iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2638 Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

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

Featured Guide

Featured Guide

This guide has been found to be exceptionally cool by the iFixit staff.

We are 99% sure that this iMac is 99% the same as its predecessor. What makes the 1%? Power? Money? New connectors?! We know of only one way to find out.

Come see as we take a peek inside a minor update of an old friend.

21.5" not quite enough iMac for ya? We also got our hands on the new 27" model, so be sure to check out the bigger brother's teardown too!

Want to be 99% sure you are up to date on the latest teardowns, photos, and friendly encounters of iFixit? Tweet us a new one on Twitter, peer into our souls on Instagram, or BFF us on Facebook.

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Edit Step 1 iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2638 Teardown  ¶ 

  • Updated Specs:

    • 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5

    • Iris Pro graphics

    • 802.11ac Wi-Fi

    • PCIe flash SSD available

  • Apple again used the fun foamy adhesive to hold the display in place. Fortunately, we have a solution to that sticky situation, just in case you need it.

    • With a couple of cuts here and there, we managed to get in.

  • We're sad to see that Apple hasn't upgraded iMac's display cable, which is delicate and can be prone to disaster. So if you attempt this at home, take care when opening it!

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • We had to do some digging and actually remove the logic board from the iMac. We don't like work. Work is hard. But the reward was certainly worth the effort.

  • Our base-model 21.5" iMac now features an empty PCIe SSD slot, ready and waiting for eager money-saving DIY upgraders everywhere.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • Marked as BCM94360CD, this Broadcom AirPort card boasts support for the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.

    • Not the first Mac to get updated with the new ac standard, we expected to see some similar hardware as in the refreshed MacBook Airs from earlier this year.

  • What's under the hood?

    • Broadcom BCM4360KML1G 5G WiFi 3-stream 802.11ac gigabit transceiver—as expected, this is the same chip driving the ac Wi-Fi in the 11" and 13" MacBook Air

    • Three Skyworks SE5516: dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WLAN front-end modules

    • Broadcom BCM20702 single-chip Bluetooth 4.0 HCI solution with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • The front-side ICs are looking mighty familiar, despite a CPU/GPU shuffle:

    • 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Intel Iris Pro graphics processor.

    • Intel E213B384 platform controller hub

    • Texas Instruments Stellaris LM4FS1AH microcontroller

    • Broadcom BCM57765A1KMLG gigabit ethernet controller with integrated SDXC card reader

    • National Semiconductor VM22AC

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • And if we the front-side ICs looked familiar, get a load of the back:

    • Intel DSL3510L Cactus Ridge Thunderbolt controller

    • Analog Devices SSM3302 audio amplifier

    • Vimicro VC0359 webcam processor

    • Intersil ISL6364 multi-phase pulse width modulation (PWM) controller

    • Cirrus Logic 4206BCNZ audio controller, the same chip as found in last year's 21.5"

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • Looks like Apple got two birds with one stone — that is if hard drive cables were birds. The hard drive SATA power and data cables come together in a glorious union, saving you a step or two when you upgrade.

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Apple's iterative streamlining is again in effect, with a slimmed down and beautified CPU heat sink.

  • We compared this new heat sink to last November's bigger, beefier, and more securely-fastened spidery mess, and started to wonder what changed to allow such a slender 'sink.

    • The truth was alarming—the CPU is soldered in place on the logic board, and cannot be removed, replaced, or upgraded.

    • As far as we can tell, this is the first aluminum iMac to have a soldered CPU; it's a silent, but clear, shift to even poorer iMac upgradeability.

    • 21.5-inch: 2.9GHz corei5 CPU is upgradeable and the double side sticky strips for the the 2012 model work on this late 2013 model as well.

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • iMac 21.5" EMC 2638 Repairability Score: 2 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

  • You can still replace the RAM and hard drive inside this machine...with a lot of adhesive cutting.

  • Budget-minded folks now can add a second hard drive to the base iMac because the Fusion Drive connector is no longer missing from the logic board.

  • The CPU is soldered to the logic board, and cannot be replaced or upgraded.

  • The glass and LCD are fused together, and there are no more magnets holding the glass in place.

