Amazingly thin iMacs "attractive but compromised"

Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica reports that the new iMacs are premium high-end kit, but lose important upgradeability options and have poor hard-drive performance.

Photo: Andrew Cunningham / Ars Technica

Here's our biggest problem with the new iMac: making a laptop thinner and lighter is immediately noticeable. ... In a desktop computer, though, the pursuit of thinness at the cost of features makes less sense. The vast majority of the time, it's going to be sitting on your desk, and users will be interacting with a separate keyboard and mouse, pausing only occasionally to plug something in or adjust the screen's angle. Giving up desirable features like user-upgradeable RAM just to make a thinner desktop seems like the wrong move

Pass. That said, buying hard drives at this point is a false economy akin to asking the car dealer, "can I save 5% if you put in this diesel engine from a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass?"


    1. The review states in the very first paragraph : “any Ars readers will probably be buying an iMac with a Fusion Drive, rendering this section of the review moot.”
      Apple has optimized disk performance but it comes at a price. Dropping the legacy “lower cost” version to barely adequate is Apple’s way of saying this option will be going away real soon.

      1. Many Ars readers will probably be buying an iMac with a Fusion Drive, rendering this section of the review moot.


        1. How do you do it? If you *really* need it, you buy an external unit. The rest of us will be happy to save the space and money,

          1. In two years:  No keyboard, how am I supposed to write an e-mail?

            I’m with Neil, stop taking everything out.

          2. I know what to do, thank you. My point is that I think that this is a pointless deletion, if not totally misguided. But I’m probably an old dinosaur; I’m reluctant to give everything up to the Cloud.

        2. Optical media is dying.  I can stream or play a downloaded film in less time than it takes to find a DVD on the shelf (or wherever), shove it in the computer and hit play.

          For the minority that still uses optical media, this computer isn’t for you – or you should go get an external optical drive.

          That pre-supposes that the software I want to load exists online.

          As it should nowadays.  It’s almost 2013.  I can’t even remember the last time I bought an app on optical media.

          Hard drives are cheap and humongous, so I use them.  Optical is a dead horse I stopped flogging a long time ago. Good riddance to the damn things.

          1.  Me too.

            If my net connection is working optimally.  If my provider hasn’t capped my net usage.  If I’m not on a plane or in a hotel room or on Caltrain with no WiFi (or service costing $20 a day or more.)  If I’m not out of the US where my Netflix account won’t work.  If the streaming provider(s) have what I’m wanting to watch/listen to. 

            Etc. etc. etc.

          2. So, you bring your entire DVD collection with you on a plane, hotel room or wherever Netflix doesn’t work when you could have downloaded it previously to your computer instead? Makes no sense to me.

          3. My point is that if optical drives vanish and “buying hard drives is a false economy” because of streaming and the cloud, that doesn’t leave a user with the means to address all kinds of current usage situations.  I am currently in trouble with my hard drive space thanks to my giant music collection, which I am not interested in turning over to Apple or Amazon to hold for me.  I have a decent sized DVD collection which is impractical to rip to my hard drive due to capacity limits.  An optical drive, AND a decent sized hard drive, AND the cloud all serve different aspects of my needs. 
            (Another place I can’t count on “the cloud”?  In my classroom.  The university’s network capacity fluctuates so randomly that even counting on YouTube videos to play reliably is a fool’s errand.  Thank goodness for Download Helper and the fact that I can still get DVDs from Netflix when I need things I don’t own already.)

          4.  Really? Do you have access to the thousands of out-of-print movie titles that only appear on optical media? Or are you just really into Adam Sandler and Charlie’s Angels remakes?

          5. Are you replying to me? And, if so, why? Do you not understand the point?

            If you are one of the RARE people that wants to watch out-of-print movie titles that have yet to be sold online, then this computer isn’t for you – or for f’s sake, go buy an external optical drive.

            But, once again, why should the rest of us suffer for the minority of you that want a larger iMac for esoteric uses?

            Or are you just really into Adam Sandler and Charlie’s Angels remakes?

            It’s pretty much 2013 and that’s been hyperbole for a long time now. There’s a vast collection of titles available nowadays and if the film producers are too stupid to make it available, you can download the torrent.

