In 2011, Apple revived the iMac line with Intel's second-generation Core CPU family and AMD's new Radeon HD 6000-series graphics processors. Apple also replaced the old Mini DisplayPort input with a Thunderbolt port.
In March, I took a look inside the HP Compaq 6000 Pro All-in-one Business PC and couldn't wait to see how the new iMac's hardware compared. After cracking open the 27" Apple iMac, I have my answer.Cracking Open the 27" Apple iMac (2011)
Cracking Open analysis:
- At 30+ pounds, the 27" iMac is heavy—very heavy. It looks great on your desk and gives you a ton of screen real-estate, but it's a pain to move.
- You can upgrade the RAM without removing the iMac's front cover.
- The front panel is held on with magnets and can easily be removed with a thin plastic tool.
- There's plenty of room inside the 27" iMac to work on the internal hardware, but removing the motherboard is a time-consuming task.
- The power supply is located inside the case and is not covered with a metal shield. You'll need to exercise caution when working around or removing the power supply. The same goes for the display's LED driver board.
- The new 27" iMac has three separate cooling fans and massive CPU and GPU cooling assemblies. Unlike the first aluminum-body iMacs (released in 2007), overheating should not be a problem on the 2011 models.
- The optical drive and hard drive are easily assessable once the display assembly is removed. They may not however, be easily replace. See my next bullet point.
- Replacing the 3.5 SATA HDD with a non-Apple drive isn't easy and may not be possible. According to Other World Computing (OWC), the SATA power connector on the 2011 iMac hard drives have a 7-wire configuration, instead of the standard 4-wire configuration. Apple uses this new connector and proprietary firmware on the hard drive to detect and control the drive temperature. While OWC has been working on workarounds, there's no guarantee that these will be 100 percent effective. Only time will tell.
- The CPU is not soldered to the motherboard, which means it could be replaced.
Internal hardware and chips:
- Intel 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
- Intel Platform Controller Hub
- AMD RadeonHD 6770M GPU 512MB GDDR5
- Four Samsung K4G10325FE-HC04 GDDR5 chips
- Elpida 2GB PC3-10600S9-10-F1 SDRAM chips (2 x 2GB chips)
- 1T Seagate Barracude 7200 RPM hard drive
- Sony Optiarc DVD/CD Rewritable Drive AD-5680H
- 27-inch LED-backlit glossy screen (2,560 x 1,440 resolution)
- FaceTime HD camera
- Built-in stereo speakers and two internal 20-watt amplifiers
- SDXC card slot (with GL137A MN2AF05G05 102D1B692)
- Audio line output, audio line input, four USB 2.0, one FireWire 800, two Thunderbolt, Mini DisplayPort output (DVI, VGA, and dual-link DVI), and Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Atheros (Qualcomm) AR5BXB112 WLAN card with AR9388-AL1A chip
- Broadcom BCM57765B0KMLG Integrated Gigabit Ethernet and Memory Card Reader Controller
- Intel L107IA64 EFL Thunderbolt IC
- Cirrus 4206BCNZ audio controller
- SMSC USX2061 USB controllers (x2)
- Intersil ISL6364 CRZ PWM Controller
- NXP 1112 /A 11011BY
- Texas Instruments 58864D and TPS51116 Switching Regulator
- Texas Instruments SN1010 017 TI 13K AHKR
- Texas Instruments TPA3117 TI 121 A256 G4 (x2)
- LSI FW643E PCI Express 1394b Link / PHY Open Host Controller Interface
- Intersil 9563A HRZ H103BB6
- SMSC 1128-7 145155B BTW
- Parade PS8301 U08FUC ARMRJ 0711 A2 (multiple - perhaps a display port chip)
- Unknown LVC08A 0419309 UXD11 03G (x2)
- NXP 6142C 01 23 ZSD107
- Unknown F2117BG20H H82/2117RV P V BB03849 1107 JAPAN
- Unknown IR 9310 H106P S3Z8
- Delta Electronics LFE9249-R 1111C
- Panasonic 3V BR2032 CMOS battery
- Delta Electronics EMI filter
- Cooling fans (x3)
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.