Custom Macs

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by The.Mac, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. The.Mac macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2014
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    West Coast
    #1
    Hi there.

    I've noticed custom Macs (not Hackintoshes) online and wondered what folks generally thought about these. Many of these have been upgraded with 16 or more gigs of RAM, huge hard drives, optical drives, etc.

    Is there anything a buyer should be aware of?

    Thanks,

    The.Mac
     
  2. brand macrumors 601

    brand

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    #2
    Whats there to think? They are Macs that have been upgraded. Beware of someone doing the upgrade wrong.
     
  3. The.Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Thanks. Can you please give me examples of "wrong"?
     
  4. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #4
    It depends

    Hi The. Mac,

    Your question seems pretty vague. I'm assuming that by "custom mac" you mean user upgraded. There are also built to order systems that Apple adds upgrades to new. You may already know this, but I wanted to clarify just incase.

    Here is my opinion on user upgraded systems. Before the Macbook Air and the retina Macbook Pro came out, Apple computers were relatively easy to upgrade. If you are planning on getting something with a RAM, battery, or hard drive upgrade, the system is probably improved. The older these systems are, the more risky they are, just because they have old parts in them, and user upgrades will typically extend the life of a system. Sure, some people are bad at upgrading systems, so there is always a risk, but old systems are more likely to die because of old parts that weren't upgraded.

    If you are looking at screen replacement jobs, or any cosmetic replacement, those I would be more wary of. Hard drives are typically cheap enough so that anyone doing an upgrade will buy quality parts. Many of the external components can be replaced with cheap parts. Quality control isn't great, and they are generally harder to replace, so I personally would stay away from those systems.

    If you are looking to get a Macbook Air, a 2012 or newer iMac, or a retina Macbook Pro, there is no point in getting a user upgraded system. They are all relatively new, and do not need any boost in power. They are also much harder to upgrade.

    Here is my recommendation to you. If you are looking to get a used computer, and are concerned enough to come post on a forum about user upgrades, you can easily do upgrades yourself. Look it up on Youtube. There are very detailed videos out there. If you want to get a newer computer, there is no point in getting a user upgraded system because it will be plenty powerful enough anyways.

    Let me know if I missed your point. I can give more specific information if you have a specific system or a model you are interested in.

    Best,
    Matt
     
  5. bigeasy_uk macrumors 6502

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    Leamington Spa, England
    #5
    What do you mean by custom macs? are they just regular macs with upgrades? can you post a link?
     
  6. The.Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Hi, Matt.

    Thanks for the info.

    I'm looking at a 2008 Mac Pro (early) with nearly everything redone. There is a Blu-Ray burner, DVD burner, 1.5 TB hard drive, 16 gb RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Mavericks. (No HDMI.)

    My mid-2011 Mac Mini (my 1st Mac but not 1st Apple purchase) is extremely slow, even after I upgraded to 8 gb RAM in Week 1 on my own. I constantly get the beach ball, and Photoshop takes a long time to open, & I'm aware it's huge. Other native and new apps take a while to open, too. I initially thought it was Chrome, but things were worse on Safari. I've probably rebooted the Mac an average of once per month because of slow speeds or frozen screens. Overall, for my 1st Mac, I'm mostly pleased, but it was nowhere what I'd expected. Please note that in Chrome, I routinely have 30 pinned tabs. However, when I'd try a "slow" site on Safari (with 5 open tabs), even worse.

    I can't afford a brand new Mac now, and as a general rule, I don't like buying any computers used, but because this is rebuilt, it appears essentially new and is probably better than a Windows PC.

    Thank you,

    The.Mac
     
  7. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

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    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    #7
    Any reason why just replacing the hard drive wouldn't be a better option before you go for an entirely new machine, and an old one at that? Whenever the OS X 10.10 update comes out, that Mac Pro might not make the cut.
     
  8. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #8
    What you describe is a slow hard drive, not really a RAM problem. What you need is an SSD.
     
  9. The.Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Hello, T'hain and Jessica.

    I'm really glad I asked this question because I had no idea that this was a hard drive issue. I was always "taught" (maybe misinformed) that slow computers were just that because they needed a RAM upgrade.

    Would either of you be open to expounding on why this is a hard drive issue? I know my programs and such are stored on there, but is my computer moving so slowly because its internal hard drive is busted?

    Thanks,

    The.Mac
     
  10. bigeasy_uk macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Your apps are stored on the hard drive, when you open one it loads what it need into memory (ram). If you have 2gb+ memory then it'll hold an app like photoshop no problem, it is only when you start using it that it needs more. As your hard drive is slow it takes a while to copy everything it needs for the app into ram initially, which is why your app is slow to open. If you put an SSD drive into it, it'll load everything the app needs much quicker.

    Obviously having more memory in a computer is a good thing, it can hold more things at any one time and reduces swap time, which is when your computer moves things from the memory to the hard drive so it can put newer stuff into memory.

    Sorry, I've probably done a bad job of explaining things, but hope this helps!
     
  11. The.Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Thank you, Big Easy.

    The.Mac
     
  12. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2009
    Location:
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    #12
    Well, if you had bad RAM, your machine would tell you. (Intel-based Mac Power On Self Test RAM error codes)

    Bad logic boards would show symptoms such as kernel panics, your display acting up, noises, etc. I've had laptops that when you picked it up from a desk or moved it slightly, they would freeze. I also had ones that would panic when you opened up the Date & Time preferences.

    But, you're just experiencing slowness. Which you could probably do a quick PRAM/NVRAM reset and see if that helps a little. A reinstall of OS X sometimes works too.

    The slowness is usually the first sign of a hard drive that is going to start causing you problems though. It's that, then bad clusters, then it starts failing S.M.A.R.T. checks (OS X would start telling you this at startup if it was the case, I think?), and then it dies. You can never predict when it'll finally give up though, I've had a hard drive on one of my machines that has been failing for about five years now, but sometimes this happens within a day, a week, or month.

    I would try a SSD like T'hain Esh Kelch said. A HDD isn't bad if you get the higher rpm ones, but you'd probably appreciate a 128GB SSD more, especially with the apps you're running. (I have no experience with these though, I'm still using HDDs myself)
     
  13. The.Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Appreciate it, Jessica. Thanks!

    The.Mac
     

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