Just bought a Mac? Be sure to get AppleCare with that
If your Mac is less than a year old and you have yet to purchase AppleCare, be sure to get your hands on Apple's version of an extended warranty before that year is up.
Over the weekend I experienced what could very well have been a monumental disappointment regarding my love of Apple products. My MacBook Pro represents a large portion of what I need to do in my daily living. It is my work computer, my hobby computer, and my entertainment center. So, as I watched a gaggle of graphical artifacts grace my screen, followed by a complete system freeze, and eventually accompanied by the always lovely kernel panic death message, I fought back tears, recalling that I had purchased AppleCare and took comfort in the fact that my computerized companion was fully covered should something like this occur.
Despite knowing that this was the end of my graphics card, I took some basic troubleshooting steps. I tried resetting the PMU and the PRAM. Doing this allowed me to get back on to my system for a few hours. I ran disk checks with Disk Utility and Onyx to be sure my hard drive was okay. Both operations ran smoothly and determined that my disk was fine. I was also able to create a backup of my system with my Time Capsule and log on to apple.com and make an appointment at my local Genius Bar to have my machine taken care of. Shortly after, the artifacts showed up and my system froze--I was unable to reboot.
Upon getting to the Apple Store, the Genius ran a quick diagnostic tool to determine if my initial diagnosis of the graphics card being dead was correct. After about three minutes, the test produced a bright red, bold, FAILED notice across my screen. They would have to order the part (and I am still waiting for it) but the lesson is this. I do not know the total cost of replacing the logic board (which houses the graphics card), but without AppleCare I can be sure it would be a major financial inconvenience, especially for how much I depend on my Mac (for work and play). While I was at the Genius Bar, I also mentioned that my battery hadn't been performing well lately and it turned out I was right about that as well. The Genius informed me that AppleCare would cover a new battery to go along with my new logic board.
So, if you are debating whether or not to purchase AppleCare, this is a great story of how it works. I consider myself in the nerd category that takes extremely good care of their electronics, always updating, protected in a case, handled carefully, etc. And yet, electronics fail. Knowing I had AppleCare to cover my MacBook Pro saved me a huge headache and compared to the initial purchase price of $350, having AppleCare also saved me a ton of money. To learn more about AppleCare, you can read about it on Apple's website or visit your local Apple Store or Apple Reseller and talk to a sales person.