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iMac Pro Memory Not User Upgradable, According to 9to5Mac

The iMac Pro, Apple’s follow up to the iMac 5K (pictured above), will not feature user-upgradable memory.

At the WWDC keynote on Monday, Apple announced updates to its iMac lineup as well as a refreshed MacBook line. But the biggest news was the introduction of the new iMac Pro model that will be available late in 2017.

The 27-inch Space Gray iMac Pro will be the “most powerful Mac ever” according to Apple brass with up to 18-core Xeon processors and up to 22 Teraflops of graphics computation. The iMac Pro is on track to ship in December starting at $4,999.

However, according to 9to5Mac, buyers will be limited to the factory memory as the RAM will not be user-upgradable. This is in contrast with the current 27-inch iMac, which features a memory compartment door on the backside for upgrades. The current 21.5-inch iMac, on the other hand, does not allow users to upgrade its memory.

The iMac Pro supports up to 4TB of SSD and up to 128GB of ECC memory, and features four Thunderbolt 3 ports and 10Gb Ethernet for up to 10 times faster networking.

“We’re thrilled to give developers and customers a sneak peek at iMac Pro. This will be our fastest and most powerful Mac ever, which brings workstation-class computing to iMac for the first time,” Apple VP of Hardware Engineering John Ternus said in a news release. “We reengineered the whole system and designed an entirely new thermal architecture to pack extraordinary performance into the elegant, quiet iMac enclosure our customers love — iMac Pro is a huge step forward and there’s never been anything like it.”

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  • Removing the display won’t be sufficient. Check out the cut-away view on . That’s from the rear of the machine, meaning once you’ve removed the display you’ll have to take the motherboard out to access the side on which the RAM sits. Not for the feint of heart.

  • Reading all these comments from Paul it is aggravating, and even though these are super old posts I feel like I should speak up.

    Paul, it is upgradeable. But do you feel like removing a 5K display on your own, that potentially could break and cost you $400 to replace if you do? For alot of people that is enough to say that it isn’t user upgradeable. Even for me, a repair tech that works on iMacs, Windows computers and smart devices like Apple Watch, iPhones etc, that is a crap ton of work to do. For a pro it will be worth the time and effort. But for the average user(if you have the 21.5 inch model) is it really worth it? Objectively yes, it is upgradeable and not soldered. But is it something your average buyer is going to do? Probably not. Apple is counting on that. So technically yes it is user upgradeable, but from a practical average end user standpoint no it is not.

    • Whether a user wants to to do it or not is irrelevant. It is upgradeable, end of story.

      And if we’re talking about the average user, the professionals that this is marketed to will absolutely do it if they need to. The iMac Pro isn’t for the soccer mom posting photos on FB. It’s a professional, workstation-class computer.

  • So after admitting that the trash can was a bit of a failure because pros want upgradeability, Apple floats out an iMac targeted at pros which doesn’t even allow you to upgrade the RAM? Makes sense.

  • Apple prides themselves on their engineering prowess. Here is a chance to really raise the bar… design the iMac Pro so that the RAM, and the Storage, AND the GPU, AND the CPU are upgradeable… by users! If that requires a thicker bottom or back or edge… so be it. The first goal should be function and then elegance… the art is in achieving both without sacrificing the most important, function. I am sorry that some are more interested in defending Apple and making a “it can’t be done” defense. How about a lets try it attitude? Apple’s engineers, I believe, are good enough to try it and very possibly succeed where others have failed in the past. Imagine it! An iMac Pro that is praised for its function and form, a coup de grace of engineering artfulness!!! Why not? Why not a list of all the things “function focused” users want and meeting the challenge to incorporate them and then to apply elegance without sacrificing any of them? This should be a dream project for engineers!!!!!!!

  • User-accessible RAM and hard drive should be standard on these machines.

    The only reason I can conceive for Apple not doing this is to insure against warranty claims from users who don’t know what they are doing.

