Computers, Laptops & Tablets Apple 58 58 people found this article helpful iMac Upgrade Guide Upgrade your Intel iMac with memory, storage, and more by Tom Nelson Writer Tom Nelson is an engineer, programmer, network manager, and computer network and systems designer who has written for Other World Computing,and others. our editorial process Facebook Twitter Tom Nelson Updated on December 02, 2020 Tweet Share Email Apple Macs iPad In This Article Intel iMacs Find the Model Number RAM Upgrades Internal Hard Drive Upgrades iMac Models When is it time to buy a new iMac? When is it time to upgrade your iMac? Those are difficult questions because the right answer varies from individual to individual, depending on needs and wants. The first step in making the right decision about whether to upgrade or buy new is to become familiar with the upgrades that are available for your iMac. Intel iMacs iMacs have been available from Apple since the company introduced the first Intel iMac in early 2006. iMacs are considered one-piece Macs, with few upgrades available. You may be surprised to discover that you have some upgrade options, from simple upgrades that boost your iMac's performance to advanced DIY projects that you may or may not be willing to tackle. Find Your iMac Model Number The first thing you need is your iMac's model number. Here's how to find it: Select About This Mac in the Apple menu. Click System Report to open the System Information window, which lists your iMac's configuration. (Click More Info instead on iMacs running older operating systems.) Select the Hardware category in the left pane. Make a note of the Model Identifier entry located in the right pane, which contains the Hardware Overview. Close the System Information window. If you aren't sure how much RAM is currently installed in your iMac, you can find the information by selecting About This Mac in the Apple menu and selecting the Memory tab to display the current configuration. RAM Upgrades Upgrading RAM in an iMac is a simple task, even for novice Mac users. Apple placed either two or four memory slots in the base of early iMacs and in the memory bay on the back of later models. The key to performing an iMac memory upgrade is selecting the proper RAM type. Check the iMac Models list below for the RAM type for your model, as well as the maximum amount of RAM that can be installed. Also, check to see if your iMac is upgradeable at all. You can also check out Apple's RAM upgrade guide for each specific iMac model. Memory is not upgradeable by users on these iMacs: iMac 19,2 (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, 2019) iMac 18,2 (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, 2017) iMac 18,1 (21.5-inch, 2017) iMac 14,4 (21.5-inch, Mid 2014) iMac 14,1 (21.5-inch, Late 2013) iMac 13,1 (21.5-inch, Late 2012) Model ID Memory Slots Memory Type Max Memory Upgradeable Notes iMac 4,1 Early 2006 2 200-pin PC2-5300 DDR2 (667 MHz) SO-DIMM 2 GB Yes iMac 4,2 Mid 2006 2 200-pin PC2-5300 DDR2 (667 MHz) SO-DIMM 2 GB Yes iMac 5,1 Late 2006 2 200-pin PC2-5300 DDR2 (667 MHz) SO-DIMM 4 GB Yes Using matched 2 GB modules, the iMac accesses only 3 GB of 4 GB installed iMac 5.2 Late 2006 2 200-pin PC2-5300 DDR2 (667 MHz) SO-DIMM 4 GB Yes Using matched 2 GB modules, the iMac accesses only 3 GB of 4 GB installed iMac 6,1 Late 2006 2 200-pin PC2-5300 DDR2 (667 MHz) SO-DIMM 4 GB Yes Using matched 2 GB modules, the iMac accesses only 3 GB of 4 GB installed iMac 7,1 Mid 2007 2 200-pin PC2-5300 DDR2 (667 MHz) SO-DIMM 4 GB Yes Use matched 2 GB modules iMac 8,1 Early 2008 2 200-pin PC2-6400 DDR2 (800 MHz) SO-DIMM 6 GB Yes Use a 2 GB and 4 GB module iMac 9,1 Early 2009 2 204-pin PC3-8500 DDR3 (1066 MHz) SO-DIMM 8 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 4 GB per memory slot iMac 10,1 Late 2009 4 204-pin PC3-8500 DDR3 (1066 MHz) SO-DIMM 16 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 