ExtremeTech writer: Apple Mac mini cheap for a Mac, but you can get a Dell or Gateway for less

“Apple has a penchant for building attractive, functional, and relatively easy to use systems. So when the ineffably cute Mac Mini made the scene last week, the tech press gushed over it… The Mac Mini is certainly cheap – for a Macintosh. But for your $499, you get a system with a 40GB hard drive, 256MB of DDR333 memory and an ATI Radeon 9200 with an execrable 32MB of video memory,” Loyd Case writes for Extremetech. “The only reason you even get a 9200 is that Apple’s chipsets lack integrated video. Some would say that’s a good thing for gamers, but the minimalist 32MB of frame buffer belies that. Did I mention there’s no keyboard, mouse, or display?”

Case writes, “So I feel compelled to point out that for $399, you can get a Dell 2400 with a 2.4GHz Celeron, 256MB of RAM, 40GB hard drive, 17-inch CRT and a keyboard and mouse? And that does include Windows XP Home Edition. Gateway has something similar, except it comes with an 80GB hard drive and speakers – although that $399 is a post-$100 rebate price.”

“Now, there are lots of reasons to like Apple. MacOS 10.3 is a great operating system. Apple’s designs are certainly far easier on the eye than Dell’s mini-towers. And the G5 is a great processor… but, oops, the Mac Mini ships with a G4. So let’s not get too carried away about the ‘cheap’ Macintosh. It’s cheap relative to past Apple systems, but you can still get a complete Wintel system for considerably less,” Case writes. “Personally, I think the Mac Mini is cool, and I hope Apple sells a boatload of them on its own merits. It’s sleek, slick, and ships with MacOS 10.3. But don’t buy one as a cheap alternative for grandma. Buy one for yourself, because it’s a nifty computer. I just wish Apple would sell the system on its own merits, rather than play some kind of artificial shell game with prices.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The G4 is also a great processor and certainly compares well to the processors found in the Dell and Gateway boxes that Case mentions. Case complains about Apple playing “an artificial shell game,” but is Apple’s idea that Windows switchers already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse anywhere near the shell game that Dell and Gateway are playing with the very systems Case highlights? And how much is the piece of mind running a Mac OS X machine that’s connected to the Internet worth to users compared with the Windows virus, worm, and malware epidemics that users would face if they chose the Dell or Gateway machines?


  1. Pay $399 for a piece of crap and all you’ll have in your hand is – a piece of crap. I never cared much for Celery processors – but just like the vegetable, I think it’s 90% water and 10% crunch – no substance. With the new mac mini you get more bang for the buck. I have an Ibook G3 and it works like a dream with 10.3. I would love to get a G4 Powerbook but I’m holding out for the G5. Anyway, my G3 works far better than the P4 3.2 I have at work. No virus or adware since day one. Can’t say the same with WinXP.

  2. So it’s $499 for a Mac mini. By comparison, when I visit PCWarehouse.com, I see this bargain:

    Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error ‘80004005’

    [Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver]Timeout expired

    /pcw/i_shop.asp, line 73

  3. As Newmanstein mentions, the bundled software certainly makes a difference.

    I’ve said it before, but it’s still true: The one big difference between PC People and Mac People is that PC People are obsessed with hardware and less with what you can do with the hardware. So they will pull out reams of gobbledygook about megahertz and such and then when you ask them, “Can it edit movies?” they get this glaze over their face like, “Huh?”

    What’s funny is that, if once they recover, they will usually spec out a machine that’s twice as expensive for editing movies.

  4. But I can get a pc cheaper do you hear .. cheaper than the Mini!
    The one I just got is really cheap which is what I like .. I really like the cheapo plastic parts and the crummy engineering and the rotten OS ..

    Of course I always buy the cheapest thing around … the cheapest house I can find … the cheapest car .. the cheapest clothes .. the cheapest appliances .. and why not? Isn’t that what its all about .. getting the cheapest version of the thing your looking for ..

    I mean they’re all the same right .. they do the same thing … what’s the difference? If its cheaper you’d be stupid to buy something that does the same thing and is more expensive ..

    What do you think i am? A moron? …. Excuse me … I have to go eat my Kraft dinner now and watch some reality tv … I sure like stuff that’s good enough for me … Yuppp!

  5. Mac mini is inexpensive – not cheap! And it is a lot of computer for very little money. Of course if you want really cheap you can buy a used 486 with 15″ CRT for under $100 ….. but that would really suck. The Mac mini is a class act in a small, inexpensive package.

  6. “I just wish Apple would sell the system on its own merits, rather than play some kind of artificial shell game with prices.”

    What is this guy smoking?!?!?!?!?

    If you are looking at quantity of hardware (notice I said QUANTITY NOT QUALITY), I guess you are right. But remember you still need some software to do something (besides catch viruses and adware). Once you add some crap wanna-be software to do a few things iLife does (and Quicken), you are way over the $499 price spot (actually try $737 less monitor).

    Again, every “Tech Writer” looks at how pieces are in the box. Typical!

  7. Does anyone really think these things are cute? It’s just a metal and white plastic box. The only reason these guys use “cute” to describe it is to belittle it.

  8. Apple is playing an artificial shell game with prices? Has this genius ever gone to Dell’s website and priced out a system?!? That is nothing but one big shell game and bait and switch on there. Give me a f*cking break Loyd…

  9. I found some 15″ CRT for $75…. maybe apple could give these away free with the mac mini (limited time only?)

    Magic word is Progress, as in, No one can deny that we’re making some Progress.

  10. My not-so-swift cubemate has been fighting viruses, trojans, spyware and the like for a couple of months – to the point where he says he doesn’t go on the net at home much anymore.

    Anyway, he recently bought a Dell because “macs were too expensive, somebody told me…”.

    His Dell is fairly well loaded because he’s a sucker and he thought he would be doing all kinds of cool stuff like burning DVD’s.

    His Dell was a hair over $2200. My iMac was $1300. Mine works, his doesn’t.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.