Can you upgrade the memory in the iMac with M1?

Apple New Imac Spring21 Lifestyle02 04202021 Big Carousel.jpg.large
Apple New Imac Spring21 Lifestyle02 04202021 Big Carousel.jpg.large (Image credit: Apple)

Can you upgrade the memory in the iMac with M1?

Best answer: No. Unfortunately, you will have to order your new M1 iMac with the memory you need at the time of purchase. You can choose between 8GB or 16GB of unified memory. If you want an iMac with user-upgradeable memory, you will need to purchase the 27-inch iMac with an Intel processor.

Choose memory wisely

Most Macs available today do not feature user-upgradable memory, and the brand new iMac with the Apple M1 chip is no exception. Announced at the April 2021 Apple spring event, the M1 iMac features a 24 inch 4.5K retina display. You can choose from seven available colors, either a 7 or 8 core GPU, and either 8GB or 16GB of memory. Choose wisely because the memory in this iMac is not upgradable.

The architecture of the Apple M1 chip changes the way memory is used in a Mac. There are no longer memory slots. There Is no longer RAM soldered onto the motherboard. The memory is unified (hence the term unified memory) onto the M1 chip itself. Why does this matter?

First, since the memory is part of the M1 chip, it becomes non-upgradable. Second, it brings about all kinds of speed efficiencies that make your Mac run almost seamlessly. The fact that the M1 chip maxes out at 16GB memory and can edit video that can make a higher-end Intel Mac slow down is a good example of how well the M1 manages the unified memory.

Buy today, plan for tomorrow

Since there are no memory upgrades that you can do to your new M1 iMac after purchase, you need to consider the amount of memory you need now and in the future. If you think you may need more memory in a year or two, you need to purchase it now. The rule of thumb is to buy the largest amount of memory that you can afford. You won't regret it down the road when a need comes up that you might not have foreseen when you purchased your Mac.

If you must have an iMac you can upgrade...

The 27 inch iMac, which still contains an Intel processor, is now the only iMac with user-upgradeable memory. You can still purchase aftermarket DDR4 memory and install it fairly easily for much less than Apple charges. Of course, you will miss out on all of the new technology and efficiencies of having an M1 Mac. In this situation, this means you do not have to purchase a lot of memory at the time you purchase a 27 inch iMac since you can upgrade it at any time.

Mark Goldschmitt

**Mark Goldschmitt** is the father of three boys and loves anything Apple. Born and raised in Queens, NY, and currently residing on Long Island, Mark is a lifelong New York Mets fan. {.end}