          6. It’s pretty much 2013 and that’s been hyperbole for a long time now. 

            Yeah, this whole thing kind of sound like “Well, if that doo-hicky doesn’t have a VHS drive, how are you going to watch Matlock, eh smart guy?”

          7. “I can stream or play a downloaded film in less time than it takes to find a DVD on the shelf (or wherever), shove it in the computer and hit play.”

            Either you are blessed with a far faster connection than I, or you are completely rubbish at organizing physical media.

          8. Either you are blessed with a far faster connection than I, or you are completely rubbish at organizing physical media.

            Streaming through iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, etc. is instant to start even with slower DSL connections. Torrents can be downloaded and kept on a hard drive for instant access later as well on cheap-as-hell, huge hard drives.

            Like I said, enjoy your trashy optical discs taking up space in your luggage, etc. (don’t break the jewel cases or scratch the media though!). This computer isn’t for you or you can go get a glorious, external optical drive if you have dial-up for Internet access.

            Optical is dead and dying for everyone else.

        3. “I also like to play my DVDs on my Mac”

          No you don’t! No one does. You like to watch movies/TV shows on your Mac.

          To do that, you get a large capacity USB hard drive (very cheap) and you rip your DVDs on to it using Handbrake. Then you can watch them with VLC instantly whenever you want: no searching for physical discs that were put back in the wrong case, no ugly/baffling menu screens, no copyright messages you can’t skip.

          1. Well, yes, I do like to play DVDs. I have the DVDs already, and various outlets are keen on me buying more. Buying an additional drive to store the rips on is an additional expense, and ripping the DVDs is more work than I really want to commit to, to accommodate Apple’s quirky design decisions.

            Also, Cowicide: Suffer? Does the presence of an optical drive really cause you existential angst or some form of physical suffering? Or does it just mean you might have to pay an extra $20 for the computer? I notice you don’t care about me hypothetically having to buy an extra DVD drive merely so that you don’t have to contemplate your beautifully-designed Mac having an unsightly slot in it.

    1. I remember thinking along very similar lines when the first iMac had no  3.5″ drive!

      Apple has rightly decided that optical drives are fast becoming redundant.

  1. With due respect, the 3rd generation iMacs have NEVER had “user-upgradeable RAM”. You purchase a set amount of RAM which is factory installed. Otherwise, you’d have users tearing the heat shield. It’s simple: If you want a configurable computer, buy a tower; not an all-in-1. As for those terrified about not having an internal optical drive, fear not. You have 3 options. 1) Cloud. 2) Purchase Apple optical drive as option. 3) 3rd-party peripheral optical drive. Is this computer for everyone? Clearly not. But as a 10-year iMac user, I wouldn’t purchase anything else!

    1. It’s simple: If you want a configurable computer, buy a tower; not an all-in-1.

      Too bad Apple hasn’t made any meaningful changes to their towers in nearly a decade.

      1. 2-3 years, but your point is very well taken. It’s utterly mystifying that they haven’t even bothered with basic spec and connectivity bumps (no Thunderbolt, let alone USB 3.0!).

        1. The PowerMac’s form factor is virtually identical to  that of a PowerMac G5 from 2003. The only change that’s especially significant from the user end is the processor, which forced users of older-but-still-high-end machines to upgrade if they wanted to run current versions of software like Adobe Creative Suite.

          1. Why would you expect the form factor to change? What benefit does a change is chasis bring to a tower?

            All the internal components save the mother/logic-board and (as we both agree, redundant) optical drive have had decent upgrades in the last few years: RAM, Graphics, CPU and HDD. It would be nice if there was some USB3 or Thunderbolt support, but I don’t really see a problem with retaining the form factor.

        2. A lot of factors contribute to Apple not supporting USB3.0 and Thunderbolt in the pro yet including: Intel only recently released Processors that support those features without adding 3rd party chips, the low volume macpro has a custom designed motherboard that apple isn’t keen on changing too often, and Pro users often have set workflows meaning they don’t always want the newest of everything.

          All that being said, since the iMac has those feature the pro will too when next updated. 

