Apple said, “Hey, do you wanna spend over $5grand on an iMac.” Um…. no? So I build my own instead—and I saved… nearly $2,000. This video is sponsored by Dashlane: The Simple, Secure way to Manage Your Passwords – learn more through the link below The idea for this video was pretty simple. Buy a base-model iMac and gut the insides to put in a better CPU, more solid-state storage, and an obscenely unnecessary amount of RAM. Why? Well, my souped up Mac Pro I upgraded a few months back was doing great, but I was still using a cheap 1440p monitor—which is obviously not ideal for editing 4K video.And trying to find a 5K display is basically impossible. They’re either discontinued, obscenely expensive, or incompatible with Mac Pro. That’s right, the UltraFine 5K display that Apple co-developed with LG and sells in Apple Stores runs on a Mac Pro at 1440p—not 5K. Not even 4K. So I bought a base-model iMac I could upgrade myself. I also decided to pay an extra $300 to upgrade to from the stock fusion drive to Apple’s annoyingly proprietary, but in my opinion, necessary NVMe SSD for a hyper-fast boot drive.And then, I bought the rest of my upgrades separately. I bought an Intel i7-7700K CPU to replace the i5-7600 that came with the iMac, I bought a 2TB Crucial MX300 SSD that I could use as a secondary very-fast internal storage drive (which, by the way, brings total internal SSD storage in the iMac to 2.5TB), and I bought 64GB of G.SKILL DDR4 memory. 64GB of RAM is excessive, but I wanted to match Apple’s most expensive offering as best as I could. Oh, and I bought a few extra, but necessary tools. My total price came just shy of $3,500. It’s certainly not a drop in the bucket, but compared to the $5,300 Apple charges for the near-same configuration, I feel like I did pretty good. Especially since I have an extra CPU and RAM I could sell on Craigslist if I want.Installing everything was actually easier than I expected. The 5K display is glued to the aluminum chassis with very strong tape, but ifixit makes this cute little cutting wheel that loosens the adhesive without damaging any of the sensitive ribbon cables that near the edge of the display. This is the best $8 you’ll ever spend. Don’t risk breaking the screen with guitar picks, heat guns, or any other crappy tools that some sites recommend. Just get the wheel. With some patience, the display will come loose from the chassis.
There are two ribbon connectors to undo, and voila! The Mac is ready for surgery. I start off by removing the left speaker which is pretty simple and then I find my way to removing the power supply. This is a completely exposed PSU which can cause serious injury or death if handled improperly, but as long as you hold the board by the edges and don’t touch any of the solder joints, you’ll be fine.Then I turn my attention to the right speaker which is slightly trickier to remove than the left, but still quite easy. It’s pretty amazing how much room inside the iMac is taken up by the speaker assemblies, isn’t it? Next I address the fan. This single, small fan cools the CPU, GPU and its VRMS. Next I remove the bluetooth and wifi antennae. Once we remove the motherboard, it’s finally time to take off the cooler that’s shared by both the GPU and CPU. I’ll clean up the old thermal paste with rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth, and now I can install our sexy new i7-7700K and put the cooler right back on.But wait! Before I screw the motherboard back in, I need to plug in Apple’s proprietary data/power cable combo for our SSD. Luckily, Apple hasn’t changed the design of these since 2012, so you can get them on eBay for cheap. Once I get most of the components installed back in the case, I can turn our attention to that 2TB SSD. Since the mounting bracket in the Mac is for a 3.5” drive, I needed a cheap adapter from Amazon. I also needed an OWC Thermal Sensor cable. The hard drives Apple uses from the factory have proprietary controllers for reporting drive temperatures to the motherboard. If you don’t have this cable, the iMac doesn’t know what temperature your SSD is and runs the fan at 100% speed all the time. Unbearable. This cable fixes that. And that’s about it. I used a custom-cut adhesive kit I found on Amazon to seal the Mac back up and once we pop the RAM in through the RAM door (thanks for at least giving us that, Apple), we’re done! But… how does the machine actually perform? Really well.In GeekBench, my scores were about 30% higher than with the i5 I swapped with, and surprisingly, about 8% better than Apple’s fully-loaded iMac with the exact same CPU model. This trend continued through my Cinebench results as well. The scores shouldn’t be that different between my 7700K iMac and Apple’s 7700K iMac; 8% is outside of the margin of error. Either I got
really lucky with the silicon lottery, or maybe, just maybe, Apple could be buying the runts, the lower performing 7700K from Intel on discount. My 5K iMac out-benchmarks every single computer in Apple’s lineup. There are two downsides to this build: 1) you void your warranty the minute you start prying the screen off—to some, that’s a big deal—to me, no warranty is worth the $1,800 I saved; 2) my GPU is worse than the fully loaded Apple model.At the same time, they all suck for gaming, and in an application like Final Cut Pro X, where I expected Apple’s fully-loaded iMac with the Radeon Pro 580 to outperform mine, it doesn’t. In both the BruceX benchmark and my own video export test, my iMac was about 5% faster. By doing the upgrades myself, I got a faster machine with more storage for $1,800 less and only an hour of work. To make that hour back and a whole lot more, you should checkout Dashlane, our sponsor for this video. Using the same password for everything is really bad idea. Dashlane makes your life secure by automatically generates complex passwords for new websites you visit, it stores all of your different logins securely, and logs you in automatically any time you visit a website where you have an account.Dashlane Premium does even more cool stuff. You can sync all of your logins between your PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices, and it even backs up to the cloud so if your tech gets lost or stolen, your private and important data is still recoverable. You can share logins with friends and family to use so they can… for example, login to your Netflix account without knowing your password. You can change insecure passwords at the click of a button—you know—without having to go to the website, login, find the reset password form, enter your old one, enter the new one, blah, blah blah. One click—boom—you’re done. Dashlane does all of this and more. Get an account free today by visiting the link in the video description. Well folks, that’s all from me. If you enjoyed this video, be sure to leave a like—if you didn’t—that other button works fine too, leave us a comment below and we’ll try to respond, but most importantly, and as always, stay snazzy. .