Buying new computing hardware is a big purchasing decision for any department. Modern computers all come with a significant price tag, and every organisation is looking to minimise costs and maximise the amount of value from purchases.
An important part of the process of buying hardware is knowing how long they will last, and when they will need replacement or upgrade.
How long do iMacs last
To answer this question, we can start by turning to the manufacturers themselves. According to Apple, any device older than 5 years is defined as “vintage”, which means that there aren't expected to be further updates, but Apple will still offer hardware servicing and support.
Anything older than 7 years is “obsolete”, which means zero coverage, unless you can find someone who provides third party servicing and repairs. Many of Counterpoint's customers, for example, have Macs that are 8-9 years old running the latest OS.
As with any technology, you will struggle to find a manufacturer warranty on Apple products that lasts longer than three years, even if you purchase the extended option.
This figure is supported by third party sellers, as well as repair and service companies, who generally quote an expected lifetime of five to eight years on newly purchased Macs.
Why do iMacs last longer?
You may have heard that Apple Macs tend to last longer than PCs, but in this case, the urban myth is actually true. On average, Macs have a longer operating lifespan than an equivalent PC running Windows, making them a fantastic investment for business and education.
As already stated, the expected lifetime of a Mac is anywhere from 5 to 8 years.
PCs can last around the same amount of time, but to do so may require upgrades and repairs during that time.
A more general figure for PC lifespan is around three years. But what causes this difference?
Manufacturing and Design Optimisation
Every PC is made from a disparate collection of parts. Microsoft only provides the operating system, Windows, which is designed to let components from all manufacturers work together as easily as possible.
This is why it's normal to see a PC with every one of its core working parts developed by a different company. But despite the fact that Windows is supposed to let every part of a computer communicate with the rest, the sheer amount of third-party parts can easily cause hardware or software issues, which spiral into both short and long term problems.
Apple, on the other hand, develops almost everything in-house, controlling the whole design and manufacturing “stack”. This means that from the outset every part in an iMac is optimised and designed to work together in harmony, increasing the speed and efficiency of a system, minimising short and long term issues.
Smart Systems Updates
With PCs, it's common to see system updates rolled out that are designed to fix the problems third party hardware causes and solve the issues caused by multiple third-party components. This is why most PCs have a constant flood of driver and firmware update alerts that pop up, requiring regular attention from IT departments.
On a Mac, the situation is different. Because each Mac is designed as a closed, cohesive system, updates are only rolled out to fix major issues and improve performance. It's common to see updates deployed by Apple to improve the efficiency of a system, streamlining core processes, and generally making older machines work more smoothly.
However, there is a downside to Apple's practices. Because they're designed as a coherent system, Macs tend to be much more difficult to upgrade. This means that while a Mac might have a longer overall lifespan, the performance you buy is the performance you keep over the lifespan of the machine.
When purchasing any device, it’s important to take into consideration the planned use cases of the machine to “future proof” your purchase. If you’re unsure, please contact us for assistance to check before you buy.
Apple has shifted from Intel processors to their own in-house Silicon processors. The switch is designed to make Apple products even easier to use, easier to bug fix, and far more cost effective.
Macs and Viruses
Viruses and/or malware can seriously affect the performance of any computer, hogging processor power and slowing down day to day functions, leading to long term damage. This also doesn't take into account potential costs from having data stolen or destroyed, phishing, and other issues that viruses can bring. Because PCs have traditionally made up a significant chunk of the market, they have been the primary target for viruses and other malicious items. As such, Macs have a reputation for being much less susceptible to viruses than PCs. While this is still true today, Apple hardware can still get viruses from malware through users falling for phishing scams or attempting to install erroneous software Apple ships all their computers with inbuilt Gatekeeper and XProtect security as standard, which simplifies the process of keeping devices safe, and makes sure that all devices are operating under a unified aegis, so everything is protected from the same hazards. However, there’s no harm in having more than one tool to protect a computer and additional security software such as Webroot will help to reduce the risk of unwanted threats.
