Byte the Big Apple, don’t mind the proprietary screws and all the glue and solder. Why my love affair with Apple may becoming to an end, and will others fall out of love as well is the question of the day. I have been an Apple user and supporter since 1995. I started out using a PC at home but my everyday work machine has almost always been a Mac. There were a few dark years where I was forced to use a Windows machine at work, but we don’t talk about it much, just too painful.
Apple is different because it not only makes the software but also the hardware. This makes for a very stable and seamless experience for the end user. In that regard I still admire Apple. However the continuing attitude toward their hardware is what is causing me to re-think my affections.
Computers are made up of components, from time to time a machine will be rendered inoperable due to the failure of a single component. Simply replacing that component will bring the machine back to life. This approach also gives the owner the opportunity to upgrade the machine. Over time every machine will become obsolete, there is nothing that can be done to stop that. However, it was always possible to upgrade some of the components as a machine aged. These upgrades would extend the useful life of the machine as well as improving its overall performance.
As the trend toward thinner and lighter devices has increased, it has necessitated some ugly practices. Things like glueing batteries in place, or soldering RAM to the logic board may save space and decrease weight but it makes repair and upgrades all but impossible. Don’t take my word for it, the people over at iFixit explain this in greater detail than I can. This trend is evident in the iPhone, iPads, all the laptops and now the Mac Mini.
No More easy access!
Apple has been using more and more proprietary fasteners on their devices. They have been soldering RAM and CPU’s to boards and using difficult to upgrade SSD drives. The last straw for me is the newly released Mac Mini. You can no longer upgrade the RAM, it is soldered to the logic board as is the CPU. They also use security screws designed to keep you out of the Mac Mini. They have also removed the connection that made it possible to add a second internal hard drive.
The Mac Mini use to be a nice little, easily upgradeable and fixable machine. It is now a brick. You can no longer purchase the base model with the intent of upgrading it in the future. Purchasing the base model is insuring you will be throwing it away in a few years. This is a great move for Apple because any right-minded person will opt for the fully loaded model just to make the purchase worth while. If you shell out a pile of cash now, or you buy another Mini in a few years, either way Apple wins, and you lose.
The only Mac that is still reasonable when it comes to repair and upgrade is the New Mac Pro. The guys at iFixit.com give is a 8 out of 10. But, you’re talking about a machine that starts at $3248 (with Apple Care). Unless you are wealthy you are not given the chance to fix or upgrade your Apple products.
Remember, a Mac Mini that is 2 years old and needs a new logic board is dead in the water. You are looking at a $400 to $500 part. For $100 more you can have a new Mini. It makes financial sense to just junk the old one. With the new Mini’s, if the RAM goes bad, normally a $100 repair, you are now looking at a total loss, may as well buy another one. Way to go Apple.
So, there you go. A relationship that has lasted almost 2 decades is coming to a close. All because Apple wants to put profit, excessive profit, above ethical treatment of its customers. It is not easy for me to say this, but I think I have purchased my last Mac computer.
I will run my current Mac machines as long as I can. I can still upgrade them so they have a few years of useful life left. During that time I will be moving to Linux as my everyday machine. Linux is not as seamless as Apple, but I will be free to do with my property as I see fit. Sometimes freedom is worth some sacrifices.