iMac Pro Teardown Highlights Modular RAM, CPU and SSD Along With Redesigned Internals

With the iMac Pro now in the hands of customers and available at Apple retail stores, popular repair site iFixit has acquired one of the $4,999 machines and has opened it up to see just what's inside. iFixit tore down the base iMac Pro model with an 8-core processor, 32GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD.

iFixit found that the RAM, CPU, and SSDs in the iMac Pro are modular and can potentially be replaced following purchase, but most of the key components "require a full disassembly to replace."

Standard 27-inch iMacs have a small hatch in the back that allows easy access to the RAM for post-purchase upgrades, but that's missing in the iMac Pro. Apple has said that iMac Pro owners will need to get RAM replaced at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider. iFixit says that compared to the 5K 27-inch iMac, replacing the RAM in the iMac Pro is indeed "a major undertaking."

Apple is using standard 288-pin DDR4 ECC RAM sticks with standard chips, which iFixit was able to upgrade using its own $2,000 RAM upgrade kit. A CPU upgrade is "theoretically possible," but because Apple uses a custom-made Intel chip, it's not clear if an upgrade is actually feasible. The same goes for the SSDs -- they're modular and removable, but custom made by Apple. Unlike the CPU, the GPU is BGA-soldered into place and cannot be removed.

The internals of the iMac Pro are "totally different" from other iMacs, which is unsurprising as Apple said it introduced a new thermal design to accommodate the Xeon-W processors and Radeon Pro Vega GPUs built into the machines. The new thermal design includes an "enormous" dual-fan cooler, what iFixit says is a "ginormous heat sink," and a "big rear vent."

Apple's iMac Pro appears to be equipped with the same LG display panel that's used in the standard 27-inch 5K iMac, but because of new cables and a different camera setup, screens can't be swapped across models.

iFixit gives the iMac Pro a repairability score of 3/10, because despite its upgradeable RAM and CPU, it's difficult to open and tough to get to internal components that might need to be repaired or replaced.

The iMac Pro became available for purchase in mid-December, and the machine is now available to order from Apple's website, with 8 and 10-core configurations shipping out in just a few days. Many Apple retail stores around the world also have the base model in stock and available for immediate purchase. Higher-priced 14 and 18-core configurations can be ordered, but won't ship out for several weeks.

Pricing on the iMac Pro starts at $4,999 for the base machine with an 8-core 3.2GHz processor, 32GB ECC RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics card, and goes up to $13,199 for a maxed out iMac Pro with a 3.3GHz 18-core processor, 128GB ECC RAM, a 4TB SSD, and a Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics card.

Related Roundup: iMac Pro
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Top Rated Comments

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28 months ago
Yeah sure, modular. Modular means I as end user can replace and upgrade parts myself with just a screwdriver. It does not mean taking the entire bloody thing to a store to have them tear the entire screen off of the thing just so you can get at the RAM or SSD (which oh by the way isn't even a normal standard so good luck upgrading that on your own).
Rating: 28 Votes
28 months ago
Apple, design these with a hinged door or something so the whole thing opens up and can be worked on and upgraded easily. Design is not just about looks. Function is important too.
Rating: 27 Votes
28 months ago
Meh. So what if it’s upgradable? It’s not user’s upgradable. You have to pay for the service. Shessh. My eye is on mac pro..bring that out.
Rating: 26 Votes
28 months ago

Does it get throttled when its battery is under 80% capacity?

Does it have a battery? It’s ok to use sarcasm but at least do it on the right threads...
Rating: 24 Votes
28 months ago

Pros don’t need to upgrade. They can buy what they need and throw it out after 2 years to get another one if they wish.

Since when did the word “Pro” get tied to “upgradeability”? The two have nothing to do with each other.

And what do you do for a living? I have over a dozen friends who are designers, photographers, editors, 3D animators, special FX artists, color graders with Davinci Resolve...and all of them have switched to Windows PCs because of this issue.

The last friend to do so was last year. He was a Mac user with two Macs. He used Premiere Pro to edit indie movies. He had a guy build him a custom PC tower and he now uses the Adobe Creative Cloud suite on that. It cost him $2K. Unlike my $6K 2013 Mac Pro, his PC does Thunderbolt 3 because he just popped in a card. And, no, I don't want to buy a $5K iMac Pro (minimum) just so I can have Thunderbolt 3, even though Thunderbolt 3 RAID drives are 3X faster than my Thunderbolt 2 RAID.

The idea that content creators are throwing out $6K Macs every 2 years and happy to do so is just simply idiotic. It's the dumbest thing I've read on these forums.
Rating: 22 Votes
28 months ago
Does it get throttled when its battery is under 80% capacity?
Rating: 20 Votes
28 months ago

And its stunts like that is driving people back to windows!

I personally know many of them. It started when Apple really screwed up their Final Cut Pro X launch by putting out Alpha quality software. A huge number of Final Cut Pro 7 users switched to Adobe Premiere Pro, and since the entire Adobe suite is exactly the same on Windows, a huge number of people switched to Windows PCs.

And this company, Apple, that has over $200 billion cash on hand hasn't really wanted to make pro software that the entire industry craves. Whenever I say I use Final Cut Pro X, I get chuckles. That's Apple's fault. They should have a suite that makes Adobe's suite look like stone age software. And I love Final Cut Pro X, and I love Apple Motion 5, except there are some really boneheaded missing features in both. And so they aren't serious.

So you have pro software like Davinci Resolve that now has editing, and world class color grading that makes it the industry standard, and it's on Windows, you got to ask why run the same software on a $5K iMac Pro (minimum)?

Apple is really blowing it in the pro industry. Windows 10 is better than the previous version and it will continue to get better.

People are buying Amazon Echos for smart home tech.

The Apple TV has an idiotic remote and a UI from hell and my PS4 does better at streaming.

The Google phone has a fantastic camera and is the best Android phone.

Apple is Microsoft in the year 2000.
Rating: 15 Votes
28 months ago
As always, iFixit deliverying great teardowns.
Rating: 15 Votes
28 months ago

Really silly to post this. How about post the same ‘90s advert for the iMac and see how they’re touting its upgradability?

There will be a modular Mac Pro coming. This is not the modual machine. This is an iMac Pro. Pro specs, iMac chassis. It can’t be that difficult to grasp.

Can we not defend Apple on this topic until we see what they release for the modular Mac Pro?

They may screw that up too, using proprietary parts like the weird Apple SSDs and making certain parts non-upgradeable anyway. You should know better not to trust Apple on this these days.

I really do hope they redeem themselves, but I don't have too much hope.
Rating: 12 Votes
28 months ago

Really silly to post this. How about post the same ‘90s advert for the iMac and see how they’re touting its upgradability?

Rating: 10 Votes

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