    If you can design an iMac, you can certainly re-Think it to provide for end-user swaps of RAM and hard drive via an access panel.

    • You don’t understand design then. An access panel isn’t possible with these.

      • What on earth is happening down there at Apple HQ?? Apple have officially lost the plot of this is true.
        A ‘Pro’ machine that doesn’t facilitate expansion is just plain madness.
        Its becoming quiet clear that Apple have become form over function. They need to reign in their design department just a little and Get back to basics. Function over form Apple!!! Make it 100% Pro, then sprinkle your 2% fairy dust if you need.

      • I’ll bite. How is it not possible? Is the ram seated under the CPU? Is there some magnificent technology that gives us on die DDR4 with 1mm long traces and super low latency?

        • There’s not enough room to machine a door where the RAM is. It’s in the thinner part on these, not behind that vent like the picture above would make you believe.

  • It looks like there might be a legitimate reason why this machine needs to be taken apart to get to the RAM slots. According to the animations on Apple’s website, the airflow design is coming from the bottom of the chassis. That isn’t any different that previous designs, but the volume of air needed is likely much higher than normal which means that having DIMM slots in the same place reduces airflow substantially.

  • GAH! Seriously? Looks like once again I will not be recommending iMacs to any coworkers, family or friends who come asking. At least without the lecture. I have had enough of them cross my bench to say apple has their head in their butt. The design is slick, but long ago the drive should have been made user replaceable via an access door on the bottom. Is it really that hard to engineer a slot for an SSD like they use in laptops? And don’t start me on the Fusion Drive.

    Granted, I work in a professional setting with people using their machines hard to make money. Apple designs for the home user who probably think SSD is a venereal disease.

    Drives Fail! Original drives get outgrown. OS RAM needs change (just try running Sierra on 2GB or 4GB). Limiting all of this makes them a poor investment. Hence the lecture I give shoppers about how much they need to spend to provide future proof specs.

    Every user in our office who switched from a 17″ MBP to a 15″ Retina hates the latter. When the boss retires, we move to Windows and machines we can tailor to our needs instead of now having to force our needs to work with what Apple thinks we should need.

    They have their vision…great for them. It does not match our needs and has not in years. Not since 2012 have we found their machines compelling. We only bought the Retina machines because the MBPs had a defect Apple could/would not correct. Our Apple roots go back to the IIfx, IIci, Quadra 700 and an SE/30 server!

    • This is only the iMac Pro, not the regular iMacs. Those haven’t changed. Actually, Apple went back to non-soldered RAM on the 21.5″ model! The SSD and RAM are still replaceable in the Pro. Taking off the display isn’t that hard. As others have pointed out, the space and cooling requirements don’t allow for an “SSD slot” or the traditional RAM door.

      The only one with their head up their butt is you. Instead of ranting, try adapting to change instead of being stubborn. And lol at your users who hate the rMBP. They must be complete idiots.

      • In defense of Tom D Frog, I don’t consider his post a rant.

        The plain, indisputable fact is that Apple has ignored their desktop line of computers for at least the past 5 years. They (Apple) decided to become the “iPhone Company.”

        The proof? I’m writing this post on a mid-2010 MacBook Pro 17″. That is a 10 year old (thanks to OWC) laptop. OWC allowed me to upgrade the RAM and hard drive and thus the laptop remains useful, even if not state-of-the-art.

        My last computer purchase (2016) was a Dell Precision 17″ laptop currently running CentOS Linux. Why? Because Apple decided to drop 17″ laptops. Some of us don’t find 15″ laptops, MacBook or otherwise, compelling or useful. So, that laptop top sale went to Dell and not Apple. Not that Apple seems to care.

        And, finally, like Tom D Frog I won’t spend money on a computer which “feature” RAM soldered to the motherboard, non-replaceable hard drives, etc.

        $5K (base price) for a non-upgradeable desktop is a lot of frackin’ money.

        I intend to vote with my wallet.

