My Apple Computers Have Been Kind of Crap

It recently occurred to me that my recent Apple hardware has performed worse than my old PC desktops. Consider this list of ills:

  • Julie’s old iMac suffered from swollen capacitors, a factory defect that sounds a little dirty.
  • My old white MacBook had a bad fan, and I replaced the cracked faceplate around the keyboard twice before just living with that defect.
  • My newish iMac is somehow b0rked, in that it takes about 10 minutes to reboot into OS X after running it in Windows.
  • My MacBook Air’s fan recently started making an all-too-audio grinding sound, as if my laptop is constantly de-winging mosquitoes.

I know I’m whinging, but it’s a little disappointing. Before I switched to Apple, I had some issues (I recall a noisy fan, for example), but never so many.

A friend recently bought a new iMac, and she asked me if she should get AppleCare, Apple’s expensive extended warranty. What do you think I told her?

It’s not like I’m going to switch back to Windows any time soon–the software alone is more than worth using Apple machines. But here’s the lesson I take away: they may look slicker, but Apple’s machines are no more reliable than their generic Windows equivalents.

UPDATE: And now my iMac looks like this. Oy.

Well, that can't be good...


  1. Am right there with you. If I didn’t have Apple Care I would be about $3500 in the hole on my MB Pro. Two screens, one motherboard, two optical drives, one fan. But it sure is shiny=)

  2. I always get AppleCare on portables (MacBooks, iPhones, etc.), but have not on Apple desktops. Then again, I haven’t bought a new Apple desktop since 2004.

    Apple hardware used to be significantly better built than most competing PCs, but that was when Macs and such were proportionally even more expensive in comparison than they are now. (Apple folks will regularly point out that today, Macs are often competitively priced if you try to get yourself a PC with similar specs instead of just the cheapest one that will do the job for you.)

    However, back in the day, Apple built things in their own factories, in the U.S.A., Ireland, and a few other places. Now their stuff is outsourced, like everyone else’s, mostly to China. Order a new MacBook or iMac online and you can watch its tracking number start in Guangzhou. I’m sure some of the same factories build machines for HP, Acer, and company.

    So no, Apple machines are no longer any more physically reliable than good-quality Windows PCs, and may sometimes be worse. But I’m not switching to Windows (or Linux) either, for the same reasons: the physical elegance of Apple’s machines, and the software running on them.

  3. I didn’t buy apple care on my MBP… So far in the last 3 years I’ve replaced: screen, ram, hd, battery (x2), a fan and a power brick. The optical drive is dead but I haven’t replaced it since I rarely need it anyways.

    The build quality is higher than Dell and Acer machines, but it isn’t higher than Lenovo machines of a similar price point. I’d hazard to say that my experience with Apple is that their machines are just slightly better than the mid-line PC brands (HP, etc…)

    Glad to see others speaking out regarding their disappointment in the difference between the expectation and the experience.

  4. My experience is totally the reverse. I get AppleCare on each machine and have had few issues, none of which did Apple fail to fix at no cost. One client suffered the microcracks, and resulting intermittant keyboard errors, on a white MacBook and despite an expired AppleCare, Apple replaced the case and keyboard for no cost. By contrast another client installed an HP provided firmware update on her brand new Windows 7 laptop that instantly bricked the machine. She had no computer for the two weeks it took HP to repair it; also at no cost, but if Windoz box makers can’t even update them reliably, that says something. Apple is way out ahead in both service and reliability.

  5. Had my first Apple (G4 tower) for over 8 years… course I spent around $11,000 on it all in (incl. extra hard drives for editing video) with only one issue that I can’t even remember, it was so insignificant. Have been working with this computer (another tower) for 2.5 years, no issues and Michael has had his macbook for 2 years, no issues. Crossing our fingers, but Apple’s have been good to us!

  6. Buying Applecare as expensive as it is is good common sense especially if you are a global traveler such as myself. I am writing this from the paradise of Chiang Mai, Thailand where I have spend the winter.
    In Feb. of 2006 I was on a flight from Bali , to K.L. Malaysia when my screen went blank.Not a good sign I muttered to myself.
    I bought my ibook in and when the Chinese holiday was over it was repaired within five days.
    The ibook lasted another two years without any problems until my flower vase tipped over and drowned it.
    I don’t know of any other computer manufacturer that gives one international warranties.
    Word of advice however. in November this year I bought my MacBook into a little city in Ecuador to be repaired .After two and a half weeks, they still wanted to spend more time trying to find the source of the problem . I was returning to Canada in two weeks so i took the machine and bought it in for repairs in Toronto.
    The big urban centres have a stock of parts or can have them delivered overnight. A small city like loyah, Ecuador might take up to three weeks to get everything done.
    Upon returning the latest version of MacBook Air came out and I bought one. I will be buying an Applecare before my warranty runs out. Look at it as a good insurance and tax deduction. We Canadians pay one of the highest tax rates in the world.

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