New iMac teardowns reveal upgradable Flash storage, more

The folks at iFixit have gotten their hands on Apple's new iMacs in order to do a couple of teardowns to see what's inside. They conclude that the iMacs haven't changed radically inside, though there are some tweaks - some for the better, some worse. iFixit scored the 21.5-inch iMac lower than the 27-inch iMac for repairability. Let's look at why.

First of all, neither iMac is very easy to work on - they require some special tools to take apart, along with a deft hand and a few specialized parts that are easily breakable. So this isn't for the easily frustrated, or a first-time who's never worked on the inside of a computer before.

The 21.5-inch iMac scores lower on iFixit's "repairability score" than the 27-inch (2 out of 10, compared to 5 out of 10), partly due to the inclusion this year of a CPU that's soldered, rather than socketed, onto the motherboard. And the glass and LCD on all iMacs are now fused together, making it unlikely that you can replace them separately; last year's model sported magnets to keep the assembly in one piece.

As with last year's model, if you want to upgrade the RAM on the 21.5-inch model, you're going to have to do a near-complete disassembly, as it doesn't include an access panel to the RAM - unlike the 27-inch version.

Both systems incorporate the same Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card, populated with the same Broadcom and Skyworks chips. And regardless if you order the "Fusion drive" option, you'll be able to add an SSD later, because Apple has soldered a PCIe connector to the motherboard. iFixit noted that the entry-level 21.5-inch iMac that debuted last year had unpopulated solder points where the Fusion Drive connector should go.

Is being able to take apart and repair your own iMac a big deal to you? Or do you leave it to the professionals? Sound off in the forums and let me know what you think.