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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Building a Mac


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Ragle

 
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As I have plunged myself into the Mac world, attempting to immerse myself in the various difference between it and the PC world I have inhabited for lo, these last 20 years, the most striking difference to me is the total lack of the ability to inexpensively build my own.

It has always just been a fact of PC ownership that only non-technical or lazy people bought pre-manufactured systems like HP-Compaq, Dell, or Gateway. Those of us "in the know" all knew that gleaning parts from various sources like New Egg or certain Pricewatch vendors would allow us to assemble extremely powerful systems for a fraction of the cost for a pre-manufactured one. We don't think about technical support (which is all those bloated prices are really paying for) because even if we owned such a system, we would still be cracking open the cases and tinkering.

Now, as I contemplate an immediate future of Mac ownership, it seems my days of tinkering are far more limited. It seems that only major components can be upgraded or replaced...drives, memory...and certainly one cannot build a Mac from scratch.

But is this true? Are there sources for raw Mac parts, motherboards, processors, etc.?
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Padawan

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragle
Are there sources for raw Mac parts, motherboards, processors, etc.?
Basically no, except used parts vendors or sites such as eBay.

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Mr.Curlynose1
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http://www.macopz.com/buildamac/
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technologist

 
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The limiting factor here is the Apple firmware. Apple makes most of its revenue by selling Mac hardware. To protect its hardware sales, it closely ties the Mac OS to its own motherboards.

That said, you can buy PowerPC and chips motherboards from other companies. (http://www.pegasosppc.com/, for example) and run Linux on them.

You could then use Mac-on-Linux to run the Mac OS. Supposedly, this has been done, though I'm not sure if everything would work properly, or how much it would cost (compared to just buying a Mac.)
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Cloudane
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Everything has disadvantages, and that's one of them. On the other hand, it makes Macs wonderfully predictable and reliable as you don't have obscure problems caused by different mixtures of hardware, mismatching FSB rates, driver conflicts, and people fretting about what type of heatsink goo they use etc.

Personally, after about 15 years of building and tinerking, I'm about ready to accept computers as appliances. It's not like I have anything to prove. How many people build their own houses? Mobile phones? Cars? TVs? Washing machines? It comes to a stage when all you want is a computer that works, and predictably. Building your own computer has awesome rewards and PCs are wonderful that way. Just sometimes, it's better to be standard.
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Ragle

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudane
Everything has disadvantages, and that's one of them. On the other hand, it makes Macs wonderfully predictable and reliable as you don't have obscure problems caused by different mixtures of hardware, people fretting about what type of heatsink goo they use, mismatching FSB rates etc.

Personally, after about 15 years of building and tinerking, I'm about ready to accept computers as appliances. It's not like I have anything to prove. How many people build their own houses? Mobile phones? Cars? TVs? Washing machines? It comes to a stage when all you want is a computer that works, and predictably.

You make some excellent points and that is really a rather mature response.

At least assure me of this: whether I land on an iBook or a desktop Mac of some sort, can I at least expect ease in upgrading the optical drives, hard drives, and memory? I have never seen the guts of a Mac in my life but I would like to know that Apple has made it a headache to switch out these components.
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Cloudane
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I'll let someone else answer that question I do know that Powerbooks are very difficult to change parts in, including the hard drive (you can upgrade the memory... anything else is a major - and probably risky - operation)

OTOH, maybe those tower type macs have replaceable parts, much like a PC. (so I gather anyway)
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Ragle

 
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As a lazy afterthought, does anyone have a clear comparison charts for Apple processors versus Intel/Amd chips?

Yes, I know this information is probably out there somewhere, but I figured it has been asked of Mac people often enough that someone has a ready answer.

Like I said, it was a lazy afterthought!
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Ragle

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudane
I'll let someone else answer that question I do know that Powerbooks are very difficult to change parts in, including the hard drive (you can upgrade the memory... anything else is a major - and probably risky - operation)

OTOH, maybe those tower type macs have replaceable parts, much like a PC. (so I gather anyway)

My comparison on laptops would be the pre-fad stuff, like Dell or HP. Nearly all of those I have used have removeable drives which can be upgraded (using their parts, of course). Is there not a latch or button to release the optical drive on an Apple laptop?
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Cloudane
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Nope, you have to open it up. I believe it's possible, but it's not something I'd like to try.
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hype.it

 
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Most Mac Users don't feel they have the need to open their systems for upgrades. Currently the biggest is 80Gb and top range systems already ship with this anyway, those also include a SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-R/DVD-ROM/CD). Memory upgrades are via a trap door. Entry level PowerBooks come with 60Gb and iBooks i think come with 40Gb.

To upgrade from Combo drive to SuperDrive, you can do this at any Apple ServiceCentre, they will take your current drive as part-ex. Costs about $300, i think. Even if you brought the drive on the PowerBook, it still doesn't include the super thin interface cable which you must have to interface with the logic board.

If you want to access Flash cards, Memory-cards or other solid-state memory sticks on the PowerBooks, you can buy a PC-card version instead of the cumbersome USB dongles. Only works in the 15" and 17" version, all other machines don't have PC-card slot.

On the Current range of PowerBooks, you can not upgrade the CPU as it's mounted on the logic-board.
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Kevin Rose built a Mac. And here is how he did it.
If you want to go even further and throw a PC in it so it is a G4 and a PC... click here.
If you want additional tips, Google is your friend.
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hype.it

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragle
As I have plunged myself into the Mac world, attempting to immerse myself in the various difference between it and the PC world I have inhabited for lo, these last 20 years, the most striking difference to me is the total lack of the ability to inexpensively build my own.

It has always just been a fact of PC ownership that only non-technical or lazy people bought pre-manufactured systems like HP-Compaq, Dell, or Gateway. Those of us "in the know" all knew that gleaning parts from various sources like New Egg or certain Pricewatch vendors would allow us to assemble extremely powerful systems for a fraction of the cost for a pre-manufactured one. We don't think about technical support (which is all those bloated prices are really paying for) because even if we owned such a system, we would still be cracking open the cases and tinkering.

Now, as I contemplate an immediate future of Mac ownership, it seems my days of tinkering are far more limited. It seems that only major components can be upgraded or replaced...drives, memory...and certainly one cannot build a Mac from scratch.

But is this true? Are there sources for raw Mac parts, motherboards, processors, etc.?
Yes, you can buy Mac parts, but they are either spare parts (which you are charged top dollar for) or salvaged from failed or stolen computers.
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Matt
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Mac's don't have memory stick drives!!! Do they have Zip Drives???? Why don't they supply memory stick drives for their top of the range laptop???
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Padawan

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragle
At least assure me of this: whether I land on an iBook or a desktop Mac of some sort, can I at least expect ease in upgrading the optical drives, hard drives, and memory? I have never seen the guts of a Mac in my life but I would like to know that Apple has made it a headache to switch out these components.
Judging from your posts, I think you'd probably be happiest with some form of Power Mac. They're generally the most upgradeable, and also the most "PC-like" in their construction (in other words, they utilize the traditional tower design that offers easy access to the components).

~ Support the LANCE ARMSTRONG FOUNDATION -- LAF.org ~

Do you drive a Civic, Del Sol, or Integra & want more power & tighter steering feel? Click here for my inexpensive DIY Power-Steering Removal Kits.
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