OWC OWC Blog   |   Customer Support
1-800-275-4576 (USA)   |   1-815-338-8685 (INTL)
Greetings from OWC — Love the One You're With It's been far too long since I've written a true email piece, and well, that says it all. As with most families, there is a daily struggle for balance between children and the extended OWC family. I feel I've entered the eye of the storm now that three out of four of my little ones are getting on the bus each morning. I figure I've got a good five years before things go completely haywire and the "tween" and "teen" years come crashing down on my wife and I. There's always something going on ... but after watching Apple's iPhone event on September 10th, I felt both inspired and compelled to share some of my observations, tips and opinions with you.

At the rapid pace technology is advancing, it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy, so I wanted to take a few minutes to convey the notion that often you can get more (and keep a LOT more in your pocket) by upgrading the Mac you have versus what a new base system will offer.

In this edition...
I discuss if a new Mac is needed versus upgrading with some historical perspective, taking the new 2013 MacPro into consideration, and I'll expand on what you can do with the existing MacPro as well as MacBook, MacBookPro, Mac mini, and iMac. From there, I'll talk about OWC's Built and Designed in the USA focus, as well as progress in our new Austin, TX facility – before bringing the e-mail to a close and tossing a couple extra web links your way.
Getting right to it... I'm reminded of a statement by Steve Jobs himself back in 2010 that supports my argument. He declared the new MacBook Air 2010 model, with a slower clock processor actually gave better performance than then top of the line 17 inch MacBookPro. It wasn't some radical processor architecture enhancement, it was the standard SSD/Flash drive in the MacBook Air. For years we'd been programmed to anticipate faster processors - and don't get me wrong, clock speed and/or raw processing capability does matter, but the benefit of the right memory and SSD can happen to matter a whole lot more. Today's latest processors do more operations per second with a slower clock, but as early as 2006, the bottlenecks were less to do with the processor and more to do with the storage and memory. To that end, if you take a 2006 MacBook/MacBookPro and drop an SSD/Flash drive into it, it can keep up with, even outperform much later models. You may not realize what kind of potential is sitting under the hood of the Mac you already own, use, and have already paid for. Time for a New Mac? I can't tell you how often I have overheard people talk about how they needed to go and get a new Mac because the one they have is "running too slow." They actually believe the machine has exhausted its life cycle, like a battery. We've taken on a "battery" and "car" mentality with regard to computers and while it might benefit the makers of the computers, it doesn't benefit our wallets. As electronics all around us seem not to last as long as the ones our parents owned, we've come to expect our computers to expire after a certain "reasonable" period of time. Or, when the new fancy model comes out with "chrome wheels" or a "docking station for our iPhone" then we need a new car (computer).

To Apple's credit, Macs are built to last. To our benefit, most of them are also built to be upgraded. It surprises me how many people don't know this. When you purchase a factory model, it's designed to be affordable and provide plenty of capability for the average user. However, as your needs become more intense, often you could use more speed, better performance and more storage ... most people (not our readers) think this translates to a new computer system. I'm here to tell you, nine of ten times, this is not the case.
The Olden Days After Apple's latest iPhone introductions at the iPhone/iOS centric event, I thought some historical perspective might be of interest. Some 24 years ago, when the Mac platform was still emerging (the designs and concepts as well as the return on investment) and the Apple II still thrived, there was a lot of aggravation among Apple II users who felt they were being neglected, ignored or left behind.

Those using the Apple II wanted Apple to continue to focus on the personal computing machines as well as conceptualizing and bringing to market the Mac business focused computers. The last new Apple II model revision, the Apple IIGS 'rom3,' was released in 1989 and continued selling for another four years based on the strength of its loyal user base, strong edu software library, and exceptional upgradeability, however this was during a time when the Apple board of directors concluded home/personal computers were out and that only business computers (Mac) could be successful.

