iFixit has published a detailed teardown of Apple’s newly redesigned M1 processor-equipped iMac, and it contains bad news about how easy the new all-in-one is to repair. Whether it’s the fans, USB ports, headphone jack, power button, or speakers, iFixit says virtually any repairs to the new desktop require battling through Apple’s adhesives.
Like the other M1 Macs, everything is soldered together now — so there’s no upgrading RAM or internal storage even if you do crack it open. The good news is if you do go through the effort of cracking it open, iFixit says most of the other internal parts (including the ports, webcam, and speakers) are relatively easy to swap out with replacements.
These problems might not matter right now while the iMacs are shiny, new, and generally excellent, but they could make a world of difference in a few years when their components start to wear out and fail. iFixit has long been critical of the repairability of Apple’s devices, but it’s arguably much more important for a device like the iMac, which tends to get replaced less often than a phone or tablet. In our review, we called it “the computer to get if you just want to buy it and not think about it for the next five to ten years.”
If you thought the new iMac looks a lot like a massive iPad on a stand, then you might not be surprised to hear that much of what makes the iPad difficult to repair has been inherited by the new iMac. iFixit has awarded the machine a total score of 2/10 for repairability.
Apple’s M1 processors haven’t even been around for a year yet, so we don’t yet know how they’re going to hold up over time. But if any issues do crop up, this design could make it harder and more expensive for users to fix the machines they’re powering.
This is far from the first time that iFixit has criticized the repairability of an iMac. In 2015, for example, it awarded Apple’s 21.5-inch iMac a low score of 1/10 for its repairability for design elements like having its RAM and CPU soldered onto the motherboard, preventing easy replacements or upgrades. Other iMacs like the 27-inch 5K iMac from 2014 or the 2018 iMac Pro fared better, thanks to their replaceable CPUs and RAM, but these are absent from the new machine.
“Apple’s newest iMac follows the other M1 machines down an interesting, but even-less-repairable path,” the teardown concludes — an expected, albeit slightly disappointing direction that Apple’s ever-thinner hardware has been trending in for years.