Macs Only: Upgrades and A secret repair option at a fair price

Apple still makes some of the best computer out there, but as I have lamented in recent communications with you they are specialized parts more than they ever have in the 11 years that I have been supporting Mac users. This means, that with post-2012 model year Macs and also some previous models (with the late 2014 Mac Mini being the exception), it is much harder to upgrade or repair Macs with industry standard parts.

Just yesterday, I upgraded a mid-2009 MacBook Pro 15 inch for client with a 512 GB Samsung SSD (solid state drive – hard drive) . Keep in mind, this was originally a $2000 laptop. The hard drive was only $250 to replace. If he wanted a traditional spinning hard drive, we could have gotten one for about $100. The laptop is now blazing fast, running Mac OS 10.10. Regardless of the hard drive choice, the point is that it is possible. It is a cost efficient job and will give you a major performance boost. So if you have a 2009 through 2012 model year Mac Book Pro (which includes the non-Retina MacBook Pro still being sold today ), the hard drive and the memory can be upgraded. On the 2011 and 2012 MacBook Air laptops, the hard drive can be upgraded. With the 2013 and 2014 Airs and Pros, the hard drives could be upgraded in theory but their is not a good aftermarket supply of parts. So the best advice for those ordering a brand new Mac Book is, get your upgrades at the time of ordering. Future proof your system from the factory. This is the direction Apple is pushing us toward.

So on to the secret option……. I always stress buying Apple Care at the time of purchase. They take care of their customers with warranty support unlike any company I have encountered. The only warranty option that comes close on the PC side of thinks is Lenovo and their Think branded products (ie., Thinkpad laptops and ThinkCentre desktops). When Apple Care runs out and the hard drive dies, that is often something I can help you with as you have read in the previous paragraph. However, there is one killer failure that a laptop can have that will put a hole in your wallet. It is called a logic board failure. In “Mac speak” logic board is the verbiage that’s used; in PC’s it is called the motherboard. This refers to the main circuit board inside your computer. A logic board failure is no laughing matter. There is no repair involved; fixing it involves replacement. On a Mac laptop, you are looking at a cost of $700+. Of course, you might be thinking to simply buy a new MacBook. However, you may really like your system. If you ordered a upgraded system to begin you may be hesitant to buy a premium computer again. You may even start to have doubts. Why can’t I get the job done with a $700 mid-range Windows laptop? That’s a valid point and if you don’t use a lot of Mac specific software, making the “switch” may be a good move.

However, a lot of my Mac clients will always be Mac clients no matter what. There is a special option that can help you hedge against MAJOR repair costs when your warranty runs out. It is called the Apple Care flat-rate mail in repair. You cannot get this in the Apple Store. You can only get it by calling Apple Care. They may initially bill you $20 for the call because that is the charge for an out of warranty support call. There is nothing in writing saying they have to offer you the flat rate deal, however I have never heard of someone being refused. The flat rate option isn’t a guarantee that you will have to pay $350 either. The other component that would cause a Mac to fail in starting up would be a power supply failure. Depending on the model, this may only be a $100 repair. When you use their mail in service, Apple will be reasonable with you and let you know exactly what the problem is. You may never have to use this option, but when the repair is going to be costly and you are out of warranty remember to ask for the flat-rate mail in repair.