iFixit iMac teardown reveals dual mics, difficult RAM upgrades and glued LCD

21.5 iMac teardown late 2012

While we had some pictures of a brief teardown earlier this week, iFixit has now completed its ritual teardown of the new 21.5-inch iMac that officially went on sale on Friday.

Unfortunately, iFixit described the process as an “exercise in disappointment,” noting the iMac’s new thinner design introduces new hurdles for repairability. Most notably, the device’s glass and LCD are now glued directly to the iMac’s frame, while accessing the RAM, CPU, and hard drive will now mean having to remove the entire logic board:

The late 2012 iMac 21.5″ — code-named EMC 2544 — is an exercise in disappointment for us. We were quite worried when we saw that super-thin bezel during Apple’s keynote, and unfortunately we were correct: the glass and LCD are now glued to the iMac’s frame with incredibly strong adhesive. Gone are the lovely magnets that held the glass in place in iMacs of yesteryear.

A few things noted in iFixit’s highlights: a new rubber housing that “dampens the vibrations from the spinning hard drive,” a new single fan layout, dual microphones, and a 5mm thinner LG made display. Those are some of the highlights of Apple’s new design, but iFixit is scoring the new iMac as a 3 out of 10 (down from 7 last year) due to the many issues with repairability. Here are just a few:

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Ivy Bridge processors and motherboards hit store shelves, Hackintosh compatible with patch

Last night, major retailers across the United States began offering Intel Ivy Bridge processors along with Ivy Bridge-optimized Intel Z77 motherboards (Sandy Bridge H61, H67 and z68 MoBos/Chipsets are still Ivy compatible). You can even find significant discounts ($50/off at Amazon above) already.

As TonyMacx86 notes, a kernel patch is necessary to build a Hackintosh with Ivy Bridge currently. That has not stopped some savvy Hackintoshers from getting MacOS up and running (and benchmarked). However, Apple has not shipped a native OS kernel compatible with Ivy Bridge, which makes the patched kernel less desirable than a vanilla kernel that supports Ivy Bridge.

It is not certain if Mac OS 10.7.4 is Ivy compatible (commenters—correct me, if I am wrong).

With Ivy Bridge processors now on store shelves, it would seem that there are not any external barriers to Apple releasing new Ivy Bridge-powered systems.

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Fun new MacBook Touch concept would make a great mobile device

With the Intel CPU news today, a 9to5Mac commenter posted the above fake commercial in our comments.

The joint mechanism is obviously a fake, but  it would not be out of the realm of possibility to see a 360-degree hinge on the next generation of MacBooks coupled with a touch display —especially because Apple has taken the Mac OS in the same direction as iOS during the last few years.

More usability is made available in the MacBook with a 360-degree hinge, but it also creates less need for an iPad, which does not bode well for this concept.

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Digitimes: TSMC confirmed as Apple’s new processor fab

The rumors have been going on for months, but Digitimes is today saying Apple’s new processor foundry is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). The move by Apple is believed to be precipitated by Apple’s ongoing legal battles with Samsung, who has provided Apple with processors since the original iPhone was released in 2007 through Apple’s release of “its own” A4 processor and A5 iPad processor earlier this year.

Apple has recently signed a foundry partnership agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), industry sources have claimed. Under the terms of the agreement, TSMC will apply its 28nm and 20nm process technologies to produce Apple’s next-generation CPUs, according to the sources.

The contract appears to be long and lucrative for TSMC..

TSMC is believed to have quietly secured Apple’s contract, and even succeeded in extending the deal to cover the manufacture for the A6′s successor, the sources said.

In addition, the agreed contract quotes are favorable to bring little impact on TSMC’s profitability, the sources revealed. TSMC managed to negotiate a good price, allowing gross margins yielded by Apple’s orders to be similar to its overall gross margin performance at present, the sources indicated. TSMC’s gross margin for the second quarter of 2011 arrived at 46%.

The details weren’t released publicly and as can be expected, neither company is commenting on the move.

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Macworld: for simple tasks, a decked out Mini beats a base iMac handily (or SSDs rule)

Macworld decided to put a decked out Mac Mini Mid-2011 against a current baseline iMac 2.5GHz to see what kind of performance could be gotten from Apple’s diminutive little machine when an SSD is added.

When we say “decked out”, we’re referring to the $100 2.5->2.7GHz CPU improvement + $600 SSD upgrade which almost doubles the price of the $799 ($769) high end Mini and pushes it above the price of the base model iMac. Minis start out at around $568.

The results are pretty apparent: when running simple tests, especially ones that rely only on CPU and disk access, the Mini beat the iMac handily (above). That’s almost entirely due to the added speed of the SSD compared with the iMac’s 3.5-inch HDD. When doing more graphics intensive tests (below), the iMac and its more powerful GPU took over.

The takeaway on this however is that a HDD to SSD upgrade can make a heck of a lot of difference in performance. For those handy out there, adding an SSD to a Mac Mini doesn’t have to be a $600 proposition either. Reasonable SSDs can start out at $100 and can be added to the new Minis’ hard drive configuration (not swapped) with a simple kit.

Another important tweak not detailled in these tests is adding 8GB of RAM to the Mini which will run you somewhere south of $40. Added RAM really improves performance when lots of windows or applications are open at the same time.

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Is the AppleTV 2 the future of low-CPU use servers? Desktops?

Why run a family pictures website, DNS or any other low CPU-use server on power-hungry Intel-based hardware when an AppleTV2 does the trick?  The folks at MacMinivault.com have set up a webpage on a AppleTV 2 (go ahead, try to take it down) jailbroken with httpd as an example of what can be served off of the little 6 watt, A4-powered dynamo.  Put 10 of these together and you’ll be using the same power as a single 60 Watt light bulb.

The Apple TV is running iOS 4.2.2 (obviously jailbroken) with lighttpd for a web server. You can see the webpage we set up by visiting atv.macminivault.com. We’ll keep an eye on the CPU load and watch the analytics to record how much traffic the Apple TV receives.

They say this won’t be a cost effective solution for their customers (8 GB of storage won’t cut it) but is a ‘fun experiment.’

What’s interesting is that Apple likely has an dual core A5-platform AppleTV coming out shortly which may push a little more into the Intel server space.  Perhaps more interesting is that the A5 chips could also make nifty little ChromeOS-busting terminals or even cheaper laptops.

If you want to create your own little AppleTV 2 server, they recommend the following: Read more