slimmer CPU heat sink round out the changes.

27″ iMac

The 27″ model also gets a new EMC 2639 designation. And just like its little-base-model-buddy, it also has an unused PCIe Fusion Drive SSD port, as well as the fancy new 802.11ac AirPort/Bluetooth card. However, the big-brother iMac thankfully still has a replaceable CPU!

And… that’s all folks!