Who Cares about Upgradeability?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Sped, Sep 3, 2012.


Do you have an upgrade requirement?

Poll closed Oct 18, 2012.
  1. I'll buy a new Mac before I upgrade my Mac

    15 vote(s)
  2. I've never upgraded but like the option to upgrade

    13 vote(s)
  3. I have actually upgraded my Mac w/ a new GPU, I/O, etc

    16 vote(s)
  1. Sped macrumors regular

    May 30, 2003
    Since we're several of us are here waiting for Apple to sell an iMac with a processor that isn't well over a year old, I began thinking about the age old debate about whether an all-in-one computer is a good thing or a bad thing since you can't upgrade it. This is particularly relevant since a majority of people are buying laptops over desktops these days.

    In short, it seems to me that the principal reasons to upgrade a computer are for a better CPU, a better display, a better GPU, more memory, better I/O or better peripherals. I would argue that most of these reasons are possible even in Apple's closed AIO offering or probably aren't even practical in a Mac Pro.

    First, better CPUs over one generation old often require a new motherboard. This isn't always the case of course. If you require a new motherboard, a Mac Pro won't solve your upgrade need. Given that, you might as well be a home builder which begs the question whether Apple should even sell Mac Pros if its clients would prefer to just build the computer themselves.

    Second, a better display (or larger display) cannot be added to an AIO. This rationale is probably the best argument for an "upgradeable" desktop. That said, one can purchase an external display for an iMac although much of the elegance of the set-up may be lost if you choose to no longer use the original display or purchase a new external display without aesthetic similarities to the original iMac display. This begs the question why Apple's own standalone display isn't more similar in design to the iMac.

    Third, a better GPU would certainly be nice to add to an AIO. Thunderbolt offers the potential to purchase an external GPU; however, this begs the question why the GPU is being upgraded in the first place? If one needs cutting edge graphics performance, one probably also needs cutting edge performance in the rest of the system which begs the question why wouldn't you just purchase a brand new computer?

    The question of more memory is similar in my mind to upgraded GPUs. Once you've maxed out the memory and you need faster or additional memory, odds are that the rest of your computer is also lacking other requirements.

    Better I/O has frustrated me recently. I have a large library of digital video that I want to archive. I waited many generations for a faster alternative to FW800. Thunderbolt seemed to offer a solution, but then we waited for practical offerings at reasonable price points. Meanwhile, USB 3.0 was available with low-cost, high-speed options. I don't won't to debate the merits of USB versus Thunderbolt, but you get my point. Living in the AIO world often requires you to wait patiently for options you prefer.

    Finally, better peripherals are frustrating for AIO owners; however, external peripherals often can meet their needs. I looked forward to an Apple Blu-ray option again to archive DV regardless whether it came with a "bag of hurt" or not.

    So, let the discussion begin. Some of my thoughts aren't fully formed yet, but in over ten years of owning iMacs I haven't ever been completely shut down for owning a computer that can't be upgraded. Scientific applications aside, I'm not sure Thunderbolt doesn't offer a way for Apple to kill the Mac Pro. It would be easy to see a Thunderbolt hub that offers all the expansion most folks would ever need.
  2. Broseidon macrumors regular

    May 8, 2012
    Stupid Poll - the options should have been:

    Yes - I care

    No - I don't care

  3. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Apple's ultimate AIO is called an iPhone. That's the direction they're going.

    Desktop computers are dying off; if you doubt this take a look at Dell and HP.

    I think Apple will continue on with MBPs for quite a while, but iMacs and Mac Pros? Dunno. Probably a niche market for a while but I could see them dumping them in the long run.
  4. henry72 macrumors 65816


    Jun 18, 2009
    New Zealand
    I think being able to replace the hard drive with a few EASY steps is very important to me. Unless the new iMac is going to be flash based then I don't really care, just like the MacBook Air and Pro Retina.
  5. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    Sure I care. But I care more about repairability rather than upgradeability itself. Yeah it'd great to be able to upgrade GPU/CPU more easily to give my machine a bit more edge and lifespan.

