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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > How Upgradeable are the new iMacs?

How Upgradeable are the new iMacs?
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Sep 11, 2006, 06:33 AM
 
To those that know, what exactly can be replaced within the new iMacs? And, how easy is it to do it yourself?

I would imagine this is an important subject for a lot of people who are considering buying one, myself included.

Also, would there be any Apple retail stores that would help you do the upgrade(s)? I'm guessing it would cost some money...?

Thanks for any feedback you can provide.
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 06:54 AM
 
RAM will be easily upgradeable. Hard drive and optical drive (if you find one that fits) will need the case to be taken apart. Graphics card may be also upgradeable, depending on what happens with this MXM graphics card slot that the 24" apparently has.

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 10:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by ajprice
RAM will be easily upgradeable. Hard drive and optical drive (if you find one that fits) will need the case to be taken apart. Graphics card may be also upgradeable, depending on what happens with this MXM graphics card slot that the 24" apparently has.
Just called Apple sales to ask about the graphics card upgrades; they certainly haven't heard of any plans to release upgrades. This is not to say there won't be, just that if graphics card upgrades are something you're looking for, it's probably worth waiting for confirmation. I fully expect to see graphics cards upgrades for iMacs in the next year or so, I'm just not sure they'll work with first version of the 24" iMac.

Let me put it another way; graphics card upgradability is a big thing for me, or I'd have ordered one by now, but am instead hoping we'll see concrete signs of upgradability later.
     
P
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Sep 11, 2006, 12:14 PM
 
The CPU is also upgradeable, though there is nothing to upgrade it to today (except an even faster Merom). About GPU upgradeability: There is a RUMOR that ONLY the 24" iMac has a socketed (MXM) GPU. If it is, then it's theoretically possible to make a compatible upgrade. Whether anyone will make and sell such an upgrade remains to be seen, and I very much doubt that Apple ever will. nVidia themselves might, one of their OEMs might or one of the Mac upgrade companies might. We don't know, and I doubt we will know anytime soon.
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 12:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by P
The CPU is also upgradeable, though there is nothing to upgrade it to today (except an even faster Merom). About GPU upgradeability: There is a RUMOR that ONLY the 24" iMac has a socketed (MXM) GPU. If it is, then it's theoretically possible to make a compatible upgrade. Whether anyone will make and sell such an upgrade remains to be seen, and I very much doubt that Apple ever will. nVidia themselves might, one of their OEMs might or one of the Mac upgrade companies might. We don't know, and I doubt we will know anytime soon.
Sorry, yes, should have mentioned this; the only iMac that could be upgraded, at the moment, is the 24" iMac. I think we'll see a 20" iMac with the same internal architecture soon, and may find out if upgradable graphics is on the cards, then.

I'm fairly certain it's Apple's intention to allow the graphics to be upgraded (if the rumour that the 24" iMac has a MXM slot is true), however it is quite possible they haven't had enough time to perfect the upgrading, so first version 24" iMacs will only take a very limited set of cards. Certainly, I would expect them to be listing it as a feature, if the cards were ready to be upgraded...
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 12:28 PM
 
Even if it is MXM:

1) nVidia will not be selling MXM upgrades to the public for the 24" iMac.
2) Apple will not be selling MXM upgrades to the public for the 24" iMac.

The best we can hope for is 3rd party support, or else physical/electrical compatibility for the current 24" iMac by OEM parts that are supposed to be used in future iMacs.

IMO, if it is MXM, it's to make it easier for Apple to upgrade them in the factory not for end user upgrades.
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 12:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug
2) Apple will not be selling MXM upgrades to the public for the 24" iMac.
Why not?

(For anyone wandering, Nvidia is unlikely to be sell upgrades because they'd need to have different firmware to work with the Mac firmware)
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 12:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by rnicoll
Why not?
Why would they? It's not as if it would be user upgradable anyway.

For the same reason, Apple doesn't sell iMac optical drives to end users either.
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 02:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug
Why would they? It's not as if it would be user upgradable anyway.

For the same reason, Apple doesn't sell iMac optical drives to end users either.
Was kinda assuming they would be, but you're probably right, they won't be (waiting for photos before judging). Still, if I could take an iMac to an Apple Store and have them upgrade the graphics card, would make me happier...

Failing that, I'm waiting for the start of the next generation of graphics, before buying an iMac, so it will have up to date graphics hardware for as long as possible...
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 02:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by rnicoll
Was kinda assuming they would be, but you're probably right, they won't be (waiting for photos before judging). Still, if I could take an iMac to an Apple Store and have them upgrade the graphics card, would make me happier...