So, they let the Apple II platform die, which left millions of Apple IIGS owners frustrated and with no clear or affordable path to upgrade to the Mac. Sure, they had an Apple IIe compatibility card for their early 90's Mac LC (as in Low-Cost Mac), but that didn't run the wealth of software specifically written for the Apple IIGS going back to the first GS revision in 1987.
The Inspiration for OWC The first Apple that I worked on was an Apple IIe. My quasi-first Apple was an Apple IIc. The first Apple that I bought myself was an Apple IIGS in 1987. It would be the unfair prices I encountered in 1988 that would move me past my first business venture, re-inking ribbons, to starting Other World Computing. I could not afford a Mac at the time I bought the IIGS, and honestly, the IIGS offered a lot more for the, how shall we say, "core exploration" and what passed with the first 2400 and the 14,400baud HST modems as the online experience in the day. I'm quite confident when I say OWC would not exist, certainly not in the Mac space, if not for the Apple II.

The first Mac I owned was a Mac IIsi. I purchased it in 1992 so I could do my own ads and Macs were recognized as the desktop publishing kings. Transitioning from my Apple II to the Mac system was like opening a whole new world, way beyond just desktop publishing. My prior 'Apple II Forever' biases aside, I finally understood what was so great about Mac.

At inception, Mac was a very closed platform, it opened up more in the late 90's and the early part of the last decade, but from that first moment I was on a mission. OWC focused on efforts to "Make each Mac — a Better, Faster Mac" and to educate and share the "how-to" methods that would go hand-in-hand with that process. I'm now seeing Apple move back toward a more closed design with limited internal enhancement capability.
Mac is Built to Last As OWC is now completing it's 25th year, I've gotten a ringside seat for the design and product evolution of Apple and see a pattern emerging. Going back to the whole Apple II versus Mac issue — today we do have some Mac vs. iDevice points to contend with. By no means is there any sign of Apple abandoning the Mac, but I do find the apparent lack of resources and/or attention in keeping the Mac hardware up to date a bit disappointing.

What I've long considered a "strength" for Macs versus PCs is the Mac's upgradability. Macs cost a lot and can last a long time if upgraded properly, but when you take that option away, their longevity is reduced. All is not lost, yet.

Let's take a look at the current state of Mac...
The Next Generation Mac Pro At long last, there is a successor to the MacPro platform last updated in 2010. Briefly, in June of 2012, the word "new" started to show up at the Apple Store with the MacPro listings, but it was only in reference to some changes to the base memory and processor. The use of the word "new" was quickly removed as users, already disappointed by the no-show at WWDC, ranted at Apple for even suggesting the 2010 model was new. This year, we will have a truly new MacPro.

The 2013 MacPro, that is to be available later this fall, brings a significant departure from all MacPro lineage that precedes it. No price has been set, but we are anticipating the entry cost to be between $2,500 and $3,000 with 8GB of memory and a 512GB SSD. This system has six Thunderbolt ports, but ZERO internal Drive Bays, ZERO PCIe slots and 4 memory slots that we will be able to support up to 128GB of memory.

How Will We Help?
When this system debuts, we will have Thunderbolt solutions for adding the much needed storage bays as well as other "missing" connectivity and expansion. The beauty of Thunderbolt technology is the external upgrade capabilities it supports, including but not limited to, PCIe slots, storage, video, hubbing and daisy-chaining.

The Thunderbolt 2 the new MacPro supports is even better with up to double the bandwidth (up to 20Gb per second versus 10Gb/s) via each of its six Thunderbolt ports. There will be an increased performance with the 2013 MacPro, but it will be a significant investment as nothing in the MacPro you may have now will work internally on this new model. The memory is different (not unexpected) and there are absolutely no other internal bays/slots (very surprised by this) to support the drives or additional function PCIe cards. Pretty much anything other than memory that's not already built-in/soldered on must be added externally.

The CPU and Video GPU processing power of this new MacPro alone will set a new standard in Mac capability. If you have already maxed your memory and have a PCIe SSD in a current MacPro and find you are "processor bound" — this new system might be exactly what you need.

I Need the New Mac Pro – or do I?
If your MacPro is a factory base with little to no upgrades, it can be easily be upgraded to make your "current MacPro experience" obsolete because that non-upgraded MacPro is anything but obsolete! In fact, depending on the upgrades to an existing MacPro versus what you can afford to add to the upcoming 2013 model, an existing MacPro with upgrades can arguably deliver greater real-world creative performance with a fraction of the cost expended compared to that new 2013 MacPro.

