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The Clark

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Dec 11, 2013
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If you had to bet, would you say that the new iMac that's rumoured to come late this year will start with 16gb or RAM and or 512GB or will Apple stick to 256/8GB?

I'm thinking they're going to stick to 256/8GB solely because they make so much money off of the upgrades.
 

4sallypat

macrumors 68040
Sep 16, 2016
3,507
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So Calif
Based on my new base M1 iMac (256/8) and base M1 Mini (256/8), I would say Apple will put out the upcoming iMac with 256/8 just for the price point.

More expensive options will certainly appeal to others but for mass buyers (schools, business, commercial) the base iMac is certainly appealing...
 
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za9ra22

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2003
1,441
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Whether the next iMac is even 30-32 inches is not something I'd bet on, let alone whether they'll bump up the base-level specifications for it.

It will largely depend on what market they think this (or similar) product will be aiming for, but there are a few things that ought to be relatively clear:

Firstly, that they won't want to give an impression that the 8/256 entry level for the 2021 24-inch model was a mistake, or insufficient for the needs of the majority of users, so 8/256 will either be likely for the 'big' iMac, or it will be targeted at power users (and power user pricing).

Secondly, I doubt they would want to effectively stifle developers from working on 8Gb-compatible apps, because doing so would effectively choke off a large number of users already in possession of 8Gb systems, with no new software to buy and run. That would prematurely end practical app support for existing sub-16Gb systems, including a large number of M1 Macs prematurely. Not typically Apple's style.

Thirdly, they have so far been very keen on pushing 8Gb as a practical system for users, so while they might up the base storage to 512Gb, I doubt they want the optics of appearing to suggest Apple Silicon needs more RAM than they've offered to users at M1 entry level before.

Fourthly, they do make a lot of profit on BTO upgrades, and with RAM and storage now not user-upgradable, it means they could afford to drop price points for above-entry BTO options. I'd see that as a more probable outcome, personally.

Fifthly, while it is common currency that there will be a much more powerful version of the M1, Apple have already been pushing the M1 as a major hardware achievement, and it seems improbable to me they would want to weaken this stance any time soon.

Thus, my entirely uninformed and pointless guess would be that the 'big' iMac will cause the present entry-level 24-inch to be dropped, and the other two models to get a very moderate price cut, with the larger screen model topping the range, possibly in two variants, at $1999 and $2299 or $2299 and $2499. Likely 8/256, or 8/512 base, and an upgraded M1x chip.

Less uninformed, I would say that Apple have a pretty clear roadmap of where their products are going in the relatively near future, if not beyond, so moderately smallish steps are more likely than bigger leaps.
 
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svish

macrumors G4
Nov 25, 2017
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26,723
If the bigger iMac starts at $1999, then most probably it will come with 8 GB RAM and 256GB SSD.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,728
12,840
Question:
"Do you think the new 30/32" iMac will come with 512gb of storage and 16GB of RAM?"

Yes, it will certainly be available in that configuration, but...

... not necessarily as "the base model".
 

theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
7,684
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I'm thinking they're going to stick to 256/8GB solely because they make so much money off of the upgrades.

Wouldn't put it past them - but it would be disappointing and annoying. Very annoying since it's unlikely that the new iMac will have user-upgradeable RAM like the outgoing 27" (I mean, nobody who is paying with their own money and has an ounce of technical knowledge pays Apple for 27" iMac RAM upgrades, right?)

However, the 15/16" MBP have started at 512/16GB for some years now, so it would be consistent for the "large screen" iMac to do the same - especially as, in the Apple Silicon era, it could be using the same processor. So far they haven't "cut" RAM or storage on the M1 machines vs. the Intel models they directly replace. They'd have to make a "special" 8G version of the M1x/M2/whatever just for the iMac.

