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New iMac model gets teardown just hours after launch

updated 03:00 am EST, Fri November 30, 2012

Japanese blog finds new model well-designed inside too

The latest version of the iMac is just 5mm (0.2 inches) thick at its thinnest point, and yet the redesigned machine has revealed quite a bit of empty space in a teardown by Japanese enthusiast site Kodawarisan, which took apart a high-end 21.5-inch iMac just hours after the new version had debuted in Japan. The interior layout and engineering matches the sparse, elegant outside -- with a clean organization of components, an emphasis on airflow design, and a central fan distributing and channeling air.

As is normal with recent iMacs, special tools are needed to safely remove the display, but initial inspection of the interior would indicate that the drive inside is likely to be easily removable. The teardown shows that Apple's efficient design would possibly allow for a smaller iMac to be created with the exact same components were it not for the need for a 21-inch screen. The main components are bordered by rubber gaskets that leave plenty of airflow space, with a small gap for the FaceTime camera's ribbon cable.

The single fan intakes cool air drawn in from the bottom of the computer and is then funnelled across the components, removing heat and exiting the machine using natural convection cooling as much as possible. The person doing the teardown posted little in the way of comments or insight, promising more information later. However, one picture shows the processor removed from the logic board, suggesting that it may be possible to upgrade the processor (depending on a number of factors) in the future.

Apple is expected to have very limited supply of the new iMac when it finally hits select US stores later today. A 27-inch version of the new iMac has been promised for December, but again is likely to appear in constrained quantities until after the beginning of the new year.

The 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,299, about $100 higher than the model that preceded it, and dropping the built-in optical drive that was previously standard equipment. However, buyers get a substantially more powerful chip, an improved screen with 75 percent less reflectivity, 60 percent faster graphics, and the new Fusion Drive configurable option. The Fusion Drive intelligently mixes SSD and HD technologies for a hybrid that offers SSD-like faster performance while keeping the storage capacity and pricing of traditional hard disks.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. Zanziboy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-27-08

    Apple's new iMac design is far most tidy design so far! With the display nicely attached to the front glass, this iMac is actually more easily serviced than the previous versions. I am also pleasantly surprised to see removable RAM on the main motherboard. Nice! I was afraid the memory on the 21" iMac was soldered on the motherboard. Good job all around!

  1. mac_in_tosh

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-14-11

    So why not just have a door on the back so you can get to the hard drive and memory more easily?

  1. Grendelmon

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 12-26-07

    Jeez, Apple didn't know how to utilize all that empty space that used to house the optical drive.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Originally Posted by mac_in_toshView Post

    So why not just have a door on the back so you can get to the hard drive and memory more easily?



    How many times does one need to "get to the hard drive and memory" in the lifetime of this machine? Once? Twice? Thrice? Never?

    Like it or hate it, aesthetics drive a lot of what Apple puts into a machine like the iMac, and I would venture to think that breaking the continuity of the solid back (which could detract or ruin the seamless curve and aesthetics) for the sole purpose of allowing users easier access to memory and storage for the one or two times they'd want or need to over the course of several years weighed into that decision heavily.

  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    Originally Posted by DiabloConQuesoView Post

    [QUOTE=mac_in_tosh;4204384]So why not just have a door on the back so you can get to the hard drive and memory more easily?



    How many times does one need to "get to the hard drive and memory" in the lifetime of this machine?[/quote]

    As many times as repair technicians need to. My Macbook had a defective hard drive. Imagine if other parts were defective (e.g. Segate hard drives, PSU plague, etc.).

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Originally Posted by mac_in_toshView Post

    So why not just have a door on the back so you can get to the hard drive and memory more easily?



    Though not shown on this teardown, you can in fact get to the RAM through a panel on the back of the machine (moved from the bottom as was the case in previous models), thus making RAM user-upgradable. The hard drive seems to be buried behind the display requiring you to open it up. Luckily, it looks that that's not a big job anymore.

  1. mac_in_tosh

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-14-11

    "How many times does one need to "get to the hard drive and memory" in the lifetime of this machine? Once? Twice? Thrice? Never?

    Like it or hate it, aesthetics drive a lot of what Apple puts into a machine like the iMac, and I would venture to think that breaking the continuity of the solid back (which could detract or ruin the seamless curve and aesthetics) for the sole purpose of allowing users easier access to memory and storage for the one or two times they'd want or need to over the course of several years weighed into that decision heavily."

    Well, even if it is once, twice or thrice, it would be nice to be able to simply open a door, replace the item and close the door instead of having to take it to a maybe-not-so-near Apple store for repair. And besides the inconvenience is the cost factor.

    And really, who cares what the back of a computer looks like? Who cares if the iMac is an inch wide or a half-inch? I was hoping the new Apple management would step back a bit from the whole form-over-function thing, which is getting ridiculous. I would much rather have an easily repaired/upgraded machine than be concerned about ruining the seamless aesthetics of something (the back) that I don't usually look at.

    This is really driving me, a lifetime Apple user, to consider alternate platforms next time around.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by chas_mView Post

    [QUOTE=mac_in_tosh;4204384]So why not just have a door on the back so you can get to the hard drive and memory more easily?



    Though not shown on this teardown, you can in fact get to the RAM through a panel on the back of the machine (moved from the bottom as was the case in previous models), thus making RAM user-upgradable. The hard drive seems to be buried behind the display requiring you to open it up. Luckily, it looks that that's not a big job anymore.[/quote]
    The display is GLUED ON and requires a heat gun to remove. I assume that authorize repair centers get new adhesives for reassembly after repairs.

    Also, the sole reason the RAM access door isn't shown is that it actually doesn't exist. The RAM in the 21.5" model is not upgradeable without complete disassembly.

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