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  1. #1
    SitePoint Author Kevin Yank's Avatar
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    Is Apple Hardware Crummy?

    The forum threads associated with my editorial in the last issue of the Tech Times, Mac vs. PC: What Floats your Boat? and Mac vs. PC and the Future of the Web, are running hot with nearly 400 posts at last count.

    A few of you did write in via email, however, to let me know your thoughts. More than a few of you suggested that moving to Linux will get all the benefits of Mac OS X that I mentioned and without getting locked into Apple hardware. Having not given Linux a fair shake on the desktop for a few years now, I have to admit that Ubuntu and the like may be a very good option for the extra adventurous who don't need commercial apps like Photoshop to get by.

    Speaking of Apple hardware, Tech Times reader Bob Deloyd wrote in with this perspective:

    "I have friends who have Macs and it seems that there is always something going wrong with the logic boards or other parts. [...]

    "You buy from Apple, you are stuck with Apple. Why don't they just let their OSX run on any INTEL machine? I would love to have it run on my Toshiba laptop, or my Dell desktop machine. I do have an INTEL MacBook because I want to get better acquainted with OSX for my business. I like it for its 12" screen and lightness, but I will keep my AppleCare up to date!!!"
    Many of the Mac users here at SitePoint have been plagued by similar hardware issues, Bob. I seem to have lucked out with this MacBook (knock on rounded, black plastic), but I certainly keep my system well backed-up and protected by a solid warranty.

    What do you think? Is Apple hardware crummy?
    Kevin Yank
    CTO, sitepoint.com
    I wrote: Simply JavaScript | BYO PHP/MySQL | Tech Times | Editize
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  2. #2
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    Since 1993 I have owned seven macs. Only one of which had faulty hardware. My second computer purchased in 94 had a faulty video card, which was replaced after I contacted apple about the issue. Maybe I am just lucky.

  3. #3
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    I have owned lot´s of mac´s since the late 80´s and have not had any hardware trouble at all! That should exclude the computer that was struck by lightning to the level where the motherboard was partly black... but that´s probably not a Mac issue :-)
    My feeling is that Macs are more solid than a lot of that PC junk i have to put up whit at work!

  4. #4
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    Apple hardware is definitely not worse than others

    Hello,

    I've had 7 Macs since 1987, only one of which had an issue (a first generation G5 with a bad processor) which was promptly repaired by Apple and which hasn't had an issue since (some 3 years later).

    Both of my "bigger" machines have also been extensively customized and work great with additional hardware:

    G5 (the audio machine):
    7 GB RAM
    Universal Audio UAD-1 card
    TC Electronic PowerCore card
    MotU PCI-424

    This is a first gen G5 with PPC chips and it is incredibly stable. I've also used ProTools on a PC and it's incredibly piggish.

    G4 dual 1.42 MDD (the Photoshop and video machine)
    2 GB RAm
    Sonnet SATA card
    Granite Digital 1394 card.

    (Yes, I know the G5 would no doubt make the better video machine, but I need the real-time oomph on the audio end).

    Bottom line for me is that, unlike my Windows machines (XP and Win2K), the Macs don't get confused and require rebooting...ever.

    Now, I don't think Win machines aren't bad per se and I actually prefer doing my web programming on a Win machine (for Homesite in particular), but for any multi-media heavy lifting, it's a Mac. Period.

    I also like Windows 2K servers though I haven't used an OS X server yet.

    Finally, a point not often made: that when you consider the cost of the OS (XP is what, like 3 times the price of OS X?) and all the hardware you have to add, a PC is no big bargain compared to a Mac.

    Oh, for what it's worth, I still have _three_ beige machines that run great: a souped G3 and a souped up 7600 (many e-commerce deadlines met with those two beasts) and a vintage 1990 SE-30 which still works really well as a MIDI sequencer (running Motu Performer version 5.5).

    The real issue seems to be the inherent greater flakiness of laptops...Dell laptops were notorious for years. Toshiba is very good and my choice is an IBM laptop on the PC side. I'll add that most of the sysadmins at the joint I'm working at use Apple laptops as they're all 'nix heads. This is a site that gets roughly a half-million visitors a day.

    Best,

    iw

  5. #5
    100% Windoze-free earther's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Yank View Post
    I have to admit that Ubuntu and the like may be a very good option for the extra adventurous who don't need commercial apps like Photoshop to get by.
    I know squat about Macs other than I don't like to drive or look at them.

    However, as to Ubuntu . . . I have just in the last week gotten my favorite text editor NoteTab and also Photoshop 7 up and running in Wine. They both have a few minor quirks but nothing that stops the show. In the meantime, I'm warming up to Gimp and gedit does almost everything that NoteTab does. Having to boot into Windows for something (which isn't often) just feels so nasty.