    2. RAM also isn’t scaling up like it used to. I’ve not required more than 4GB of RAM for around 5 years now. This comes with 8.

      I agree, there are folks who like to tinker and upgrade more, especially  gamers, but if you’re most people then you shouldn’t really need to open up your computer any more than you need to open up your TV.

    3. That’s not true at all. In fact, they made the RAM easily upgradeable on the 3rd gen iMac and provide instructions on how to do so. The only access panel on the computer is to the RAM. I’m not sure how anyone would be “tearing the heat shield” (whatever you mean by that) to access or upgrade it.

      1. I’ll explain it to you. Having had to replace the hard drive on my 3rd gen iMac, you have to delicately peal away the mylar heat shield when you first open the back of the computer. If you do not — you cannot access the internal components of the iMac such as the RAM or the optical drive. Perhaps you have a 4th gen? 1st gen: Bondi blue w/ puck mouse. 2nd gen: Monitor on stalk. 3rd gen: white polycarbonate all-in-1. 

    4. The previous generation (last year) iMacs have user-upgradeable RAM.  I have a 21.5″ model sitting on my desk at work.  It has four slots for RAM under the chin.  The new 21.5″ models lose this, but the 27″ will still be easily upgradeable.  Replacing hard drives has been needlessly daunting for a long time though.

  2. Over the years, having the ability to upgrade components (such as RAM, video, etc) has extended the lives of the various desktops that I have owned. I typically get 6+ years of use out of my computers. When I do replace my system, I pass it on on to someone else. And those people usually get another 2 to 4 years of use out of it.

    Yes, this saves me money. And it also keeps those systems out of the landfill.

    1. I’m in the same boat. Imagine how much more crap we could keep out of landfills if they designed computers with the ability to (easily) swap out the CPU.

        1. Well, that’s obviously why it doesn’t happen. But I’d still pay a good chunk of change to Apple if they’d let me swap out the processor on my old PowerMac G5 so I could run current software, especially considering the rest of the specs on my machine are still on par with a modern Mac Pro.

          As for how we COULD make it happen, I’m personally an advocate of incentivizing “end-of-life” considerations for manufacturers. As in: an additional cost imposed on manufacturers based on how much their product will ultimately cost to dispose of. Computers designed from the ground up for a long lifespan and optimal recyclability are possible, we just have to show we really want them.

        2. Come to think of it, there is a profit in that. As a hypothetical situation, let us say that it costs Apple $100 for the CPU, $100 for RAM and $100 for the harddrive that they install in one of their systems. When they sell us the pre-built system, they add a profit margin, say 5%, hypothetically. So, we end up paying $105 on each on those components. That is what is already done when a company calculates their retail price.

          Now, let us say they also begin selling those components separately. They could easily sell them for $110 each, a 10% profit margin. And less labour costs since they don’t have to be installed.

          1. But if users only replace one of the components, you lose money from them not buying a whole new computer instead. And that’s just lost profit from just these components.

            Don’t get me wrong – I dont like that they do it, but I understand why.

          2.  I agree, that is how business is working today. And they are missing out as a result.

            People who prefer to upgrade their systems themselves are not going to buy a complete system unless it is upgradeable. By limiting/eliminating the ability to upgrade a system, the company loses out on those sales, as well as the sales of individual components.

            There is no loss of sales to people who are not interested in upgrading on their own. But here’s an opportunity to increase sales by selling upgradeable systems and their components.

            And then there’s the positive advertising that such a change would bring.

    2. Not only that, there’s cost savings from repair to consider. I bought my (then soon to be) wife an iMac for Xmas back in 2007. Sleek, much faster than her old Mac, and not unreasonably priced I thought. Then, 1 month past the 1 year warranty period, the hard disk dies. No problem, I just go buy a new one and install it, right? Well, no… looking online, I realized that I would need to completely disassemble the thing, including cutting through some sort of protective mat around the screen and unplugging very flimsy ribbon cables in order to get to the hard drive. It’s sort of like having to pull the engine of a car out through the trunk in order to change the timing belt. 