        • So many things wrong with this comment.

          First, Apple has done several updates to their desktops in the past 5 years.

          The second reinforces the first: you suck at math. A 2010 MBP is 7 years old, not 10.

          Lastly and to reiterate, the iMac Pro doesn’t have soldered RAM. The RAM and SSD are BOTH replaceable. In fact, there are TWO SSD slots!

          So there’s no credibility in anything you’ve said.

          • Okay, you got me on the math. My bad!

            I stand by my positions on everything else: Apple has neglected their desktops and pro-quality laptops. And by extension, OS X. Otherwise one would not need MacPorts, Fink, Homebrew, etc.

            And “stomping you feet” and calling everybody with an opinion you don’t ascribe to won’t change that.

            Some people my be happy with an under- powered 15″ laptop. Others may choose something else.

            Everybody gets to buy Apple products as they see fit. When the products are less useful then sales will fall. That’s basic economics.

            And lastly, you seem overly concerned about the public perception of Apple and its products. It is just a corporate entity after all, not a religion.

        • So did you upgrade your 2010 MacBook Pro 17 to 128 GB of RAM?

          Or did you go up to the 16 GB limit that every MacBook Pro has standard and isn’t upgradable because of Intel limits?

          • !28GB? I wish! The max RAM my mid-2010 MacBook Pro will accept is 8GB (2 x 4GB), which I bought from OWC.

            Hench my decision to buy a Dell 17″ laptop which I configured with an Intel Xeon E3-1545M Quad Core 2.90GHz with 64GB ECC RAM and all the usual laptop “bells & whistles”, including Thunderbolt 3.

            Apple simply did not have a comparable laptop to purchase, 17″ or otherwise.

            • Lol enjoy your 15 minutes of battery life! At least I can go places with my MBP without it dying in my bag as soon as I pull it out!

  • I’m more concerned that this is the death knell for an actual Mac Pro refresh. Unless they do something silly like put the same logic board in an enclosure without a display and call it the Mac Pro. (iMac jr?).
    Which they won’t do because they wouldn’t want to cannibalize customers for an already niche SKU.

  • 9to5Mac is completely wrong. Apple’s own rendering showed full size RAM slots.

  • First off, let me state it’s not about the money. I made a motherload on Apple Stock when the iPhone first came out…I will always love Apple. But, what I won’t do is purchase equipment that I can’t modify easily other than a phone. So, the iMac is out, even though I’ve owned two of them in the past. I’ve owned about 5 ipads so far and my mini’s are my favorite because I can hold them with one hand. So far, I’m a Mac Mini Guy, because I can modify it….They should simply put the thing in a larger box and allow us to make simple mods…change hard drives, ram, optical drive….honestly, building a machine is so much better and Windows 10 is finally a great Operating System or any of the Linix Distributions. I love my Mac OS, but not for the value. Trust me, it’s not a money issue….it’s what I can get for the dollar value…..I’ll still buy Apple products, just not their computers. I love my ipads, iphone and watch.

  • I draw the line at removing the glass face and motherboard of an Imac to reach the ram to replace or upgrade. Upgrading my ram on my Imac is easy. My ram, hard drive and battery were all easy on my MBP thanks to OWC. Once Mac makes all their old computers obsolete by coming up with an operating system that won’t work then I will go back and build my own PC. (I can’t believe I said that!)

  • And will this built-in-only RAM follow Apple’s usual practice and cost about four times the market price? Probably.

    It’s not so much Apple’s greed that bothers me. It’s the obvious contempt they display for their customers when they play these games. Do they really think we won’t understand the game they are playing?

  • They are going to put Apple in the ditch again. This is beyond ridiculous it appears they haven’t learned a thing from the failed trashcan. Or the rubble of SGI, Sun and countless other overly closed and proprietary hardware vendors. Bye Apple!

    • Yes. Looks like RAM will be upgradable, but you have to take the iMac Pro apart – just like you have to when you replace the fusion drive.