    The only application currently missing from Linux is a good video editor. But I hear that the latest Kino (not yet in the Ubuntu repositories) is a huge improvement. I heard by the grapevine that a tut to get it installed will be coming soon to Linux.com.

  6. #6
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    Hardly lousy hardware...

    I have used most of my Apple hardware well past its useful lifetime (I used my 7500 until about 3 years ago). My 7500 saw me through the last years of my BS, through my MS degree and into the world of Linux finally. Nearly all of my mac hardware is still in my basement gathering dust, but if I were to turn it on they would still boot. Other than my 7600 giving up the ghost finally, ALL hardware issues I have had have been user related (water spills, dropped laptops, etc) and not Apple's fault. I can tell you that Apple is fabulous about repairs though.

    The organization I just left had over 20 macs of various ages dating back to the orignal Bondi iMac. Granted those Bondis don't run OS X very well, but they kill as Linux machines running YellowDog.

  7. #7
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    Exclamation don't have your perception skewed

    You will hear from the people who have hardware problems much more often than you will hear from the much larger number who don't.

    I'm an IT Mgr in an all-Mac office (about 23 Macs) and the most common hardware problem is that we have machines so old that people complain about them being slow. The second most common is bad RAM. #3 is a rare hard drive failure. If I made a thorough list, bad logic boards or other serious failures would be at the bottom. In every one of those rare cases, Apple fixed the problem fairly quickly, if the machine was still under warranty. The only exception I've noted was my personal MBP when there was a short supply of logic boards, but it's been fine since.

    More often than not, we get rid of 7 to 10 year old Macs that still work but are just too slow compared to the newer ones, or won't run the latest OS X.
    Last edited by nerkles; Sep 28, 2007 at 14:11. Reason: typo

  8. #8
    Design with a twist! tini1's Avatar
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    I've been mac (since IIe, 80s)....macs are well built, beautiful machines...
    pssst, and the OS rocks.......keep up to date with the OS is my advice to keeping macs healthy..........
    once you go mac you never go back
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Zealot mpdesigns's Avatar
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    I use a Mac at work and a Windows machine at home. There a lot of things on windows that I miss in OS X and vice versa. However, I like having choice of hardware and being different just to be different doesn't really matter to me. I've used windows for so many years that I'd feel a constant lack of something in OS X. Its not because either are better than the other, its because I'm a highly proficient windows user. In my case, Windows just works.

    Now if someone was buying a computer for the first time, I wouldn't dare suggest a windows pc. Working in windows requires a certain level of savvyness and patience that doens't come stock with the average computer user. However with Macs and OS X, it tends to run a lot more reliably in terms of an average computer user. For someone like me who builds their own systems, Macs and OS X will never appear as "better". It will only appear as just another option, a very limited option if you will.

    So really, buy whats comfortable. Using apple or normal harware is really up to you. Its all about choice for me, so Apple is my ****.
    Keep it Symple!

  10. #10
    SitePoint Zealot mpdesigns's Avatar
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    Just realized this thread is mostly about hardware. lulz!
    Keep it Symple!

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Hey Kev,
    Great threads! I'm sorry the "What floats your boat" thread was shut down. It was interesting to say the least...

    We're a split shop with Mac, Windows & a little Linux mixed in for good measure. My recreational machine is a Toshiba Laptop running Ubuntu Feisty and Lynksys wireless which I might add works like a charm maybe better than it did under WinXP. My work computer is an AMD Athlon 64 WinXP machine. The designers work on Macs and I sometimes find myself working on them too.

    I was going to state that we haven't had any troubles with our Mac H/W but then I remembered a few incidents that would prove otherwise. We've been lucky and have not had many troubles with our Mac computers.... The SE 30's, Quadra's have been good The beige Power Mac G3 266 would only run OS 8.6 once it was loaded with Ram but that was the OS it was designed for. Our white first generation "Ice" Book G3 500MHz is still kicking around without so much as a problem but like I said, we've been pretty lucky.

    About 7 years ago we had a blue IMac (not bondi) and one day 6 months after we purchased it, it just up and quit. Completely dead not even a blinking light. We were fortunate and got a replacement that same day from the retailer. I also know a few people who have run into trouble with G5 Imac power supplies burning themselves out after constant use and of course the screens on the Ice Books had documented troubles.

    There was a problem last year with the Intels running Adobe CS2 that would cause them to reboot in the middle of work but I never experienced the problem personally and as I recall, there was a patch for that problem.

    All that said.... I'm heading out to get the new 24" Imac Core Duo this weekend. It's somewhere around the 5th generation of that form factor and at least the 3rd generation of Intel so.... It should be fine.

    My philosophy with Mac is to get them after a couple of generations. The bugs are usually worked out by then. The OS is really second to none. It has all the power of Unix but with a fantastic presentation layer.