      My wife didn’t purchase the Applecare extended warranty as she had promised she would, so we had to pay $500 out of pocket (which was somewhere between a quarter and a half of what I paid for the thing) for a drive that on a good day would cost $75 from NewEgg. That’s the last piece of Apple hardware I’ll ever buy*. Aesthetics be damned, give me something that is reasonable to repair if it breaks down. If it’s up to me, her next Mac will be a hackintosh.

      * (OK, truth be told, I did buy my wife an iPad, which itself is a sleek, sealed package of “no you can’t replace the battery or futz around under the hood yourself you ignorant barbarian” electronics. But sadly so are a lot of the competitors in that market space. She did at least pay for the Applecare warranty out of her own pocket for it.)

      1. I have the same generation of iMac, and I was similarly daunted when I wanted to upgrade the hard-drive, but while it was a bit finicky the process wasn’t that bad. The worst part was getting the really flimsy monitor cable properly reseated and staying that way (a bit of masking tape helped there). Cutting through the metal tape holding the innards in doesn’t seem to have affected anything.

        If the new iMac is only as tricky as that to upgrade, I wouldn’t hesitate in doing it myself when the time comes.

      2. I know this is anecdotal, and relatively meaningless, but have you ever seen a dumped Mac? I can’t count how many CRT’s and towers I’ve seen in skips and on the side of roads, but Macs don’t get dumped, they get sold on eBay.

        1. Selection bias.    

          There are far more PC’s and more likely to see one.   I have seen quite a lot of dumped macs over the years.   I had taken a few to screw around with before dumping them myself.  

    3. Check out the second hand market for macs. These machines are sold on and serve for years and years. In fact people go to more trouble to keep them out of a landfill because they like ’em so much.

  3. The great thing about computers is that all the stuff works together. If you need 24gb of memory, or a 3TB hard drive for all your stuff, or if you want to upgrade the cpu with a faster model, as long as you choose the right memory, hard drive or CPU socket, it will generally work. 

    Unless you buy a Mac. Pass, indeed.

    1. Until they change the CPU socket in 2-3 years, the memory slots in another couple years (hard drives are much more stable, however).

      I used to love my tower for its upgradability – until:
      1) I found that I really didn’t use it that much.
      2) The upgrades I did add didn’t yield *that* huge a difference.
      3) Upgrading one or two components usually wasn’t as worthwhile as upgrading the whole system, as the whole-system upgrade tended to be more balanced.
      4) Resale on a whole system tends to be a lot better than selling parts, and a lot better than a bin of old parts sitting around that never get used.

      Upgrading where there are major differences (like video cards, hard drives, etc) makes sense to me, but as for CPU, memory – not so much. We haven’t really lacked for processor power for years now – it’s become a “nice to have” rather than a must have as it once was, and 16GB of memory will be enough for the vast majority of people until this truly is an old, broken down computer. I haven’t seen any normal users struggle with 4GB (and many are fine on 2GB!), so having 16-32GB non-upgradable just isn’t that limiting.

      1. I just upgraded my machine last night. I replaced the SSD drive with one with more capacity.   

        I also prefer a system I can change components out of when one of them fails.

    1. You can upgrade the RAM in the 27″ iMac. The RAM in the 2012  21.5″ iMac can be upgraded but requires you disassemble the complete iMac, for starters this includes using a heat gun to remove the front lcd / panel. Not for the faint at heart.

  4. At the risk of feeding the trolls, I feel compelled to point out that your car/engine/false-economy analogy is wrong to the point of foolishness.

    Having upgradeable parts is not about cost savings on the frontend but rather cost savings and life extension at the backend. An iMac purchased an 2007 for $1,800 can have a life extended by 2 or 3 years with as little as $300 worth of hard drive and ram upgrades. Not to mention that those upgrades probably add at least that much additional resale value.

    Sadly with these new Apple designs as the products approach their end of life, users have little choice but to spend $1k to $2k. This could also completely eviscerate the second hand market in Apple products. (which has been a popular way for people to experiment with the Mac platform as they switch from a PC)

    While all of this may be very good for Apple and their shareholders, I can’t help but feel that it will alienate users in the long run. Yes, the new products look good, and are will engineered, but their are dangers to putting form over function.

    1. I’m guessing that the remaining people in print will be considering the PC market, which should make the remaining PC companies happy.  Real shame Microsoft seems to be abandoning desktop computers.

