27" iMac SSD & eSATA Upgrade Nightmare - OWC (Other World Computing)

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By Ben Radler

I wanted to write a post about my good friend's recent experience with OWC (Other World Computing), as they are one of the oldest Mac-authorized resellers, and I've usually heard good things about doing business with them. My most recent experience has significantly swayed my views.

Their offers for the 21.5" and 27" iMacs are quite intriguing. You can either buy from them, or ship an already-purchased system to them, and they offer a whole host of upgrades that Apple does not. For example, OWC will add an eSATA port for $169, or add/replace internal hard drives with Solid State Drives (SSDs). They'll even add an internal Blu Ray disc player! And all at costs less than Apple charges (easy to do). But that's where the fun ended (at least for us).

These sort of upgrades are a bit intimidating for normal users, especially considering that in order to add an SSD or another hard drive, the entire machine has to be disassembled. The glass cover that sits atop the screen has to be removed with industrial-strength suction cups, and handled with extreme care in order to keep dust and fingerprints off. I've personally performed this procedure on my own iMacs in the past, and it's not particularly fun.

These offers from OWC sounded wonderful since I wasn't looking forward to taking apart another iMac any time my buddy went ahead and purchased a 27" iMac, and had it drop-shipped to OWC to have a larger internal drive and an SSD added, as well as the eSATA port.

To make a long story short, the system shipped out DIRECTLY from Apple to OWC on September 16th, arrived at OWC on the 17th, and shipped back from OWC to us in San Francisco on the 17th as well! WOW! Unfortunately, even though two-day shipping was requested, the system didn't arrive back in our hands until the 24th. Brutal, especially considering we were essentially computer-less for a whole week, and had several projects that needed to be completed before the 24th (not necessarily OWC's fault).

So the machine arrives and we are initially (semi) delighted with the job, except for the fact that the ESATA port looked like it was poorly cut into place with a dremel or equivalent tool. The quality of the port installation did not impress me, though it functioned as expected.

After a day of using the machine, we noticed a dead pixel in the center of the screen. We immediately notified OWC tech support and spoke with Devin Predmore. He sent me a stuck-pixel repair application that supposedly would fix my problem. Installed the program, ran it several times, and did not fix the stuck pixels.

During start up of my machine, we noticed what looked to be fingerprints on the glass of the screen. I took out the Apple-supplied screen cleaning cloth and tried to clean the "fingerprints" off of the screen. After looking at the display from different angles and in different light, I noticed that they were underneath the screen. There is no way that these fingerprints came from apple direct. Who ever disassembled my machine obviously did not handle my glass screen-cover with proper care, nor did they clean it thoroughly before reinstalling it.

To top everything off, I noticed a scratch beneath the surface of the screen in the bottom left corner, not obstructing the LCD but below. I also noticed a white dot stuck under the LCD on the top of the screen.

To be honest, we are still quite astonished that after spending over $1000 in upgrades, we received such sloppy and sub-par workmanship. It seems that the OWC technicians were either in a huge hurry on this system, or do not take the proper precautions when performing iMac surgery.

The problems still exist, though the machine is going back to OWC (free shipping overnight both ways), and they are compensating us with a (minimal) $50 gift card. Still not impressed. Guess if you want something done right you have to it yourself...

Pics for clicks.

Those are UNDER the glass!!!: imac-owc-defects-007

Stuck Pixels imac-owc-defects-006

Scratch on the Glass imac-owc-defects-002

Scratch on the Glass imac-owc-defects-003

Stuck Pixels imac-owc-defects-004


Chip in the Glass imac-owc-defects-001

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Ben Radler

Ben is a Software Engineer. He works on autonomous vehicle dispatch at Cruise.

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