How to Make Purchasing an iMac More Cost Effective
When buying computing hardware, it's better to pick tech that's a smart longer-term investment.
While this means upfront costs might be slightly higher, that's balanced out by lower running costs, and your purchases being future-proofed: lasting much longer before becoming inefficient or obsolete.
When purchasing Macs, look for:
1. Processing Power
The processor of a computer is the brain of the system. It's the component that links between everything else, and processes all the data.
In 2021, almost no computer comes with less than a Intel Core i5 processor. As we've already discussed, Apple are making the switch from Intel chipsets to their own in-house Silicon processors by the end of 2020, so at this moment it might be hard to judge differing options. The best option is to contact us to discuss your needs as different specifications will be more appropriate for certain use cases.
2. Invest in RAM
RAM is the working memory of your computer. It's the part of the computer that stores and uses the programs that you're running.
For Macs that aren't intended for heavy duty work, 8GB of RAM is generally sufficient. You could potentially go as low as 4GB if it's only ever going to be used for spreadsheets and word processors, but the difference in cost is relatively minimal. Heavy duty work such as music or video processing will require considerably more RAM. Check the applications Spec Requirements, as some programs will give suggestions.
If possible, buy hardware with as much RAM as possible. Applications get more RAM intensive every year, and one of the main reasons for system slowdown as it ages is programs taking up more of the working memory.
More RAM is always a smart purchase as it makes systems work faster, saving time and money, and increases their working lifespan. For performance, pairing RAM with an SSD will give you the best results, while all of the latest iMacs come with this as standard.
The world increasingly runs on Wi-Fi, and your typical office will have dozens of devices connected to the same network.
Compatibility issues plague PCs, and getting devices to work together on the same ecosystem can be an impossible task.
But iMacs make connecting to your network and other devices incredibly simple. It's often just a one-click process that's faster and safer than anything a PC can offer. The time, and cost, saved when setting up and maintaining a network is hard to overstate, plus, the simplicity of connecting an iMac to a new device can save hours calling in tech support. While for schools and businesses, we recommend a LAN connection to speed things up on the network for file access and EnhancedAD where you might be using both Apple and Windows devices on the same network.
Another benefit of Macs is access to the wide range of multimedia applications included with MacOS as default. With Windows many of these applications would require paid substitutions, or have equivalent but inferior products.
Some of the top apps are below:
Garageband - A powerful music creation suite, Garageband includes a vast array of instruments and presets for out-of-the-box creativity when it comes to creating music. It is widely compatible with a range of instruments, or can simulate them within the interface.
iMovie - iMovie allows you to create short movies easily, either taking footage from dedicated cameras or importing from your smartphone for fast creation of trailers, videos and more.
You can find a full list of included applications as default with Mac here.
Are iMacs cost effective? The data
Taking all of this into consideration, it seems like Macs might be more cost effective than an equivalent Windows PC. But the question has been categorically answered by a set of internal surveys at IBM.
Several years ago, IBM gave their employees the choice between a PC or an iMac for their personal workstation. Many chose Macs, and now IBM has over 90,000 Macs deployed throughout their business structure, making them the single biggest business user of Macs in the world.
In a talk that encompassed data tracked over multiple years, IBM found that despite iMacs having a higher up-front cost, on average they;
Required less maintenance and replacement parts
Reclaimed hundreds of company work hours
Saved anywhere from £200 to £400 per device, over a four year lifespan
The data is clear. Despite having a higher initial price tag, buying a Mac over a PC can save a company a significant amount of money in the long term. Companies looking to invest in new hardware over the next few years should seriously consider switching to Macs.
Are iMacs cost effective? The data
If you are concerned about the cost of installing iMacs in your Offices or Classrooms, please take a look at our technology funding guide. You may be eligible for grants or can explore leasing deals that allow you to spread the cost of your purchase, and save money in the long run.