- Apple’s iMac models are known for their reliability and ease of use, but they come with a hefty price tag, starting at $1,299, almost 50% more than an equivalent Windows model.
- iMacs have limited upgradability and repairability due to their in-house parts and lack of compatibility with standardized components.
- macOS devices have restricted software options, as developers need licenses and expertise in Objective-C and Swift, resulting in fewer programs available compared to Windows.
- The base model of the 24-inch iMac has only one CPU fan and no heat pipe, making it less suitable for CPU-intensive tasks like video editing or programming.
- Compared to Windows PCs, iMacs have limited customizability, offering fewer options for upgraded components and personal preferences.
Buying a new computer is always an exciting prospect. But with so many different options, deciding which computer is best for you can take time.
Apple’s iMac line has traditionally been popular, especially with the less-tech-savvy crowd. They’re known for their reliability and ease of use, even for people not exceptionally skilled with technology. But that doesn’t mean they’re the best choice.
So, here are five reasons why you might want to avoid picking up an Apple iMac computer today.
They Are Expensive
One of the most significant factors that make macOS products, especially iMac models, an unideal choice for many users is the exorbitant price. The basic 24-inch iMac model starts at $1,299, almost 50% more than an equivalent Windows model. At a 50% increase in price for an equivalent Windows model, it might be worthwhile to learn a slightly more difficult operating system to save some money!
The price increase is even more staggering, considering you can build a Windows model. Much of what you pay for a computer is in the assembly cost and the brand name. If you’re more tech-savvy, you can purchase parts for a computer and put them together.
While that task sounds daunting, putting together a computer is relatively easy. All the parts are very standardized, and all you have to do is read the manuals for the parts you’ve purchased.
You can also pay a professional who has more experience putting computers together. Several companies like MicroCenter have professionals on staff that can put your computer together for a fraction of the price that a computer manufacturer would attach to the assembly of your computer.
Limited Upgrades and Repairs
While few commercially-built computers are made with upgrades and repairs in mind (after all, how will they sell you a new computer if you can just upgrade your old one?), iMacs take the lack of upgradability and repairability to a new level.
Apple makes almost all of the iMac parts in-house. Equivalent Windows models will outsource their components to manufacturers that make higher-quality parts and make only certain parts in-house. Due to the outsourcing, Windows PCs are more standardized than macOS computers.
When a company makes its parts in-house, it can manufacture them to their arbitrary specifications; the components don’t have to be compatible with standardized parts. When the pieces of a computer aren’t standardized, they can’t be upgraded or repaired with standardized parts.
There is also the factor that part of the End User License Agreement for your iMac’s operating system is that you only utilize “authorized repair providers.” Luckily, that includes some common computer repair companies like Best Buy’s Geek Squad.
Apple also provides a Self-Service Repair program that will provide you with genuine Apple parts that you can slot into your device. However, utilizing this requires you to have an intimate knowledge of computers as a whole and particular knowledge of the inner workings of the machine in question. Since the device isn’t standardized, you can’t use regular computer knowledge to repair it. You have to know quite a bit about Apple’s parts and machines, which you can’t just take a class on because Apple doesn’t want you to know about them.
Additionally, the iMac models’ RAM and SSD aren’t upgradable. These components are soldered onto the logic board and cannot be removed to replace them with something new. If one of these components breaks, you’ll have to break out the soldering iron if you want to replace it.
It also means that if you want to upgrade your memory or storage, you just can’t! There is no recourse for this, and Apple has a good reason for why they do this: it’s to make you buy a new computer. If you want more storage or memory, all you can do is buy a new computer and give more money to Apple if you wish for another iMac model.
Restricted Software Options
Another major factor turning people away from macOS devices is restricted software options. Software developers need to purchase licenses to begin the development process and ensure their developers are well-versed in Objective-C and Swift, the primary programming languages for the macOS operating system.
While you can use other languages, such as C++, Python, and Ruby, to develop macOS, Objective-C and Swift are the primary ones used to develop macOS. Many developers will choose Objective-C over Swift to improve their experience. Thus, you have fewer options for developers since they have to know Objective-C.
Additionally, since macOS computers don’t sell as many units as Windows machines, this specially-made program for compatibility will sell fewer units despite requiring an entirely separate development team. So, many smaller development companies will forgo macOS development altogether since they’ll have to build and maintain the macOS version of their program with a macOS development team that the company has to pay, even though that team’s work will naturally sell fewer units.
These hurdles to software development for macOS mean that fewer companies are developing for macOS than Windows or even ChromeOS, especially regarding programs made by smaller companies who may not even be able to afford the license to begin production, let alone the additional teams to build and maintain the programs.
Since fewer companies are developing programs for the operating system, people using the macOS system will have fewer software options. Often, the most effective software for any given macOS system is the one personally developed by Apple. This software is likely reliable, receives regular updates, and has continued support.
Many software development companies would discontinue their macOS support even if they did initially develop a macOS version of their program because it’s just barely profitable to continue supporting a program that only fifteen people use worldwide. Thus, even if you can save a pretty penny by purchasing a smaller company’s program for macOS instead of the $300 Apple-made product, there’s no telling when that program will fold and stop being supported by the company.
You will need more software options if you enjoy video games. Most games are not natively compatible with macOS as there is not enough of a market for macOS gamers to warrant building the game a second time just to support the small market. While some programs can allow you to run Windows applications on a macOS device, you’ll lose functionality and the game won’t be as stable because it’s not made to interface with your computer and is running in compatibility mode.
iMacs Have Only One Fan
If you spring for the base model of the 24-inch iMac, be warned that this model comes with just one CPU fan and no heat pipe. Now, a fan and heat pipe might sound like small potatoes compared to some of the other things on this list, but it’s a big deal for those who work in industries that require them to perform CPU-intensive tasks like video editing or programming.
