In early 2013 I was enjoying my first extended stint as a self-employed web contractor. I was working long hours, making good money, and my gadgets were a tax deductible business expense. I remember walking into an Apple Store and asking for the highest-spec MacBook Pro available off the shelf. It’s a monster, and my plan was to recover the high up-front cost by getting as much life as possible out of it.
It looks like I got just shy of 4 years out of it.
I’ve been able to boot Zoot twice in the last 3 weeks. I knew the machine was due for a new battery, which I’d been excited to do – I thought it would buy me another 18-24 months of useful life. When I took it to the Apple Store, their tests eliminated the battery from the list of possible problems and quoted me a flat $575 fee ($475 parts + $100 labor) to repair whatever was broken, which is either the logic board itself, or one of the major components permanently soldered to it. And that wouldn’t even include the battery replacement it needs.
If this had happened 5 or 10 years ago, that money would be better spent on a new machine, and I’d call that reasonable after 4 years of heavy, geeky service. But traditional x86-based PCs aren’t getting faster any more. If Moore’s Law were still in effect, 4 years would mean I could buy a new Mac with 64GB of RAM to replace my old one’s 16GB. But laptop memory is still DDR3 and still tops out at 16GB. Why would I sink further thousands into old tech?
Instead, I’ve ordered a new battery for my 6-year-old “turbo Honda” Mac and put it back into service. It only has 8GB of RAM, but web browsers have drastically improved their memory usage in recent years, and I’ve managed to scale back my browser tab addiction a little. It’s working very well for now, and if new computers aren’t getting any faster, at least I’m still happy using the six year old ones.
I have been hearing a lot of buzz about Macs not being good enough for pros any more, in addition to the perennial death proclamations for post-Steve Jobs Apple. I’m currently in denial about these theories, but can’t deny the claims have some merit. I’m giving it a year before I hit the panic button myself. As a web pro, it’s important that I be relevant to all platforms that web applications run on, but recently I’ve been unhappy with anything but a Mac as my daily driver. But I’m starting to look at the options on the horizon, and preparing myself for the possibility that my next PC might be a Surface. Or maybe the “truck” PCs will move to ARM, where the innovation is red hot.