That price comparison even holds up when you compare upgrade pricing vs "entry level" new let alone an optimally configured new model that will cost a lot more making the question of going new versus upgrading a no-brainer.

Check out Excellent Condition, Used MacPro 2009s up to 2.93GHz from $879!

Let's hit the bigs...
Mac Pro – Make the one you have Better than New Memory for Mac Pro
MacPros, all the way back to 2006/07 can go to 32GB; 2008 to 64GB; and the 2009 / 2010-2012 are now able to utilize a full 128GB once OS X Mavericks arrives and up to 96GB right now. Memory is one of the least expensive and easiest upgrades you can install. When you don't have enough memory for an application to function to its fullest within installed memory, it has to fall back to paging 'virtual' space on the boot/startup volume. Even the fastest SSD storage is still slower than installed memory, so just having adequate memory installed enables far greater processor utilization – avoiding an unnecessary bottleneck (slower drive storage), and makes a night-and-day performance difference.

It amazes me how many customers I talk to today that are ready to take the plunge with the new MacPro system, but haven't even added enough memory to get the full benefit of the machine at their fingertips. I'm talking 4, 6, 8, 12-Core systems with only 3GB, 6GB or 8GB installed. A huge investment was made in the base system without knowing what the true capacity of the model was, so the capability of the computer is being held back by a basic upgrade that can simply be performed. With extremely rare exception, even a 2008 4-Core model with 16GB of memory installed will run circles around a 2010 12-Core model with 6GB of memory installed. Don't let memory be your bottleneck.

Storage for Mac Pro
Hard drives are great for mass storage, but even with your memory to the max, the OS needs to do various caching and page outs in support of ongoing operations and a hard drive is very slow for this kind of thing. Once you have upgraded your memory, upgrading to an SSD for your boot drive will provide you with instantaneous change so dramatic you will be wondering if it's even possible you are using the same machine. We offer 2.5 inch SSDs that can drop right into your MacPro drive bays from $69.99 using simple adapters and our Accelsior_E2 PCIe SSD, that was designed just for your MacPro and that offers more than twice the performance any drive can achieve in a MacPro drive bay- up to 688MB/s.

It's not just that these SSDs offer up to about 4X the peak performance of a hard drive, it's that these SSDs offer up to 200X (yes, two. Hundred. Times.) the I/O rates as a hard drive. Where a hard drive slows to data rates of under 30MB/s or even under 1MB/s with many normal system operations, our SSDs can be over 100X faster(No kidding!) for the same operations. Those beachballs that appear now with a hard drive, an SSD greatly reduces and often eliminates them.

The entire machine becomes more responsive as wait states across the board are reduced and go away with more real-time responsiveness as the new norm. Boot in seconds, launch apps, load/open files in a blink, process photos, video and manage other high intensity tasks with amazing speed you might have thought was a processor bound performance limitation.

