I’ve had a 20″ Core Duo iMac for a while now. It’s been a good machine, Mac OS X is decent to work with for what I do at home, the display looks nice… really no major complaints except: it only supports 2GB of RAM.
Yeah. This is a machine purchased in June 2006, and it’s only expandable to 2GB. All of my PCs that are still around, which were purchased before the iMac, can hold at least 4GB of RAM. And they were all less expensive than the iMac.
Anyway, this iMac could easily be just fine for me for another couple years if only it could hold more RAM. 2GB just isn’t enough, and there’s something about the way Mac OS handles memory management that is horribly bad (this is something I noticed both with this iMac and my original Mac Mini before it). Both of my machines at work, one running Windows XP and one running Linux, also only have 2GB of RAM but seem to be able to handle much more of a workload before performance starts degrading.
In any case, 2GB of RAM just isn’t enough for a machine running Mac OS X. So I’m thinking, you know, I shouldn’t have to send loads of cash to Apple for a whole new machine just because they chose ridiculously memory-limited motherboards, but the performance of this machine is just killing me sometimes. My options with this machine are limited, so…
I head over to Apple’s site to look at the specs on the latest iMacs. And guess what: they’re already setting me up to have to buy another one in a couple more years. The whole iMac lineup is limited to 4GB of RAM! This from a company that so loudly boasts about the 64-bitness of their operating systems. It’s like they don’t expect anyone to actually run apps on their computers. I don’t even have high demands: I just want to be able to keep my web browser, iTunes, NetBeans, and a VMWare VM with only 384MB of RAM allocated to it running. If my 2GB machine can’t even handle that (it can’t), how long do I think a machine with only 4GB of RAM will last me? I hate that the only reason this computer won’t last me several more years is because Apple skimped out on how much RAM it can hold.
I can’t bring myself to buy a computer in 2009 that can only hold 4GB of RAM. So looking for other options, I think, “well, maybe I need to go to their ‘pro’ line of systems,” even though consumers deserve more than 4GB of RAM too without buying a new computer again in a couple years.
First up: MacBook Pro. Ignoring that it’s too expensive, I know a lot of people who use these as their main machines with a monitor and keyboard plugged in at the desk. Not my ideal scenario, but luckily I don’t need to worry about it: even on a supposedly “professional” machine, the 15″ MacBook Pro is limited to 4GB of RAM. So we can write that off as a very expensive short-term toy like the iMac.
That just leaves the Mac Pro. The starting price of this puppy is $2,800, and that doesn’t even get you a monitor like the iMacs or MacBooks. Sure, it holds as much RAM as you want to throw at it, but seriously, I’m not going to pay $2,800 for a computer.
For the price of an iMac (I’d probably go with the $1,800 one), you really should be able to expand to more than 4GB of RAM. To ask me to jump from $1,800 to $3,400 (remember, I need to buy a monitor with that Mac Pro) just to satisfy the requirement that I’m able to run more than a couple of applications at a time is ludicrous.
Just for comparison, I priced out a system that is much faster, can hold much more RAM than the iMac, comes with a 24″ display, etc. at Dell and the grand total is… $1,200.
So what do I do? I won’t run Windows at home, of course, but I have no objections to using Linux for my main home system, which I was doing before I got back into Macs. I could build a lightning fast box for much less than even the iMac. But I’d rather just stick with a Mac if only it could hold more RAM.
Listen up, Apple: I want to give you my money. Just not $3,400 of it! You’re making it so hard for me to be your customer. Can’t you at least try to keep up technical parity in your consumer line with the competition?