      So, no big deal. We will see once iFixit and OWC get their hands on one.

    • Yes, but, there does not appear to be a door to get to it yourself, so, to put more in means taking it apart and voiding the warranty, something no one should do in their right mind. I’ve owned several macs and highly recommend AppleCare to extend the warranty to 3 years as I had problems with 2 Macs, one of which had expensive issues just after 2 years old, out of warranty, but would have been fully covered with AppleCare.

      • …the other Mac got replaced after major issues…again past 2 years, but applecare gave me a new Mac free.

  • I could swear that ever since Jobs left, the engineers are taking over at Apple. Not allowing user upgradeable features like RAM and HD is ridiculous. The prices Apple charges for these upgrades and purchase are exorbitant and way out of line with the industry. They are no longer user friendly for people who like to keep their equipment up-to-date with upgrades to RAM and their HD. Steve Jobs was all about being user friendly, even with the ability to keep their Macs long-term. Now the it seems the key wording in Apple is ‘designed obsolesce’. Just goes to show what a bean-counter does when they become CEO.

    • As a EE myself, I doubt its the engineers who’re at fault. It’s Apple’s corporate and marketing divisions that are making these changes. Engineers like to build in repairability and upgradability. Marketing thinks they can get away with any greedy ploy with a clever ad campaign.

      And yeah, there are Apple customers that stupid. One of my rules about life it to do my best to live in a ‘smart market.’ That’s one where there are sufficient smart consumers to keep a corporation listening. That was once true with Apple. It is no longer so. More and more, Apple’s customer base is shifting to consumer who can be sold almost anything, including over-priced, non-upgradable RAM.

    • A little bit of history: The original 1984 Mac did not have upgradable RAM unless you wanted to take apart the case with (at that time) unusual Torx screws, one of which was buried so deep that you needed a Torx 10 driver with an unusually long shaft. Once you pried the case apart, ideally with a case cracker, you were faced with cutting a resistor on the motherboard, desoldering the existing RAM, and resoldering the new RAM in place. The only other choce was to spring for a Fat Mac with 512 kb of RAM.

      As for a hard drive, the closest thing available was an external floppy drive, although both drives did use hard shell disks. The first Apple hard drive (external, naturally) connected to the serial port; I’ll leave to imagination how speedy that was. Steve Jobs was reported to ask, “How did they do that? We designed the case to make installing an internal hard drive impossible,” when a third-party company started to sell internal hard drives for the 128k and 512k Macs.

      Apple did not introduce memory SIMMS which could be snapped in by users until the Macintosh Plus, and you still had to crack the case to get to the slots. The Plus also had a SCSI port so that you could attach a hard drive with some speed. So don’t canonize Steve Jobs for being a champion of user modifiable computers; he wasn’t.

      • I love these factual comments from people who actually know their Apple history that come after people who are clueless and try to put a completely different image of Apple and Steve to suit their narrative.
        I concur that everything you wrote is true.

  • Once again, as in the case of the MacBook from last year, Apple forgets the Pro in it’s top tier series.

  • Apple has got to be the most TONE DEAF COMPANY ON THE PLANET when it comes to their pro customers… Pros want a return to the cheese grater style upgradable machine, not a solid slab of space gray idiocy.

    • I initially got excited at the news of the Sept launch. I have totally moved to 4k videography and grater storage, speed and connectivity sound great. But, like so many of the comments, I am for content and flexibility over form. I loved that big silver box that could be loaded up with additional ram, bigger hard drives, an internal blu-ray writer, and any number of add ons. I have a desk full of wires, power supplies, hard drives, and connector boxes. It is a real rats nest. Before it all could be housed in the box. Nobody admires the beautiful form. Everyone only cares about the capability and output. Bring back something that has the flexility we need!

    • Not all Pros want a Cheese Grater Mac.
      Some are totally fine with these new Mac Pros.

      And if you complain about the cost, you aren’t an Apple user or you need better jobs.