Three Years of Using a Mac (Was the AppleCare Worth It?)

by Matthew Russell

Wow! It's been exactly three years since I purchased my PowerBook. This metal beauty is my first Mac ever, and has forever changed my life for the better. OS X, Cocoa, Mac DevCenter, the Apple Store, and the overall Mac community have been nothing less than incredible. What a great investment!


2007-03-05 18:16:02
I bought AppleCare for my Powerbook 1.5GHz (which was nowhere near a Rev.A model). About 6 months later the hard drive died. I mailed it in, they put a new HD in and mailed it back. Not only did it save me the hassle of finding a replacement drive, it saved me having to try to install it.

I've also called AppleCare a few times and generally always gotten help.

So yeah, it was worth it. Peace of mind is a good thing.

2007-03-05 18:43:41
I bought Applecare for my imac G5 first gen. I had the HD die, the midplane replaced, the DVD eject mechanism crap out. Then I got the entire computer replaced under Applecare. The new intel imac's HD died which was replaced. Applecare was well worth it for me!!!
2007-03-05 18:54:44
AppleCare has been worth it on my Mac laptops. The DVD drives have had a tendency to die on me. One broken DVD drive = worth AppleCare. Have not had any other major mechanical failures with the laptops though.
2007-03-05 19:08:56
2 new loigic boards and a new HD = applecare well worth it (with 1.5 years to go!). Great service. 3 days last time!
2007-03-05 19:27:04
I found applecare (what a misnomer!) to be completely useless. The service I received both in store and via telephone was awful. They were unable to meet repair time-frames which *they* set for themselves on multiple occasions. My powerbook was returned from service with more damage (largely cosmetic) than when is left my possession.

I now spend an additional 3$/month on my renter's insurance for complete coverage up to 3000$. No more hassle of apple; if it breaks or i break it (applecare does not cover damage, only failures), repair and/or replacement is covered, no questions asked.

Applecare is bogus.

2007-03-05 19:34:39
For some odd reason, I bought AppleCare on a StyleWriter printer I bought years ago. I don't know why. I have never bought AppleCare on any other Apple product I've owned until recently, and it hasn't hurt me. I decided to spring for the AppleCare coverage when I bought my MacBook because it was a brand new model, and you just never know what might come up on those.
2007-03-05 19:38:16
I found Applecare well worth the money for my 12" Powerbook. I had to send it in twice, apple fixed it with no problems. My nephew in Thailand is now using it while he is attending an engineering university in Thon Buri near Bangkok.

I upgraded to a first generation MacBook and promptly bought Applecare again. I haven't had to use it yet, but it's nice to know that I can get it repaired if needed. I think Applecare is definitely worth it for any notebook computer.

2007-03-05 20:17:50

It was definitely worth it for me and my iBook G4. I'm on what I believe is my fourth slot load disc drive. The last time I sent it in, they fixed the drive, the keyboard, and the mic which had died. I have a bout a year left on the Applecare. I'd never get an apple laptop without Applecare.

Now, a tower mac - I wouldn't bother. My now-six-year old G4/400 AGP.... no Applecare and nary a problem, beyond a hard drive that was easy to replace.

thai patton
2007-03-05 20:46:34
In terms of apple care for me, now that I'm several computers in, I've never really felt like i needed it. I get an extended warrenty that covers all repairs with my credit cards (i think most credit cards do this), so any problems I've had have always been recouped by my company. And i usually tend to replace my computer after a couple years.

For me, I've found that it's not worth it.

Michael Clark
2007-03-05 21:33:21
It's absolutely worth it on laptops. After three years (it just seems like it's the day after Applecare expires), start getting your money ready to buy a new laptop. It seems that three years and one day is the life of a laptop nowadays.
2007-03-05 21:35:41
Say what you like about Applecare, it sure save me heaps of money. HD failed, logic board failed and I am waiting for what else to fail in my powerbook 1.33ghz. It sure worth the money I paid for it.
2007-03-05 22:07:40
I always make sure to take full advantage of warranty coverage. I've had my LCD replaced twice (they messed up the first time) I've had 2 power cables replaced, as well as the bottom casing and keyboard. I'd say it's definitely worth it if you're a little rough with the computer.
The big problem in Canada is that they don't offer any mail-in service for the computer. It has to be brought in to authorised service providers (or an Apple store, which are few and far between) who are sometimes unreliable (I was without a computer for 6 weeks at one point) and less willing to make repairs. I have been refused Applecare-covered service at 'authorised service providers' when Apple themselves would fix it at an Apple store. I've been forced on occasion to call Apple, have them give me an authorisation number for ordering the part I need, and present that information to a service provider.
Big problems. But that's easily 5 pages of rants.
2007-03-05 22:49:34
I bought Applecare for my iMac G4 and never needed it. After 3.5 years (no Applecare coverage anymore) the DVD drive started producing mostly coasters. So I replaced it myself. Since it was my primary computer at the time of purchase, it was worth the peace of mind.