Video for Mac Pro
If your specific MacPro needs more GPU horsepower or additional displays, you have PCIe slots. It is easy to upgrade the existing Video Card or add another for more GPU capability and displays support with a recently expanded selection of modern, Apple supported cards.
MacPro Interfaces
While it is not possible to add the Thunderbolt interface to a non-Thunderbolt equipped Mac, it is worth noting that Thunderbolt technology is effectively a PCIe to PCIe bus connection. You have multiple, native PCIe slots in your MacPro that support performance up to 8X faster than what the new MacPro will offer with Thunderbolt 2. You can add eSATA, SAS, USB 3.0 and/or more USB ports, more FireWire ports, high-end video capture and processing cards via those slots on MacPro towers – just to name a few. These PCIe slot solutions are also less costly with more flexibility than typical Thunderbolt solutions.
Expansion for the Current Mac Pro
Thanks to the bays within the current MacPro, you can have up to 20TB (based on 4TB HDDs and use the 4 main bays + the 2nd optical bay) of internal storage and PCIe SSDs all inside your system. You can insert whatever memory, drives and video cards you want without any external requirement other than a display. This is a stark contrast to the new MacPro that depends on externals for everything other than the factory SSD of up to 1.25TB and internal memory slots. To reiterate, if you're upgrading from a MacPro loaded with internal storage, you'll need a Thunderbolt or USB 3 solution to provide the same storage externally.
I hope I've made clear that I think the pre-2013 MacPro platform is far from obsolete and vastly capable. If you've not yet scratched the surface on memory, SSD and video upgrades the platform was built to be boosted by, you don't need to wait for the new MacPro, your current MacPro is just an upgrade away from being better-than-new and quite possibly far better than you imagined possible.
Mac mini, MacBook, MacBook Pro (non-Retina), & iMac too The Mac mini, MacBookPro (non-Retina) and the iMac had their last major updates in 2012(2013 iMac update noted) and like the MacPro, simple upgrades can make them better than whatever updates follow. Even a MacBook, from as far back as 2006, can be easily upgraded to feel new again. It's so much less about processor speed and generation than it is about enabling the capabilities already present under the hood of that Mac you've got now.

Note: We also have a broad selection of Used MacBooks & some MacBookPros from $249!

Memory
The simplest and most cost effective upgrade can also make the biggest difference. Across all platforms, if you are short on memory, nothing runs as smoothly as it should and could. Often you have less memory than an application needs to work effectively and adding additional memory will results in an instant performance boost. Depending on the model you have, MacBook, MacBookPro and Mac mini can support up to 16GB; iMacs up to 32GB.
Internal Storage If you do not yet have an OWC Mercury SSD in your Mac, you don't know what you are missing. Equate it with having, loving and thinking your Cadillac SRX (we absolutely equate Macs in this class) has plenty of get-up-and-go … until you get behind the wheel of a late model Chevrolet Corvette with 460 horsepower and a V8 engine. You immediately notice not only the incredible responsiveness but a car that wants to GO and GO FAST. The OWC Mercury SSD turns your Mac into a 'super car'.

Since 2010, OWC's Mercury SSDs are the first and most complete line of SSDs built to bring the benefit of SSD/Flash drive technology to your Mac. Just like a sports car, you don't necessarily think you'd want one until you drive one and once you do, slipping back behind the wheel of your sedan will not be as sweet as it once might have been. We provide 30-day money-back (100%) because we understand the cost differential and the lingering skepticism; it's a no brainer for us because they don't come back. While easiest to compare vs. a high-end sports car, the cost of a transformational OWC Mercury SSD is from $67.50 – so imagine paying that much for a sports car and then going back!

"Hmm, let me see, here's your Ferrari Enzo back, it just wasn't for me. I know it didn't cost that much more than my SUV, but who needs all that?" It doesn't happen. Honestly, it's like going from dial-up, to broadband for a day and then someone telling you it's time to go back to dial-up; no thank you. It's really THAT big a difference.

When memory is maxed out, memory offloading to an OWC SSD is so much faster than memory tasks being offloaded to a hard drive, thanks to OWC SSDs being up to over 100X faster than hard drives. Today's hard drives are getting faster and faster, but with respect to where the heavy data lifting is done, when they slow to data rates of less than 1MB/s, SSDs keep applications running at real-time speeds. Bye, bye, beachballs. A truly "new Mac" experience is just an OWC Mercury SSD upgrade away.

Increased Internal Storage
SSDs, for all their speed, like a sports car, come at a cost. Capacities are limited to about 1TB and come with a substantially higher cost per GB price tag. While a 120GB SSD will run you about $120, you can get a 1TB 7200RPM notebook HDD for under $100. The best of both worlds is to have both! The SUV AND the sports car!

For late 2008 and later MacBook/MacBookPro models, most Mac mini 2009 or later and iMac 2010/2011 models we offer the OWC Data Doubler Kits that allow you to keep your current hard drive and ADD your choice of SSD. These kits are priced from under $30 and enable you to maintain your current mass storage (or upgrade to a larger drive if needed) and install an SSD which can be used for your OS/Booting, application launching and work file processing space.

