iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

We got up this morning to news that the new iMacs were out, so we knew what we had to do: start sharpening our suction cups!

Thankfully, this iMac model opens in the same way as previous generations. All you have to do is pull off the magnetically-held display glass with two medium-size suction cups, and then remove the screws holding the LCD in place.

But what lies inside? Only one way to find out...

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Edit Step 1 iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 Teardown  ¶ 

  • Introducing the new 21.5" iMac, now featuring additional features such as a Thunderbolt port and a quad-core processor.

  • Tech Specs:

    • Quad-core Intel Core i5 with 6MB on-chip shared L3 cache

    • 500 GB Western Digital 7200 RPM hard drive

    • 4 GB of RAM

    • AMD Radeon HD GDDR5 graphics processor

    • Thunderbolt port

    • 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Ports on the backside of the iMac include:

    • Audio line out

    • Audio line in

    • Four USB 2.0 ports

    • Firewire 800 port

    • Thunderbolt port

    • Gigabit Ethernet port

  • The SDXC card slot is located underneath the optical drive.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • We call upon our trusty heavy duty suction cups to aid us in separating the glass panel from the front bezel.

  • The LED-backlit glossy widescreen display is secured to the front bezel by several T10 Torx screws.

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • We carefully lift the LED-backlit display from its recess in the front bezel.

  • The 21.5-inch (viewable) LED-backlit glossy widescreen TFT display has support for millions of colors, with a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

  • The LED display is manufactured by LG and is denoted by its model number LM215WF3.

    • This is the same display used in the previous generation 21.5" iMac.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Similar to the Thunderbolt IC we found in the MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011, the iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 features the Intel L102IA84 EFL Thunderbolt port IC.

  • Thunderbolt claims to provide 10 Gbps throughput for both input and output. It appears that both PCI Express and DisplayPort receive their own 10 Gbps data channel. That's nice, as you don't want your display competing with your external hard drive for bandwidth.

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • Disconnecting three antennas and removing a few screws allows the AirPort card to pop out of its socket.

  • The big winner in the wireless communication area this time around is Atheros.

  • At the heart of the Wi-Fi card is an Atheros AR9388-AL1A 802.11n wireless LAN chip.

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • In the next few steps, we remove many components that are very similar to the last 21.5" iMac.

  • The WD Caviar Blue hard drive is held to the front bezel by a few screws and, as always, the SATA data/power connectors.

    • The WD Caviar Blue drive is a non-standard SATA drive. The power connector features 7 pins, rather than the standard 4. The drive also has non-standard firmware. This means you can only use Apple's own hard drives and not any standard after-market SATA drive.

  • Removing the power supply requires disconnecting the AC inlet cable from the logic board.

  • The LED driver board comes out next after successfully removing the power supply.

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • Good-bye optical drive, we hardly knew ye...

  • The new iMac carries a Sony Optiarc optical drive, model number AD-5690H.

  • The area shaded in red in the third picture is presumably where the optional SSD is housed. The three mounting points within the shaded area have nothing attached to them in our machine, since this option is only available on 2.7 GHz 21.5" iMacs.

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • The audio line-in and audio line-out ports are embedded deeply inside the front bezel. After removing their mounting screws, we removed the entire assembly from the case.

  • Another leftover from the previous generation, the IR board, can simply be lifted straight up and removed from the iMac's front bezel.

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Several Torx T10 screws hold the logic board in place. We make short work of them.

  • If you want to remove the board, you have to snake it out from the rest of the iMac -- a combination of pulling up, as well as away from the casing. After a little bit of jiggling, it comes right out.

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Is it just us, or does the logic board layout (with heat sinks) look a bit like the original Starship Enterprise?

  • In usual Apple fashion, one heat sink is reserved for the CPU, while the other oversees the GPU.

  • And, in usual Apple fashion, you have to void the warranty in order to get a peep at the processing power underneath.

  • In the RAM department, this iMac has space for four 204-pin PC3-10600 SO-DIMM chips.

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • With a bit of magic, the GPU heat sink detaches from the logic board, exposing the AMD GPU.

  • The main chips on the GPU include:

    • AMD Radeon HD 6750M GPU

    • Four Hynix H5GQ1H24AFR T2L 1 Gb GDDR5 SDRAM chips (totaling a cumulative 512 MB)

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • We'll do almost anything in the name of science.

