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back to article Apple's new 'Assembled in USA' iMac a bear to upgrade, repair

Apple's 21.5-inch iMac, which went on sale in the US last Friday, has revealed two of its secrets: first, that it's a collosal pain to get inside should you want to upgrade its RAM or its hard drives; and second, that at least some of the units currently on store shelves are labeled as being "Assembled in USA". The new iMac – …

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Paris Hilton

Easy

it's not a "simple 'screwdriver' operation.

Nope, it's a screwdriver and gluegun operation from the sounds of that teardown - is that enough?

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Flame

Re: Easy

It's way more than enough.

I really like imacs, but there's no way I'm getting one now. Apple, you just lost an until-now happy and loyal upgrader.

Glue? FFS. Seriously would it really have affected the look of the *REAR* of the case that much to have recessed screws on the back? Seriously Apple, it would not have affected the cosmetics of the bit you look at for 99.999% of it's life, but would have made access FAR easier for upgrading.

Ive's I admire your anal attention to form, but FFS don't forget the function part next time, eh?

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iMac is really just a notebook PC

without the portability.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Easy

Apple will upgrade it for you - I've heard memory is a little pricey but they recently replaced a hard drive in my friends macbook pro for about £20-30 more than the part itself cost - did all the work - reinstalled the OS and explained how to recover their data using TimeMachine.

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@ AC

Macbook Pro != new imac. No glue for a start.

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Re: Easy

@AC 7:57

That's only of use to any bugger if your friend was allowed to supply the drive himself, rather than buy one at a substantial markup from Apple. Given their ludicrous pricing on SSD upgrades I wouldn't go holding my breath.

And no, on a desktop, I don't consider it reasonable to have to cock around this much to carry out a simple upgrade. More of Bad Apple showing here, trying to front-load the cost by making upgrades difficult or impossible :(

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Windows

Re: Easy

@Silverburn They probably want the back to look spotless and sleek, I feel this model will be used as iCandy so expect to see it used in Home and Away sometime soon.

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Stop

Re: Easy

"I really like imacs, but there's no way I'm getting one now. Apple, you just lost an until-now happy and loyal upgrader."

Upgrader? Just another word for a job killing commie taking jobs from honest hard working real Americans.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Easy

I have a mid 2010 27" iMac. I like it a lot and it serves my computer needs well. I got sick of bloody great boxes under the desk and at the time Windows was only on Vista, say no more. However, much as I like it, I'm not sure I could go there again. Apple is starting to take the piss way too much. You accept that an all-in-one will have compromises but deliberately making it difficult for anyone to service including professionals is just stupid. Maybe a mac mini next maybe a small form factor hackintosh although I'm not keen on that.

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Linux

So...

Are we supposed to be shocked that Apple would demonstrate planned obsolescence in an iMac?

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Anonymous Coward

Why change the script?

They've made a killing selling gear you can't upgrade (an extra hundred quid for an iThing with another 32GB of storage?!), so why not pull the same stunt with their traditional customers?

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Paris Hilton

Not really a problem

What's the big deal with using guitar picks and a hair drier? Is this supposed to be a big issue?

Paris, because even she knows how to use a hair drier - and probably has pried stickier stuff.

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Bronze badge

Re: Not really a problem

It will be a problem for 100% of my clients, which will at least keep me in a job as Apple isn't going to give those machines a new lease of life in 5 years by switching out that laptop drive for an SSD and bumping the RAM for them.

Can't say I'm looking forward to adding a heat gun to my tools though.

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Boffin

Re: Not really a problem

It's OK if you don't like heat guns or hair driers (but why?), turns out that you don't even need one, it just makes it easier.

See the teardown video from the OWC guys showing how they open their new 21" iMac with nothing else but a single guitar pick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN2HFvUfl2g

Pretty easy stuff. With some added heat it would be like going through butter.

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Silver badge

Re: Not really a problem

So how long did that take in real time? 20-30 minutes?

It took two people to pry out the main board.

I though having to replace the CMOS batteries on a bunch of laptops (9 screws) was a pain, that would be hell on this thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Standard iFixit drama

What they first call "incredibly strong adhesive" turns out to be "double sided sticky tape."

What a surprise coming from people who sell overpriced spare parts (their batteries cost even more than what Apple charges for the full service!)

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Re: Standard iFixit drama

I think you under-estimate the arse-pain this truly is.

1. Once you've prised the two parts apart (ideally without warping, chipping or cracking the panel), you then need to clean them before fitting new tape. Once exposed to air, the old tape will have lost a significant portion of it's adhesion strength so should not be re-used. And remember one of the parts is an LCD panel...and you probably shouldn't use alchohol.

2. Then you need source the *exact* apple double sided tape component. Why? so it matches both the physical and adhesional properties of the original. Too little adhesion? the panel falls out. Tape too wide? you can't fit the panel back in, and you're back to step 1.

3. You then need to fit the tape in *exactly* the right way - it needs to be arrow straight. Get it "wiggly", and either the panel won't fit, or you'll see gaps round the edges. And if you want to refit it, you need to go back to step 1....