    But repairability is no less important. It's really cumbersome to need to bring the whole giant iMac back to the store for simple repairs.
    What about bring only particular parts that actually need repair/replacement like I did with my old PC desktop. It's so easy and simple. Sometimes I can still use my machine albeit the problem.

    It's practical for notebooks. But desktops? oh come on! Not to mention my local Apple Store refuse to pick up or repair my iMac on-site. Shoot!
  6. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    While I do tinker around with my iMacs from time to time, if they made a model that was essentially sealed shut and it fully met my needs.
    Then why would I need anything else.

    I came from that life before for 15 years building and piecing and reinstalling and testing and fitting and wiring computers.
    While it was great fun for me at the time and I learned quite a lot in the process, I am at a point now where I don't want to do that anymore, I don't need to.

    None of my computers ever came out cheaper than any "iMac" of the time because I spent so much of my time and so so much money putting these little piece into it that I never paid attention to the cost. A machine would start life at $500 and end up closer to $1000.

    People now either want extremely cheap or the best, no in between, or at least that is the consensus I've been getting from most people I talk to. Example;
    Give me a $200 laptop..... or a Retina MacBook
    Build me a $300 badass computer (<-those terms don't go together) or some top of the line iMac 27.
    Give me a free droid ... or a year old iPhone4.

    I just do not care that much anymore about putting my hands inside a computer... sure I still do it occasionally and building a new one every once in a while feels exhilarating the first time it boots up and you created this thing but I don't need... to do it anymore.

    If I find a computer that suits my needs right now, then I buy the next higher version. I am usually left with a computer that will last 3-4 years easy before talks of buying something newer. I'm ok with that process and much happier in the end.
  7. iMcLovin macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2009
    I don't care if it's sealed off completely. Would be nice to be able to put in more ram though like with today's models. Then I'll order it with the least amount and fill it up myself, since apple isn't able to compete with regular prices on ram.
  8. ihuman:D macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2012
    I care. The iMac CPU and GPU is upgradable and I want it to stay that way(it would be nice for Apple to make it easier to upgrade them though).
  9. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    AS a former PC builder (who always used to go for maximum number of slots, etc, etc) I have this to say:

    Upgrading (rather than replacing) is mostly over-rated.


    Because unless you screwed up your initial spec pretty badly, by the time you need to upgrade (2-5 yrs), hardware standards have moved on. Just check out the DDR2 vs DDR3 ram prices for example. Different socket standards. New SATA standards, new ports your old machine doesn't have (TB, USB3), etc, etc.

    For the price of 16gb of DDR2 RAM to upgrade my old desktop, i can buy 16gb of DDR3 and a new low end (yet still faster than my old Q6600 box) motherboard + CPU.

    Don't waste the money/space on excessive upgradeability you will likely never use. Buy an appropriately matched spec of CPU + GPU, make sure you have a couple of RAM slots free to take advantage of the drop in RAM prices after purchase and that's pretty much it.

  10. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I built my own systems (PCs, of course) in the 80's and through the 90's. But changes in technologies made it hit-or-miss. At one point it was cheaper to buy a new motherboard+processor+RAM than it was to upgrade "obsolete" RAM in a system. The last straw for me was when a "simple" OS upgrade (NT 4.0 to 2000) caused me to end up replacing just about every part in a system and had it down over a week. At that point I started buying Dell computers with no intent of upgrading. I've continued that way when I switched to Macs.

    I do like to be able to upgrade RAM early on to avoid the system manufacturer's mark-up.
  11. cooky560 macrumors regular


    Jun 8, 2011
    I always upgrade the ram to 16 / 32 gb pretty much immediately after buying the machine. Otherwise I prefer to just buy a new mac and get on with my work.

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