4 GB per memory slot iMac 11,2 Mid 2010 4 204-pin PC3-10600 DDR3 (1333 MHz) SO-DIMM 16 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 4 GB per memory slot iMac 11,3 Mid 2010 4 204-pin PC3-10600 DDR3 (1333 MHz) SO-DIMM 16 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 4 GB per memory slot iMac 12,1 Mid 2011 4 204-pin PC3-10600 DDR3 (1333 MHz) SO-DIMM 16 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 4 GB per memory slot iMac 12,1 Education model 2 204-pin PC3-10600 DDR3 (1333 MHz) SO-DIMM 8 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 4 GB per memory slot iMac 12,2 Mid 2011 4 204-pin PC3-10600 DDR3 (1333 MHz) SO-DIMM 16 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 4 GB per memory slot iMac 13,1 Late 2012 2 204-pin PC3-12800 DDR3 (1600 MHz) SO-DIMM 16 GB No iMac 13,2 Late 2012 4 204-pin PC3-12800 DDR3 (1600 MHz) SO-DIMM 32 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 8 GB per memory slot iMac 14,1 Late 2013 2 204-pin PC3-12800 (1600 MHz) DDR3 SO-DIMM 16 GB No iMac 14,2 Late 2013 4 204-pin PC3-12800 (1600 MHz) DDR3 SO-DIMM 32 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 8 GB per memory slot iMac 14,3 Late 2013 2 204-pin PC3-12800 (1600 MHz) DDR3 SO-DIMM 16 GB No iMac 14,4 Mid 2014 0 PC3-12800 (1600 MHz) LPDDR3 8 GB No Memory soldered on moperboard iMac 15,1 Late 2014 4 204-pin PC3-12800 1600 MHz DDR3 SO-DIMM 32 GB Yes Use matched pairs of 8 GB per memory slot iMac 16,1 Late 2015 0 PC3-14900 (1867 MHz) LPDDR3 16 GB No 8 GB or 16 GB soldered on moperboard iMac 16,2 Late 2015 0 PC3-14900 (1867 MHz) LPDDR3 16 GB No 8 GB or 16 GB soldered on moperboard iMac 17,1 Late 2015 4 204-pin PC3L-14900 (1867 MHz) DDR3 SO-DIMM 64 GB Yes Use matched 16 GB modules to achieve 64 GB Internal Hard Drive Upgrades Unlike RAM, the iMac's internal hard drive isn't designed to be user upgradeable. If you want to replace or upgrade an internal hard drive in your iMac, an Apple service provider can do it for you. Experienced Mac DIYers who are comfortable taking apart something that isn't designed to be easily taken apart can update the hard drive, but the process isn't recommended for most users. For an example of the difficulty involved, check out this two-part video from Small Dog Electronics on replacing the hard drive in the2006 first-generation Intel iMac: First-generation iMac hard drive replacement video part 1 First-generation iMac hard drive replacement video part 2 These two videos are only for the first-generation Intel iMac. Other iMacs have different methods for replacing the hard drive. Later-generation iMacs have displays that are laminated and glued to the iMac frame, making gaining access to an iMac's interior even more difficult. You may find a need for special tools and instructions like those available from Other World Computing. Another option is to forgo upgrading the internal hard drive and add an external model instead. You can connect an external hard drive to your iMac by USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt, as your startup drive or as extra storage space. If your iMac is equipped with USB 3, an external drive — especially if it is an SSD — can achieve speeds almost equivalent to an internal drive. If your iMac has Thunderbolt, your external has the potential to perform faster than an internal SATA drive could. iMac Models The Intel-based iMacs predominantly use Intel processors that support 64-bit architecture. The exceptions are the early 2006 models with the iMac 4,1 or iMac 4,2 identifier. These models used the Intel Core Duo processors, the first generation of the Core Duo line. The Core Duo processors use a 32-bit architecture instead of the 64-bit architecture seen in later Intel processors. These early Intel-based iMacs are probably not worth the time and cost to update. Was this page helpful? 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