Heck, it is 2021, and 16GB RAM + 512GB SSD is hardly extravagant on a non-entry-level model. It's clear from the feedback from the M1 machines that 16GB can make a difference - and the 5k iMac is targeted at heavier workloads & pro apps (a full Logic Pro install is >60GB). Building a 27" iMac-class machine with less than 512/16 would be false economy (unless you're Apple and can force people to buy upgrades at silly prices, which is really nasty behaviour).
 

azentropy

macrumors 601
Jul 19, 2002
4,065
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Surprise
I think it should, but not sure if it will. I definitely think it is going to be at a higher starting point than before. I wouldn't be surprised to see the new starting point at $2199 or $2299 with 16/512.
 
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ApfelKuchen

macrumors 601
Aug 28, 2012
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Between the coasts
If you had to bet, would you say that the new iMac that's rumoured to come late this year will start with 16gb or RAM and or 512GB or will Apple stick to 256/8GB?

I'm thinking they're going to stick to 256/8GB solely because they make so much money off of the upgrades.
To quibble, Apple doesn't sell "upgrades." You can't buy Apple RAM modules, and you can't bring current Apple products into the Apple Store for a "factory" RAM or SSD upgrade (maybe the Mac Pro - not sure about that one). What they sell is pre-configured, buy-what-you-expect-to-need-for-the-life-of-the-product.

It really doesn't matter what Apple decides to put in the base-level model. It could be 256 GB/8 GB, or double that. The base configuration is set to provide an adequate user experience at a price point that seems attractive. "You can get a new 30" iMac starting at only $X.XXX.XX!" But if your work requires more, then you pay more for the configuration you (rationally) need.

This is no different than buying nearly any other kind of product. You don't buy a truck with a small engine and small cargo compartment with the expectation you'll upgrade the engine and/or increase the size of the cargo compartment at some point in the future.

I think "up-sell" is a more accurate term than "upgrade" - like a car dealer who has various models on the lot. You come in looking at the price of the base model and then they suggest, "For only $X more...."
 
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The Clark

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 11, 2013
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However, the 15/16" MBP have started at 512/16GB for some years now, so it would be consistent for the "large screen" iMac to do the same - especially as, in the Apple Silicon era, it could be using the same processor. So far they haven't "cut" RAM or storage on the M1 machines vs. the Intel models they directly replace. They'd have to make a "special" 8G version of the M1x/M2/whatever just for the iMac.

Heck, it is 2021, and 16GB RAM + 512GB SSD is hardly extravagant on a non-entry-level model. It's clear from the feedback from the M1 machines that 16GB can make a difference - and the 5k iMac is targeted at heavier workloads & pro apps (a full Logic Pro install is >60GB). Building a 27" iMac-class machine with less than 512/16 would be false economy (unless you're Apple and can force people to buy upgrades at silly prices, which is really nasty behaviour).

Very well said.
 

theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
7,684
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To quibble, Apple doesn't sell "upgrades." You can't buy Apple RAM modules, and you can't bring current Apple products into the Apple Store for a "factory" RAM or SSD upgrade (maybe the Mac Pro - not sure about that one). What they sell is pre-configured, buy-what-you-expect-to-need-for-the-life-of-the-product.
The 5k iMac and Mac Pro have easily user-accessible RAM that can be upgraded, by anybody who can follow instructions. The (intel) Mini and iMac Pro can have the RAM upgraded by any competent technician or more enthusiastic users.

Whether Apple sell "upgrades" or not is irrelevant - those models use bog-standard plug-in RAM modules (but yes, I think there was an "official" upgrade program for the iMac Pro).

That option is most likely going away with the new machines, and Apple kinda have an excuse for that if they can get better performance by using tightly-coupled LPDDR RAM (which isn't available in plug-in modules and relies on ultra-short traces connecting it to the CPU). However, it does make the range/pricing of RAM options an interesting issue...

This is no different than buying nearly any other kind of product. You don't buy a truck with a small engine and small cargo compartment with the expectation you'll upgrade the engine and/or increase the size of the cargo compartment at some point in the future.
(a) a manufacturer sold a truck with a feeble engine and limited cargo capacity people would say "that's a lousy truck - if I only needed to carry a week's shopping and not drive up any hills I'd buy a cheap compact, not a truck" and call shenanigans on them for using dirty tricks to offer a too-good-to-be-true headline price... and if they weren't careful, people who didn't do the research would buy the lame model then bad-mouth the company.