My Applecare-protected 12" Powerbook G4 is now two years old and has never had an issue. Although Applecare on notebooks is more expensive than for desktops, laptop repairs cost more as well. So again I'm paying for peace of mind and do not expect I'll ever need the 3 year warranty extension.

Bob Forsberg
2007-03-05 23:01:50
AppleCare is worth every nickel. Bought a 17" eMac 1.5Ghz OSX10.3, 1GB, Superdrive $1,095 & 3 years AppleCare. CRT went out twice, replaced, logic board went out, replaced. CRT problem again. All work done at an Apple Store.

Apple replaced system with 17" iMac 2Ghz OSX10.4, 2GB, Superdrive 2 1/2 years later. NEVER buy anything with a built in display without 3 year AppleCare.

If it works as most Apple product does, its good to know you had the insurance. If it doesn't its good to know Apple will do the right thing.

John Bollwitt
2007-03-05 23:19:18
Was it worth it? Being that I never used it, no. Buying the 1st gen 17-inch PowerBook G4's, it was. I knew that I was living on the bleeding edge when I did it, so there was comfort in knowing that if these things were junk, I'd have something to fall back on.

Bought this in 2003 with Apple Care, going strong, but its time is coming to an end. Sadly, my wife will be getting a MacBook very soon, but I'm already running circles around her 600Mhz "frankenbox" PC running XP at bare minimum. As long as it kicks for another 3-9 months, it will have served its purpose.

Gen Kanai
2007-03-05 23:51:16
I have a first-gen 1.25 GHz 15" Al-Powerbook. It came with the dreaded "white spots". But I was so busy using it that I had no time to send it back even though I had applecare. I finally picked up a second Intel-Powerbook and had the flexibility to send the original one back for an LCD replacement. I had to send it back 3 times because twice it came back still with spots. Applecare was well worth it for me.
Gen Kanai
2007-03-05 23:51:48
I have a first-gen 1.25 GHz 15" Al-Powerbook. It came with the dreaded "white spots". But I was so busy using it that I had no time to send it back even though I had applecare. I finally picked up a second Intel-Powerbook and had the flexibility to send the original one back for an LCD replacement. I had to send it back 3 times because twice it came back still with spots. Applecare was well worth it for me.
2007-03-06 00:27:46
Although I've not had to use AppleCare I'm more than satisfied with it. I paid the cost price of £175 (rather than retail, £250) for 'protecting' my 12" 1.5GHz PowerBook (bought June '05) and I'm especially glad now that there is an AppleStore within 15 miles of home. It is alot of money, but I think that I would definatley consider the peace of mind for my next brand new Mac, whatever/whenever that will be.
2007-03-06 01:25:40
I had a PowerBook G4 550Mhz which had the screen replaced 3 times, logic board once, hinge replaced, part of the outer casing replaced too. So definitely worth the money for me. After 4 years of owning the machine I had a very good conditioned machine which I was able to sell as parts for around £400, so I would say I had my moneys worth out of Applecare for that machine.

My experience with non-applecare repairs hasn't been so good, the machine mentioned above went away to be checked out after developing a fault out of warranty, it came back with a lot more scratches than it went away with in my opinion.

2007-03-06 01:44:04
yep - broken latch and white spots on the screen both handled by apple care!

2007-03-06 02:59:22
Apple Care will pay for itself if you need like logic board replacement,etc. Common problem on the PB. I always get the Apple Care, even though the price is a bit steep.
2007-03-06 03:59:24
Applecare is great until you find yourself traveling in a third world country for several months and your Powerbook die... I wish there was a better worldwide support network for Apple for Afrika and sout-East Asia. In the civelized world Applecare is sometihng you really should take... I still think owever that the top Apple products should have a standard 3 year warrenty..
2007-03-06 03:59:51
paid for itself. I had a problem with a HD, and went through 3 keyboards while on applecare. All replaced for free or ($239).
2007-03-06 04:33:05
I bought a video iPod for myself with AppleCare. Then on a trip to India I gave it as a gift to my nephew. I called Apple and transferred the AppleCare contract to his name and location without any problems.

