PC vs Mac: PCs are so easy to upgrade

PCvsMac_1Having many friends and co-workers being quite perplexed with my sudden switch from PC to Mac makes for a solid basis for stupid PC vs Mac arguments.

Beside a Mac’s price the PC’s upgradeability seems to be the most common topic. I really can’t count the times I have heard that one…in the last month alone.

It usually goes along the lines of “When my game runs slow, I just buy a new graphics card. When my software struggles, I buy more RAM or faster RAM or replace the CPU. If I need more connectivity, I just pop in a new card and have the ports I want. I don’t need to buy a new computer for that.

It’s hard to argue with a PC’s potential for upgrades, at least on the surface. Just look up any video tutorial about upgrading RAM on a 2009 Mac Mini or swapping a HDD on an iMac on YouTube. Upgrading anything, even something as simple as a graphics card on a Mac? World piece is child play in comparison.

However, there is another side to the story. The whole PC upgrade thing only works within a certain time frame and a lot of people seem to forget that. Want to swap your graphics card and upgrade memory on a 6 years old PC? Go ahead and let’s have the same talk afterwards. I strongly believe most people providing the “easy upgrade” argument for the PC have actually never upgraded an older PC before.  When they mention they can swap their old Core2Duo or first generation i3 for a speedy new i7 you just know they are full of it.

What people seem to forget is that not only CPUs and GPUs change as time passes by, but also sockets and chipsets change quite often. Remember getting a new PC with socket 1156 only to see socket 1155 being introduced shortly after and rendering all your upgrade plans useless?

While on the surface the PC upgrade argument is true, reality isn’t all that shinny as people would like it to be. There is no question that a tower PC is easier to upgrade than any Mac except the Mac Pro, but when your PC gets older and actually needs an upgrade, you often find yourself with basically buying a new PC…or wishing you bought a new one.

When I bought my gaming PC I didn’t look what is coming onto the market next. I didn’t have the time as I needed the PC immediately and quite frankly I couldn’t be bothered. I had more interesting things to do at that time than spending hours and hours on the net researching the topic. I went for the good stuff that was available back then and that was a bit over 2 years ago. If I wanted to upgrade that PC today all that would be left are its case, power supply and some of its drives. And if I am perfectly honest with myself, the case should be replaced, too.

Then there is the matter of threating all Macs the same and not making a difference between desktop and notebook. I often hear the upgrade argument from people who talk about a desktop PC, but all the PCs they use are notebooks.

A couple of months ago I wanted to max out the RAM on my MacBook Pro 13”, replace the HDD with a SSD and replace the DVD with a larger HDD. This was the first time I opened up any Mac and it was a simple and painless procedure. Ordering the drive bay and an USB enclosure to use the DVD as external drive took a lot longer than actually upgrading the notebook. Shortly after a friend of mine liked that idea a lot and went on to do the same upgrades to his Samsung notebook. Getting to his RAM and HDD was an ordeal that took the better half of the day and until today he didn’t find a drive bay allowing him to replace his optical drive with a second HDD. Needless to say at least he won’t bring up the upgrade argument again…

Yes, ‘Macs’ and ‘upgrades’ are not the best words to be used in the same sentence, but the reality of upgrading PCs is often miles away from the shinny picture people try to paint. Something to keep in mind when deciding between a PC and Mac.

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