Surprise! The iMac Pro has Upgradable RAM and SSD

1 minute read
| News

Apple’s iMac Pro has been available for only a few hours and OWC has already cracked one open to see what’s inside. What they found was surprisingly upgradable despite the computer’s sealed body.

OWC got ahold of the entry level 8-core with 1 TB SSD and promptly sliced the seal holding the display in place. That’s the first step to seeing what’s inside because Apple didn’t include any access panels to get at the RAM or SSD.

The RAM sits in standard DIMM sockets, but uses a 4 chip configuration. That means any RAM upgrades require all four chips have to be replaced at the same time. The 32 GB configuration, for example, uses four 8 GB modules.

The SSD is replaceable, too. The 1 TB SSD in the model OWC disassembled used two 512 GB SSD modules in a RAID configuration. The processor seems to be held in place with thermal paste, hinting it may be upgradable, too.

All of this upgradability is good news because it means users have options for keeping their iMac Pro usable for a longer time. The downside is cracking open your iMac Pro will void its warranty and Apple says any RAM upgrades must be done by an authorized service center.

Apple first showed off the iMac Pro earlier this year and began taking orders on December 14th with deliveries starting on December 27th. The new model ships with 8-core, 10-core, 14-core, or 18-core Intel Xeon W processors, up to 128 GB RAM, up to a 4 TB SSD, Radeon Pro Vega graphics, 5K display, Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, USB 3.1, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, and 10Gb Ethernet.

This is the first iMac model in Space Gray and includes a matching Bluetooth Magic Keyboard with number pad, and Magic Mouse 2 or Magic Trackpad 2. Apple also says it supports up to two external 5K displays and dual RAID storage systems.

8 Comments Add a comment

  1. furbies

    Watched the OWC video and it was a tad disconcerting seeing how the heatsink “clamping” assemblies are under so much tension, not to mention that the CPU stayed “stuck” to the heatsink, when the heatsink was being removed.

    But I did like how the display is “fixed” to the glass. Removing the glass, removes the display, and then it’s only three cables that need unplugging.

    The OWC folks talked about how the two 512GB SSDs would have been “raided” to make a 1TB “SSD”, but isn’t really more likely that the two SSDs are a Fusion Drive rather than a RAID ?

  2. Rick Allen

    I think that the amount of computer surgery required just to upgrade the ram or SSD on this machine is a bit excessive. A simple door would have been ok in my book. Sure you break up the sleek lines of the iMac; yet you make the machine much more flexible. As to the SSD, it is probably Raid level 0 (striped) due to the speed they are geeing in the benchmarks shared so far. Also that SSD configuration is probably not readable outside the iMac thanks to the encryption keys being stored on the T2 ARM chip. So be wary about thinking that you could do one of the old Mac drive upgrading tricks of taking your drive out and putting it in an enclosure to clone to a new bigger drive. It might not work and I would need to test. Also need to find out if the SSD is using a standard interface like PCI/E or NVME. I am sure OWC will do the research and have upgrade options.

  3. jhorvatic

    The display has been a one piece unit since I believe 2012 so this isn’t something new. The SSD’s are raided and Apple has stated as such not fusion. Fusion drive consists of a combination of a regular spinning drive and a SSD drive. Access doors would be nice but since the aluminum back housing is also used to dissipate heat they could not cut up the back with doors. And since the iMac Pro uses full sized dim that door would be huge. If you are not into opening up your iMac to do upgrades then you are better off buying the configuration directly that you want. It’s not cheap but then it is a Pro machine and so far from what bench tests show they are performing as such.

    • Rick Allen

      I am personally not afraid of opening the iMac pro. As to buying what I want up front; there are several reasons that is not a great option. One is that requirements change and I might not realize that what I ordered is not right for a while. Second is the up front cost. Yes I did always buy the minimum RAM when it was user changeable. Apples pricing for factory upgrades has felt a bit on the high $$$ side to me. If I had no money issues, I would buy the max everything model at over $13k. Unfortunately its not an option I have

  4. brett_x

    I didn’t watch the video yet, but I’m surprised to see 2 hard drives in RAID 0 configuration. Raid 0 is for speed, and relies on both drives to access your data. Therefore, there is 2x the likelihood that your logical drive will fail.

    • Rick Allen

      As a custom PC builder, I am comfortable with Raid 0 SSD setup. It is quite common now as the SSD components are very reliable.

  5. jhorvatic

    Those SSD drives will have to be upgraded in pairs to be raided properly. Also with this Mac if you don’t have a backup there is no data recovery as all of the information is totally encrypted. Apple puts that out there and up front so make sure you use Time Machine or a third party piece of software to make routine backups if your data is valuable to you.

  6. wab95

    All of this upgradability is good news because it means users have options for keeping their iMac Pro usable for a longer time.

    Says who, mate? We’ve now lost yet one more reason to belly ache and whinge about Apple, and their nefariousness and arrogance and lack of direction and…other stuff. I’m confident, however, in the creativity of the Apple community to find something else objectionable in this… Touch Bar – free iMac Pro. Ha! What about that?

    Jest aside, I have to admit that I laughed out loud, literally, when I read this. Made my day.

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