On my iMac G5 apple replaced the logic board when it got fried for some reason and on a new macbook for my dad, Apple replaced the logic board when the computer repeatedly refused to wake up from sleep. Great service, no hassels and quick service as well.

Island in the Net
2007-03-06 04:59:42
When I purchased my MacBook I decided on AppleCare because I felt that cramming the components of a computer into so small a package was a recipe for failure. About 2 months after taking my white goddess home I plugged an Ethernet cable in for the first time. Normally I use just the wireless. Three of the five computers in my house are wireless enabled. I could not get a link signal. Thinking it was my router I reset that device. No link light. I then called AppleCare. They suggested I bring it to an Apple strore after the tech had me reset the firmware etc. Turns out I had a bad motherboard. The $239 was money well spent.
2007-03-06 05:56:07
I bought AppleCare for my second iBook in 2001, it was one of the 14" iBooks with logic board problems. Not a big deal, especially since I travel quite a lot, and the peace-of-mind was great. After three trips to apple for logic board repair, apple replaced it with a brand new model. So, final verdict, a new $249 iBook- I'd say it was worth it!
2007-03-06 06:31:12
I bought an iBook for my 86yo Dad about 2 years ago. His first computer. Naturally I got the AppleCare for him.

He has nothing but praises for the service techs who have helped him with mostly software related issues.

He had to send it in for something (forget what), and he was amazed at the speedy process for pickup, repair, delivery.
It has been worth every penny.

Marty Buchaus
2007-03-06 06:59:27
I am at about 2 years on my powerbook and I too have the 3 year applecare.. and 2 months ago the 100mb hard drive failed. I actually was kind of miffed about the 7 to 10 business day voiced estimate for the repair. the whole ordeal took only 4 business days to completion. 1 day to get the box 1 to ship back, The third day they replaced the hard drive and shipped that night. though that was a friday night, I had the powerbook back monday morning 10 AM. Though being without my powerbook for that much time was agonizing. In the grand scheme of things this service was extremely fast.
2007-03-06 07:11:21
I always ALWAYS recommend to my clients to purchase any extended warranty on laptops (Apple, Dell, etc.) because of the very nature of laptops. With a desktop you'll probably set it up once, maybe twice and that'll be it. With a laptop it's meant to be picked up carried around, thrown into a backpack that may get set down a little hard on occasion.

With my Powerbook G5 1.5Ghz I've had the hard drive replaced and two mother boards replaced in it. It never happens at a good time, but it's nice knowing that I can just make a quick phone call and have the thing shipped off and back in no time.

Travis Butler
2007-03-06 07:11:27
The key realization for me was someone else's comment that AppleCare is insurance. Pay a certain amount now against the chance of having to pay a lot more later. So whether AppleCare (or any other extended warranty program, for that matter) is worth it for you depends on the chances of needing a repair later, and the expected cost of that repair to you (not just the immediate dollar cost of the repair, but the cost of alternate options - i.e., would you be more productive getting a new machine than repairing a 3-year-old one?)

For a desktop machine, I'm not sure it's worth it; they're usually pretty reliable, pretty cheap to repair, and aren't exposed to a lot of hazard in day-to-day use (unless you're in the habit of hauling it to LAN parties).

For a laptop, the equation changes - they're exposed to a lot more hazard in everyday use than a typical desktop is in its lifetime, the engineering for minimal size/weight is pushing the envelope more than in a desktop design, and by the same token the parts and labor are going to be a lot more expensive if a repair is needed. So I probably would always buy an extended warranty for a laptop.

