The era of Macintosh Malaise is what I call the period from 2012 – 2019, and includes many of the Mac computers sold during this time period. The following is a list of what I call Carson’s Compromised Macs.
Apple has said that they care deeply about the Mac, and that they are working hard to make the Mac better than ever. Recent machines such as the new Mac Pro, 16” MacBook Pro, and Mac mini offer a glimmer of hope, but there are others that leave me asking: What are they thinking?!
This list includes machines produced from 2012 – 2019, and they will be listed from from what I consider least compromised (*) to most compromised (*****)
Carson’s Compromised Macs
*2012 to 2015 MacBook Air (4 GB RAM configurations only)
While 4 GB of RAM wasn’t terrible in 2012, by 2015 it was limiting. The fact that the RAM in these can’t be expanded means you should avoid the 4 GB versions these days unless you get a steep discount.
**2012 to 2015 Retina MacBook Pros (13” and 15”)
No RAM slots, no Hard Drive Bay, and no Optical Drive. These weren’t terrible machines, just very limited by their lack of internal expansion. In my view these were not deserving of the “Pro” title.
***2012 Retina 13” MacBook Pro (base model)
This is a machine that shouldn’t have existed. Just as limited as the machines listed above, except It has only 4 GB of RAM that can’t be expanded. What more needs to be said?
***Late 2014 Mac mini (higher end models)
These machines weren’t nearly as bad as their low end cousin. They had 8 GB of RAM standard, and the top end model had a fusion drive standard. The biggest issue is their lack of RAM expansion. They could have been worse, but they should have been better.
***Late 2013 Mac Pro
Mac Plus: “I started out as a top end Pro machine, and stayed on the market for nearly 5 years. By the end of my production run I was happy to serve as an entry level machine that gave people access to their first Mac.”
2013 Mac Pro: “I’ll start my life as a ‘Pro’ machine, never get updated, refuse to acknowledge that I’ve stagnated, only to be replaced 6 years later by a proper Pro machine that only makes me look by costing twice as much as I do.”
Here is a “Pro” machine that has expandable RAM, and nothing else. It came with no expansion slots, no drive bays, I/O ports that were destined to be obsolete within just a few years, and stayed in production for 6 years unchanged! As a computer it really isn’t that bad, but it shouldn’t have cost anywhere near as much by the end of its run.
***2015 and newer MacBook
This machine was exactly what it was designed to be. It was the thinnest, lightest MacBook you could buy. Because of that this MacBook tended to be confused as a MacBook Air. This unit should have been named MacBook Air, and the exiting MacBook Air models that sold alongside it should have been rebadged as “MacBook” to avoid the confusion. This machine wouldn’t have so many strikes against it if it hadn’t been for its horrible butterfly keyboard design.
****Mid 2014 21.5” iMac with 1.4 GHz Dual Core i5.
What happens when you take the ultra low voltage CPU and RAM from a base model MacBook Air and then shove them into an iMac’s case? Well, you’ve got the most limited iMac every made. The only thing this machine had going for it was its 8 GB of RAM (which you’d need, because it has no RAM expansion.)
****Late 2015 21.5” iMac with 1.6 GHz Dual Core i5.
This one is the same as the one listed above. Apple must have run out of ULV 1.4 GHz Dual Core i5s, or I doubt they would have bothered with this CPU upgrade.
*****Late 2014 Mac mini (base model)
Mac Classic: “I’m the cheapest, most limited, least expandable Mac ever built.”
2014 Mac Mini: “Hold my beer.”
It’s one thing to build a limited appliance machine, but this thing really was the worst of the worst. Not only did it have a woefully underpowered processor, but it only came with 4 GB of RAM (that can’t be expanded) and a dog slow 500 GB 5400 RPM Hard Drive that was probably sourced from a discount parts store bin.
It would have been ok if you weren’t doing anything beyond checking your AOL email, but an iPad mini would have done a better job for half the price. Avoid this machine at all costs.
*****Mid 2017 21.5” iMac with 2.3 GHz Dual Core i5 (Still in production!)
This machine is so high on the list because it is still being made, and still costs $1100.
It is the only Mac still made not to have a Retina Display. It is underpowered, and it still has a 1 TB 5400 RPM drive! What is Apple thinking by continuing to use these blasted old Hard Drives? Seriously, a Mac SE with a 20 MB Miniscribe Hard Drive running System 7.5 feels livelier than this thing does fresh out of the box!
*****Early 2019 4K 21.5” iMac with 3.6 GHz Quad Core i3
This would be an okay machine, IF IT DIDN’T STILL HAVE A 5400 RPM HARD DRIVE.
This is a $1300 computer! A 1 TB Crucial Solid State Drive (or a 32 GB SSD to make it a fusion drive) wouldn’t add that much to cost of production, would it?!?!
*****Late 2016 – Mid 2019 MacBook Pro (13” and 15” models)
What really needs to be said about these machines? After years of complaints about failing keyboards, failing logic boards, faulty displays, and the total lack of to expandability, this entire series of machines should be avoided at all costs.
So there you have it, my list of the most compromised Macs of the modern era. I doubt anyone would argue that this really has been the era of Macintosh Malaise.
The good news is that there does appear to be a light at the end of this very long tunnel. Apple has started to realize that Macs are machines for creatives and engineers who want expandable, customizable machines. Hopefully now they’ll realize that it isn’t just Universities, Governmental Agencies, and Film Production Studios that want expandable, customizable Macs. We long time Apple Evangelists want them, too.