  • After popping off the CPU heat sink, we can get a good look at the Core i5 processor.

  • Our machine is powered by a quad core 2.5 GHz Core i5-2400S CPU with 6 MB of Intel Smart Cache.

  • Thankfully the CPU and GPU on this machine have proper amounts of thermal paste applied, a happy depature from the gobs applied to the MacBook Pro we recently took apart.

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • The main chips on the logic board include:

    • 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-2400S CPU with 6 MB of Intel Smart Cache.

    • Intel BD82Z68 Platform Controller Hub

    • Broadcom BCM57765B0KMLG Integrated Gigabit Ethernet and Memory Card Reader Controller

    • Cirrus 4206BCNZ audio controller

    • SMSC USX2061 (we believe this a USB 2.0 Hub Controller Family)

    • Intersil ISL6364 CRZ Single-Phase Synchronous-Buck PWM voltage regulator for GPU core power applications

    • Intel L102IA84 EFL Thunderbolt port IC

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • Next, we can remove the Bluetooth board from the iMac.

  • With the help of our trusty iFixit vise (which is made of the same material as our spudgers, and is ESD-safe), we're able to desolder the shield covering the little Bluetooth board to reveal the chip goodies underneath.

  • At its heart lies:

    • Broadcom BCM2046 Bluetooth IC

    • 256 KB of SST 39VF200A CMOS Multi-Purpose Flash (MPF)

      • We found this same chip a long time ago in the first MacBook Air.

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • iMac 21.5" EMC 2428 Repairability Score: 7 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

    • The front glass panel and LCD are quite easy to remove for accessing all the hardware underneath.

    • RAM, hard drive, and optical drive can be replaced with relative ease, as long as you don't mind taking out the LCD (for the drives).

    • Limited use of adhesives (pretty much all the fasteners are mechanical) make disassembly pretty straightforward.

    • Replacing the CPU and GPU is possible to do, but you need to remove the logic board from the computer.

    • Removing the logic board is a pain, since you have to disconnect a bunch of connectors, and wiggle it out of the machine.

    • Making the LCD and glass spotless when reassembling the machine is nearly impossible. (compressed air is useful when trying to remove dust from the display or glass panel)

  • Like being able to see the guts of your machines? Check out our iPhone 4 transparent rear panel!

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Comments Comments are onturn off

In the location you suspect an SSD to reside (in models so equipped) is a spare power connector and SATA cable connector available to add an SSD drive at a later date?

Gregory Cox, · Reply

I'd like to know that, too. If so, it would be awesome!

Pierre Minnieur,

I'm dying to know this too! Are there power/data cables in place? Are the mounting points ready to accommodate a drive?

I'm afraid this teardown won't answer these questions. Will you be cracking open a 27" unit?

Cliff Norton,

The cable was not there, but there is an extra standard SATA data socket on the board along with a proprietary power socket labeled "SSD Power". Not sure where you could get the cable to make it work though.

Andrew Bookholt,

In step 11 you mention how lifting the heat sink off will void the warranty.

Surely you have voided the warranty already by now.

Can I open up my brand new iMac, put in a better hard drive and still be within my warranty? I am guessing I would be laughed right out of the genius bar, but if it isn't so .. do tell.

sprockety, · Reply

We didn't see any tamper-evident seals on any component other than the CPU heat sink. If you were careful and clean about things, I don't see how they could prove that you opened your iMac and swapped out a hard drive if you put the OEM hard drive back in when you would theoretically take it in for service. I thought it was pretty surprising that they didn't even put a seal on the GPU screws.

Andrew Bookholt,

If you replace the hard drive with another one, you can end with HDD fan blowing at full speed constantly (that is rather noisy).

You will need an HDD with Apple firmware.

Also, get an anti-static brush for cleaning the display and glass.

Yakov Shapovalov,

Is that 204-pin pc3-10600 SO-DIMM chips?

Niklas Saers, · Reply

That is correct.

Andrew Bookholt,

Perhaps if you guys want to be 'really' professional, you might consider Anti-static procedures and a pair of gloves next time, instead of acting like complete noobs, by not providing such instructions you just increase the return rates of Mac products, because of idiots following these instructions.

steve B, · Reply

Perhaps if you want to sound 'really' professional and not like a total noob, you might consider going back to 7th grade to learn how to properly form a sentence.