2007-03-06 07:16:25
I got applecare for my macbook pro, and it adds to the peace of mind; I have had a number of problems with my other Macs over the years that I wish I had the ability to just 'send-it-in'. That said, the other machines have been warhorses that have kept going under pretty extreme conditions. To wit, I would have probably sent my powerbook in when a glass of water spilled on the keyboard and shorted out the backlight, but the keyboard itself works fine and I've never had any problems with it other than I can't see the keys in the dark. :)
2007-03-06 09:04:11
I have never had mac fail out of standard warranty. Would I still get Applecare? For anything with a built-in LCD or a laptop--definitely. In my experience having Applecare is kind of like having an umbrella. It only rains when you don't have one.
2007-03-06 09:41:27
My PowerBook 667 had some odd video problems and lockups...but AppleCare took care of it. It took two times of sending the machine back but they finally replaced the logic board with that of a 867. Three years later (5 years total of having the machines) I have an 867 and a rock solid laptop. AppleCare was definately worth it for me.
2007-03-06 09:53:51
I've worked on Macs since the 512. I've personally owned at least one Mac during the last 17 years (7 total plus two iPods). I needed a new motherboard in an LCII (under standard warranty). I had one iPod replaced within a few weeks of purchase (again standard warranty). I had the CD-ROM fail in a flat panel iMac after a few years of very light use (replaced it myself for something like $50). So far, I usually keep my computers/iPods for at least 5 years before I stop using them. Never once considered purchasing AppleCare.
2007-03-06 11:10:35
That's FUNNY! I have a 4 year-old Ti Book and the latch has been broken for nearly 9 months.

The fix: A large binder clip with some vinyl (to prevent scratching). Cost = $1.

2007-03-06 14:16:00
I always get AppleCare for the portables, but never for the desktops. I'm much harder on my portables. A year ago a replaced my PowerBook G4 with a MacBook Pro. During the AppleCare period, Apple replaced a cracked screen, a failed hard drive and a failed DVD drive, so in that case, I'm certain I got my money's worth. I haven't yet had any hardware problems with the MacBook Pro, but the excellent service I got with the PowerBook (make a call, receive a box the next day, send it out the same day and get the fixed machine within a few days) has convinced me to continue the practice of getting my portables covered by AppleCare.
2007-03-06 15:57:07
12" powerbook replaced screen and HD, There is a local "authorized Apple dealer" near us that is not an Apple store. They are not open on weekends but I did not have to Mail the laptop away.

my 17" iMac fried the Motherboard so that was WAY worth it

2007-03-06 21:07:42
Apple care on my G4 Dual Mac. It was worth it. 2.5 years in, and the fan on the NVIDA video card starts to wine, then chatter and eventual drove me nuts. Took the machine into Apple store and voila! A new video card. That certainly saved more than the price of Apple Care. Then whilst working in Photoshop I deteced a slow change in gamma. I hadn't noticed for a while, as the change was subtle. As it turned out the back lighting was failing in my 20 inch Display. That was taken care of as well.. I don't even want to guess what that repair would have cost.
2007-03-06 22:30:07
There's an irony here.

The 'more worth it' Apple Care is, the worse the computer! The way I look at it is: "Is the price of Apple care plus the computer, worth 3 years of a working computer?" If I never use Apple Care once doesn't matter. That was effectively the price on the tag.

In fact, I sent my Pismo back twice, and my iMac G5 (orig) went back twice too, so I just factor it into the price of the computer nowadays. If you are an experienced user, I find it does help when you call to have done all the obvious things in advance so that you know you don't have a software problem, and the 'we'll take it and fix it' line is much quicker.

Now, I'm just wondering what to do about those random black solid boxes that keep on appearing in the *middle* of windows ...

Randy Smith
2007-03-07 07:10:00
I would never think of buying a Mac or iPod without Applecare. When I bought my eMac years ago it had the raster shift problem that Apple never copped to. After the first year I had the mouse replaced twice and the DVD burner replaced once. Well worth what I paid for Apple care. I just got a new MacBook as a gift and I am glad Apple gives you a year to get Applecare. I will gladly pay it.
2007-03-07 08:54:23
I bought a G3 iBook five years ago without Applecare. Never had a fault with it, nor with the four assorted iMac & MacMini units I've subsequently bought. I tend to buy mid-way through the product life. Maybe I'm just lucky, or maybe things would've worked out different if I'd bought new-issue kit, but I'd expect design-related faults like the recent MacBook shutdowns and MacBook Pro noises to be settled under a regular warranty.
I've always considerd extended care warrantees on most domestic goods to be a rip-off, especially as replacing with new usually costs you less-for-better than repairing the old.
2007-03-07 17:07:49
Here's one for the powers of apple care. I purchased a 17" Powerbook 1.5GHz in the summer of 04. First year was ok, until the 11th month. Then the HD went. Not 4 months later the PB goes back for another HD, which lasted 6 months. When this one died, it took the LCD along for the ride. By August of 06 it died completely. The logic board was toast, and the tech agreed that it was probably what killed everything else along the way. Apple officially called my PB a lemon, and gave me a brand new 17" MBP with 2GB Ram and and the 7200 rpm 100GB drive. So a recap:
For the price of Applecare I got:
3 HD's replaced @ $300 per (HD and labor)
1 new LCD @ $900 (I think, parts and labor)
1 brand new MBP @ $2900
So $350 for Applecare saved me $4,350. I think it was worth it, don't you?