While you probably won’t feel the burn of having just one fan if you only use your computer for light internet browsing and maybe some word processing for work. However, if you do any major computing tasks, you will feel the weight of the single-fan setup within the computer.
The 24-inch base model also lacks a heat pipe. Understanding what the fan and heat pipe do for the computer is crucial to know why not having them is such a downside.
When your computer components run –– mainly the Central Processing Unit or CPU –– they generate heat, and they will generate a lot of heat. CPUs under a typical workload will be reaching temperatures around 104–149°F. Intensive workloads may produce temperatures reaching 158–176°F. Anything higher than this can damage the chipset.
We typically use a combination of heat pipes and fans to draw the heat out of the chipset and blow it away. Heat pipes and fans keep the chipset cool and prevent it from overheating. People doing many heavy-duty tasks may invest in a more efficient liquid cooling system that handles cooling at higher temperatures better than air cooling.
Since the 24-inch base model lacks a heat pipe and only has one fan, it is significantly worse at cooling than models with a second fan and heat pipe. This setup is fine for those doing light internet browsing and light work tasks like word processing and spreadsheet building; these folks may never even notice the lack of a heat pipe and a second fan. However, anyone looking for a computer for more intensive tasks such as video editing or programming will immediately notice the difference between the base and upgraded models.
While the customizability of iMac models features fun things like colors, that’s all there is to the customizability of iMacs. There are options for upgraded components, such as the fan mentioned above.
However, compared to what you can do with the hundreds of brands and thousands of models of Windows PCs, there is no comparison. When buying a Windows PC, you can get everything you want. iMacs are very much “get what you get.” You’ll be sacrificing many factors if you’re the type of person with real standards or requirements for their computing experience.
Alternatives to the Apple iMac You Can Buy Today
The good news is that plenty of alternatives to the Apple iMac give you essentially the same feel as the iMac. If you’re willing to spend as much as you would have on an iMac, you can get a PC with much better specifications than you would have obtained from your iMac.
We’ve collected a few all-in-one PCs that will give you a similar experience to the iMac but with better specifications.
Lenovo 2023 IdeaCentre AIO 3
The Lenovo IdeaCentre All-in-One 3 is an excellent alternative to the Apple iMac, offering superior internal specifications at roughly the same price. If you came to this article, you’re not above spending over $1,000 on a computer, and this All-in-One PC provides a similar experience as an all-in-one PC.
The IdeaCentre AIO has a chipset with power specifications similar to Apple’s M1 chipset, more RAM, and more storage than the base iMac model. It’s a few bucks cheaper than the iMac, but not so much so that it could be considered a feature.
Lenovo ThinkCentre M90a
The ThinkCentre M90a is another excellent alternative PC for the iMac. The only place where this computer might be a little disappointing is its storage capabilities. While its storage capacity is the same as the base iMac model, it’s certainly not enough for many, and those of us who use computers for heavy-duty tasks might find that they run out of storage rather quickly.
In all other specifications, this computer blows the iMac out of the water, costing about $300 cheaper. So you’ll save a decent amount of money and get a more powerful machine.
HP All-in-One Desktop, 27″
If you’re in the market for a PC and are not attached to the idea of your PC being packed with an Intel CPU, then the HP All-in-One 27” desktop is the perfect marriage of price and power. It comes packaged with an AMD Ryzen 7 5700u, which is a tad less powerful than the i5 or i7, but still about the same power as the M1.
The HP All-in-One also comes with more RAM and storage than the iMac can have, even when the storage is upgraded. All this and the price is still $300 cheaper. Talk about a great alternative!
HP 27 Business All-in-One Desktop, 27″
If you want to put some power behind your money, grab the HP 27 Business version all-in-one desktop. It is $100 cheaper than the iMac, but it comes with an equivalent CPU and eight times the memory of the base iMac. It also doubles double the maximum storage of the iMac. You can also downgrade the storage and RAM and save about $300 if your PC doesn’t need that much power.
Buying a new computer is exciting! If you’re considering buying an iMac, know that cheaper alternatives offer more power and customizability than the Apple iMac. Realistically, all you get when you purchase an iMac is a laser-etched picture of an apple with a bite taken out of it. Unless you need a specific macOS-only program for work or school, there is virtually no reason to buy an iMac in this day and age.
|They Are Expensive||iMac models are significantly more expensive than equivalent Windows models. The basic 24-inch iMac model starts at $1,299, almost 50% more than an equivalent Windows model.|
|Limited Upgrades and Repairs||iMacs have limited upgradability and repairability. Apple makes almost all of the iMac parts in-house, which are not standardized, making them difficult to upgrade or repair with standardized parts.|
|Restricted Software Options||Software developers need to purchase licenses and ensure their developers are well-versed in Objective-C and Swift, the primary programming languages for the macOS operating system. This results in fewer software options for macOS users.|
|iMacs Have Only One Fan||The base model of the 24-inch iMac comes with just one CPU fan and no heat pipe, which can be a problem for those who work in industries that require them to perform CPU-intensive tasks like video editing or programming.|
|Limited Customizability||Compared to the hundreds of brands and thousands of models of Windows PCs, iMacs offer limited customizability. While there are options for upgraded components, the overall customizability is limited.|
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Krisda/Shutterstock.com.