For existing content, photos, videos and other media, hard drive space is fine ... having an SSD with enough size for your OS and apps is transformational. With our OWC Data Doubler products, you can multi-purpose your hard drive space to have maintenance startup volume and Time Machine partitioning at the ready. Adding an SSD to your hard drive offers great flexibility, performance and capacity.

Before you consider a new Mac, take a good look at the one right in front of you. For an investment of even a hundred dollars or less, an upgrade you can do yourself can add significant lifespan and utility to your machine and potentially even more than what a several hundred or thousand dollar new Mac would bring.

The newer models also continue to have less and less options for customization and upgradability as they move back to a more closed design. Don't overlook what your "old" Mac has to offer in terms of capability that can make it "Better than New."
Built & Designed In The USA While some things can be done cheaper in China, I'm a true believer we can do it better in the USA. While it isn't practical or even possible to do everything here, I am proud of what OWC has committed to accomplishing within the USA.

OWC Solid State Drives (SSDs)
The OWC Mercury line of SSDs stands alone as the only broad line with volume, that I know of, that are exclusively designed and built in the USA. Since 2010, all production of these drives has occurred in our contracted facility North of Austin, TX. Product development and engineering resources remain in our Woodstock and Austin facilities. Significant attention to detail, focus on reliability and best Mac performance, and overall quality are reflected in each drive bearing the OWC Mercury label.

OWC Memory Upgrades for Mac
The OWC line of memory is also primarily produced in the same Austin facility with over 95% of all OWC Memory upgrades shipped since 2008 built in the USA. Additionally, 100% of our memory is tested and qualified by our teams(OWC Employees – nothing outsourced, etc!) in Texas and Illinios. We don't just short test memory, OWC maintains not one, but two Mac System test labs where memory is tested and certified on a daily and on-going basis.

There is a difference in how you can build memory and how different memory performs. Apple's own specs are higher and of greater specific detail than what most typical PC memory offers. So we build, test, and qualify our OWC memory to meet and in most cases exceed these Apple requirements. Outside of Apple, no other memory provider in the world maintains even a single lab with the breadth of Apple systems that we use every day to ensure our built in the USA memory is also the best memory you can put in your Mac.

OWC & NewerTech External Storage Solutions
Pretty much any external drive you'll find in a big-box store was mass produced and spit out of a plant in Asia. Each and every OWC & NewerTech external storage solution is designed, prepared, assembled and QC tested for your Mac in our Woodstock, IL Headquarters. And that's not something just recent, that's been since I founded this company 25 years ago.

Our drives include higher output power supplies, better bridge solutions and are built without nickel-dime cuts/adjustments to provide the greatest performance and reliability available in an external drive solution today. Data can be priceless and irreplaceable. We offer the right Mac storage solutions you can trust to serve those growing data needs.

NewerTech NuGuard KX iPhone and iPad mini Cases
Although they are put together in China, (there just isn't the support for this kind of manufacturing in the USA... yet) the secret sauce that makes KX cases better than the rest is Made in the USA! It's the space-age absorbing gel built into every KX case that allows it to offer 8X more energy absorbing, mil-spec impact rated (I'm talking device survival of even a 20 foot drop onto concrete), in an easy-to-use, slim, one-piece design – which does NOT compromise the function and easy handling of the case.

From $27.50, our NuGuard KX cases are slimmer and arguable better than "impact cases" costing even 3X more. The material that makes this possible is unique to our case vs others, and it's Made in the USA ingenuity that makes this case better than the rest. Recently, in an 'unscheduled test', my own iPhone survived a real-world road test. It can be hard to get excited about a case - but the KX is truly something!

