Apple updates: upgrades and (extra) repairs


Again in late June, I advised you about my spouse’s latest birthday current to me, an Apple Mac Professional, particularly the MacPro6,1 mannequin generally often called the “trash can” (formally the “cylinder”):

Sadly, shortly after I submitted that exact writeup for publication, I realized through Apple’s early-June bulletins on the yearly Worldwide Builders Convention (WWDC) that the 2013-2019 period Mac Professional solely had a few years of working system life left. MacOS 14 “Ventura”, which exited beta simply final week as I write these phrases, doesn’t work with it. So, even optimistically assuming Apple holds to its historic latest-plus-last-two (sorta) help cadence going ahead, the ultimate working system (MacOS 13 “Monterey”) that works with the MacPro6,1 will drop off the help record within the fall of 2024. Formally, a minimum of. Maintain that thought.

However, I’ve gone forward and actualized a minimum of a few of the improve aspiration that I alluded to in my earlier protection. The reminiscence replace was, as forecasted, a no-brainer as soon as I received the outer case off the system (which was additionally a no brainer). Proper now, I’ve received two extra used 16 GByte DDR3 ECC DIMMs (which collectively price me solely $40 plus tax on eBay) put in, working error-free and at full 1866 MHz (PC3-14900) speeds alongside the 2 that (finally) got here with the system. I’d additionally acquired 4 32 GByte DDR3 ECC registered DIMMs (for $240 plus tax complete, used on eBay), which solely run as much as 1066 MHz (with a 4-to-8-core CPU; solely 800 MHz with a twelve-core CPU), however I haven’t put in them but, removed from doing any A/B efficiency comparisons between the 2 reminiscence possibility units.

The SSD improve wasn’t far more difficult, thanks in no small half to the truth that I deliberately don’t replace to the most recent working system releases instantly (fairly the opposite: I simply moved my programs to MacOS 11 “Massive Sur” lately, proper earlier than MacOS 10.15 “Catalina” fell off the help record commensurate with the MacOS 14 “Ventura” launch). The system shipped with “Massive Sur”, whose “Signed System Quantity” function initially gave Bombich Software program’s Carbon Copy Cloner and different drive copy utilities booting matches, however they’d fortunately gotten sorted out by the point I tackled my challenge. Right here’s the unique 512 GByte SSD, made by Samsung albeit with an Apple-proprietary connector, that got here with the Mac Professional:

To mate an {industry} commonplace M.2 SSD to that proprietary interface required the middleman sign translation delivered by this cheap adapter:

I went with Intel’s newest and biggest 2 TByte 670p Collection NVMe M.2 SSD, a choice which concerned a little bit of cube rolling—all of the improve protection I’d come throughout so far had used the prior-generation 660p—which on the time (they’re cheaper now…sigh…) set me again $189.99 plus tax at Newegg through eBay:

Right here’s the brand new SSD with the interface adapter hooked up:

And right here’s the whole assemblage put in:

The outdated SSD went inside an OWC Envoy Professional 1A USB3 enclosure, left over from a previous system’s SSD replace (which I’ll talk about subsequent):

Observe that the “exercise” LED within the nook of the PCB had gone awry in some unspecified time in the future (I’m guessing a severed chilly solder joint), which fortunately didn’t have an effect on basic performance:

I tethered the SSD-inclusive enclosure to one of many Mac Professional’s USB3 ports, booted off it as an alternative of the (presently erased) new SSD already within the system, which I first initialized:

ran a cloning session:

I restarted the Mac Professional besides from the inner SSD as an alternative, and all was good!

Though the brand new drive is working nicely, I’ll hold the unique SSD round for 2 main causes, one predictable and the opposite fairly essential. Predictable first: if I ever do away with the Mac Professional, I’ll put the unique drive again in it first since, in spite of everything, I can alternatively use the industry-standard-interface new SSD with a special laptop. Now essential: it seems that firmware updates will solely full efficiently if an “official” Apple drive is within the system. Apple stopped transport the MacPro6,1 solely three years in the past, so extra firmware updates are conceivable albeit unlikely. If one is launched, I’ll quickly put the unique SSD again in, improve the BIOS, then swap the brand new SSD again within the precursor’s stead.

My ultimate to-date Mac Professional improve is extra modest albeit no much less significant. As you could have already famous from one of many prior photographs, the Mac Professional presently sits on high of a subwoofer (which, come to consider it, may not have been a sensible transfer if the laptop was HDD-based). To maintain them each from getting scratched, I’ve added a Newer Know-how NuPad Base to the underside of the Mac Professional:

Alternatively, brackets can be found from corporations like Redco and Rocstor that allow safe mounting of the Mac Professional to the underside (or facet) of a desk or different floor.

