“Unlike most models of PC, Macs offer limited or even no internal user upgradability or expandability of its components. So Mac hardware is more limited and less flexible than PC hardware...
So, Macs aren't upgradable then?
Mac laptops, by their very nature, are indeed limited in their upgradability; not much unlike the laptops of any other PC manufacturer.
However, what differs most are with their consumer desktop models. The iMac for instance, is very similar in principle to a laptop, in that it is designed to be compact and integrated all-into-one, i.e. the internal circuitry, components, and monitor screen, all crammed in the same enclosure. The downside of this is, as you might guess, they are little more user upgradable, user repairable, or user customisable than a laptop. Anything beyond RAM upgrades is best undertaken by a PC repair specialist; someone who charges by the hour.
|Mac Mini||iMac||Mac Pro||MacBook Pro||MacBook Air|
|Optical drive (DVD)||n/a||No||Yes||Maybe||n/a|
|Monitor screen||Yes||Yes ||Yes||Yes ||Yes |
|Other expansion cards||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|External peripherals||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes |
 Additional to integrated screen
 Mainly wirelessly; wired expansion more limited
Do note items listed as 'maybe' upgradable, can be relatively easily, but will involve the opening of the outer enclosure. Also, some items listed as not upgradable, may also still be, but may involve some additional disassembly of varying degrees of complexity. Most upgradable components are usually off the shelf parts.
Seefor a look at the models of Mac currently on sale.
So, what's the problem?
Apple's consumer models of Mac tend to lean towards the stylish and compact, taking up little desk space, and with idiot-proof connectivity. However, this design angle is inevitably to the detriment of internal user upgradability or expansion. Extensive expansion potential is reserved for their professional model only.
This is in stark contrast to the way things tend to be done in the rest of the PC world...
So how does the rest of the PC world do it?
Okay, as said before, laptops tend not to be very upgradable, either Mac or PC. And there will be desktop models of PC very similar in concept to the compact and/or integrated all-in-one Macs...
However, most desktop PCs don't look like that. The vast majority of PCs will be of a modular design with the main part being in the form of a huge rectangular box. Much of that box is empty space and indeed will often spend its entire life as empty space so as to accommodate expansion slots to add... stuff, and with modular parts designed to be easily removed and replaced.
This can be comforting. It leads one into believing you're buying future-proofing. You won't need to buy a new PC as often, because you can just replace the bits that are outdated or broken... right?
To a certain extent, this is true. Parts are more easily replaced if they break compared to an all-on-one PC or a laptop. And hardware junkies or hardcore gamers would find themselves somewhat constrained if they didn't have the ability to swap and change parts when newer, better, faster parts became available.
But what about the rest of us? Should we care?
So in summary...
...as mentioned earlier, laptops of all brands tend not to be particularly expandable. Yet despite this, laptop sales overshadow those of desktops; particularly with consumers. So from this, it would appear the majority of computer buyers don't really consider expandability of such paramount importance.
So perhaps ask yourself, are you really one of those few people that absolutely positively must have such levels of internal upgradeability that a large box-like PC offers? Or are you one of the majority who thinks they might, but finds in the short life-cycle of their PC, they didn't actually need any more expandability than a Mac offers anyway?
Page content last updated 21 October 2009