This past week Apple released what could be the swan song for the current 27-inch iMac model. With Apple Silicon-based Macs on the horizon, it’s possible we’ve seen the latest iMac design, and with it the end of user-accessible memory that makes it easy to update the iMac (2020) RAM .
The current design of the 5K iMac is unique because it is the only Mac drive that Apple sells out of the $ 6000 Mac Pro containing improved user memory. Thanks to a special door just above the power outlet on the back of the 27-inch iMac, users can quickly gain access to the car’s four SO-DIMM slots to update RAM.
Even the iMac Pro does not provide users with such a cost-saving luxury, which makes the 5K iMac a value-packed car. And with the 2020 iMac officially supporting 128 GB of RAM in custom built-in rules configuration, users can buy third-party RAM and save a lot of money, up to $ 2000. See our step-by-step instructions for details, and make sure to subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more iMac content.
For the first time, Apple is allowing iMac users, even those who buy the $ 1,799 base model configuration, to upgrade to a massive 128 GB of RAM [side note, last year’s 5K iMac could support 128GB as well, but unofficially]. As it has long been, however, Apple charges a lot of money for memory upgrades, and the iMac (2020) is no exception to this long trend.
By default, all iMac configurations come with at least 8 GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory. 8 GB memory configurations are achieved through two 4 GB SO-DIMM modules installed in two of the four SO-DIMM slots located on the back of the iMac 27-inch chassis.
How much can you save?
Here is a comparison of what Apple charges, versus the price you would generally pay as memory modules through a third party. Third party prices are rounded and are estimates. Keep in mind that memory prices can fluctuate a bit here and there. As you can see, users who opt for the 128 GB configuration configuration to save a serious money, but even if you opt for a 32 or 64 GB update, you still stand to save hundreds of dollars.
|quantity||Pricing of apples||Third party mime||savings|
|16 GB||$ 200||$ 70||$ 130|
|32GB||$ 600||$ 130||$ 470|
|64GB||$ 1000||$ 270||$ 730|
|128GB||$ 2600||$ 600||$ 2000|
Video: How to update RAM in the 5K iMac edition (2020)
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Before you update
Before proceeding with this tutorial, you will need to get the right memory modules. Use Apple DDR4 2666MHz SO-DIMM, so you will want to make sure that the RAM you buy is of this type.
I recommend buying RAM OWC, as I have used it in some of my mini upgrades, Mac Pro upgrades and iMac upgrades, and you have always had good success with them. However, I also used memory from companies like Crucial, Nemix, and others without any problems. Again, the main thing is to make sure you buy the right type of memory – 2666MHz SO-DIMM DDR4 modules. If you do, you should be golden.
You may also want to keep in mind future RAM upgrades. For example, if you just need to upgrade to 64 GB of memory now, but think you may want to upgrade to a maximum of 128 GB in the future, then you will want to go for a 2 x 32GB configuration. This will make two SO-DIMM slots available to add two additional 32 GB modules later down the line. While a 4 x 16GB configuration will also offer you 64 GB of RAM, it maximizes the available SO-DIMM slots, which complicates the ability to update in the future.
Okay, now that we’ve removed those housekeeping items, let’s upgrade the iMac (2020) RAM.
How to update iMac RAM (2020)
Note: This tutorial is for the iMac 27-inch 5K only. Does not work for 21.5 inch iMacs.
Step 1: Plug and unplug all cables from the iMac 27-inch 5K, including the power cord.
Step 2: Place some towels on a flat surface. Make sure the towels are thick enough and cover an area large enough to accommodate the 27-inch screen.
Step 3: Gently place the 5K iMac down on the towel, face down, so that the back of the car is easily accessible. Make sure you have enough workspace.
Step 4: Under the power outlet, you will find a button used to remove the memory slot cover. Use an open object (I usually use an ink pen with the hidden part of the pencil) to press this button firmly, which will cause the memory slot cover to open. Remove the memory slot cover to expose all four SO-DIMM slots.
