updated 09:25 am EDT, Wed May 4, 2011
iMac 2011 gets iFixit teardown
An expected iFixit teardown of the 2011 iMac update has shown relatively deep upgrade options for the all-in-one. Although it requires the more difficult step of removing the logic board, the desktop's main processor and graphics are both removable. The AMD Radeon HD video is located on a typical removable card and could theoretically be swapped without trouble from Apple, but a sticker on the Intel processor shows that its heatsink can't be removed without voiding the warranty.
Other components like the hard drive and optical drive are more easily replaced for those comfortable with pulling off the LCD, which like on earlier iMacs usually involves suction cups. RAM is already user accessible, but it can be replaced from the inside if it's already open.
Few immediate surprises were spotted in the iMac. It does use a slightly different Thunderbolt controller chip than in the MacBook Pro. A spot sits just below the optical drive for the 256GB SSD option and doesn't appear to be user-addressable; buyers will need to order the faster storage in advance. Unlike some Macs, the new desktop is using an off-the-shelf Core i5-2400S that provides the 2.5GHz speed at lower power than usual.
Apple is often willing to make parts non-accessible to regular users in the name of slimmer designs or more room for vital components, but systems like the iMac often still need a level of quick access for the sake of technicians that may want as little turnaround as possible. The new iMac appears to continue that policy but gives some room for hobbyists who would want to upgrade to faster hardware, although qualifying graphics cards are very rare.