***Breaking news***
The NuGuard KX was awarded Gold at American Business Award Ceremony
USA Focus These are just some of the products that exist and have availability with a uniquely here in the USA focus. And even beyond that, our customer support team is available by e-mail, online chat, and – yes, even by telephone. This team is our core that makes the OWC difference, and none of this support staff is outsourced, in fact, they're based right here in the USA. People make the difference, and it's this incredible USA based OWC team grown over the past 25 years that enables us to provide the OWC Difference for you. Thank you for being our customer! We are here for you – and – we never forget that we are here because of you. AUSTIN, TX Just over a year ago, I uprooted my family to be on-site as OWC began a substantial expansion into Austin, TX. OWC had already been expanding engineering and product development resources just north of Austin, and 'Austin proper' was the logical choice for our new Creative Design Headquarters. We have found Austin to be incredibly welcoming and with a wealth of much needed talent. Our creative hub is the perfect complement to our core in Woodstock and together we are able to bring the next generation products to market as part of our ongoing evolution.

It's a bit different here, versus our LEED Platinum certified, state-of-the-art headquarters in Woodstock, as OWC is continuously evolving, we also evolve the spaces we occupy. Already in our first year, we added energy efficient tinting to the outer windows, replaced conventional washroom facilities with waterless and water saving fixtures and before long we will begin the installation of an array providing the maximum possible solar generation capacity our building in Austin can reasonably support. There is no shortage of sun in Austin and we expect this solar generation to be online before end of year. Then, more 'upgrades to come'. :)
In Closing We aren't interested in "good enough." We don't provide "good enough" products and we don't simply find our surroundings "good enough." In every aspect of OWC, we endeavor to leave a HUGE ecologically sound and technologically significant footprint and that means transformation, innovation, and keen environmental and societal awareness. We improve upon our products, our service and our surroundings every, single, day, in hopes our customers are the beneficiaries of this commitment to excellence.

Life is, as I said earlier, about balance. We need a healthy respect for the past as we hold ourselves back from racing toward the future. This is what I like to consider my real-time nostalgia. It's been an amazing 25 years as well as an exceptional twelve months in Austin. As I look forward to ushering our youngest onto that bus in the morning with my three other kids, I do so knowing it won't be long before I'm reminiscing of the days when all four were raising the roof with their whimsical abandon.

As with all things in life, there is a natural evolution. I anticipate a time when all of OWCs products can be conceived and manufactured in the United States because I believe in supporting the framework of the world our children will inherit. Part of that is respect for the environment and efficient use of our natural resources. Renewable energy is becoming more and more feasible and I'm glad to have made it a big part of our platform with Wind Power in Woodstock and now Solar Power in Austin.

At the end of the day, I hope our team effort, and the time we dedicate to the OWC and NewerTech products I stand behind continue to contribute to technology as an enabler versus and enslaver. We exist to improve the Macs and iDevices you already have. We want to make them greater, faster, stronger and more resilient and give you more time in the day to accomplish what you do that contributes to and enriches your life.

Technology is such a bigger part of our every day lives than I could have imagined twenty-five years ago. It's primary purpose needs to be a tool by which to get done what we need to get done, quicker, easier and more efficiently so we have more time to be with those that matter the most. As I said, it's a daily struggle, but less time looking at spinning beachballs makes for more productive time. :)

Have a great day, weekend, and beyond.
As always, the best to you and yours!

— OWC Larry
Founder & CEO
Some additional links of Interest See the latest OWC Blast that features Reader Specials More featured specials can also be found online here Our OWC Blog offers tips, information, breaking news, and more + your comments and contributions too - every day! Some recent entries include: Tear down of the new 2013 iMac 2013 models released Tuesday of this week Has Apple Lost it's Innovation Mojo? Modern Web-Browsers for PowerMac G4s Further Fusion Drive Testing with how to make your own OWC innovates Green, protective shipping solutions In addition to our blog - you can also follow me on Twitter. I am not the most twitter-versed, but try to share what I can and what I think is interesting and useful via this more instant communication platform.

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to: suggestions@macsales.com

You can ALWAYS reply to our OWC Tips and Deals e-mail at owc@macsales.com with any questions or comments as well – PLEASE change the subject to reflect your e-mail question/comment to ensure a speedy reply!
Got Questions? We've got answers! 1-800-275-4576 1-815-338-8685 (International) Mon-Fri: 8am–10pm     Sat: 9am–4pm
Live Chat: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Connect Share –  OWC Blog
–  Twitter
–  Facebook
–  Google +
–  YouTube
All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2013, Other World Computing — Since 1988