There were some doubts about how real the Psystar Open Computers were, but reviews are starting to pour in from the gadget sites that have received the machines. That’s definitely good news since it adds some reassurance to those who purchased the computer, but it looks like some quirks are already starting to come out of the wood work.
First off the computer comes with the retail Leopard box, which you would naturally assume means you can reinstall the operating system at any point. Wrong. I expect that they give you the box so that you have a legal license for Leopard, but it really does nothing other than sit there and look pretty. Their FAQ’s state that they will not provide any information on loading the Leopard operating system yourself.
Apple’s iLife is a suite of application that come with new computers you purchase, but it is sold separately from Leopard. Well, this isn’t an official Apple computer so if you want iPhoto, iWeb, GarageBand, iDVD, or iMovie you’ll have to fork out another $79 for it. What it really levels out to is $400 for the cheapest computer that Psystar sells, another $155 if you want Leopard installed, and then $79 if you wanted to get iLife. You’re up to $634 right there, and an official Apple Mac Mini starts at $600. Sure the specs aren’t quite as good, but then you can at least reinstall Leopard at your leisure.
The real deal killer for many people is the fact that the machines cannot be updated using the standard automatic update system. Obviously this is a huge downfall because it’s pretty much a guarantee that the operating system will be out-of-date in a month or two. That not only leaves you in the dark for bug fixes, but also makes you more vulnerable to attacks. Here’s what Psystar says about updating Leopard:
Can I update my Open/OpenPro with the Leopard OS using the Apple web site or the Leopard Automatic Update Feature?
We do not support that feature of the operating system. Supported updates will be listed under support on the Psystar website. Future operating system updates may cause severe system problems. Only install updates that have been tested and posted to the Psystar support website.
And that’s not it either. Engadget is really putting the system through its paces. They immediately found out that the PC is incredibly loud because the fan always runs at full speed, and they even go as far as to say that it’s “loud enough so that it’s hard to talk on the phone when the machine is running.” Plus they noticed that their DHCP lease drops every fifteen minutes and it has to manually be renewed in the preferences. Yikes!
I don’t know about all of this. If I was going to grab a computer that ships with Mac OS X Leopard I would expect that it would perform better. If you really wanted to use your own computer to run Apple’s operating system it looks like you might be better off doing it on your own, which means you’ll at least know what to do if you wanted to reinstall it.