Warning – buy your upgrades when you buy your Mac

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A few weeks back, I bought a Mac Mini. Because I wanted it shipped immediately (and because the upgrade prices sounded a bit steep), I stuck with the standard 80GB hard disk and 512MB of RAM and now I’m finding performance to be a little sluggish – I suspect that’s due to a lack of memory.

When I ordered the Mac, the cost of specifying 2x1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM SODIMMs instead of 2x256MB was £210.01. Likewise, to take the SATA hard disk from 80GB to 120GB would cost £89.99. Those are (very) high prices for standard PC components but nothing compared to the quote I just had from the Apple Store for 2GB of RAM (with “free” installation) – over £420! Mac:Upgrades can do a similar deal (but not while I wait) for around £325 but when I look at the memory prices using the Crucial Memory Advisor Tool to I get two options that will work for me, each at a much lower price:

  1. I could drop one of my 256MB SODIMMS and replace it with a 1GB module, giving me a total of 1.25GB for just £98.69.
  2. Alternatively, I could take out all of the existing memory and add a 2GB kit (2x1GB of matched memory) for £186.81.

…so, I guess there will be bits of MacIntel all over my desk in a few days time…

Crucial recommend the matched pair option for reasons of performance (Apple say it allows memory interleaving), and if I’m going to open up my Mac (which looks to be a delicate operation) then I’d rather only do it once – that means option 2, which is only a few pounds less than the original upgrade would have been (although I will have 512MB of spare memory afterwards).

In all, for the sake of my warranty (and sanity), it looks as if the best option would have been to specify extra RAM at the time of purchase, but I guess if I do wreck the machine in the process of upgrading, the cost of replacing it is not much more than Apple would charge me for 2GB of RAM!

Rumour has it that the new Intel Core 2 Duo processors are socket compatible with my Core Duo (and quad core chips should be available by the end of the year) so a return to the operating table for a processor upgrade is a distinct possibility for the future.

4 thoughts on “Warning – buy your upgrades when you buy your Mac

  1. It seems that the advice to buy your upgrades at build time doesn’t follow for all models… I’m looking at specs for a potential MacBook Pro purchase at the moment and Apple want £450 more for 4GB (vs. 2GB) of RAM (and it’s only around £180 at Crucial).

  2. It gets worse too… Earlier today I ordered a MacBook and Apple wanted over £500 to take it to 4GB. Crucial would charge me just under £75 for equivalent RAM. Don’t be misled by the title of this post – clearly I was misguided back in the summer of 2006.

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