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iFixit takes Apple 21.5in iMac apart, receives bad repairability score.

Apple
by Damon Poeter, 03 Dec 2012
iFixit takes Apple 21.5in iMac apart, receives bad repairability score.

Taking apart Apple's newest iMac was "an exercise in disappointment" for the teardown artists at iFixit who found the company's recent habit of gluing parts together in full effect for the all-in-one desktop's 21.5in display.

Apple began shipping the new 21.5in iMac on Friday and is now taking pre-orders for a 27in version that customers will begin receiving in December.

The iFixit team had their worst fears confirmed about the new iMac's "super-thin bezel," discovering that the displays glass and LCD are "now glued to the iMac's frame with incredibly strong adhesive." Previous iMacs used magnets to hold the glass in place, making removal a cinch and earning points for repairability from iFixit.

The positioning of the iMac's RAM, hard drive, and CPU at the back end of the system's logic board makes replacing parts all that more difficult, according to iFixit. Though those parts are replaceable, you'll have to first get past the aforementioned glued-together display and then maneuver the entire motherboard out of the all-in-one's slim frame to get to them.

Last but not least, iFixit found removal of the new iMac's speakers to be "nerve-wracking."

As a result, the teardown site gave Apple's new all-in-one just 3 points out of a possible 10 for repairability—down from the 7 out of 10 earned by last year's iMacs and continuing the trend of low repairability scores for Apple products introduced in 2012.

Inside the new iMac, iFixit found several new chips and components (albeit only after "break[ing] out our trusty heat gun and guitar picks to get past the adhesive holding down the glass and LCD," naturally).

Apple has changed things up in the new iMac by using a 2.5in laptop hard drive from Western Digital's HGST subsidiary instead of the conventional 3.5in desktop drive, freeing up "a lot of real estate" inside the all-in-one. The machine also sports a clever vibration-dampening design utilizing a rubber housing for the hard drive to offset the effect of the spinning drive on other tightly packed components in the iMac, iFixit reported.

There's also a new fan layout that utilises a single, centralized fan in place of the multiple small fans used to cool off previous iMacs, the site noted. The system's webcams now have a more "beefy" ribbon cable connecting them to the motherboard and for the first time, Apple has kitted out an iMac with two microphones instead of just one.

One component that Apple didn't change, to iFixit's surprise, was the LCD itself. That's not technically true—mysteriously, the new computer's LCD from LG Electronics has the same model number (LM215WF3) as the one in last year's iMac, but the new part is 5 millimeters thinner, according to the teardown site.

Here's iFixit's breakdown of the various chips it found on the new 21.5-inch iMac's logic board:

  • Intel Core i5-3330S, clocked at 2.7 GHz
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 640M GPU
  • Intel E213B384 platform controller hub
  • Texas Instruments Stellaris LM4FS1AH5bb microcontroller
  • 2x Hynix H5GQ2H24AFR GDDR5 SGRAM
  • Broadcom BCM57765A1KMLG
  • Intel DSL3510L Thunderbolt controllerAnalog Devices SSM3302 audio amplifier
  • Vimicro VC0359 webcam processor
  • Intersil ISL6364 multi-phase pulse width modulation (PWM) controller
  • Cirrus Logic 4206BCNZ audio controller
  • National Semiconductor VM22AC
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