(b) I know this revelation could break the internet but computers aren't cars.

(c) This isn't just about "mid-life upgrades" - if you bought a 5k iMac from Apple with more than 8GB of RAM, then, sorry, Apple shafted you - whether it was your fault for not doing the research, or you had no choice because you were buying for work and had to follow silly rules (in which case, hopefully, work was paying) - Apple want $200 to add 8GB of RAM, Crucial want $177 for 32GB - just open the hatch at the back and plug-it-in. No brainer, really. I seriously doubt many people buy the higher-end 5k iMacs with 8GB and leave it like that. Since that option is probably going away with Apple Silicon, keeping the same RAM pricing strategy would effectively be a significant hidden price hike.

The base configuration is set to provide an adequate user experience at a price point that seems attractive.

The question is whether 8/256 would provide an "adequate user experience" on a machine aimed at 5k iMac customers. I don't think it would - all these machines are aimed at heavier users already, and 16/512 is hardly pushing the boat out.

Plus, the M1 is really, really powerful, so the 24" iMac and M1 Mini are likely to mop up some of the lower-end 5k sales, and probably one of the main selling points of the M1x/M2/whatever will be larger RAM options (and more CPU/GPU cores, which need more RAM to feed them - remember, the Intel 5ks have 4GB of VRAM while the M1x/M2 will be relying on Unified RAM for everything).
 

colodane

macrumors 65816
Nov 11, 2012
1,039
476
Colorado
I always buy my Macs BTO. As long as the memory options I want are available, I'm happy.

Why would you care about how they spec the base model ?
 

theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
7,684
7,847
I always buy my Macs BTO. As long as the memory options I want are available, I'm happy.

Why would you care about how they spec the base model ?

Well first, I have no problem buying BTO myself, but there are some people who need to buy from a store or a third party dealer for various reasons, and BTO is a pain for them - at the very least it cuts you out from any discounts being offered by retailers.

...but the main problem is price: Apple charges extortionate prices for their RAM and SSD options: E.g. $600 extra for a 32GB iMac from Apple vs. $177 for an extra 32GB from Crucial (giving 40GB total). (https://www.crucial.com/memory/ddr4/ct2k16g4s266m/ct19090484) - and those are likely the exact same Micron SODIMMs that Apple would use (there's only about 3 manufacturers of memory modules anyhow).

Apple's BTO upgrade prices have nothing to do with the cost of components (hence Apple apply the same $200-per-8GB rate whether its a different M1 module, LPDDR soldered to the mainboard of a MBP or just plugging different bog-standard SODIMMS into an iMac). Offering the base model with inadequate specs (and 8GB RAM is not inadequate for a $2000+ desktop) is just a game to get away with inflated prices for the models people actually need.
 

synicalx1

macrumors regular
Jun 24, 2020
142
90
I'd be putting my money on 8GB/512GB being the "base model". The current gen 27" iMacs have slower 512GB SSD's as standard but also have the option to very very easily upgrade the RAM yourself so there's no real incentive for Apple to fill them with RAM. On the flip side an Apple Silicon iMac will almost certainly not have upgradeable RAM which will cause FOMO in people buying the base model, so there's a huge incentive for Apple to "under" spec it with "only" 8GB of RAM so that people feel like they need to at least buy the 16GB upgrade presumably at a fairly substantial markup.

In fact I'd be willing to also bet that there will be a "mid range" model that is the base model + double the memory so that Apple aren't stuck servicing a boat load of BTO's on day 1.
 
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theluggage

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Jul 29, 2011
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In fact I'd be willing to also bet that there will be a "mid range" model that is the base model + double the memory so that Apple aren't stuck servicing a boat load of BTO's on day 1.
Need to be clear whether we're talking about "Models" or "BTO options" ("start at" in the original post was ambiguous).

