IFixit has finished its teardown of Apple’s new, high-priced iMac Pro, and while most of the results are typical for an Apple device, because the company rarely meets a component it can’t solder to the motherboard, there are three noteworthy exceptions. The CPU, RAM, and SSD all appear to be user replaceable, provided you’re ready to dig into the guts of your $5,000-plus machine. If that’s true, it’s a pretty big deal.
Since Apple’s move to Intel-based processors twelve years ago, the company has made it increasingly difficult for users to upgrade their own machines. Where once you could extended the life of an Apple laptop by upgrading the RAM, hard drive, and even the processor, now you can upgrade it by... buying a new laptop. Over the last decade Apple computers have become gorgeous feats of engineering—slimmer and sleeker than anything else available—but that’s meant there can be no room for error, or upgrades, or even a little door to easily replace the RAM.
The iMac Pro, as carefully engineered as its predecessors, doesn’t make upgrades easy, but its processor, an Intel Xeon W-2140B, is not soldered onto the motherboard and appears to use a fairly standard 2066 socket, which means you could, theoretically, replace the CPU with any processor that uses a 2066 socket. So, your crazy expensive computer could get a few extra years out of it with a relatively modest investment. (The 2066 socket was only introduced in June of 2017, so it should have a nice long life ahead of itself.)
Besides the CPU being upgradable, the hard drive’s ability to be upgraded is a welcome surprise. Apple’s had a bad habit of soldering in SSDs lately, which can be devastating when you realize, six months in, you should have sprung for more storage.
The RAM is also upgradable, but as iFixit notes, it is actually much, much, much more difficult to upgrade than previous 27-inch iMacs. Those had RAM you could upgrade by unscrewing a small plate from the back of the unit. This one you have to basically disassemble the entire damn computer. But at least you can be comfortable knowing that your $5,000 machine can last longer than a couple of years.