Additional 8 GB RAM Adds 18% to the Cost of a New iMac

I was looking at the 21″ iMac recently, and I hadn’t realized that the RAM is not user-upgradable. In other words, if you buy an iMac, you had better decide how much RAM you want right away. By default it comes with 8 GB, which is a bit tight; kind of like getting an iPhone with only 16 GB storage. But you can opt for a build-to-order option of 16 GB RAM (the maximum in this model).

However, that 8 GB RAM – which you could buy for, what, $50 or so? – cost a whopping 18% of the iMac’s price! ($200 added to the base price of $1,099.)

8 GB RAM

Granted, I took the entry-level model; pick the retina iMac, at $1,499, and that $200 RAM addition is only 13% of the base price. So I guess it’s a bargain.

This sort of price gouging is simply unethical.

18 thoughts on “Additional 8 GB RAM Adds 18% to the Cost of a New iMac

      • I think you mean 21″ in your reply comment to @galley99, Kirk.

        As to the “unethical” part, addressed by Media Guy, it should also maybe taken into account that this 21″ model is the model MOST consumers who are unfamiliar with computers will buy, as well as schools and students. Also, poorer, less well-off consumers who can’t afford a 27″ iMac. That’s where –I– put the “unethical” part…Apple isn’t being the Apple that they CLAIM to be. You can’t rip customers off like that while beating your chest onstage as a highly ethical company who cares so very deeply about “sweating the details” and “the small things”. Sorry, you just can’t. So I get what Kirk is saying. It just isn’t right for APPLE (not ALL companies), but APPLE to do this, and after all it is FAIR for us to judge Apple in this manner because it is APPLE who has chosen to promote itself as a company so much more enlightened and progressed than all others. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook consistently have said Apple should be considered as better, well then Apple should thusly get judged accordingly.

        Let’s be honest…they could have put ONE user accessible DIMM slot on that motherboard, even if it DID require a screen pull to install. PC3-14900 DIMMS are available currently in 16GB size. That would have at least been a nod to consumer fairness.

      • I think you mean 21″ in your reply comment to @galley99, Kirk.

        As to the “unethical” part, addressed by Media Guy, it should also maybe taken into account that this 21″ model is the model MOST consumers who are unfamiliar with computers will buy, as well as schools and students. Also, poorer, less well-off consumers who can’t afford a 27″ iMac. That’s where –I– put the “unethical” part…Apple isn’t being the Apple that they CLAIM to be. You can’t rip customers off like that while beating your chest onstage as a highly ethical company who cares so very deeply about “sweating the details” and “the small things”. Sorry, you just can’t. So I get what Kirk is saying. It just isn’t right for APPLE (not ALL companies), but APPLE to do this, and after all it is FAIR for us to judge Apple in this manner because it is APPLE who has chosen to promote itself as a company so much more enlightened and progressed than all others. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook consistently have said Apple should be considered as better, well then Apple should thusly get judged accordingly.

        Let’s be honest…they could have put ONE user accessible DIMM slot on that motherboard, even if it DID require a screen pull to install. PC3-14900 DIMMS are available currently in 16GB size. That would have at least been a nod to consumer fairness.

  1. “This sort of price gouging is simply unethical.”

    I’m definitely no fan of pretty much the totality of Cupertino management’s decisions in the past few years. But I’d take issue with the word “unethical”.

    It’s certainly price gouging, it’s certainly distasteful, and it’s certainly bad customer relations. But I take issue with “unethical” just because it’s been common practice in the computer industry since the dawn of time, as well as other CE industries, and non-CE industries too. (Think automobiles.)

    Selling the base model, which is perhaps inadequate in some way, at lower margins to prompt higher margin upgrades is simple business practices.

    What makes it all so distasteful in Apple’s case is the increasing move to eliminate user upgrades all across the product line. And I don’t buy that the reason is even close to being all about thinness and similar concerns. To keep it short, take the well-reported screw shenanigans as one compelling piece of evidence for my case.