  • Most replaceable components (like the RAM) are buried behind the logic board, meaning you'll have to take apart most of the iMac just to gain access to them.

  • You'll have to masterfully peel off the old double-sided sticky tape and apply new tape in order to reseal this iMac into original condition.

Required Tools

TR8 Torx Security Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

Spudger

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

T5 Torx Screwdriver

$4.95 · 50+ In stock

Plastic Cards

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

iMac Opening Tool

$7.95 · 33 In stock

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Recommended Tools

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Comments Comments are onturn off

My question is on the storage. I know what two of the BTO storage options are. . .

- I know that the 1TB Serial ATA is a platter drive.

- I know that the 1TB Fusion Drive is a platter drive and a PCIe flash storage joined together in CoreStorage

What I want to know is. . .for the BTO options of just flash storage (256GB & 512GB), are those 2.5" form factor SSD or are they PCIe-based storage? I haven't seen anything that specifies, and there's a big performance difference between the two.

Mike Castaldi, · Reply

My educated -- but unconfirmed -- guess is that they put a 256 GB PCIe SSD into the vacant slot, and install a 512GB 2.5" SSD into the primary drive location.

Miroslav Djuric,

So can we take a 802.11ac WiFi board from this model and fit to older iMac that only has 802.11n or would we need antenna changes as well?

Keith , · Reply

Do you have any information about the display unit? Is it the same as the pervious one? Different?

stephen, · Reply

I would like to comment not only on the difficulties of disassemble ,but a closer look at the logic board . Does anybody know where the LCD and TCON ( What do they mean )are because I want to know if they can be fixed are replaced.I am not happy about paying for a new logic board and be told only 3 month warranty because my 2012 iMac broke after 15 month.

Andii, · Reply

Sorry I also wanted to remark about the disassembly and it being exposed to house dust that carries a static charge attracted to the metal parts and shorting the connections ,is this possible ?

And screwing around inside forgive the pun very tiny particles of metal plastic getting inside the parts dirt getting inside. I have took apart many old Macs and blew and vacuumed inside because after many years they attract dust this dust acts as a static field and can affect something.

If so then iFixit should show us the proper environment and things like Fans and extractor Fans lights and gloves close ups at different parts techniques of making a surgical operation.

Andii, · Reply

There is no industry standard for PCIe storage / SSDs... All are proprietary at this point. Yes, socket is defended, but not interface (like SATA or SAS). One is coming (nerd battle going on between NVMe and SCSIe groups), will be interesting to see how storage vendors support until then, and what happens on Mac Pro.

Robert Buck, · Reply

This is what the Mac Pro will use, as it's what Apple is currently using: SATA Express

https://www.sata-io.org/sites/default/fi...

David Schwartz,

Does anyone yet know what PCIe SSD can be installed in the empty slot on the logic board? I have 16Gb of RAM ready to install, but would like to upgrade to a SSD for one lot of cutting.

jatrens, · Reply

Is there any chance to get those SATA cables separately?

So people could get iMacs with 256gb SSD and add their own HDDs to it.

Kaellar, · Reply

The reason that the CPU is soldered is because Intel doesn't offer any socketed CPUs with the Iris Pro GPU. So Apple is forced to use the soldered processor instead

Honam1021, · Reply

I agree with the previous comment. Had anyone read anything about Haswell and Iris Pro, they would already know that this is the only way Intel will let OEM's integrate this particular CPU/GPU package. I'd bet good money the iMac 21.5" with Nvidia graphics has a socketed processor.

Michael Heath, · Reply

Well, the 27" iMac has a socketed processor because it doesn't need it, so chances are good...

Worf,

So if you choose the new 21.5 imac with the nvidia GT750M option, the processor would be socketed? If this is true, this is the best buy option for 21.5...

kidbubble,

why is there another motherboard in step 6 overview?

willumpie, · Reply

The new 21.5 imac with the nvidia GT750M option. is upgradable!!! YES! I just did it this morning. added 16gb of ram and new SSD. it runs as fast as it should now. going to wait to next year to upgrade the processor when the prices go down or of the processors are the same socket, upgrade to newer processor

kpups, · Reply

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