The 'sealed-box' Mac: Cutting-edge design or planned obsolescence?

Bob Coxner

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 24, 2011
793
24
https://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9230209/The_sealed_box_Mac_Cutting_edge_design_or_planned_obsolescence_?taxonomyId=163&pageNumber=1

Let's jump forward to June 2012, when Apple unveiled the new top-of-the-line 15-in. MacBook Pro, with its ground-breaking Retina display, a truly drool-worthy laptop if ever there was one. It's fast, powerful and stylish, setting the standard for what a full-featured yet highly portable laptop can be. But that gorgeous package comes with a cost. iFixit, in its teardown analysis, gave the Retina MacBook Pro the lowest possible score, 1 out of 10, for its almost complete lack of upgradeability. There are no user-replaceable parts whatsoever, including the battery or even RAM, which, in a trend begun with the MacBook Air in 2008, is directly soldered to the logic board. What's wrong with this picture?
 

Queen6

macrumors 604
Nothing, if an upgrade path is essential buy a Mac Pro or the standard Unibody. by far the vast majority of owners of portables don't upgrade, Apple already know this. The answer is very simple those that don't care for the Retina`s simply need to vote with their $$$, although you are very likely to be in the minority, it`s a consumer market at the end of the day...
 

Spicedham

macrumors regular
Jun 16, 2012
126
5
there's not much to upgrade with a rmbp besides the ram and ssd. just max out the ram for an extra $200 and wait for the ssd prices to go down. the third party blade ssds will eventually go down.
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,721
1,820
there's not much to upgrade with a rmbp besides the ram and ssd. just max out the ram for an extra $200 and wait for the ssd prices to go down. the third party blade ssds will eventually go down.
They used a proprietary connection. There is a little chance that many vendors are going to develop for it. Even then you need the right screwdriver for their anti tamper screws, and you would need to revert any changes if you wish to guarantee warranty service. Given the lack of generic ssds that fit this, I'd suggest just ordering it with the size you want. Otherwise it may be better to wait for a more mature product.
 

sweetbrat

macrumors 65816
Jun 17, 2009
1,443
1
Redford, MI
The truth is that the vast majority of users never upgrade anything on their computer. Most will never even take the screws out and see what's inside. People in general expect their computers to work, and when they don't, they take them somewhere to get them fixed.

The MacRumors population is so far removed from "general users." People here expect to be able to do upgrades, swap faulty HDDs, clean out fans, etc. Apple knows that most people don't need that kind of access. Most people do appreciate streamlined, lightweight notebooks that work well, regardless of what's inside.

There's always trade-offs in life. Computers have trade-offs, too. To make the streamlined product they wanted in the space they wanted, user accessibility was sacrificed. This doesn't matter a bit to most people. To those that don't like it, there's a decision to be made...get a Mac that you can't upgrade (easily) or choose something else. I know people feel like they're being forced away, but they're not. They just need to re-evaluate their needs and make a decision. There's never going to be one product to make everyone happy. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. So as a manufacturer, you aim for the biggest audience. As a consumer, you educate yourself and purchase what best suits your needs.

I think a lot of the problem is that when it comes to Apple, people get emotional. They love their Macs and don't want to think about having to choose something else, even if something else would better meet their needs. But Apple doesn't have anything personal against the people that don't like the retina MBP. Apple doesn't hate professionals, or people that like to do their own upgrades. They're trying to get products to market that will earn them the most money. It's business, and Apple has been pretty good at it.

That being said, if the design decisions they make mean that people are going to spend more at the outset because the internals aren't upgradable? That sounds like a win-win situation for Apple. I don't think planned obsolescence is valid, though. I could see that term being used if Apple was limiting you to a 128GB SSD and 4 or 8GB of RAM. But they do give you options to try to future-proof the retina MBP. They also have a battery replacement service. There's no reason that one of these machines shouldn't last several years, and to me, that's not planned obsolescence.
 

Queen6

macrumors 604
from Apple. Then you won't be able to upgrade from anyone else either :)
Obvious and general observations, Apple produce for the consumer, not minority groups. The consumer wants slimmer, lighter, faster Apple delivers what more is there to say. If as an individual you are not happy with the present Retina line, then send feedback to Apple, complaining here will achieve nothing whatsoever.
 

SlyMac

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2008
292
43
This lack of upgradability, I think, has a lot of merit to it. In order to get those amazing form factors, space needs to be saved somewhere. Apple (along with other manufactures now) decided to do away with casing that allows for easy servicing. Hardware that allows you to upgrade yourself is giving way to soldered parts that reduce size. Design has a lot to do with this decision. It is also mosdef money related.

This is a win win for manufacturers because it produces a sleeker machine (which is more appealing to consumers) and requires you purchase the top of the line if you want the best specs (very appealing to the manufacturer).

I am fine with that. I prefer to have a solid, well built machine that is thinner and better looking than most and am willing to give up some user upgradeability for it. You just need to decide if that is an acceptable trade off. If it isn't, vote with your wallet and buy something else.
 

terraphantm

macrumors 68040
Jun 27, 2009
3,740
552
Pennsylvania
I consider myself a power user. I've personally built every desktop I've owned since 10 years of age, so I'm definitely aware of the concept of upgrading.

But in my laptops, I only ever found myself upgrading the ram. Maybe the harddrive, but usually I wanted a new laptop by the time the extra space was useful.

So with the rMBP I maxed out the memory and got a 512GB ssd. Those specs probably will hold me over until the CPU/GPU are obsolete anyway. So the lack of upgrade ability doesn't bug me too much.
 

Krazy Bill

macrumors 68030
Dec 21, 2011
2,985
3
Reading that article took 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back. What a long-windied way to point out the obvious. For those that don't want to make the same mistake allow me to summarize:

1.) MacBooks are going to be sealed.
2.) They won't be user-upgradeable any more, so...
3.) ...max out your BTO options.