Project Mayhem,

And how do you know they didn't follow anti-static procedures? Are you able to psychically determine that the guy in the photos doesn't have an anti-static grounding strap pushed up one arm? Or maybe they're *really* professional, hand have anti-static matting and heel-straps, which don't require putting anything on your arms at all.

Just FYI, this is a *teardown* - that means it's NOT a DIY instruction set, and doesn't bother with discussing safety measures for taking care of your electronic.

Fake Name,

Did you have access to the stand connector (to remove the stand) once you removed the hard drive? Would stand removal be easier on this model compared to earlier models?

John, · Reply

I'd like a little more information on the WD Caviar Blue drive. The link shows drives up to 6Gb/s but only 1TB in capacity. I know this is the small iMac but what drive is Apple using in the 27" iMacs that can be upgraded to 2TB drives? I'm also not seeing anything on the WD website that talks about a 7-pin connector. Does the drive actually have an Apple P/N on it?

plink53, · Reply

Could you tell me what the chips are that provide the Firewire 800 interface? (I have had two 27" iMacs, one from Oct 2011 and another from April 2012, both of which suffer from finder lockup every week or two when I leave connected two F800 daisy-chained v3 3TB LaCie 2d Quadra drives. LaCie tech support has told me that "some Macs have incompatible interface chips and some don't". I'm trying to learn more about this so that I can identify an iMac that will not lockup sporadically when used with these external drives.)

Eddie, · Reply

Wait, you have finder lockups every week or two?

Unless you just leave the computer on a table and look at it, that's fuċking fantastic. I'm lucky if I can manage a day without multiple finder crapouts. Finder is a terminally şhitty piece of software.

A lock-up per week? Get over it. And remember, Command+Option+Esc is your friend.

Oh, incidentally, LaCie is almost definitely talking out their åss about the "incompatible interface chips". They just don't know what's wrong, and are making something up to get you to go away.

Fake Name,

can i upgrade my iMac (mid 2011) from i5 to i7?? thanks

isaincuiulian, · Reply

Hi, my iMac (buyed on refurb) is a EMC2428 but hdd is a Seagate sata2 500Gb

Kristof, · Reply

I am an Apple technician and this is incorrect. Any standard SATA drive (SATA, SATAII or SATA3) will work in any iMac. It is recommended you use a SATAII as this is native to the iMac, SATA3 will derate to SATAII and SATA will run only at the drives supported SATA speed.

Granted the firmware is different on the Apple drive that comes in the machine or in our hard drive upgrades, but the standard firmware with your aftermarket drive will still work as good!

inthatribe, · Reply

Wow, way to NOT read the description.

No one is contending an aftermarket drive wouldn't *work*, the issue is that an aftermarket drive causes the fans to run at full-power continuously, because it does not properly inform the fan controller of the drive's temperature.

Fake Name,

Is this a 3Gb/s or a 6Gb/s SATA-bus?

Joachim, · Reply

It looks like they are but I'd just like to confirm that all four RAM slots are still accessible from the grill on the bottom?

Daniel Trogdon, · Reply

Yup, there's a small access door along the bottom edge of the iMac with three #1 Phillips screws that can be removed to access the four RAM slots.

Andrew Bookholt,

Why would 4 1Gb modules add up to a cumulative 512MB ?

lz4broc, · Reply

Presumably 4Gbit, so 1/8th of a GByte.

Googlyhead,

Or;

4 x 1024 x 1024 to get the actual number of bits.

divide by 8 to get bytes.

Divide by 1024 to convert to MegaBytes.

(or simplify by removing one multiply and one divide by 1024)

Result = 512 :-)

Googlyhead,

I may sound silly but can you actually change/upgrade the CPU from the I5 to an I7 by yourself and, with the 27" iMac there are 4 ram slots is this the same on the 21.5" Apple originally said it only had 2 but now they say you can upgrade the 21.5" to 16GB Ram (4x4GB)? Thanks

Zed, · Reply

For what it's worth, you can now get 8 GB SODIMM ram sticks, so the "Upgradeable to 16GB" specification does not necessarily imply it has 4 RAM slots.

Fake Name,

Still lots of messy cables and foil inside... the day that Apple are proud enough to show off the insides of the current iMac design (as they did with the G5 and in the past with the MacBook Pros, MacBook and Mac Mini), is the day the have finally perfected the form both inside and out.

Mike Hopkins, · Reply

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