Last week I purchased a Mac Mini from the Apple online store.
The Mini comes with a minimum of 2GB RAM, but you can upgrade at purchase. 8GB of RAM adds £240 to the price, 20% VAT included.
That struck me as expensive, so I purchased an 8GB Kit from Crucial, 2 x 4GB SODIMMs, DDR3-1333 PC3-10600, from Crucial. It cost me £55.19 including VAT though I should have waited: the price today is £49.19.
If you purchase the upgrade from Apple, you just get 8GB. If you purchase the upgrade elsewhere, you end up with two spare 1GB sticks that you might be able to use or sell for a few pennies.
Upgrading the RAM on a Mac Mini used to be somewhat challenging, involving a putty knife, a certain amount of stress, and likely a few marks on your case. Now it is just a matter of twisting a cover on the underside and takes a couple of minutes.
The ex-VAT price is £200 from Apple versus £40.99 from a third-party. That can be expressed as a 487% mark-up. Of course we need to allow for the skilled engineering work in twisting off the cover and testing the RAM; or maybe Apple does this at the factory and has a pile of pre-configured machines; but then again I am sure Apple gets a better price on its volume RAM purchases than the rest of us can manage.
I would not blame anyone for going the safe route and ordering their upgrade from Apple, so as to be sure it is the correct part, correctly fitted. But Apple is taxing these customers heavily. The Mini is no longer good value with the official upgrade.
One thing in Apple’s favour though. I imagine it could have put some little chip into its official RAM that prevented standard parts from working. At least it has not done that.