Macs are quite often cheaper than comparably equipped Windows PCs

“This is a common situation. You see an enticing ad for a new automobile and the price seems real low. When you go to the dealership, however, you realize that the car needs a few options. So you add a sunroof, leather seats, a decent-sounding stereo, ABS brakes, and a few more “packages” with strange sounding names, and suddenly the purchase price soars by thousands of dollars. Don’t think the situation isn’t the same when it comes to a Windows box. You see the TV ads, say, for a Dell Computer… There’s an attractive offer for a complete PC system for just a few hundred dollars. When you compare that to the purchase price of a brand new Macintosh, you wonder why Apple makes them seem so expensive,” writes Gene Steinberg for Gannett News Service.

Steinberg closes his article, an article that should be sent to each and every Wintel Sufferer by the way, with, “When you do a fair price comparison, Macs are not more expensive than comparably equipped Windows PCs. Quite often they are cheaper. So what are you waiting for?”

Full story here.


  1. The author of this article doesn’t make the most convincing case in the world. He uses only one or two examples (of Dells)–and didn’t really lay out the full picture. He also says nothing about the eMachines which are cheaper yet nor about the ultra-cheap Lindows computers at Walmart.

    In order for me to be convinced of his thesis, I would need to see a breakdown of the following:

    System memory
    Video memory
    RAM type
    Memory bus speed
    Disk space
    Disk bus/interface
    Serial ports, USB, Firewire, etc.
    Monitor size and resolution
    Audio speakers
    Portable storage–CD-RW, DVD, etc.
    OS Type
    Bundled software

    We would need to look down the line on these things–and if Macs still–feature for feature–came out at roughly the same or a lower price, then I would give this guy his due. But he doesn’t mention much of this. He says nothing about the memory and storage the Dell comes with, and he says nothing about bundled software.

    At bottom, Apple could never be price competitive with the PC assemblers, because it incurs the enormous costs of developing its own operating system. Yes, Dell, Gateway, and others pay royalties or licensing fees to Microsoft, but I’m sure the per-unit cost for Apple is higher.

    Still, I’m an easy sell on the CONCEPT he is promoting. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to learn that Macs are really not more expensive after all–and especially in terms of TOTAL cost of ownership, including failure rates, down time, technical support, training, etc.

  2. DELL
    2.4GHZ P4
    256mb ddr sdram 333mhz
    60GB ata/100 7200rpm
    32x10x40x10 cdrw/dvd combo drive
    56k modem
    10/100 ethernet
    ATI Radeon 9700 128MB with TV out and DVI
    SoundBlaster live 5.1 Dolby Digital Sound Card
    Harmon Kardon speakers and subwoofer
    17″ flat panel monitor

    1ghz G4
    256mb sdram 266mhz
    60GB ata/100 7200rpm
    32x10x32x8 cdrw/dvd combo drive
    56k modem
    10/100 ethernet
    ATI Radeon 9700 128MB
    Built in Stereo sound
    Apple Pro Speakers
    17″ flat panel monitor

    Nuf said

  3. You know, in the end its all about what works. I CIO a med business, and know that cost is a function of bad jugdement. Sun servers are still the best equipment and software for the buck, and Mac is the best client at the moment. Mac’s do more than windows machines at this time, and productivity and uptime is much better than any windows clent. That may change in the future, but for a while am sure. You simple get more done on a mac, and time is money.

  4. To Tim,

    I configured a Dell Dimension 4450 to a PowerMac G4 tower.
    I did not compare the iMac because it is not a system I would be interested in (why not just get a laptop?), though for the price it compares better to the Dell at 1799.00, and includes an 80gb hard drive and a DVD-r drive, though includes a much less powerful video card than either the G4 or the Dell.

    Im curious how you configured a dell for 2800.00 I know its possible, but to “match” at iMac? Adding a bigger hard drive and DVD-R drive to the dell I quoted will bring the price close to that if not slightly more than the iMac. The Dell would still have a much better video card, faster processor faster memory subsystem and a much better sound card and speakers. The iMac still has the MacOS and much better design factor so I guess it comes down to your priorities (I just bought an iBook so thats a hint at mine). If you want a tower for expandibility though, the iMac is a tough sell.

    I dont mean to slam Apple, at least they are not charging 2-3X as much for memory and hard drive upgrades at the apple store like they were 6 months ago. However, for comparable *tower* systems, Apple still costs more, alot more. Despite what the article linked to this story seems to say.

  5. I find it really amusing whenever I read another article like this (That Macs are cheaper than PC computers), because, they are just not. Makes me wonder whether the guys who writes these kind of articles are paid by Apple.

    ok, comparing a PowerMac G4 to a P4 (better still, a much cheaper AthlonXP), I think the PCs wins hands down. Normally at the price of $2500, I’ll get top of the range of almost everything, and this includes a monitor. While for the Mac, I’ll still have to pump in even more money because it doesn’t come with any monitor. Also, another thing that’s keeping me from buying a Mac is – What? over $2K for INTEGRATED sound system? I want an Audigy at least!!!