To the author I say... "duh".
 

Spicedham

macrumors regular
Jun 16, 2012
126
5
They used a proprietary connection. There is a little chance that many vendors are going to develop for it. Even then you need the right screwdriver for their anti tamper screws, and you would need to revert any changes if you wish to guarantee warranty service. Given the lack of generic ssds that fit this, I'd suggest just ordering it with the size you want. Otherwise it may be better to wait for a more mature product.
There is an aftermarket ssd that fits the retina macbook pro but its currently really expensive. With the screwdriver they're pretty cheap, fixit should have it.
 

MacGurl111

macrumors 65816
Feb 4, 2010
1,281
281
Seattle
The truth is that the vast majority of users never upgrade anything on their computer. Most will never even take the screws out and see what's inside. People in general expect their computers to work, and when they don't, they take them somewhere to get them fixed.

The MacRumors population is so far removed from "general users." People here expect to be able to do upgrades, swap faulty HDDs, clean out fans, etc. Apple knows that most people don't need that kind of access. Most people do appreciate streamlined, lightweight notebooks that work well, regardless of what's inside.
Yes. And I am one of them. :)
 

stevelam

macrumors 65816
Nov 4, 2010
1,215
3
Obvious and general observations, Apple produce for the consumer, not minority groups. The consumer wants slimmer, lighter, faster Apple delivers what more is there to say. If as an individual you are not happy with the present Retina line, then send feedback to Apple, complaining here will achieve nothing whatsoever.
completely wrong. the consumer does not want any of those things. apple makes them and THEN the consumer wants them.

and are you serious about apple not making for minority groups? what do you think the RMBP is? its clearly not for the typical consumer.
 

Jiten

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2008
581
0
If Apple can offer competitive and decent priced upgrade options for their sealed Macs then perhaps maybe...

When talking about notebooks, it can be argued that the rMBP offers a relative good value for certain upgrades but in our retina sealed future I will surely miss being able to upgrade my Mac down the road. I have a 2011 17" that I refuse to sell but upgraded with double 512 GB SSDs and 16 GB of RAM. Later on when 1 TB SSDs become cheaply available I might upgrade again. There are also speculations in this board that Sandy Bridge and above might even accept 16 GB RAM modules in the future.

I believe that unlike my slick rMBP, my regular Macbook Pro will be useful a bit longer.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,350
4,862
This is a general trend in the industry, and I fail to see how its a 'bad' things. This already happened to shoes, clothes, clocks, phones, cars, and now its happens to computers. There is no real need to open up the computer anyway. Upgradeability as a necessity is a moot point. Arguments like 'but one day I'd maybe like to upgrade my RAM' is negligible. Upgradeability is a plus, of course, but not if it sacrifices mobility or reliability of the machine. I'd take (and I did) a sealed in 2kg machine over an upgradeable 2.5kg machine any time of the day.
 

terraphantm

macrumors 68040
Jun 27, 2009
3,740
552
Pennsylvania
completely wrong. the consumer does not want any of those things. apple makes them and THEN the consumer wants them.

and are you serious about apple not making for minority groups? what do you think the RMBP is? its clearly not for the typical consumer.
The rMBP is a flagship product. Its purpose is to have mass appeal at a price beyond the average Joe's reach. The idea is that it brings people to the store so that they end up buying a lower end model. Similar idea behind flagship vehicles like the Mercedes S-class.

So apple is making it for both. They want the entire consumer base to find the laptop appealing, but they realize only a select few with pockets deep enough will buy it.
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,721
1,820
There is an aftermarket ssd that fits the retina macbook pro but its currently really expensive. With the screwdriver they're pretty cheap, fixit should have it.
You and I are aware of ifixit, but we're both posting on a mac forum. Beyond that, Apple designed it not be opened. That would be why they used anti-tamper screws rather than torx. It's really not meant to be opened by anyone but a repair center. I don't personally like this. The ram thing isn't as big of a deal. It's more expensive from Apple, but they hit a tolerable level. It's just that drives and batteries are expendable parts. That's what makes the design somewhat annoying.

The rMBP is a flagship product. Its purpose is to have mass appeal at a price beyond the average Joe's reach. The idea is that it brings people to the store so that they end up buying a lower end model. Similar idea behind flagship vehicles like the Mercedes S-class.

So apple is making it for both. They want the entire consumer base to find the laptop appealing, but they realize only a select few with pockets deep enough will buy it.
While I'm not sure this counters your opinion, I expect they will bring these features to less expensive models before long. I don't see it going past 2 years, but it depends on how well the technology matures.

Apple has some unusual display designs at times. I wonder if they design things that are unreasonably difficult to manufacture at their required volume when it comes to displays. I've had more trouble with Apple displays than basically any other brand.
 
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haruhiko

macrumors 603
Sep 29, 2009
5,065
2,618
completely wrong. the consumer does not want any of those things. apple makes them and THEN the consumer wants them.

and are you serious about apple not making for minority groups? what do you think the RMBP is? its clearly not for the typical consumer.
The typical consumers? Apple has the MacBook Air.
 

Dustman

macrumors 65816
Apr 17, 2007
1,272
47
Cutting edge. Sometimes sacrafices have to be made for portability and asthetics. I'm okay with that. I've only ever upgraded the ram in a desktop. Never a laptop. I'm typing on a laptop from 2007 right now originally shipped with vista, have never opened it (other than to clean it out, overheating issues) and it chugs along just great now with Windows 8 RTM. I'd much rather have this thing weigh less than the 8 pounds it weighs, and forgo the opportunity to maybe update it some day. If it gets too slow, sell it, buy new (or refub'd).