What makes mac hardware different?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Timbothecat, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. Timbothecat macrumors newbie

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    Mar 27, 2008
    #1
    Hi guys.

    I work in IT and was recently offered a mac book as payment for a job that I was doing for a client. So, I thought I'd join up here and find out from you great folks just what it's all about.

    As a bit of background, although I work in IT I'm a relative newcomer to computers. I wasn't around them a lot growing up and have really only had a lot to do with them in the last 4-5 years. One of the things I don't see a lot of is Mac's (which disappoints me as I hate MS with a passion). I do know a couple of people who own them though (unfortunately they live over 1000km away so I can't have a lash at theirs to come to grips with it) and I've always found them to be pretty easy to use.

    To my question though. What it is in the hardware set up that makes the Mac different? People often ask me why they're different and all I can really say is that the hardware is different. I figure that if I'm going to join the world of Mac users it would be good to understand what makes the Mac what it is and just how it ticks. I know that things like RAM are different in the Mac but after that, what other differences might I expect to find if I opened one up? (not that I'm going to, just hypothetical:D) If you know your way around a pc how hard would it be to do the same with a Mac?

    Any help you could give here would be brilliant as it will help me on my quest to be a more "rounded" IT specialist.

    All the best,

    Tim.
     
  2. AliensAreFuzzy macrumors 68000

    AliensAreFuzzy

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    #2
    Really there's not much difference in the hardware from PCs. Even the RAM is the same. Really the only difference is that Apple's hardware is prettier:D
     
  3. Neil321 macrumors 68040

    Neil321

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    #3
    OS X is what sets apart the Mac from your windows PC,plus the hardware's bundled together to look alot nicer, so its not made to look like a plastic brick
     
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #4
    Two things principally differentiate Macs from PCs.

    1. There are no bare-bones Macs.
    2. OS X.
     
  5. Timbothecat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    :D:D:D

    The thing is that people often ask my boss about Mac's and he never bags them (he actually appreciates the design etc) but he does tend to steer people away from them because from a hardware perspective they're "harder to deal with if something breaks". I was always lead to believe this was due to significant hardware differences.
     
  6. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5

    wrldwzrd89

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    #6
    This used to be true with the PowerPC Macs, but as time went on, the differences in hardware reduced drastically. Now, there are only minimal differences between the latest Intel Macs and a typical PC.

    For example:
    Intel Macs use EFI for their firmware. PCs still use BIOS.
    Intel Macs have a few extra hardware locks designed to prevent Mac OS X from running on "generic" PC hardware.
    All Macs have integrated sound, as opposed to a dedicated sound card.

    Other than that, the processors, memory, motherboards, hard drives, optical drives, and most other major components are identical.
     
  7. Neil321 macrumors 68040

    Neil321

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    #7
    I think your boss has been misinformed,as most of the guts is the same as on a windows PC
     
  8. scienide09 macrumors 65816

    scienide09

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    #8
    Yes, the hardware is the same as what's available for non-Apple PCs. However, one of the best things about Macs, from my perspective, is that Apple controls the hardware that end of in their systems.

    This means that someone within Apple has selected everything from the processor and motherboard/logic board to the speakers. All of these have been selected for compatibility with OS X. This means that Macs are specifically designed to run Apple's operating system. There are a limited number of hardware permutations across Apple's computer product line, therefore limiting the risk on incompatibility and poor performance.

    Now, think of the millions of hardware combinations that are possible just from the top 5 non-Apple PC makers, plus the others that are possible when we account for those who build their own boxes. As the major OS in the world, people expect Windows to run on all of these. Think of the dissatisfaction when people realized they would have to upgrade their GPUs and RAM in their 6 month old computers when Vista was released in order to run that OS. Think of incompatibility issues you've seen in your work, play, on in the news.

    OS X is a major reason why people love Macs. I say the fact that Apple controls the hardware that is allowed to run OS X is what makes the operating system and the Mac experience more pleasurable than using a non-Mac PC. And I say this as someone who uses WinXP on a daily basis.
     
  9. Timbothecat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Actually wrldwzrd89 would be closer to the mark. The big thing I've noticed with the guy in the last 18 months is that once he gets an opinion on something he's very hard to move. His reasons -while being valid at some stage- are often flawed which makes me glad I'm researching this. As an example, we had an argument recently on the validity of using css rather than tables when designing a web page. While his arguments for tables were valid 5-10 years ago, they hold much less weight now. Still can't change his opinion on it though because as far as he's concerned he's right and that's all there is to it, so this opinion (on Mac's etc) definitely fits his MO.

    Meanwhile guys, all this input is awesome. Thank you so much.
     
  10. NAG macrumors 68030

    NAG

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    #10
    Well there are some minor differences. Macs have more restrictive tolerance for ram. So a lot of cheap ram won't work in a mac. The video cards also have different rom so the mac video card market is rather lame. Other than that pretty much all the traditionally upgradeable parts are the same as the stuff you'd find in a PC.
     
  11. Henri Gaudier macrumors 6502a

    Henri Gaudier

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  12. Neil321 macrumors 68040

    Neil321

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    #12
    Maybe but the main components, ie motherboard,processors,harddrive,optical drive are no different than that of a windows PC and as Henri Gaudier just stated there's a massive price difference,but the best thing is a stable,reliable OS



    OS X ROCKS
     
  13. kuwisdelu macrumors 65816

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    #13
    What your boss is probably referring to is the lack of user-upgradeable parts in most Macs. Usually something like RAM is fairly trivial to replace, but things like the hard drive, graphics card, etc., are impossible to upgrade in Macs without voiding the warranty. There are some exceptions to this, such as the hard drives in MacBooks and Mac Pros, and so on, but for the most part, upgrading a Mac is much more difficult (if not impossible) than upgrading a PC.