Step 5: If you purchased four SO-DIMM replacement modules, as in this example when installing 4 x 32GB for a total of 128 GB RAM, you will need to remove all existing modules. If you only purchased two memory modules, you can keep the existing pair installed if you wish, but keep in mind the order in which you should install mixed-sized memory in the video progress above.
Depending on your 5K iMac configuration, there may be two or more SO-DIMM slots in use. If you have selected only 8 GB RAM, there will be 2 x 4 GB SO-DIMM modules. Push the levers on the edges of the iMac to unlock each of the SO-DIMM slots and lift each SO-DIMM module to remove it.
You will want to depend on the RAM modules you remove in case you want to sell your iMac with original RAM, or if you ever need your iMac powered by Apple.
Step 6: If you use only two RAM modules, such as the 64 GB (32 GB x 2) configuration, install the modules in pairs in order to take advantage of the dual channel memory. In this case, you will want to install each pair of RAM modules in slot 2 and slot 4, or slot 1 and slot 3. This is how Apple’s 8 GB RAM is installed from the factory.
If you use four memory modules that are all the same, simply install all four in the available SO-DIMM slots. If you use pairs of memory sizes that do not match, things get a little weirder. If you install non-existent memory pairs, I find that installing one pair in slot 2 and slot 4, and another pair in slot 1 and slot 3 resulted in degraded performance. Notice how the memory speed drops to 2133MHz in this scenario.
Instead, I found it better to install two similar modules in slot 1 and 2, and the other two as modules in slot 3 and 4 for best performance. Note how the same memory configured in this arrangement results in the proper 2666MHz (2667) speed rating. Be sure to watch the progress of the video above for more details.
Be sure to insert all new modules with the scale facing left. Push each module straight down firmly into the socket so that it rises into place. Double check to make sure the modules are installed correctly, and that the levers are locked back in place.
Step 7: Reinstall the RAM door by simply pressing it in place. The RAM door is secured through friction, so you will need to press hard to install it again.
Step 8: Move your iMac back to your work area, connect all the cables together with the power cord, and start the car again. Do not worry if you see a black screen for an extended period – this indicates that new memory is starting.
Step 9: Once macOS returns to the desktop, go to ory → About this Mac all memory and make sure all installed memory is considered and running at the proper speed. If not, you will need to go back and make sure the memory is properly and firmly installed in the SO-DIMM slots.
Updating your system memory will add a lot more space to work with multiple search applications at once. It can be especially useful when working with pro-oriented applications like Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro X, ScreenFlow, Affinity Photo, Adobe Creative Cloud and the list goes on. Among other things, memory-hungry machines need to write to disk more often, which can slow down your computer, sometimes to a complete crawl.
But other than that, improving your memory can have implications for CPU performance.
Not a massive upgrade, but the upgrade from the stock 8 GB RAM will improve CPU performance.
Easily updated memory is one of the things that has made the iMac 27-inch the best value across the Mac lineup over the years. Not only do you get a high quality 5K screen, but you can save thousands in RAM as well. The 5K iMac is a great value-driven machine and has had an excellent feature.
However, the reality is that this may be the last significant update to the 5K iMac in this current model. With Apple moving to its own silicone for Macs, it is likely that the next iMac iteration will be Apple sports silicone under the hood, along with a brand new modern redesign.
While a redesign is much needed, it’s a bit bitter because I think the chances that we will see RAM accessible to users in future versions of the iMac are slim. I just do not see Apple creating a whole new chassis and keeping the ability for users to add their own RAM after the fact, especially with the iMac running on a CPU inside the house.
With that said, if you are planning to buy an iMac 2020, make sure you take advantage of this wonderful capability. I think it’s weird how much Apple charges for RAM, but I have to give them credit at least by giving users a choice in the case of the 5M iMac.
However, I always recommend configuring the absolute minimum amount of memory for the 5K iMac during the build process with the thought of updating yourself, and putting the saved dollars towards other updates. For example, adding more flash storage, updating the CPU or adding a better GPU. These are all things you usually can not change as easily as RAM, and your money is better spent in these areas.
What do you think Are you thinking of buying a 5K iMac? Do you think Apple’s future iMac machines will store RAM door for user-accessible memory? Sounds down in the comments with your thoughts on the matter.
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