Currently, there are 3 "Models" with different CPU specs and GPUs at $1800, $2000 and $2300 (all minus that critical $1 to ensure the thieving shop assistant has to open the till to make change - so important in this day and age!).

SSD-wise, only the pointless model has 256GB of storage, and there's no BTO option to increase that. The rest all come with 512GB base, which I'd say is perfectly adequate if you're going to use it as a system/application drive (with space for bloaty pro apps) and keep your bulky data externally.

In a sense I'm not worried about the $1800 model - it's there so that Apple can say "From $1799", for people buying a lab-full of machines that they don't have to use personally, and (now that it at least has a SSD, not spinning rust) is probably fine for people who just want a bigger screen than 24".

The "worry" is that the $2000 and $2300 models currently start at only 8GB RAM, which would be pathetic if not for the fact you can throw in an extra 16GB of third-party RAM for under $100. Without that possibility, I can't comprehend why anybody would buy those models with only 8GB. I'd expect direct Apple Silicon replacements for those to come with 16GB.

That is, of course, assuming that the ASi replacements stick to the same price points as the current models - which so far is what has happened with the M1 models, so it is a reasonable guess. It is possible that Apple will break that pattern with the M1X/M2/whatever machine, in which case all bets are off, and we may see price hikes (esp. if they're going to go with some sort of larger, possibly-XDR screen and position the high-end iMac more as an iMac Pro replacement) - but then there would be even less excuse for low-balling the base RAM and SSD.
 
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ApfelKuchen

macrumors 601
Aug 28, 2012
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The 5k iMac and Mac Pro have easily user-accessible RAM that can be upgraded, by anybody who can follow instructions. The (intel) Mini and iMac Pro can have the RAM upgraded by any competent technician or more enthusiastic users.

Whether Apple sell "upgrades" or not is irrelevant - those models use bog-standard plug-in RAM modules (but yes, I think there was an "official" upgrade program for the iMac Pro).

That option is most likely going away with the new machines, and Apple kinda have an excuse for that if they can get better performance by using tightly-coupled LPDDR RAM (which isn't available in plug-in modules and relies on ultra-short traces connecting it to the CPU). However, it does make the range/pricing of RAM options an interesting issue...


(a) a manufacturer sold a truck with a feeble engine and limited cargo capacity people would say "that's a lousy truck - if I only needed to carry a week's shopping and not drive up any hills I'd buy a cheap compact, not a truck" and call shenanigans on them for using dirty tricks to offer a too-good-to-be-true headline price... and if they weren't careful, people who didn't do the research would buy the lame model then bad-mouth the company.

(b) I know this revelation could break the internet but computers aren't cars.

(c) This isn't just about "mid-life upgrades" - if you bought a 5k iMac from Apple with more than 8GB of RAM, then, sorry, Apple shafted you - whether it was your fault for not doing the research, or you had no choice because you were buying for work and had to follow silly rules (in which case, hopefully, work was paying) - Apple want $200 to add 8GB of RAM, Crucial want $177 for 32GB - just open the hatch at the back and plug-it-in. No brainer, really. I seriously doubt many people buy the higher-end 5k iMacs with 8GB and leave it like that. Since that option is probably going away with Apple Silicon, keeping the same RAM pricing strategy would effectively be a significant hidden price hike.



The question is whether 8/256 would provide an "adequate user experience" on a machine aimed at 5k iMac customers. I don't think it would - all these machines are aimed at heavier users already, and 16/512 is hardly pushing the boat out.

Plus, the M1 is really, really powerful, so the 24" iMac and M1 Mini are likely to mop up some of the lower-end 5k sales, and probably one of the main selling points of the M1x/M2/whatever will be larger RAM options (and more CPU/GPU cores, which need more RAM to feed them - remember, the Intel 5ks have 4GB of VRAM while the M1x/M2 will be relying on Unified RAM for everything).
Yes, traditional, replaceable RAM modules allow a user to save a few bucks out of pocket on RAM modules vs. purchasing pre-configured from the manufacturer. It's a game as old as MS-DOS. Every manufacturer charges more for pre-installed RAM than one could pay for the bare module afterwards.