I really, really don't like Apple right now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Standard iFixit drama

If it's that much of a biggie get Apple or a 3rd party company to do it. I daresay I could swap out parts on my car given the right instructions and tools but that's what garages are for.

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Unhappy

Re: Standard iFixit drama

Stop being dense.

The problem here is that there is no functional benefit on a non-portable device like this to locking down access to the internals; the benefit to Apple is that by making it an absolute arse-ache to upgrade (and let's be clear here, this sounds more of a pain to get open than a15-year old consumer desktop chassis, and those things are bloody woeful) they can put consumers in a position of either frontloading their spending (with the usual Apple profit margin/price uplift) or having to pay someone else to do something that shouldn't require a third party.

So, in effect, you're paying them to give you a less useful machine than other vendors would supply. "Creating a third party ecosystem of hardware maintenance specialists who get to pay apple £5K/annum to be accredited Apple Technicians or whatever" isn't really something that most end users would consider a good thing, especially if it means they can't fix/upgrade their own stuff.

Don't let that stop you posting complete drivel, though...

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Re: Standard iFixit drama

"What they first call "incredibly strong adhesive" turns out to be "double sided sticky tape.""

Good quality double sided tape IS incredibly strong when installed on a clean substrate. In fact, all that double sided tape amounts to is a thin layer of a adhesive. Given that we're dealing here with fragile components that aren't amenable to being flexed very much, this may be a convenient manufacturing solution, but it isn't a service solution, and that reflects very poorly on Apple's "design for manufacturing" staff.

Presumably the engineering budget has been cut in order to increase the legal budget.

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Anonymous Coward

It's virtually an appliance not a computer. I don't remember scores of people complaining that their 16kb Speccy required a soldering iron to upgrade to 48k. Just buy the hardware spec that does what you want.

How many people buy an iMac then upgrade it? most people struggle with an oil change in a car.

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Silver badge

I'm not sure iFixit is complaining so much as reporting, the main objective being consumer information.

That said, the lack of access is more frustrating than it would be with most other computers because the Mac options are so limited, and the one you're meant to mess around inside of hasn't been properly updated in a very long time.

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Not many will upgrade it, true...but many will want a ram upgrade at some point, if a 5 year lifespan is typical.

And there's the issue of hard drive replacement, if one fails. It wasn't easy in the old one, but it was at least do-able.

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Bronze badge

"How many people buy an iMac then upgrade it? most people struggle with an oil change in a car."

Most people take their cars to a garage.

But there are those of us who enjoy tinkering at our own bangers....

It would be a pain in the nether regions if it turned out that the sump was welded to the engine with no plug, or the tape deck DIN was kept on to the slimline dashboard by adhesive.

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Hmmm, I've certainly replaced RAM....

And I've swapped out an optical drive when its died. I'm not best pleased about this turn of events and I've been using Macs for a long time.

Personally, the x mm saved isn't worth the lack of functionality for me.

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Anonymous Coward

At least it's not MADE in the US

"Ooh, an oyster mallet! Made in USA? Oh, no, thank you" - Marge Simpson

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If you wanted to tinker with your computer , why would you buy a mac?

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Anonymous Coward

Why wouldn't you? Looks like you can tinker with it.

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Bronze badge

Seconded

I bought an iMac after years of building my own PCs. I got seduced by the stories of how amazing they are to use. While it has proven very reliable, now it is three years bits are starting to break. Even the older 2009 generation ones are difficult to fix yourself and Apple charge a fortune for even basic repairs.

When it finally bites the dust I shall go back to build my own I think!

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Silver badge

Repair? How old-fashioned.

Just chuck it and buy a new one.

Have it picked up by my butler.

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Where?

Where is your article crying about how Chromebooks can't run Windows?

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Facepalm

Re: Where?

If we're going to head off topic in that direction, where's the screaming diatribe from Hakan Rentaquote about anticompetitive practice because Chromebooks won't let you completely remove Chrome and replace it with Opera?

I always thought he was less about competition and more about kneejerk MS-hatred. Nice to see it proved.

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Bronze badge

umm, this IS a laptop

Really, 2 1/2 drive, mobile GPU... this really is a laptop glued behind a screen.

And that is bad news, as laptop HDDs tend to be.. pathetic, and the same goes for mobile GPUs.

At least it won't consumme too much lecci.

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Bronze badge

Re: umm, this IS a laptop

I was thinking the same thing, it really is a laptop! In today's world, can it be considered a desktop without a desktop GPU?

You can easily, very easily find a laptop or desktop that is on par if not better for so much cheaper. No matter how you look at it, you pay WAY too much for way too little. Does this product become obsolete immediately? I don't think even Apple fans will buy this, not if they understand anything at all about price:performance.

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Re: umm, this IS a laptop

"In today's world"? The gap between integrated GPUs and discrete GPUs gets smaller all the time. Especially since the graphics demands of games have been pretty much at a standstill for a half decade so they can do console ports.