Failing that, I'm waiting for the start of the next generation of graphics, before buying an iMac, so it will have up to date graphics hardware for as long as possible...
The 7600 GT is already pretty fast.

My guess is that an iMac Core 2 Duo 2.33 GHz with 7600 GT competes very favourably against a Dual G5 2.5 Power Mac with GeForce 6800 Ultra.
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 03:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug
The 7600 GT is already pretty fast.

My guess is that an iMac Core 2 Duo 2.33 GHz with 7600 GT competes very favourably against a Dual G5 2.5 Power Mac with GeForce 6800 Ultra.
Oh, certainly! But I'd be going from a PC with a 7800 GT, and that seems somehow foolish...
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 03:41 PM
 
What kind of apps do you/will you run?
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 03:51 PM
 
Has anyone here tried opening the case of the Intel iMacs? From what I was led to believe, it isn't quite as simple as it was with the old G5 iMacs... Can anyone confirm the level of difficulty?
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 03:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug
What kind of apps do you/will you run?
That need the graphics card? Games, under Windows XP.

For work, I'm a web application developer, so CPU/graphics isn't a big issue (given it's a development system, and I'll be the sole user for applications designed to handle hundreds of simultaneous users), but the big screen should really help...
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 05:44 PM
 
Since I'm doing wild guessing today, I think that Apple made the switch to MXM simply to permit the choice of 7300 GT or 7600 GT, but there is more to it. Apple's recent movement towards socketed CPUs in the iMacs does however indicate a more permitting attitude towards upgrading the computer - very unofficially, of course. Right now, iMacs are completely non-upgradeable. Making them sort-of upgradeable, in a hackish way, could attract some geeks who would other wise shun Apple completely. That Mac mini+ Merom engineering sample hack came real quick, wasn't it?

Apple won't sell third-party upgrades because they're Apple - Apple doesn't sell upgrades, they want you to buy new computers. nVidia won't either, because nVidia doesn't sell directly to consumers. One of nVidia's OEMs might - the number of iMacs in the wild dwarfs the number of Powermacs/Mac Pros. Selling third-party PCIe boards for those machines would be very expensive, since they'd have to license the firmware and the Mac drivers from nVidia. Selling iMac MXM boards as well might be a way to support that cost with another revenue stream. Possible, but unlikely. No, the best hope is that one of the Mac upgrade companies developing this as a sideline in a few years. Remember, once PCs begin using EFI, the boards will support Macs by default, and that cost will disappear. They still need a driver license, but that might be doable. Possible, but far from guaranteed.
     
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Sep 11, 2006, 09:47 PM
 
Upgradeable today: CPU, RAM, and HDD with off-the-shelf parts

Maybe video card at a future date.
     
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Sep 14, 2006, 12:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by chefpastry
Has anyone here tried opening the case of the Intel iMacs? From what I was led to believe, it isn't quite as simple as it was with the old G5 iMacs... Can anyone confirm the level of difficulty?

To reiterate this question -- aside from the RAM, which apparently is quite simple to get at, how difficult is it to replace the internal HD in these new Core2Duo iMacs? And is the difficulty at all different between the 17", 20", and 24" models?

tx,
ox
     
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Sep 26, 2006, 11:15 AM
 
Whether or not the 24" actually uses MXM still hasn't been confirmed. And whether or not Apple 'protected' their MXM cards in order to be not compatible with standard MXM cards also remains a question.

But there ís a site about MXM that also has a small selection of MXM cards available.
     
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Sep 27, 2006, 08:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by OmniX
To reiterate this question -- aside from the RAM, which apparently is quite simple to get at, how difficult is it to replace the internal HD in these new Core2Duo iMacs? And is the difficulty at all different between the 17", 20", and 24" models?

tx,
ox
I have opened an intel imac and believe me, it is not a task you want to commit to unless you are very comfortable with taking apart a complex system. CompUSA normally charges $39 to install a hard drive, after they actually did an upgrade for an intel imac, they increased the charge to $99.


Glor
     
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Oct 3, 2006, 12:04 PM
 
Yay! Just got confirmation that the slot is indeed Type II MXM, or at least physically

Now let's see if I can confirm it works with 'normal' MXM cards!
     
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Oct 4, 2006, 07:59 AM
 
Pictures right here!
     
   
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