And as for that potential processor improve that I additionally talked about final June? Though I have picked up a used Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2 twelve-core CPU ($70 plus tax used on eBay), I haven’t…err…mustered up the braveness to sort out the process but…gulp…

Now let’s flip our consideration to my early-2015 mannequin 13” Retina MacBook Professional, which coincidentally can be scheduled for software-induced “obsolescence by design” in two years or much less. Again in mid-2021, I shared with you the story of “the laptop computer that changed into an egg”:

My workspace floor isn’t precisely flat…reality be advised, I usually stick a checkbook underneath one nook of my laptop computer to even it out even when it’s not swollen…so all gave the impression to be nicely for some time. Nonetheless, when attempting to make use of it (particularly on the airplane seat tray, which was flat) whereas on my first post-pandemic-lockdown enterprise journey earlier this yr, I used to be unable to disregard the truth that it was starting to swell once more. Sigh.

Fortunately, the senior buyer help rep I finally received telephone-routed to noticed that I’d solely lately had the batteries changed already and proactively provided to “comp” me the re-repair. We determined it made most sense for me to take the “egg” to an area Apple Retailer; lingering provide chain points had been resulting in replacement-parts availability uncertainty particularly for “classic” programs like mine, and if I had been to as an alternative ship it in to the central restore depot, it’d sit there for a very long time. As a substitute, she mentioned, if the native retailer didn’t have the elements on-hand they’d give the pc again to me to proceed utilizing till elements arrived and a well timed restore was attainable. All of this was essential as a result of that is my main work system.

Her concept and my actuality sadly diverged as soon as I arrived on the Apple Retailer. It seems that because of staffing constraints, the one programs being regionally repaired had been desktop computer systems and different like-large-and-heavy gadgets. All cellular gear (together with laptops) was being alternatively shipped from the shop to the aforementioned central restore depot, with return transport both to the shop or on to the shopper. The Genius Bar rep ran a full diagnostic on the system, which checked out wonderful (as with its predecessor, appearances apart, this swollen battery nonetheless gave the impression to be working usually), boxed it up, and shipped it out the subsequent day.

A backstory earlier than continuing with this one: the OWC Envoy enclosure that I confirmed you earlier was initially bundled with a 1 TByte OWC Aura Professional X2 SSD (nonetheless third-party however on this case with a local Apple-friendly proprietary interface) that my spouse had purchased me as a present to improve the 256 GByte SSD that initially got here with the MacBook Professional. After the laptop computer got here again from restore the primary time, I went forward and up to date the SSD along side an working system improve (thereby preserving the unique SSD’s saved information and information in case the software program replace went awry). I remembered after handing off the system to the Genius Bar rep this time that I hadn’t swapped the outdated SSD again in first; I recalled with consternation that Apple typically balked at “non-standard” laptop configurations. Nonetheless, since this wasn’t an under-warranty restore and had nothing to do with the SSD, and particularly because the system had already handed in-store diagnostics, I hoped there wouldn’t be an issue.

These hopes had been dashed the day after the system shipped (and solely two days after I dropped it off, to Apple’s credit score) once I first obtained an electronic mail indicating that the pc had arrived at its vacation spot and, shortly thereafter, one other electronic mail indicating that “we have to hear from you”. The technician had found the non-Apple SSD and wished to now cost me practically $1,000 for the restore. I received again on the cellphone with my help rep and we strategized a plan:

  1. I’d decline the restore and have the system shipped again to me as-is
  2. She’d provoke a brand new comp’d restore request and have transport supplies despatched to me
  3. As soon as I obtained the pc, I’d swap the unique Apple SSD again into it and ship it again in for one more restore try (with the qualifier that because the restore depot had already documented that the system had a third-party SSD in it at some level, they may not settle for it for a free restore this time…additionally, the paperwork I obtained once I received it again indicated that if I re-submitted it for restore with the very same reported challenge, I’d get charged as much as $100 for a diagnostic subsequent time).

When the pc arrived, I took it out of the field and flipped it over. The beforehand barely curved backside floor was now utterly flat. Unusual. I eliminated the underside cowl. The batteries seemed model new and never swollen in any respect. Extra strangeness. On a hunch, I re-assembled the underside cowl, flipped the pc again over and put it on a flat floor. Hmm…no wobbling. I booted the pc and checked the battery stats within the System Information utility. Zero logged cost cycles. Apple’d gone forward and changed the battery pack in spite of everything!

To any extent further, I’m going to attempt to keep in mind to unplug the laptop computer from its AC adapter every (over)evening once I put it in standby, to discharge the batteries a bit and forestall one other swelling state of affairs for a minimum of so long as the system stays Apple working system-supported. And to that time, by the way in which, referring again to my earlier “maintain that thought” remark, the hacker group has already made notable progress in getting “Ventura” working on legacy {hardware} like my Mac Professional and MacBook Professional. So, they might find yourself with much more longevity!

Thanks for studying the story of my early, shock NiMH Christmas current, together with particulars on my earlier Mac Professional enhancements. As at all times, I welcome your ideas within the feedback!

Brian Dipert is the Editor-in-Chief of the Edge AI and Imaginative and prescient Alliance, and a Senior Analyst at BDTI and Editor-in-Chief of InsideDSP, the corporate’s on-line publication.

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