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Apple's latest iMac gets disassembled, earns low repairability score

Tech repair site iFixit has torn down the latest model of Apple's iMac, finding that the refreshed desktop has a lot in common with its predecessor, including a low repairability score.


iFixit has done the requisite teardown on the late 2013 iMac update that Apple announced on Tuesday. While acknowledging the updates Apple packed into the device, the site notes that very little has changed from last year's model to this year's.

"We are 99% sure that this iMac is 99% the same as its predecessor," the teardown reads.


iFixit worked with a both a 21.5-inch iMac and a 27-inch model, finding that Apple has once again used a foamy adhesive to hold the display on the device in place. Adhesive use in construction is an ongoing complaint by iFixit about Apple products, in that such construction methods make devices more difficult to open and for non-specialized technicians to repair. The site also notes that the new iMac has the same display cable as its predecessor, which is said to be delicate and "prone to disaster."

Removing the logic board from the iMac, iFixit found that the 21.5-inch model features an empty PCIe SSD slot, which means that it could very well be expanded if a user chose to do so. The 27-inch model also features this empty slot.


Continuing, iFixit noted the new Broadcom AirPort card, which supports the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, first appearing in Macs with the refreshed MacBook Airs. The desktop also packs three Skyworks SE5516 dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WLAN front-end modules, as well as a Broadcom BCM20702 single-chip Bluetooth 4.0 HCI solution with Bluetooth Low Energy Support.

Apple has also streamlined some components of the iMac's internals. The hard drive SATA power and data cables have been unified, saving a step in disassembling the device. Apple also streamlined the CPU heat sink, giving it a "slimmed down and beautified" appearance, although the tradeoff is that the new CPU is soldered in place on the logic board, meaning that it cannot be removed, replaced, or upgraded. iFixit believes this is the first aluminum iMac to feature a soldered CPU. The 27-inch model, though, does not have its CPU soldered into place, a fact that iFixit celebrates.


Overall, the device receives a very poor score of 2 out of a possible 10 on the reliability scale. iFixit notes that users can replace the RAM and hard drive, so long as they are willing to cut through adhesives, and that users can add a second hard drive. The soldered-in CPU, though, as well as the fusion of the glass and LCD, as well as the construction that places the replaceable components behind the logic board: all of these contribute to a repairability sore even lower than the one the 2012 iMac received.

Recently, the tech repair site, which not only publishes guides for repairing devices but also sells specialized equipment, has reviewed the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c. The latter received one of Apple's higher repairability scores in some time, scoring 6 out of a possible 10.

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