    Compaing iMacs… Hello… THey use G4 processors, so what when they are coupled with crappy GeForce 4MX GPUs. On the Apple site, it says it runs QuakeIII 30% faster than a PC? Faster than what PC? the current LCD iMAc comes with no low-end price, so it’s PC Equivalent should be a midrange too, and most midranges are equipped with GeForce4 Ti or Radeon 9000 Pro at least.

    And on the software side, Mac Software is always more expensive than PC. Period.

    However, the MacOS is one handsome software, adn their computers run really quiet. But this article was about price, and well, I’ll ahve to agree that everything is “cheap” if we’re all having secure 5 digit incomes.

  6. Ender is mistaken about a few things in his price comparison. First, at present all Power Macs have 333 mhz bus speed–not 266. Second, the Power Macs now come with gigabit Ethernet–none of the Dells do, (it must be acquired as an add-on option for extra cash). Third, not all perhipherals are created equal. For example, I would bet that Apple’s 17″ flat panel monitor is superior to Dell’s. And Dell offers no wide screen option anywhere, nor a 20″ nor 23″ flat panel option–period.

    Finally, it seems to me a more fair comparison would be between dual-processor G4 Macs against dual-processor Pentium boxes–with built-in Firewire and gigabit Ethernet. By THIS measure, I think you would find that the Wintel boxes are quite expensive indeed. I’ve yet to see a dual processor Intel box for less than $1800, and those are usually stripped down, unlike the earlier model dual 867 PowerMac at that price.

  7. As with many metaphors, the comparsion between cars and computers does not apply everywhere. It does apply in that they are both complicated machines that are offered in a variety of ways. The mention of car ‘packages’ is important, as computers are often sold in a similar way. Thus, to compare computers or cars, it is not enough to simply compare two different machines. You must compare two SIMILAR machines. You compare machines that are of similar quality, specs (‘packages’), type, etc.
    A look at Consumer Reports magazine for car ratings will show they will only compare cars that are as similar as possible. That is, similar type (say sedans), size, (small), price (about 10k) as WELL as making sure the cars include the same ‘features’ as much as possible. After this, they will further break down their comparsions to often only show cars of similar quality ratings together.

    While pitched towards advocating macs, the article does make the point that there is little effort to similarly compare computers when buying them. What is more, I find that many people commenting, and perhaps reading this article are still failing to grasp this concept. Like should equal like.
    You might be able to ‘spec out’ a yugo and compare it to a lexus (might have similar engines, tires, etc), but that does NOT mean the parts NOR the whole machines are remotely similar.
    So when comparing machines, you need to ask HOW similar are they? A spec list will rarely give you the whole story, so you must ask questions to reveal the whole story.
    What else is included with the machine? Software packages, warranty, support, and many other things may add to price of the machine and make it quite disimilar.
    What quality are these parts? As the article mentioned, the apple monitors are of high quality at an excellent price. Randomly choosing another 17″ monitor would not be a valid comparsion.
    Another factor might be sheer enjoyment. This is an equally valid reason to choose something (as long as its tempered with reason of course), and defines the car market in many ways. Sports cars, SUVs, beetles, etc, are often choosen because of peoples desire and pleasure for such cars. In a similar way, some people’s ‘pleasure’ of owning a macintosh, or being able to ‘home-brew’ their own pc may override other concerns.

  8. Ok, so the argument goes on and on, the bottom line is that I as a switcher, am convinced, not only does apple offer faster systems, also I don’t need to worry about buying software that is already available on my computer and a system that usually 99% of the time won’t crash, that by itself is worth more. Also, after having used both systems, at work Windows NT and home W98, not only am I happy to use my Mac, the price itself was worth it. Note: Mine has a double processor which would be equivalent to more or less a 2Mhz PC. You have to base the price not only on Hardware but also the time that I won’t have to be calling custormer service and be put on hold for 30 minutes or more….

  9. wow bree,

    There is little effort to shop similarly equiped PCs? Thats quite a blanket statement. I guess I was thrown by the big blue title at the top of this page.

    And if you want to bring quality into the picture, you should throw away your car analogy. Car companies design and build a majority of their components. Computer companies dont. On any given day, the hard drive, memory, video card in Mac or PC will often be the exact same part. And where the parts are different the Mac usually falls short of its PC rivals in the quality/feature department.
    Examples :
    The flat panel screen on the iMac is cheaper than most other major manufacturer’s midpriced screens. This is also true of the iBook and 12′ Power book. Apple has two types of flat panel, one is low quality on is high. If you dont believe me go to your local computer store and compare. The cheap Apple screens have washed out look when viewed from anything other than the perfect angle. Watch a DVD on them, and even at the perfect angle the corners of the screen look washed out because the screen is so big. The larger Apple screens are of much higher quality, with a price to match.