But when I was in corporate IT, that strategy was against company policy. The "savings" on the component part ignores the labor costs. When purchasing new machines we were required to specify a configuration that would be sufficient for the expected life of the machine. That became part of the capital cost of the equipment. Buying the parts later on (and having IT staff install them) would have shifted the parts and labor costs to the operating budget, which was frowned upon. And upgrading a HD? Forget about it - if you were going to take the time to backup the contents of the HD and restore it to a new HD, they preferred we invest that time on moving it to a new machine with up-to-date CPU and other subsystems.

Of course, do-it-yourselfers typically ignore labor costs, and there's no real difference between Capital Budget and Operating Budget. It's "sweat equity," or the pleasures of a hobby. They may boast, "I got X more years of life out of the machine for spending just $100 on more RAM" (or replacing the spinner with an SSD). However, if they lacked the skills or personal confidence to do the job, a repair shop might charge a minimum of $50 labor for a RAM upgrade and $200 or more in labor for the SSD. For that kind of user, paying the "tax" on factory-preconfigured gear is close to break-even, and may save them inconvenience and downtime.

As to the manufacturer who sold a truck with a "feeble" engine or limited cargo capacity... That's not what I'm talking about. It's up to the customer to purchase the truck they need, for the intended workload. One user's "feeble" and "limited capacity" may be perfect for another - some vehicles are optimal for cities where parking is difficult and speeds rarely exceed 35 MPH/55 KPH but become inefficient in suburban/rural use. You don't need a 55-foot trailer to deliver small packages to 30 addresses in the course of a day. That 55-foot trailer excels at pallet-load deliveries to warehouses and big-box retail stores.

Computers aren't cars, but cars and computers are both products. Nearly every product sold is purpose-built (not modular), and while marketing practices vary somewhat from product category to product category, company to company, the overall "rules" of commerce and marketing are nearly universal. Cars are frequently used as an example because cars are expensive, durable goods that fall within the experience of nearly everyone, and that also have supported extensive DIY maintenance/repair/upgrade activity over the decades and are also famous for the sales/marketing practices of their manufacturers and dealers.

I'm a "handy" person who grew up in a family with a long tradition of DIY repairs and home improvements. Arguably, I'm the most skilled of four generations of my family in that regard. House wiring, carpentry, plumbing, drywall, interior and exterior painting, landscaping/gardening, masonry, appliance repair, electronics, automotive, computers (of course), smartphones... I've done it all to one degree or another, sometimes professionally. Some of it I still do, but for many of these things I now prefer to hire a professional (sometimes even when it's something for which I can be considered a professional). Why? My time is precious, and for many tasks I'm also purchasing the fluency/experience of someone who does a particular task frequently. It would take me more time, I'm not the young buck I was 40 years ago, and there's the likelihood that I would do the job with less finesse/competence. The pro may also have tools that contribute to a job-better-done that would be too expensive for me to justify purchasing for a one-off job.

But back to Apple's configurations. Yes, I'm expecting that the big iMacs will not have the same RAM upgrade scheme we're used to - that's the price of SOC-style performance. So I'll have to do what I've done for many decades now - determine whether I'll need more than the X RAM and Y storage space offered in the entry-level configuration. I don't worry about the "Apple Tax" any more than I worry about the "Ford Tax" - if I need something more than a 4-cylinder 2-liter engine and space for more than two suitcases, I'll buy the model that suits my needs.
 

Realityck

macrumors G4
Nov 9, 2015
10,670
16,047
Silicon Valley, CA
If you had to bet, would you say that the new iMac that's rumoured to come late this year will start with 16gb or RAM and or 512GB or will Apple stick to 256/8GB?

I'm thinking they're going to stick to 256/8GB solely because they make so much money off of the upgrades.
16GB /512GB SSD baseline. No one will buy a 8GB RAM 30/32" iMac.
 

