New iMac teardown reveals lots of adhesive and almost no end user upgrade options

As with every big Apple product launch, iFixIt has given the new 2012 iMac the teardown treatment. Unfortunately, it only receives a repairability score of 3 out of 10. Most of this is attributed to the difficulty level of replacing common items such as RAM or a hard drive. This time around, it's no easy task.

The first thing realized upon tearing open the new iMac is that Apple has ditched the traditional screen enclosure that used to be held in with magnets for an adhesive. According to iFixIt, it's simliar to the adhesive used in iPads. You'll need a heat gun and your ninja skills to even break into the computer. After doing so, the foam around the edges that secures the screen will have to be completely replaced. If you break the glass in the process you'll also have to replace the LCD since they are fused together in order to make the iMac so thin.

We were quite worried when we saw that super-thin bezel during Apple's keynote, and unfortunately we were correct: the glass and LCD are now glued to the iMac's frame with incredibly strong adhesive. Gone are the lovely magnets that held the glass in place in iMacs of yesteryear.

Once you get beyond the screen you'll have quite a bit of work to do before you can even replace something as little as a RAM card since it's hidden beneath the logic board. Anyone who has an older generation iMac currently enjoys being able to lay the computer flat, unscrew a few screws, pop their RAM cards out and hot swap them. This is definitely not the case here so for most users, they'll need to pay Apple's ridiculous premium for a RAM upgrade instead of ordering RAM for a lot less on their own.

iFIxIt also found some traces and connectors on their base model 21.5" iMac that they believe are for Apple's own proprietary Fusion Drive. In other words, if you order a model that is baseline, you won't be able to add your own SSD as the connectors are Apple proprietary and the connectors on upper models may even come soldered onto the main board.

While many people were irritated with the lack of repairability and upgradeability of the 15" retina MacBook Pro, the 13" variant showed a few improvements.

While laptops are not necessarily made to be largely upgradeable, desktops are. This isn't exactly good news for iMac fans who depend on being able to upgrade basic items in their computers over the years. If you'd like your new iMac to last and don't want to attempt to get past tons of glue in order to upgrade it yourself, you'll have to pay Apple a large premium for a spec'd out model.

Is upgradeability a huge factor to you when purchasing a desktop? And if you were considering a new iMac, does any of this deter you from getting one?

Source: iFixIt

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.