The 27-inch iMac still has a backdoor for RAM
One of the biggest deciding factors for some people have in figuring out whether to buy the 21-inch iMac, or the 27-inch iMac is aftermarket upgradable RAM. The 21.5-inch does not allow for post-purchase upgrades without invalidating your warranty.
The 27-inch iMac is the only iMac that allows for aftermarket upgrades to RAM. That means you can buy additional RAM (up to 32GB) any time you want, long after you've bought your new iMac.
The 27-inch iMac does have user-accessible RAM upgrade slots. From Apple's website:
Memory: 8GB (two 4GB) of 2666MHz DDR4 memory; four SO-DIMM slots, user accessible [emphasis added].
You're good to start with the lowest RAM and upgrade later when you've recovered from that hefty purchase.
I've done this with two 27-inch iMac computers. Each time, I postpone a RAM upgrade until I need it, which gives me time to save up a little extra cash and keeps me from spending money unnecessarily.
The 21.5-inch iMac is still off-limits
Back in 2012, Apple shut off aftermarket RAM upgrades for the 21.5-inch iMac. RAM was relocated under the logic board, so it was no longer accessible without having to take apart the entire iMac.
These days, if you want to attempt a DIY RAM upgrade on the 21.5-inch iMac, you'd need a lot of experience and a special upgrade kit, something like the ones iFixit sells. Of course, doing so will void your warranty, so it may not necessarily be worth the risk.
If you decide to go with the 21.5-inch iMac, I highly suggest configuring it with the most RAM you can afford at the time you purchase it.
Apple's 2019 iMac is the fastest it's ever been.
If you're ready to upgrade your iMac, now is the time. With a brand new, faster Coffee Lake processor and AMD graphics, your new iMac is running at top speed.
Crucial RAM for Mac (From $32 on Amazon)
Upgrade your iMac RAM with the most trusted brand in its class at a price you won't lose sleep over.
OWC RAM for Mac (From $50 on Amazon)
With upgrades ranging from 2GB to 32GB, OWC has your exact RAM needs covered.
Timetec Hynix RAM for Mac (From $57 on Amazon)
Timetec's RAM offers the best value for the price. If you want to max out at 32GB, TimeTec offers it at about $30 less than the competition.
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