JWSpaceMan

macrumors member
Dec 14, 2015
41
82
Yes, traditional, replaceable RAM modules allow a user to save a few bucks out of pocket on RAM modules vs. purchasing pre-configured from the manufacturer. It's a game as old as MS-DOS. Every manufacturer charges more for pre-installed RAM than one could pay for the bare module afterwards.

But when I was in corporate IT, that strategy was against company policy. The "savings" on the component part ignores the labor costs. When purchasing new machines we were required to specify a configuration that would be sufficient for the expected life of the machine. ...
Excellent post. Thoughtful and insightful.
 

JouniS

macrumors 6502a
Nov 22, 2020
619
380
But when I was in corporate IT, that strategy was against company policy. The "savings" on the component part ignores the labor costs. When purchasing new machines we were required to specify a configuration that would be sufficient for the expected life of the machine. That became part of the capital cost of the equipment. Buying the parts later on (and having IT staff install them) would have shifted the parts and labor costs to the operating budget, which was frowned upon.
I've seen the opposite in the academia. It used to be routine that the IT department upgraded the laptop / desktop before handing it to the user. Sometimes because the vendor charged $200 for $50 of hardware and 5 minutes of work. Sometimes because it was more cost-effective to order a handful of standard configurations than to try estimating in advance what would actually be needed. And sometimes because the higher-ups didn't believe what the users said they need and ordered inadequate hardware.

Of course, do-it-yourselfers typically ignore labor costs, and there's no real difference between Capital Budget and Operating Budget. It's "sweat equity," or the pleasures of a hobby. They may boast, "I got X more years of life out of the machine for spending just $100 on more RAM" (or replacing the spinner with an SSD).
Sometimes labor costs are the reason why upgrading is better than buying a new computer. If you are a freelancer, a small business, or a user with special needs, there is no process for migrating to a new computer, because it happens so rarely. While an upgrade might take an hour or two, replacing the computer may require a day or two of effort from the user.
 

theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
7,684
7,847
Yes, traditional, replaceable RAM modules allow a user to save a few bucks out of pocket on RAM modules vs. purchasing pre-configured from the manufacturer.
$600 extra for an "official" BTO 32GB RAM iMac vs. $180 to upgrade an 8GB model to 40GB with third-party RAM is more than "a few bucks"... and upgrading the RAM on a 5k iMac is literally a 5 minute job, no tools required, no technical skill required beyond the ability to slot in a module the only way it will fit.

Every manufacturer charges more for pre-installed RAM than one could pay for the bare module afterwards.
Then maybe you need to look beyond the HP and Dell websites (esp. if you want to buy a computer rather than a finance agreement and ripoff extended warranty) - the sort of places I might consider buying a PC from (e.g. Novatech.co.uk, queitpc.com) basically charge something like the difference in retail price (so ~ $150 for an 8 to 32GB upgrade). Then again, even with HP and Dell, most PC desktops costing over ~$1500 come with at least 16GB RAM as standard...

But when I was in corporate IT, that strategy was against company policy. The "savings" on the component part ignores the labor costs. When purchasing new machines we were required to specify a configuration that would be sufficient for the expected life of the machine.
...a junior technician could upgrade RAM in 5 minutes. It's up to your corporate masters to make sure that some of the savings they make by replacing the in-house technician with a call centre in India show up in your equipment budget (good luck with that, because the manglement's rationalisation of those sort of decisions usually depends on conveniently ignoring the knock-on effect on other departments' budgets and employee off-the-clock workload).

The actual reasons are more likely either to do with tax (there are usually tax advantages to replacing capital equipment every 3/4 years or getting it on a 3/4 year lease to keep it out of the capital budget entirely) or that they've signed an exclusive agreement with a particular supplier. Of course, if the procurement department are worth their wages that will be a good deal and the problem will go away - some of those high published upgrade prices from suppliers are partly there as a starting point for discounting.

Anyway, we're not talking about mid-life upgrades, we're talking about the lousy RAM and SSD specs that Apple offer in their base model "higher-end" desktops meaning that they need "upgrades" (or expensive BTO options) on day one.
 
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