      Having said that, I hope the rumor comes true that Microsoft is working on integrating Kinect tech into the desktop.

    2. On the contrary, this has made the resale market that much more vibrant. People are upgrading more often and yet finding their old computers hold more value than a generic PC. Having gone this route a few times in the last decade, resale simply isn’t a concern.

      Upgrading may help keep you from selling your system for a while longer, but what are you doing with the old parts? You’re not reselling those, so I’d argue you end up with more waste from having components you can’t/don’t resell than from a computer that you do.

      1. There is no question that an Apple product holds it value longer than a PC product. However it’s impossible to say that this extreem all-in-one design philosophy will make the resale market more “vibrate” given that it’s still very new, there are simply no end-of-life MacBook Retinas of Late-2012 iMac units on the resale market.

        The general Computer buying public is very different from us tech enthusiasts. The average user will choose to run their systems far beyond any useful resell value before they will meekly submit to a $1k to $2k upgrade. 

        I think Apple wants to create the same mindset with iMacs and MacBooks they they have created for iPhones, iPods, and to a lesser extent iPads. They want to get consumers accustom to the ideal of periodic total equipment replacement. I honestly don’t know how this strategy will work out in the long term, but on it’s face it does seem very anti-consumer.

        1. There is no question that an Apple product holds it value longer than a PC product.

          That appears to be empirically true.  I sometimes find working one-year-old PCs in the trash, but the Macs are always at least three years old.

  5. i really wish some forward thinking company would disassociate the computer from the display and make them separate pieces.  That way the computer’s form factor isn’t as important as you can just put it on the floor, so why not make the case a little bigger and more easily upgraded? And if the computer or display dies you can still use the good remaining component with a new piece of kit.

  6. I would go out on a limb and say that the people complaining about not having upgradability are the minority of users. almost nobody in my family or friends upgrades their PC’s/Macs after buying them. The company i work for has 100,000 people in it with almost all of them using laptops. they are replaced every 2 years, not upgraded. I haven’t upgraded a computer in years, building a new one every 2-3 years gives me more performance/dollar than upgrading.

    1. …So they would throw out the computer when the hard drive fails?  It’s more about inexpensive repair than upgrade.

      1. most of the comments and the article were discussing upgrade, so thats what I commented on.

        do you take your DVD player to be repaired, or do you take it to the recycler? computers are becoming monolithic and un-repairable (tablets etc) this is the natural progression of technology. this is probably not a good thing, but here we are.

        I just cracked the screen on my iphone 3gs, it was cheaper to buy a new one than even pay for the repair parts.

        1. Computers are not becoming monolithic and un-repairable.  Apple computers are becoming monolithic and un-repairable.  Despite it being in vogue to refer to the death of the desktop computer, I can still by a brand new tower/lunchbox PC pretty much anywhere.

          Tablets are a different story–they’re designed to be portable.  Nobody picks up their 21.5″ iMac and carries it around.  Instead it sits on a desk or table, where there’s no reason to be concerned about it occupying too much space, despite what Apple insists on doing with their computers.

          1. I don’t argue that the Death of the Desktop is overhyped, but considering there are rumors that processor sockets in PCs are going away in the near future and ALL atom based systems are soldered down I don’t think its hyperbole. 

          2. there’s no reason to be concerned about it occupying too much space

            You clearly have never lived in NYC. Or in London. Or in SF. Or or or…

        2. Apple design and tablets constitute “the natural progression of technology?” I can see how it would be cheaper to buy a new 3GS than fix yours, since they are basically free now, but by the same token I don’t take my $40 DVD player to be repaired. I’m not sure how these compare to $2-3K computers, though.

        3. I just cracked the screen on my iphone 3gs, it was cheaper to buy a new one than even pay for the repair parts.

          I cracked the screen on my HTC Legend and replaced it for $20.

  7. People buying systems should consider that you can often come out way ahead buying the minimum from them, throwing it away, and installing your own part.

    For example upgrading memory in a 27″ imac from 8gb to 32gb is $600 from apple.  32gb of compatible ram from crucial is $160.  

