Apple Limits New iMac to Casual Use Without Upgrade Options

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Apple's new US$1,099 entry level iMac is clearly aimed at more casual users -- so much so that it isn't upgradable. The 8GB RAM it ships with is all this iMac will ever hold, and replacing the hard drive involves steps most Mac owners wouldn't want to try.

Sorry, iMac, no memory upgrades for you.Sorry, iMac, no memory upgrades for you.

Mac upgrade specialist OWC picked up one of Apple's new iMacs after it was introduced on Wednesday and said,

Now that we've had time to teardown the new iMac, unlike the $1,299 iMac, we found this iMac has the memory soldered to the motherboard removing any possibility of adding additional memory. Users will be permanently locked in to the 8GB of memory, as there is no Apple factory upgrade option.

The new iMac ships with a 1.4 GHz dual-core i5 processor with speed boost up to 2.7 GHz, 8 GB RAM, Intel's HD 5000 graphics chipset, and a 500GB hardrive with build to order options for a 1 TB drive or 256 GB flash storage. Aside from the spinning hard drive, the specs sound a lot like the MacBook Air, which is something we noted on Wednesday's TMO Daily Observations podcast. Seeing that the RAM can't be upgraded, it looks even more like Apple repurposed its MacBook Air motherboard design for this desktop machine.

Seeing how limited the new entry level iMac is, it's clear this is a computer Apple is using to target casual and first time users; this isn't a step up from your current Mac unless you still haven't made the move to OS X.

The Mac Observer Spin The Mac Observer Spin is how we show you what our authors think about a news story at quick glance. Read More →

A look inside the new iMac shows this isn't a step up from your current Mac. It's targeting a psychological price point to help draw in new users, not serve long-time Mac owners. It's the fresh blood Mac.

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For the casual user 8GB RAM will be enough for many years.

  It’s targeting a psychological price point to help draw in new users,

I think $999 would have been a better price point. Far more impact than $1099.

I disagree with John M. on this. In his article yesterday he said:

  A $999 iMac would be out of sync with the perceived value of an entry level MacBook Air. So while miniaturization comes at a price, a much larger display on the iMac must be perceived to offset that a little. The bigger iMac should cost as much or more, even though it has the same motherboard as the MBA.

I think the person looking at a MacBook Air is not the same one interested in an iMac so there’s no reason to try to match the prices. $999 would have been a much more effective in generating excitement and interest in the new system. Apple will likely sell a lot of these but it could have been an industry wide earthquake.

What I do find interesting are the comments over on MacRumers. Over there this is a terrible move for Apple, underpowered, overpriced, and a complete POS. It’s funny that they don’t realize they aren’t the target market for this system.

Constable Odo

As a long-time Mac user this model iMac seems so pathetic, but since I’m not the target user, I simply don’t concern myself with it or Apple’s motives.  I feel certain Apple knows exactly what it’s doing with its pricing structure.  I think as long as all the next OSX services work well with it, this iMac should be good for people who have other recent Apple products.  They’ll still get a seamless experience even if this iMac seems somewhat underpowered for a power user.  Mavericks handles memory very well, so I doubt users have to worry much about upgrading memory.  8 GB should be enough for casual use.

It’s rather stupid for people to constantly try to second-guess Apple and claim Apple is hurting itself.  If this low-end iMac doesn’t prove popular, Apple will know and try some other method.  It shouldn’t hurt the company at all to make a few mistakes if that’s the case.

Lee Dronick

I am thinking that most Mac users, PC users too, don’t run memory hog apps and files.


It’s silly to think an entry level iMac, which is $200 less than the next model, will have all the bells and whistles of the more expensive models. As Lee D pointed out, 8GB is a LOT of RAM, and satisfies most users. The current Mac Mini comes standard with only 4GB of memory, even in the $999 server model. BTW, the next iMac model up DOES offer an upgrade to 16 GB RAM—for $200.

The $1099 and $1299 iMacs are for 2 different segments of the market. Those complaining about the cheaper model are missing the boat.


This model is for low level users and education.  Count on a $999 price for ed, or even $899.  Might even be a low level intro to Apple TV.

Bryan Kennedy

This is probably the worst low-cost iMac Apple has released. It’s benchmarks are the equivalent of a 2007 iMac. At the rate Apple keeps adding new services to the OS, the RAM and processor won’t be able to handle what Apple releases in 3-4 years. There is no “value” in this computer.

My 2007 iMac was maxed out at 4GB of RAM and I could have anymore than 3 applications open at once without having a spinning beach ball constantly pestering me. And that’s with Apple’s “amazing” compressed memory in Mavericks.

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