Michael Clasen
2007-03-09 00:42:01
2 1/2 years into my Applecare the HD died and was replaced,as well as the screen and the Mail Logic board. Something then went wrong and we went thru 3 additional MLBs before fixing it. I requesterd a replacement computer and the 2nd tier support specialist said if anything else went wrong they'd replace it. A month later it lost the ability to sleep and when I had a slow time Apple replaced my Powerbook G4 with a Core 2 Duo Intel MacBook Pro a week before it was due to go out of warranty. Can't complain too much about that, can you?
Michael A Clasen
FSA Associate
Mac vs PC
2007-03-09 23:33:03
I think you nailed it, what is peace of mind worth to you and what if something more than just a latch problem happened? Could have been much more expensive. I've been driving my car for over 20 years without an accident but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop buying car insurance.

The only acceptation to this is if you are going to flip your machine every year, in that case you may not get back your Apple Care costs on resale.

2007-03-13 15:16:41
The Apple branding strategy is certainly right on. Find brand committed customers who think a 1-year warranty is sufficient. This a 400% improvement of the old 3 months warranty. It's nice to know that Apple stands behind their products. On the other hand, my Thinkpad arrived out of the box with a 3-year warranty, not that I've had to use it. Don't get me wrong, I really like my MacBook, but I have to chuckle when I think of the gurus at Apple shrinking our heads.
Andrew vonderLuft
2007-03-13 15:22:19
I make it a personal policy to get applecare on any laptop. Laptops are much more susceptible to problems than desktops for obvious reasons. I have saved lots of money by following this policy, but even if I hadn't, the peace of mind would be worth it. I definitely do not get AppleCare on minis - they have very few problems, and if they do, just get another one. ;-)
2007-03-13 18:39:42
I bought the cheapest Mac laptop available in early 2004, a 12" iBook G4 without AppleCare. If I had gotten a more expensive Mac laptop, I might have considered getting AppleCare.

The only problem I had with the iBook, was the battery dying on me around August 2006. The iBook G4 battery recall was really God-sent for me to get a brand new replacement for a dead battery in October 2006. Since replacing the battery, the laptop continues to plodding along without any problem. The original 30GB hard disk has been DIY replaced with a 60GB hard disk.

2007-03-13 20:20:00
Purchased an iMac G5 and waited until the very last day possible to get AppleCare. No other reason other than procrastination. But a year and a couple of weeks later it paid for itself. Lost the HD and boy was I glad I had AppleCare. Made a appointment at the Genius Bar of my nearby Apple Store. Took my Mac in, they fixed it in a couple of hours, and I went on my merry way. Oh yes: word to the wise. Backup, backup, backup.
Michael Kemper
2007-03-13 20:57:27
I'm on my second Mac, a MacBook Pro, and have AppleCare, as I did for my first Mac, the first generation Powerbook. I made quite a few calls, mostly in the first year, while the Powerbook was my main computer. Those calls mostly resulted in problems solved and boosted my Mac expertise by increments.

In the 3 months or so that I've had the MacBook Pro I've called AppleCare maybe half a dozen times and have niether solved problems, the advice being to re-install the operating system, which I've done several times, nor increased my store of Apple expertise. My advice; if it's your first Mac, AppleCare's a MUST. But if you're an experienced Mac user, it's a crapshoot whether or not you're going to get your money's worth by shelling out $300+ for AppleCare.

phil shapiro
2007-03-14 02:06:57
when i helped a friend do a software update on his new imac G5, the result was a kernel panic. so we called apple to go thru the steps of reinstalling the operating system.

except his imac wouldn't start from the reinstall cd/dvd. so we lugged the imac over to an apple store. the genius bar there reinstalled the os, but they let me know they were doing me a big favor.

they're doing me a favor?