    See ya,
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  12. #12
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    No issues here but I've only owned one mac so far (macbookpro) and the ipod I guess. With my last 6 PCs there has ALWAYS been a hardware issue, usually somethig involving the motherboard interacting with the graphics card or soundcard poorly. Numerous bios issues, numerous thousands of windows crashes, numerous other catastrophes where I've lost data on a windows based pc.

    So far with the mac its all smooth sailing. For professional web developers, I honestly think theres no better solution than mac at the moment. In terms of hardware quality, its been smooth sailing so far, in terms of software, theres no comparison mac beats windows in every area.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard mcsolas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Yank View Post
    What do you think? Is Apple hardware crummy?
    It sure seems like it sometimes.. not to mention the ipod battery fiasco

    Specifically, 2 problem with our hardware..

    The laptop power cord broke on us 2 times ( the same piece, the swivel which hid the connection would get loose and stop connecting ). Lame because you look at this thing and just go - why is this whats broken. its probably the most insignificant part to the whole machine.. and its a 'feature' that didn't even need to be there.

    More importantly, the dvd burner gave out on us. Given that we were relying on this machine to help us finish a very difficult project, it was quite tragic at the time and still int fixed.

    What makes this hard is that there is only 1 store in this -country- that we can take this machine to be fixed.

    2 plus hours away in the capital city.
    Hopefully, when we get there, they can fix it that day.

    Other than having to risk my life on some crazy dangerous road every time something simple on my mac breaks.. I love using them.

  14. #14
    Design with a twist! tini1's Avatar
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    I had an ipod issue....took into apple store (9 months AFTER receiving as gift/issue) NO receipt, I got a brand new one on the spot......

    ......yep, this thread said hardware but many mac problems(when there are) are not hardware but software related....which is an easy fix.

    I am no programmer but a hard core artist, and since my duo core mac has cs3 its a hardcore monster
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  15. #15
    Team SitePoint Lucas Chan's Avatar
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    My MacBook is guaranteed to crash the first time I boot it when I'm not plugged into AC power. It also crashes every time it wakes from sleep.

    My ipod mini is a good paper-weight now.

    Conclusion: 1st generation Apple hardware is often crummy.

  16. #16
    Design with a twist! tini1's Avatar
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    ....could be software, battery (internal,external)....... poor lil' pod
    I'd take to nearest apple store to fix...you can schedule appt online before you go in...
    I also found these....
    http://macosg.com/group/viewtopic.php?t=3723
    PORTFOLIO
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    In the featured gallery at the pond!!!!
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  17. #17
    SitePoint Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas Chan View Post
    Conclusion: 1st generation Apple hardware is often crummy.
    First-generation anything is often compromised.

    The only issue I've ever had with a Mac was my (first gen) G5. However, it got repaired and has, in the intervening 3 years, given me no problems.

    There are several extenuating considerations with, for lack of a better term, "generic" hardware manufacturers (i.e., manufacturers of components that are meant to largely be fungible/interchangeable).

    With Wintel boxes, since the box is tied to the OS, one is left at the mercy of Microsoft first-gen releases, which are almost always flakey (e.g., stability arriving at Win98 SE, Win 2K sp4...even Win 3.1 [as Win 1 and 2 were useless as was Win ME]).

    Also, with Win boxes, you have to find a good manufacturer: when building my own machines, I settled on only using ASUS motherboards as I had had a number of bad experiences with other manufacturers. Add to that the fact that XP and Vista also have non-trivial compatibility constraints and you get that the hardware choices for Windows machines really aren't all that great.

    Also, as noted earlier, once you've added all those pieces to your Windows machine, you've spent pretty much the same money.

    Of course, this also depends on what you're using the machine for: if it's just as a text editor and email client, then there are more choices. Personally, I like typing on Windows machines, so I use them for that.

    I mentioned my two big Macs (no pun intended), only as an illustration of all the stuff I've added to them and with which they run flawlessly.

    I haven't tried desktop Linux in a long time, but I do program on servers at work, via PuTTY or other SSH clients, which are Linux/AIX/Solaris or other 'nix servers. One good thing I remember about Linux machines was that you could use hardware that was often obsolete for running bloatware...and thus less expensive.

    However, if you're doing any sort of design or business collaboration, you've got to be able to work with people on Windows machines (and Apple for design).

    The bottom line for me is that the business world (here in the US, for sure) is still basically Microsoft-based and the ad/graphics/video world is often Mac based (though, granted, there are plenty of big-time [and expensive] Windows video editors).

    Finally, if one's livelihood depends on machines, then it's probably not a good idea to buy the super-latest brand new gear or at least not to use such a machine as the primary bread earner.

