M1 iMac Teardown: Lots of display, little PC


A purple 24-inch iMac fell into the hands of the iFixit workshop. In all Apple online stores, its configuration is located in the center of the page, in Russia it is 149 990 ₽. 8 cores in the central and graphic processors, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD. First, he was X-rayed, and then there was an autopsy. Opening an iMac is still tricky, but compared to the 2012-2020 iMac, it’s a bit easier. There are no mines and traps, although it is still done at home undesirable. The patient is still alive, no irreparable damage has been done to him. But they have already found something interesting.

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Now we know what’s inside this iMac

What’s inside iMac M1

The display is still glued to the case. Since 2012, a special adhesive with microscopic pores has been used to mount the display. It holds the screen securely, but weakly resists the iMac’s special opening wheel, unlike the iPhone or iPad, which are sealed to death. From 2012 to 2020, the iMac’s internal wiring cables were protected from access by the chin, but in the M1 iMac it is removed along with the screen, they are visible and accessible.

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This is what an iMac x-ray looks like

Why two large metal plates are needed is not yet clear. They will be dealt with. The two round elements in the center of the structure are most likely coin-shaped replaceable batteries (type CR2032, as in AirTag). The rectangular element above them is the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna. The antenna, as before, is located under the Apple logo on the back of the device. But now it is protected by a rectangular metal plate. And the computer motherboard, almost the entire computer, occupies an insignificant fraction of the internal space (it is between two fans).

Where iMac M1 is assembled

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Not in China. In Thailand!

On the stand (leg?) of a purple iMac that was opened in iFixit, the country in which this particular instance was assembled is indicated. You can see it without opening the computer. It is assembled not in China. In Thailand. Once the iMac was assembled in California, it was ready in the late 90s. Apple employees, like potatoes, were sent there several times to help build the first iMac, when demand for it exceeded expected (by an order of magnitude), and the staff could not cope.

Then iMac was assembled only in mainland China. There was talk of organizing iMac assembly in Vietnam or India, but Thailand, to my knowledge, was not mentioned. All iMacs are made there, or only a part, is still unknown.

iMac 2021 Motherboard

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In fact, this is the heart of the iMac

There are only seven chips on the front side of the motherboard. Most of what filled the volume in Intel-Macs is located on the M1 chip chip.

The motherboard is fixed to the case with screws. Not a drop of glue. One of the chips is M1. In the assembly with it – LPDDR4 RAM chips, there are two of them, 4 GB each. From SK Hynix. And the first 128 GB SSD chip from Kioxia. The designation of the other four chips contains the word Apple – This is a Wi-Fi / Bluetooth module, two power management chips and a fan control controller. There are six more chips on the back (including another 128 GB SSD chip from Kioxia) and a mysterious button with three LEDs under it. What it is, iFixit does not know. Diagnostics, sending a direct message to Tim Cook or whatever. The autopsy has not yet been completed.

What is the difference between a cheap iMac and an expensive one?

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For example, a cheap iMac has one fan, while a more expensive one has two.

It looks like the M1 iMac with 7 graphics cores (the cheapest) is a standalone model. It became known that in it all one fan (M1 iMac with 8 graphics cores has two), a completely different cooling system and many other differences. Unfortunately, this is all that is known about the most affordable M1 iMac for now. It would be great if iFixit opened it up and investigated it as well. In the end, because of the low price, this model will be sold.

At the next stage of the autopsy, iFixit plans to deal with the fingerprint sensor. To do this, they will need to open the Magic Keyboard. Something interesting can be seen without opening. This is a new model of the Magic Keyboard for Mac and has changed for the first time since 2017. Now it has rounded edges. Whether something has changed inside, we will soon find out. And the fingerprint sensor button on the keyboard looks more like the Home button below the iPad or iPhone SE 2020 screen than the Touch ID button on the MacBook Pro keyboard. Perhaps only externally.

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