    One of my very favorite CE companies is TiVo. And they mark up their larger hard drives with *insane* margins. But they’ve always made it dead simple to DIY your own upgrade. Physically it’s always been dead simple, but it used to require some time-consuming software voodoo to format the drive, however they’ve even voluntarily gone out of their way to get rid of that hassle in the last few years.

    So I love TiVo, even though they’re price gouging on upgrades, cuz they allow the small percentage of their customers who want to DIY do so. Apple, on the other hand…

    • I’m comfortable with “unethical” in Apple’s case. They leave no option for user upgradeability in this model and their billions in cash stored offshore for tax purposes leads me to believe they don’t need to gouge upgrades to meet financial goals – like TiVo might need to. I’m a massive TiVo fan but have accepted their pricing as I don’t think the company has ever done that well financially. (aleays felt they should focus on their awesome software and try to sell it to cable set top box companies like Motorola).

  2. “This sort of price gouging is simply unethical.”

    I’m definitely no fan of pretty much the totality of Cupertino management’s decisions in the past few years. But I’d take issue with the word “unethical”.

    It’s certainly price gouging, it’s certainly distasteful, and it’s certainly bad customer relations. But I take issue with “unethical” just because it’s been common practice in the computer industry since the dawn of time, as well as other CE industries, and non-CE industries too. (Think automobiles.)

    Selling the base model, which is perhaps inadequate in some way, at lower margins to prompt higher margin upgrades is simple business practices.

    What makes it all so distasteful in Apple’s case is the increasing move to eliminate user upgrades all across the product line. And I don’t buy that the reason is even close to being all about thinness and similar concerns. To keep it short, take the well-reported screw shenanigans as one compelling piece of evidence for my case.

    One of my very favorite CE companies is TiVo. And they mark up their larger hard drives with *insane* margins. But they’ve always made it dead simple to DIY your own upgrade. Physically it’s always been dead simple, but it used to require some time-consuming software voodoo to format the drive, however they’ve even voluntarily gone out of their way to get rid of that hassle in the last few years.

    So I love TiVo, even though they’re price gouging on upgrades, cuz they allow the small percentage of their customers who want to DIY do so. Apple, on the other hand…

    • I’m comfortable with “unethical” in Apple’s case. They leave no option for user upgradeability in this model and their billions in cash stored offshore for tax purposes leads me to believe they don’t need to gouge upgrades to meet financial goals – like TiVo might need to. I’m a massive TiVo fan but have accepted their pricing as I don’t think the company has ever done that well financially. (aleays felt they should focus on their awesome software and try to sell it to cable set top box companies like Motorola).

  3. Apple has always charged a premium for RAM from the factory. But DIY was always an option (except for the earliest Macs, 128K required a motherboard swap to go to 512K, 512K had no sanctioned RAM upgrade), however, it was often cheaper to buy the minimum factory RAM and throw it away to add more third-party RAM (unless there were enough slots to retain factory RAM).
    Modern Macs are following in the footsteps of the iPhone/iPad, where going from 16 GB to 32 or 64 GB costs far more than 64GB should cost and you can’t upgrade it yourself.

    • I will not buy a Mac that is not upgradable or expandable. Unfortunately that means that I might have to go Hackintosh my next time around. That’s entirely up to Apple and whether they come to their senses before that day arrives. I’m almost getting to the point that I don’t care, however; and those that know me would find that sentiment remarkable coming from me. Too bad Woz is not active in Cupertino today; he would never allow this to happen under his watch (without a fight anyhow).

  4. Apple has always charged a premium for RAM from the factory. But DIY was always an option (except for the earliest Macs, 128K required a motherboard swap to go to 512K, 512K had no sanctioned RAM upgrade), however, it was often cheaper to buy the minimum factory RAM and throw it away to add more third-party RAM (unless there were enough slots to retain factory RAM).
    Modern Macs are following in the footsteps of the iPhone/iPad, where going from 16 GB to 32 or 64 GB costs far more than 64GB should cost and you can’t upgrade it yourself.