    The sound system. There is simply no comparison between the sound system in a Mac and the 5.1 digital surround sound cards available for most PCs.

    The processor. MHZ not withstanding, Macs are slower. Alot slower. You say that a comparison between an Apple 17″ monitor and a “random” other one is invalid because the Apple monitor is superior (which I disagree with), and then go on to say that a dual G4 should rightly be compaired to a dual P4. Uhm.. using your own arguement about monitors would seem to make that an invalid comparison since the P4 is clearly superior to the G4.

    Just because its in a Mac or has an Apple logo doenst mean the component is magically superior to the same component in a PC.

  10. Fred, do you have ADD, or are you just a fucking moron?
    Was there any discussion at all about Macs being “worth” it?

    Uh. no. This was a discussion about price plain and simple.

    Is your brain even attached to your fingers? Or is it, and its just that you type whatever comes into your idiot little mind? I mean really dude, this isnt a hard concept to wrap your head around.

    But lets start over for the slow learners like fred.
    “Macs are quite often cheaper than comparably equipped Windows PCs” – true or false.

  11. He does have a point.
    I just did what he said – I configured a Dell at the Norwegian Dell store to come as close as I could to the midrange iMac. The machines:
    Dell Dimension 4550 and 17″ iMac:
    RAM: 256 MB/256 MB
    Processor: 2,4 GHz P4/1 GHz G4
    Harddisk: 60 GB/80 GB
    Video: nVidia GeForce 4 MX 64 MB/ nVidia GeForce 4 MX 64 MB
    Screen: Dell 1702 17″ DVI (1280*1024) / 17″ Wide (1440*900)
    Optical: CD-RWW,DVD-Combo / Superdrive
    System: Xp Pro/ MacOS X
    Speakers: Harman Kardon 395 / Apple speakers (Harman Kardon)

    So the Dell is better om processor speed. The Mac has a larger harddrive, better screen, DVD-writer.

    On all other counts the spec is similar on these machines.

    The price:

    The Dell is approx 40 $ more expensive.

    So – yes, he does have a point.

  12. Well I dont know about dell,
    but the compaq I just priced has :
    Athlon 2400, 512MB ram, 120GB hardrive, 16x DVD, 48x12x48 cdrw, ati radeon 9000 128mb, soundblaster 5.1 digital card, altec lansing 5.1 surround speakers, 17″ monitor and a scroll mouse.
    total price : 1144.00

    compared to the iMacs 1799.00 and while the iMac has a flatpanel monitor, its video card does not compare, its sound card does not compare, it has half the memory and 40GB less hard drive space, its speakers dont compare, and the functionally deficient mouse does not compare.

    So I guess the point is, if someone in the PC world is overcharging (Ill take your word for the price of the dell), then you just need to go shopping at what in what I like to call “the real world” at what I like to call “competitors”. Being a mac user, you might not be familiar with that concept.

  13. The often overlooked cost of computer ownership is maintainance and downtime. MS released more than one security patch per week last year, and there are new PC viruses almost as often. Macs have better hardware and a far more stable and secure OS and, note this well- they don’t get viruses. I can’t remember ever having the reinstall my Mac OS to ‘cure” some problem, nor having a virus attack my computer. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but my time is valuable to me and my clients, so a machine idled due to bad hardware, virus cleaning, security updates, OS reinstall, etc., is costing me money, which is factored into total cost of ownership. I have two PCs and they have cost four times as much as the 8 Macs total to own. I’d rather have a computer that is simple to set up and requires little maintainance, that costs a little more, than some bargain that I can’t rely on. Macs do cost a little more, but, like they say, you get what you pay for.

  14. I just got a brand-new Dell Inspiron Laptop for $4300. My 1 year old TiBook originally purchased at $2500 blows it out of the water on a number of fronts, most notably cost.

    Dell’s design reflects what their CEO said just 2 or so days ago — he doesn’t believe in R&D. The Apple is smaller, lighter, more robust, and has better integrated features than the Dell. Speed between the two, believe it or not, is pretty much a wash.

    In fact, the only manufacturer that relects close to Apple’s design quality in my opinion today is Sony and THEY do their own R&D. Dell and Gateway are assembly houses and not much more.

    Gateway has never been more than a manufacturer. Dell used to have better cutting edge computers — their laptop mechanical designs at one point were state-of the art in my opinion – better than Apple. It doesn’t look like they even design them anymore.

    And please, don’t even try to compare a Dell flat panel monitor to an Apple flat panel. Dell buys the cheapest components possible. Apple designs based on much higher standards, and it is reflected in their high quality flatpanel monitors. This isn’t my opinion. It is Dell’s (or at least the opinion of a corporate Dell sales rep speaking candidly).

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