Mac versus PC – Longevity, Lifetime


I live a schizophrenic life. For work I am coerced into a PC world. Windows, AD Domains, MS Exchange, and all that lot. But for my home and personal work, I am a devotee of the cult of the Mac. My wife and I both are Mac users, and here are some observations from a long time use perspective.

Work – HP Elitebook 2560P

My work laptop was issued to me when I joined in 2012. It is an HP small form-factor laptop. It has a 160gb Intel SSD, it came with 4G ram (which I upgraded to 16 at my own expense), it is not an ultrabook (it is as heavy as my 15″ Macbook Pro).

It came with Windows 7 enterprise, 64bit. It has a lowish performance core i5 processor. Of course it has all the work mandated items on it that hinder its usability. Full disk encryption, and a bunch of startup macros that really make this thing a slug.

As the laptop is now near 2.5 years old (it is a 3 year leased system) it is beginning to show its age. The graphics chip “blacks out” for a few seconds occasionally. The boot time is now approaching the speed of a spinning disk (I have about 140G of programs and data on it, so free space is running low. And, no, I don’t have any music on the system).

In short, it is really becoming a dog. Yes, it still works, and I will get through the lease with it, but it is beginning to become a detriment to my productivity.

Still running the original OS, I did upgrade to Office 2013 as I had some really odd issues with the stock install of Office 2010 (and 2013 did fix these oddities)

Home – Macbook Pro 15″

Compare that to my macbook pro. It was purchased near the same time (a refurb’d quad core i7 aluminum unibody, that I also upgraded to 16G, and put a 240G SSD + 750GB spinning disk into the former CD bay).

With the ATI discrete display chip, it still does a decent job of running video editing software (My wife used it to edit a couple of videos for a contract she had). The SSD makes loading the OS and programs snappy, and the slower big disk means plenty of storage. I have about 150G of music and videos.

This system came with Lion, has had three OS upgrades (mountain lion, mavericks, and now yosemite), and still is a respectable performer. It is my go to system for the web development work that I do, and it is a media streaming server for my Macbook Air that has become my every day system.

In short, after nearly 3 years, it is still performing well enough that I am not considering replacing it.

Home – the Wife’s iMac

On the extreme end of lifetime, I offer up my Wife’s iMac. Purchased in early 2008, it has a Core2Duo processor, 4G ram. It came with (at the time) a spacious 320G HD. Upgraded to snow leopard, it has remained locked in time.

Recently, as the HD had run out of space, I replaced the drive with a 1TB WD “Green” drive to give it a new lease on life, and it still chugs along. It runs Office fine, and my wife’s writing programs, so it does what she needs, and it fits her use.

Of course, at near 7 years old, it is feeling its age, but it still does what it needs to do.

In 2008, most people were still running Windows XP, and avoiding Vista, but replacing their computers every 2-3 years.


While the price of a Mac is a bit higher than the budget PC’s (but if you compare spec for spec, component for component, a truly comparable PC is not much less in price) the longevity can’t be beat.

When I keep a computer for 4 or more years, the $2000 price (about what I paid for my MBP in 2012) maps to < $500 a year before I replace it. Add to that the fact that I will be able to wipe it, and sell it for $500 in 2016, and it is a true bargain. Try to find what your HP or Dell laptop is worth after 4 years, and you are better off tossing it to the recyclers.

I can’t wait until the lease expires on this piece of crap HP elite elitebook.

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By geoffand

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November 2014

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