    It looks like the storage options on that imac aren’t that badly priced, though you can save about $300 on the big ssd and end up with a free 1TB hard disk.

    But, if you want to do this kind of thing and are not super into it you probably ought to be buying a tower anyway.  Who knows what exactly they might be doing to make things fit in a custom shaped all in one computer.  It is entirely possible for them to have ram sticks with are a bit shorter than normal, or glue a heatsink on, or whatever.

  8. Just to point out that the iMac still has a Thunderbolt port, eventually prices will drop and you will be able to add a Thunderbolt HDD / SSD to it ( iMac21.5 ) .It  would have been good if the Memory was USER up-gradable with AFTERMARKET ram in the 21.5 iMac.  

    There are other options, MacBook Pro with an external monitor ? Mac Mini with external monitor ? Mac Pro ?( upgradable with the exception of retina).

    My personal favorite is the Mac Mini. I have ordered the Mac Mini Dual Hard Drive Kit from iFixit and an intel 520 Series 180GB SSD and 16GB of RAM sweet!

  9. Up until a year ago, I worked in the newspaper business.  Trust me when I say that lack of upgrade options is a deal-killer; at a small-town newspaper, it’s not unusual to stretch a Mac out for 6-7 years, or more.  

    If they think that market will giddily drop a grand or so on new desktops every couple of years, not that many years after they forced that dinosaur business to replace thousands of dollars worth of software en masse at least twice (trust me, I know all about false economy after working at a privately-held publishing company) I just can’t see it.  And the Mac Pro?  Tough sell.  At one job, we had one.  It was our fileserver.  The rest was a hodgepodge.  When I left that job, my desktop machine was a dual-proc G4 with the max amount of RAM and several after-market parts including a severely overpriced SATA controller. This wasn’t because we enjoyed running as if we were putting 1978 Oldsmobile V8s in Rolls-Royces, it was because we were on a budget. The newest production machine was a Mini, and that was purchased reluctantly because it was going to be largely incompatible with everything else in-house.

  10. This is the thing that pisses me off about Apple.  I don’t give a dog shit in a spring thaw over how thin or lightweight my computer is.  I care that it works.

    Honestly, for music and video production, they are by far the best out there (I use Linux for everything else), so I’m kind of dependent on the platform.

    That said- My ideal laptop is a Panasonic Toughbook. The MacBook Air scares the hell out of me- I can’t see it surviving more than a month on the road. I’d rather have a 14lb laptop that I could drop down the stairs and still use. 

    This isn’t to say that I don’t try to take care of stuff, it’s just the harsh reality of gigging and touring.  Stuff gets abused.

  11. I’ve been using Macs since ’86.  I’ve had three iMacs now.  The old 20″ matte screen (!) G5 white iMac was a breeze to upgrade.  Good thing too, as it was during the era of the ‘Capacitor Plague’.  All kinds of components in that thing died, but I got 3 year applecare after the 1st incident under warranty.  Wise choice.  Nearly every component in that thing went belly up, some multiple times.  But apple was *great* about shipping spares.  You unplugged, flipped it over on the screen (use a nice clean towel, thx Douglas Adams!) a couple screws, and you are in.  Pop out the old, in with the new, the old one goes back in the mail.  Wonderful.

    But then came the sad day that the mobo died and I wailed in frustration to the applecare guy.  “I can’t even sell it on eBay!”  He offered me a new 20″ 2 GHz base model and I took it.  That machine is still chugging along as the kids’ mac.

    Me? Last fall I got a loaded 27″ i7 SSD and hd, upgraded graphics iMac.  I put another 8 GB in the hatch and it is a monster machine.  So far so good.  

    As to the new ones…  The 21″ should be cheaper with all the negatives (no ram upgrade, 2.5″ 5400 disk, no dvd, serviceability is awful – the screen is *glued* to the metal chassis! they even put the slots on the opposite side once you are past the screen!  ouch)  27″ is much better at least for RAM and the graphics cards are very good on the high end, other than not being very service friendly (bet that one is glued on too).  