    Best regards,

    iw

  18. #18
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas Chan View Post
    My MacBook is guaranteed to crash the first time I boot it when I'm not plugged into AC power. It also crashes every time it wakes from sleep.
    I have a first generation Macbook too and I have none of these problems. The worst that's happened to me: 1. The topcase yellowed a little, but Apple replaced that free of charge (and luckily I live within 45 minutes of 4 apple stores), and 2. battery life isn't what it used to be, but I've been using this computer heavily for almost 18 months now and I've always been bad to laptop batteries.

    Off Topic:

    and here's my pageview contribution for the weekend...

  19. #19
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    I'm an avid mac user. Coming to graphic design in the early 90s, to me the obvious choice was a Mac. Since then, I've owned Mac. The only problems I've ever experienced was a hard disk failure after 5 years of heavy use and one machine that I sold someone after 6 years use. He stored it for a year and sold it back to me, then it died 2 months later. Still have to investigate. I think Macs are solid.

  20. #20
    ¬.¬ shoooo... silver trophy logic_earth's Avatar
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    I've never had a Mac so cannot really comment on there hardware.
    But I have had PCs around me all my life and never had any problems.

    HDD failures are command on all fronts esp when used heavily so I'll put those aside.

    But I have a 7year old PC from dell back in 2000. And its still running, it no longer has a keybroad and mouse just a connection to the network and power. But is still going left on 24/7. Never had any problems with no hardware issues. The only thing that I've changed in it is an upgraded HDD and reinstalled windows a few times.

    If I had the correct video card an ATI Mobility Radeon x1600 instead of a x1400 I could run Mac OSX on my Dell laptop far more smoothly.

    Really Macs are PCs now so hmmm....
    Logic without the fatal effects.
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  21. #21
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    knock on rounded, black plastic
    I have friends who have absolutely Hated! their macbooks

  22. #22
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  23. #23
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    I bought my first Mac - a MacBook Pro (laptop) - a little over a year ago. I've probably had less problems with it than I've had with any of the Dell Windows machines I've owned.

    My computer has crashed a few times, but it's been so long since that happened, I can't even recall the details. I also have occasional problems with software programs freezing, but it's much easier to "escape" the problem than it is on my PC. In general, it seems like Mac crashes are much "softer" on my Mac than on a Windows machine.

    After my computer has been turned on a few days, I often lose my Internet connection, and I have to reboot it to get it back. I don't know if this is a hardware or software issue. I should probably get in the habit of closing all my programs and shutting down each night. I do tend to lose track of all the programs (and multiple windows tabs) I've opened, which doubtless contribute to the few problems I experience.

    A couple annoyances include the mouse and monitor. I miss the right-click feature Windows mice have, and images look a lot nicer on the monitor that came with my PC.

    However, I haven't had time to troubleshoot these issues yet. I've seen articles discussing various types of monitors, some of which are nicer to look at than others. And I believe one can purchase mice for Mac's that have a right-click feature, right?

    It will be interesting to see if the other issues clear up after I upgrade to Leopard and 2 GB of memory.

    I did spend the extra $300 for an extended Apple Care warranty. It seems like a bit of a scam to me, but I sure do enjoy the peace of mind.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Zealot twistie's Avatar
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    I sell Macs at work and never heard anything bad about them. Most of the Mac customers I speak to have had nothing but good experience with their macs and come back in and buy a new one (or 5 like one woman did). The in store models get a fair bashing aswell. There is always a customer playing with them, they get knocked, dropped have settings changed by small kids and every night get turned off at the wall without running a proper shutdown. The only problem we have ever had with these is the large 20" iMac which only today didn't want to open the webcam program. After a quick restart it worked perfectly.

    EDIT: To answer geosite's question. Yes, iMacs come with a right click mouse and any authorized Mac reseller should stock them as replacements or extra for the MacBooks. You can also buy V1 and V2 Keyboards in Wired and Wireless versions (I really like the new V2 keyboards). Many Logitech and other brand Mice and keyboards are also compatible with Mac systems. Just look for the 'Designed for Mac OS' or 'Compatible with Mac OS' labels.
    "When you say 'I wrote a program that crashed Windows',
    people just stare at you blankly and say 'Hey, I got those
    with the system, for free'." (L. Torvalds)

  25. #25
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    I've owned nothing but macs for the past few years after living on PCs for a long time. Also, as always seems to be the case with Mac users, I've collected a large contingent of Mac-user friends.

    Out of all of us, only one of my friends has had a major hardware issue that wasn't due to miss-use. My one friend was a victim of the faulty Logic Board issue in the early MacBooks. Though a firmware update fixed that in the end it seems.

    Alternatively, I've had more issues with PCs breaking than with Macs, including once instance where an internal secondary drive simply locked up for not apparent reason other than XP throwing a fit and showing the blue screen of death (they lie, it's still there. You just need a major hardware failure to get it).

    In the end though, I don't think Apple hardware is any better or worse than PC hardware. I hear just as many, if not more, horror stories from PC users about their systems going down. But, then again, you always hear about the people with problems, never the people without them.


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