I really doubt anyone is buying iMac thinking it should have high end AMD or NVidia graphics capability. Those who buy them aren't gamers, and they aren't the types who think a computer becomes obsolete just because Intel has replaced Sandy Bridge with Ivy Bridge. I use a computer with a Q9400, and it is more than adequate for what I need to do - and for what probably at least 90% of people use their computer to do. So what if it's four years old? I could probably use it for another half decade, though I'll replace it before then so I won't have to start worrying about it failing due to age.

The only thing I'd worry about getting an iMac is that if the LCD dies, the computer inside is pretty much useless. But if you're the type who doesn't like wires, maybe it's worth the risk.

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Devil

Re: umm, this IS a laptop

" I don't think even Apple fans will buy this, not if they understand anything at all about price:performance. "

Whatcha talking about? Of course they will buy it. It's thinner. (Or at least it's made to look thinner by adding a bevel at the edges. But that's beside the point.)

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Trollface

Re: umm, this IS a laptop

There are not that many laptops available with 22 and 27" screens. If you want a big screen, but don't want cables, clutter and so on, it is a fairly good option. As for price/performance it may not "perform" in the way you want it to, but that does not mean that it doesn't perform well in features that you obviously don't care about such as looks, size, and quiet running.

You could not make a PC that thin, with a display as good that was as quiet in running as the mac. Thinness and quietness do not matter to everyone, but they matter to some.

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Silver badge

Re: umm, this IS a laptop

"You could not make a PC that thin, with a display as good that was as quiet in running as the mac. "

Given that Macs *are* PCs, this is complete nonsense. Certainly there are all-in-one PCs from companies other than Apple. I don't know off hand if Apple make the thinnest - if they do, it's more down them choosing not to for whatever reason, rather than it being impossible because of the semantic issue of labelling it a "PC". There are also plenty of silent PCs.

And the obvious example would be PC laptops, which exist with far smaller volumes than this Apple all-in-one PC, as well as often being silent. As noted, the imac has laptop components anyway. So yes, it is clearly possible to make a PC of that size.

As for cables, what powers an imac, hot air? There are two less cables (monitor to PC, and extra power cord), but that's it. The only option for zero cables is a laptop running on battery. But for the niche purposes where an all-in-one is useful (I admit there are a couple), there are various PCs to choose from, not just this one.

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Headmaster

Less filler and more information

Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that the (also) new 27" iMac does come with very easy access to RAM through a dedicated door on the back, placing it amongst the easiest computers to upgrade the RAM.

It's only in the 21" that the panel needs to be removed.

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FAIL

Re: Less filler and more information

So it's okay for this computer to be a real pita to upgrade, since Apple will happily sell you a completely different and more expensive model where it's not?

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Meh

Unclear

Presumably the "Made in the USA" is intended to be a selling point but, for at least 96% of potential customers, I suspect it will have little bearing one way or the other.

The best "assembled in..." I can think of is for German made cars. My preconception of a German factory worker sees them wearing a white coat, having an engineering doctorate and so on. My preconception of a US factory worker dresses like Joe the plumber and thinks that Fox News is factual.

I know, preconceptions are not necessarily accurate but they are what sell things.

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Facepalm

Re: Unclear

My first thought when I saw that mark on the iMac: "What have the Republicans done to the manufacturing class?"

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Re: Unclear

Given the precious nature, I'd have though "Assembled in Switzerland" would have had higher kudos.

But that's all it is - kudos, and a warm fuzzy feeling. If it's the same robot's assembling it, the country is irrelevant.

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Meh

Re: Unclear

The best "assembled in..." I can think of is for German made cars.

Meanwhile in the real world, where perception is uncoloured by prejudice, the VAG cars assembled by Czechs yield consistantly superior build quality and reliability to those assembled by Germans.....

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Re: Unclear

Meanwhile in the real world, where perception is uncoloured by prejudice

I could have sworn it was coloured, actually. Which is why the VW brand is still seen as "better", even though Skoda have a better reliability record.

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Silver badge

Re: Unclear

Another interesting observation on German cars is that the Vauxhall Insignia is designed and built in Germany, but as a general rule it does poorly in the UK consumer market, press testing consistently puts it behind the Mondeo, and most of them are bought by fleets where the buyer doesn't have to own or drive them. And the car does relatively poorly in owner surveys like JD Power.

Not all German engineering and mnufacturing is to the same standard.

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Joke

Apple May Have the Job(e)s, but,

Does Apple have the LOBES.

Apple will not substantially bring back jobs unless it can get away with "inshoring", hehehe. And, such a feat would make a Ferengi proud! "Once you have their money, NEVER give it back", one of the Rules of Acquisition....

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Paris Hilton

Re: Apple May Have the Job(e)s, but,

You should attach some of what you are consuming to your post, then we might understand and laugh with you.

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Joke

@csumpi

Oh I don't know about having anything that he consumed. I was laughing at him as I finished his post.....oh wait.

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