MacBook Pro with Retina Display – quite hard to upgrade but does it really matter?

About a week ago Apple launched new MacBook Pro models (among other things). Yes, these new Retina Display models are sleek and gorgeous, and they should by fast and furious too, considering that they are all SSD. Other improvements were addition of USB3 and HDMI connector.

USB3 has been a long awaited feature, and I guess someone at Apple finally woke up to the real world. Do not get me wrong, Thunderbolt is fast and good, but lets be realistic. Thunderbolt accessories are still rare, and they will be rare since Apple (OS X) is only one using them. This will change, of course, but until other operating systems have adopted Thunderbolt for everyday use, the market for Thunderbolt equipped accessories is so limited that they will remain rare. On the other hand, USB3 is in wide use, and there are lots of USB3 devices to choose from.

One thing that has been criticized a lot in these new MacBook Pros, is the difficulty to upgrade the machine – by user himself, I mean. In previous models it was quite easy to replace hard drive and memory. Now, it is practically impossible for average user. Memory is soldered in, and most of the parts are custom designed for MacBook, so getting some replacements is not easy.

I think this criticism is still quite unfair. It does not matter what brand of laptop you are buying, the point is that their upgrade factor is limited anyway for Joe Average. Usually you can replace hard drive, optical drive and memory. It is quite rare that you could change video card, for example. You can purchase some replacement parts (connectors, display etc.) but replacing them is usually so tricky, that they are beyond Joe Average’s technical skills.

Point is that laptops are meant to be compact devices, and that’s it. They are not desktop machines, that you can quite freely tinker with. You will buy laptop for portability and the cost is the diminished upgrade factor.

Besides, I thing these new MacBook Pro models have more than enough memory and storage space for an average user and even for a power user. Off the shelf models have as much as 8 GB of memory and 512 GB of storage space. That should be quite enough for an average user, because that is almost enough for a power user like me. Built to order models have as much as 16 GB of memory and a bit over 700 GB of storage space.

So, I really do not understand these complaints. It is a laptop and quite expensive, but it is still a laptop, and it should be considered as such. And while people are raving about this you-cannot-upgrade-it-yourself issue, how many have ever upgraded their laptops themselves, anyway? I have done it on several times – replacing burnt out display parts, power sockets, connectors and even a video card with good success. But my experience has taught me that they are meant to be done by experts, not some Joe Average. The risk is that in the end that Joe Average might have a totally wrecked machine that is beyond salvation.

Many consumer products are of this you-cannot-upgrade-it-yourself or you-cannot-repair-it-yourself variety. TV sets, video recorders, kitchen appliances, cars etc. That is just how things are now. Better get accustomed to it.


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