    When my 1TB drive goes – and it will – I can use some suction cups and a couple walkthroughs to replace it with a 3 or 4 TB drive.  Not having USB3 is a bit of a drawback (tho right now all my drives are FW800 except a single USB data dump), but by the time I really need it a Thunderbolt breakout box should be ‘cheap’.  Or maybe I’ll get that redesigned Mac Pro in the solid cube of memory diamond.  This machine feels fast now, but in three or four years I’ll be climbing the walls waiting for it to render 3D scenes or play CIV adequately.  /rant

  12. For all that I love the image, Rob, I don’t think that’s the best metaphor. The 350 Diesels cost MORE than the gas engine of the time. And they broke, constantly, in very dramatic ways. They got to be sorta-kinda reliable after the design revision in ’82, but it was still a terrible idea. Nice mileage when they ran, though.

    I’m no fan of Apple but I will allow that their products rarely spontaneously explode.

    1.  I’m guessing that you’ve never had one of their laptops. I’ve been using Apple stuff since I started using computers (back in ’86, holy gods I’m old) and just about every Powerbook I’ve had (6, at last count) has had the adapter crap out at least once. Two of those actually sparked out, one literally SHOT FLAMES OUT OF THE SIDE OF THE CASE. That was kind of alarming.

  13. Meh. Upgrades. 
    I’m running my MacBook Pro from 2006 with no problem. It’s no stretch. I have no immediate plans to upgrade. In my office we’ve changed the upgrade cycle from 3 years to 4 years. Computers are useful longer these days, unless you’re a hardcore gamer, or need to do complex scientific modeling, or film editing.

    I suspect a topped-out-at-purchase iMac will probably be a useful machine for about 8 years.

    All this kvetching about upgrades is a tempest in a teapot. A red herring. Much ado about nothing.

    Seriously, when was the last time you upgraded a computer? Upgrade for what, so your browser is faster? Pffft!

    1. I work at an educational facility that has a lab full of iMacs used to teach digital video and multimedia. Yes, upgrades matter to us.

      1. “…unless you’re a hardcore gamer, or need to do complex scientific modeling, or film editing.”

        Yeah. And I work at an educational institution, in administration, so upgrades matter to us too. But since we’re not doing digital video and multimedia, not as often.

        Also, I do some multimedia at home, and I know a visual artist who uses his Mac to do his work. Both of us are using Macs that are more than 4 years old.

        My point is, most people, especially people who would be buying an iMac, have a hell of a lot less need to upgrade later in the machine’s life than folks here are proposing.

        I’m a system administrator in a large department and have occasion to use and maintain a wide variety of machines and operating systems. I’ve been doing this a long time. And I can tell you from experience, that the need for post purchase upgrades, especially in the last 5 years or so, is mostly overstated by the industry, and us geeks.

        If you have vast computing power needs, then an iMac is certainly not the best purchasing decision you could make. If you have modest needs, an iMac will fill them for many years. If you’re a serious IT geek, and simply must have the best specs possible to build up your self-esteem, an iMac is a weak choice… and why the hell are you even having this discussion.

        And I use the “you” rhetorically, Brainspore, not personally.

        1. And I use the “you” rhetorically, Brainspore, not personally.

          “Seriously, when was the last time you upgraded a computer?” sounded like an actual question to me. If it was rhetorical, why is that “seriously” there?

          I know why Apple is going in this direction, but it still sucks for a lot of people and organizations. There are a lot of people and facilities, like mine, which need something more powerful than a Mac Mini but don’t need the horsepower (and expense) of a Mac Pro. Upgradability was an important factor in keeping labs like ours up-to-date without breaking our budgets.

  14. Tonight I’ve been playing Star Wars: Dark Forces under OS 9.1 on my PowerPC 7500. Point being, there’s still life in old Macs (not my lack of social life).

  15. I spend a great deal of time in rural areas where I also do work – depending on the cloud at the expense of more traditional hardware is problematic; maybe that means I keep paying a couple hundred dollars more for my computers (typically Toshibas – which still puts them at far less expensive than comparable Apples), but that is fine with me – it is a tool, after all, and the wise man pays for the right tool for the job. (shrug)

  16. The Mac desktop computers have always been elegant, and they continue to lead the world in desktop design. But why they don’t work on making the fastest and largest capacity available as part of the newest model, has always been a puzzle to me.

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