How much longer will original compact macs last?

Discussion in 'Apple Collectors' started by iameatingjam1, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. iameatingjam1 macrumors newbie

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    Dec 28, 2013
    #1
    I've been having a lot of fun with my SE lately, I can't believe how vibrant and crisp the graphics are, and how fast it runs with only 2MB a ram. Lots of fun games too.

    But this got me thinking, how the heck does this computer still run? This things power supply is still functioning! These days when you buy a power supply you consider yourself lucky if it lasts over 3 years! Same goes for hard drives.

    The things case makes me believe its been through hell and back, but the internals keep going even after 30 years just about. I know there's no definite answer to this question, but how long do you guys think these computers have before hardware failure is unavoidable?
     
  2. MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

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    #2
    All things fail, and I've certainly repaired a lot of early Macs from 128Ks to SEs and beyond.

    There are common failures, but I'd class the MacSE (not the SE30) as the most reliable of the early Macs.

    But why are they so reliable? Many of the components used in the early Macs were "off-the-shelf" components, so they were often over spec for the job. As semiconductor manufacturing became cheaper, it was often easier to design your own semiconductor for the job and build it to just within spec.

    On the SE, which was the first to use a separate module for the power supply, the power supply was designed and built by Aztec and Sony, who designed things to last (at least, back then).

    But, you might have just jinxed yourself. :eek:
     
  3. WMD macrumors regular

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    #3
    The SE was, IIRC, the first compact Mac with a fan. As such, its reliabilty should be a bit better than the models before it, if only because of the reduced heat.

    On the flipside, the only reason you can marvel about your SE surviving is because it has survived. The dead ones are probably all long since forgotten, so nobody notices.
     
  4. iameatingjam1 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    what can I do to increase lifespan? Should I open er up for a clean every now and then? anything else?
     
  5. tevion5 macrumors 68000

    tevion5

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    #5
    Why is it that the Classic and Classic II are so prone to leaking capacitors? Surely the 128K-SE line all use a similar build and yet most of the ones you see for sale are nearly always fine. Whereas if you go looking for either of those troublesome fellows you have to wade through all the ones with chess and zebra patterns on the display?
     
  6. iameatingjam1 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    I was wondering the exact same thing yesterday....
     
  7. MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

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    #7
    The 128K, 512K, 512Ke, Plus, SE and SE FDHD don't use surface mount electrolytic capacitors on the motherboard.

    For some reason, these things are very good at leaking and because of capillary action, it spreads very easily to the board. The SE/30, "Mac Classic" and onward use them and they all suffer from the leaky cap problem too.

    The only other machine that DOESN'T use them is the Quadra 700, which has surface mount solid tantalum capacitors instead.

    These surface mount electrolytics do the same thing in any equipment they're used. Camcorders, computers, printers, TVs etc etc. I hate them. :mad:

    :)
     
  8. AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

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    #8
    One of the largest contributing factors to short lifespans of products low, is lead-free solder, that has a well-know reputation for breaking, splintering, spidering, etc., after less than five years.

    In contrast, electronics from the last fifty years continue to run in a flawless manner.

    Other things to consider are small tolerance mechanics, such as modern HDD mechanisms, that can easily develop faults, versus old drives that have much larger margins for error, a more energetic EM signature used for r/w access, combined with a smaller sector size, and thus, is more resilient overall.

    The last problem with modern equipment, is that many of the parts used are pure rubbish. Chinese-made switching transformers are expected to last less than five years, whereas a power supply from 1986 is likely to last another twenty years, and then, only require replacement capacitors.

    Cost cutting, is one of the main culprits. Compare the price of an entry-level, a medium-level, and a professional-level system, in 1984, to one in 1994, and again in 2004, and finally, in 2014; then contrast that to inflation. You will not an overall decline of massive proportions, in terms of what a product costs now, compared to what a product of contemporary level did in a previous decade.

    A good example for Apple is to take the prices of these series:
    Apple //c, the original Macintosh, and the Lisa/Mac XL in 1984/85;
    The //c+, Mac IIx (or SE), and Mac IIfx a few years later;
    The //gs (or) LCII, Quadra 700 and IIvx;
    The LC575, Quadra 610, and Powermac 8100;
    the Powermac 5600, Powermac 6500, and Powermac 9600;
    The iMac, The G3 Desktop, the G3 Tower
    The iMac (2nd Gen), the g4 Cube, the G4 Tower
    The eMac, the iMac G4 (20"), and the G5
    The iMac Core 2, The Mini, and the Mac Pro

    Do an analysis of the cost of each system, ranking the first as an 'entry-level', the second as a 'mid-range', and the third as a 'professional system', and look at the curve over time. The results may shock you, but this reflects the real-world change in price with having products made in China, using disposable technology.

    It's the same reason that the lifetime guarantee, declines to a ten-year, then five year, then three-year, and now a mere one-year (often limited) guarantee. Product quality is usually keyed to cost, and when your cost as a consumer is lower than anticipated, you can bet easily on the fact that the cost to manufacture something is even lower, as companies strive to increase profit margins, not the reverse.

    You can still build, manufacture, or buy equipment designed to last thirty years, but you should expect to pay a fortune for it, or for it not to be as cutting edge as what is elsewhere available that is not as high-quality and has limited longevity, as it is finally important to always remember:

    The shorter the lifespan of a product, the higher the turnaround for the manufacturers, distributors, and resellers, and thus, the more profitable avenue to to make products that last just long enough not to anger your customers, and to force them to replace equipment and materials in approximately two-to-three year cycles, which is the industry-accepted term of longevity for electronic and mechanical components today.

    You may be shocked at just how long this concept has been around, and practised by large companies.
     
  9. Katakefalos macrumors newbie

    Katakefalos

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    #9
    Well Im impressed with the truth at AmestrisXServe post.
    Its really interesting to face the fact that my 3 Lacie firewire HD 250,250,500 GB that bought at 2005 broke up suddenly at almost the same time even if i didn't used them too much.
    On the other hand last year bought a Macintosh Classic with 40 MB HD.
    Logic board was dead because of battery leaking,changed the board and found all the files to its working 40 MB HD with last registration change at 2000.

    23 years old and at last 13 years sleeping HD is working perfect.
    No comment !!
     
  10. tevion5 macrumors 68000

    tevion5

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    #10
    Ahh so the old ones are just built better with longer lasting parts. Why the shift to the unreliable caps? :/
     
  11. MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

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    #11
    Smaller and lower profile. However, solid Tantalums are smaller again, but more expensive, so they're rarely used.
     
  12. AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I have to concur: Use Tantalum caps for a refit, as they will last twice, or thrice as long, and you don't want to have to do this job again.

    I hope that you have an SMD station.
     
  13. MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

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    #13
    Forgot to mention, the IIfx had pads for both tantalums AND SMD electrolytics, but Apple used tantalums for it.
     
  14. iameatingjam1 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Thanks for the excellent post AmestrisXServe, very interesting read. I had a feeling planned obsolescence had something to do with it.
     
  15. WMD macrumors regular

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    #15
    This makes me wonder...would today's Mac Pro, at $3000+, be considered a reliable computer with high-quality parts? I suspect not, based on recent history (reliability of PM G5s in particular was not so good, at similar prices). The older Mac Pro has done maybe slightly better. How much, then, would a "good" computer cost? Is such a thing even made?
     
  16. MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

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    #16
    Looking at the take-apart posted some time ago, it still uses those SMD electrolytic capacitors so it will eventually suffer the same demise. But it's typically many years before they fail. :(

    http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Mac+Pro+Late+2013+Teardown/20778
     

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