    • I will not buy a Mac that is not upgradable or expandable. Unfortunately that means that I might have to go Hackintosh my next time around. That’s entirely up to Apple and whether they come to their senses before that day arrives. I’m almost getting to the point that I don’t care, however; and those that know me would find that sentiment remarkable coming from me. Too bad Woz is not active in Cupertino today; he would never allow this to happen under his watch (without a fight anyhow).

  5. “I’m comfortable with “unethical” in Apple’s case. They leave no option for user upgradeability in this model and their billions in cash stored offshore for tax purposes leads me to believe they don’t need to gouge upgrades to meet financial goals”

    1) Two very different issues!

    2) Shareholders always want moooooor. But I’m no fan of pretty much the totality of Cupertino management’s decisions in the past few years, in part because short-term shareholder service has taken over ALL their concerns.

    3) A company’s financial situation should have nothing to do with whether or not this kind of price gouging upselling is “unethical” or not.

    4) Cupertino’s tax avoidance / evasion gets well into “unethical” teritory, IMHO. And there are a few other things too.

    —–

    “I’m a massive TiVo fan but have accepted their pricing”

    Whatever you think of their pricing, it’s STILL cheaper than the rent on a cableco’s far inferior box.

    “aleays felt they should focus on their awesome software and try to sell it to cable set top box companies like Motorola”

    Meh. Like Classic Apple, TiVo provides a superior UX by having control over the full hardware/software experience. Plus, do you think Motorola would let you plug ‘n’ play the hard drive like TiVo does? And finally, I trust Alviso’s commitment to support old equipment in a way that I’d never trust a company like Motorola.

  6. “I’m comfortable with “unethical” in Apple’s case. They leave no option for user upgradeability in this model and their billions in cash stored offshore for tax purposes leads me to believe they don’t need to gouge upgrades to meet financial goals”

    1) Two very different issues!

    2) Shareholders always want moooooor. But I’m no fan of pretty much the totality of Cupertino management’s decisions in the past few years, in part because short-term shareholder service has taken over ALL their concerns.

    3) A company’s financial situation should have nothing to do with whether or not this kind of price gouging upselling is “unethical” or not.

    4) Cupertino’s tax avoidance / evasion gets well into “unethical” teritory, IMHO. And there are a few other things too.

    —–

    “I’m a massive TiVo fan but have accepted their pricing”

    Whatever you think of their pricing, it’s STILL cheaper than the rent on a cableco’s far inferior box.

    “aleays felt they should focus on their awesome software and try to sell it to cable set top box companies like Motorola”

    Meh. Like Classic Apple, TiVo provides a superior UX by having control over the full hardware/software experience. Plus, do you think Motorola would let you plug ‘n’ play the hard drive like TiVo does? And finally, I trust Alviso’s commitment to support old equipment in a way that I’d never trust a company like Motorola.

  7. Wow. I can’t believe you haven’t written more about this issue in the past, Kirk.

    The rampant complaints about how Apple starts its base iPhone at 16GB and charges a premium for it comes about with each new iPhone release. However, since 2012, Apple has never put more than 128GB in its base model computers. Sure you can upgrade the computers yourself, but most less tech savvy people moved to Apple to make their computing lives easier not more complex by learning how to open their brand new computers and pop in some more storage. Looking at Apple’s site for the MacBook Pro, it still costs $200 to move up to 256GB from 128GB.

    Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t seem to have any reason to budge from its stance.

  8. Wow. I can’t believe you haven’t written more about this issue in the past, Kirk.

    The rampant complaints about how Apple starts its base iPhone at 16GB and charges a premium for it comes about with each new iPhone release. However, since 2012, Apple has never put more than 128GB in its base model computers. Sure you can upgrade the computers yourself, but most less tech savvy people moved to Apple to make their computing lives easier not more complex by learning how to open their brand new computers and pop in some more storage. Looking at Apple’s site for the MacBook Pro, it still costs $200 to move up to 256GB from 128GB.

    Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t seem to have any reason to budge from its stance.

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