    One thing that offsets this factor, though, is that Macs on average last a lot longer than their PC counterparts. They hold their value much better. Yes, they are more expensive, but this often ends up being a myth, as an equally specced PC will usually be about the same $$-wise. While many say Apple's quality control has been suffering lately, Macs are still very well-made compared to most other computers. Often, they can survive a beating that would kill a PC (I know mine and my girlfriend's MacBooks have.) Apple uses high-quality parts comparative to most PC manufacturers, although you could still get a higher-quality, better specced PC if you made one yourself (or perhaps bought from a top-of-the-line PC manufacturer, but not from most places).

    Another reason hardware gets mentioned a lot with Macs is that because Apple keeps a vertically integrated business model, you rarely (if ever) have any problems with drivers or device-device compatibility. They're able to optimize Mac software to run much, much better on Mac hardware than Microsoft could ever do for the millions of hardware combinations they have to support. This is a reason that even a Mac with worse hardware than a PC can often outperform it.

    But the real thing that sets Macs apart from PCs isn't the hardware. It's OS X. But that's another story.
     
  14. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #14
    I'd agree that basically with a Mac you're getting decent-quality PC components (as in the capacitors on the motherboard and the quality of the power supply, not drive brand) in a fit-and-tested, stylish case, with an OS that knows what everything is and has all drivers pre-installed. Also, as said, there are no low-end models--everything has pretty much the works--and they're upgraded on a relatively long timescale, so while they're usually a decent value when compared to similar higher-end products, they're comparatively more expensive toward the end of a product cycle.

    On the laptop front, basically the same type of product as a Sony Vaio, except for the better OS.

    I don't think that's entirely the case. At the least, most replacement parts (as in hard drives) don't void the warranty, even on the not-usually-user-upgradeable systems.

    Certainly it's harder to upgrade an iMac than a stock Dell consumer tower, but then that's not what the iMac is or is intended to be. The hard drive in an iMac should be easier to get to, but that's it, and on the current model replacing it doesn't involve breaking any "warranty void" seals to my knowledge.

    With the exception of the Apple's lack of support for processor upgrades, Mac Pros have basically the same user-upgradeable parts (graphics card, drives, empty slots) as most other workstations. No, the motherboard can't be replaced with another, but then that's arguably the case with most pre-built Windows machines, all of which have somewhat custom motherboards.

    And if you look at laptops, most laptops from other manufacturers, to my knowledge, don't have upgradeable processors or graphics chips. Yes, some do, but usually bulky gamer rigs, and certainly "compact" ones are rarely upgradeable in that way. Now, the MBPs should have a more easily accessible hard drive, like the MBs do, but that's about the only real annoyance.

    The mini, of course, is difficult to upgrade compared to most Windows thin client boxes, but again that's basically being sold as an appliance.
     
  15. Timbothecat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    So, if I'm not mistaken, you can just as easily upgrade your Mac as you can a windoze pc? Provided the parts you use aren't just purchased down at the local computer shop?

    Okay, I have another question that you may or may not be able to answer. If I decided to start offering on Mac's as part of our business, how hard is it to obtain parts for repair/upgrade? And is there a place where I can get a list of obtainable Mac parts. (Similar to the HCL on www.linuxquestions.org)
     
  16. heatmiser macrumors 68020

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    #16
    It depends on what you mean by "upgrade". There are few (read: almost zero) user-replaceable parts in Mac laptops or laptop-like desktops (read: the iMac and the mini). The only Intel Mac worthy of being called upgradeable in the way most folks use the term is the Mac Pro. However, if by "upgrade", you simply mean replacing the hard drive and replacing the memory, then you can replace those with any equivalent memory or drives typically found in such laptops or desktops. There is nothing special about the memory or drives that go into Macs. For all intents and purposes, a Mac is just a PC with a TPM chip inside that allows it to run OS X. :cool:
     
  17. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5

    wrldwzrd89

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    #17
    Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that. The early Intel Macs did have TPMs, but the newest ones do not. I'm not sure why Apple included them in the earliest models but didn't in later ones.
     
  18. EB66 macrumors 6502

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    #18
    mac hardware is built in heaven that is the reason it is so different and so good
     
  19. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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  20. heatmiser macrumors 68020

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    #20
    True; my point's that there are checks the OS performs before installation to make sure it's being installed to Apple-branded hardware. Besides that, there aren't any meaningful differences between PC hardware and Mac hardware.
     
  21. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #21
    As said, for "basic" stuff (replacing a broken hard drive or optical drive not under warranty), almost any off-the-shelf part will do so long as it physically fits. There are probably some brands/models of optical drive not supported fully without additional drivers (read: Toast), but many are.

    If you mean full repair facilities, you have two choices, keeping in mind that since everything in the box is made by Apple, they're going to be the source for all repair parts.

    One would be to become an authorized service provider:
    http://www.apple.com/support/programs/aspp/

    There's a lot of hoops to jump through, but that does provide you with a source of all necessary repair manuals and replacement parts.

    Alternately, you could go "freelance" and scrape together parts and repair guides on your own, either by buying from 3rd party parts stores or buying damaged computers to cannibalize for parts. Obviously not as official-looking, and more hassle down the road, and of course you can't provide warranty service, but it is an option.


    I don't know if there's an in-between way to get access to the legit channels for replacement parts without being a fully authorized service facility--maybe someone else knows this.
     

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