Is there a misconception about the price of Macs versus PCs?

A few days back SEB regular Webs linked to an article on Tom’s Hardware titled The Apple Mac Cost Misconception : Macs and Their Prices. The author of the article attempted to prove that Macs really aren’t that much more expensive than a similarly equipped PC:

In terms of hardware, there’s nothing really special about a Mac aside from elegant designs, be it a Mac Pro http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Pro or MacBook Pro, that makes it incredibly more worthwhile than the PC equivalent. And there’s no doubt that you can get an equally equipped PC, or build one yourself, for less money. In fact, I mentioned this in my previous article, although some people seemed to have completely missed the page where I complained about Apple’s outrageous prices altogether. However, building a PC to do the same isn’t the point, because you can always buy a cheaper car to get you from A to B. Instead, let’s see what you can get for $2000, from Apple and from others. For $2000, do you really get much less?

The author goes on to compare a few systems that he considers equivalent to various Macs and manages to come up with examples where either you get more or less the same machine for the same money (ignoring any perceived advantages/disadvantages of their relevant operating systems) or you can actually save money by going with the Mac.  He says the real problem crops up when you start to add in options such as more RAM or a bigger hard drive as Apple does overprice for those components, but that’s only a problem if you’re dumb enough to buy those parts from Apple:

Macs themselves are not overpriced. In fact, they are fairly priced for what hardware it comes with. Where Apple really gets ridiculous with its pricing is in the options and upgrades. Let’s take a look at some of the upgrades that Apple offers for say, a Mac Pro:

On Apple’s site, it lists a 2 GB increase in memory for $500.

Anyone would be crazy to plunk down half a grand for 2 GB in memory (2 x 1GB). You can get the same pack of memory online for less than $150.

On Apple’s site, a 1 TB Serial ATA drive costs $450.

We all know we can get decent 1 TB drives for less than $180.

I also took a look at Apple’s line of iMacs and their available upgrades. Stepping up from a 250 GB drive to a 500 GB drive will cost you $100 from Apple. Interestingly enough, you can get a 500 GB drive for $70 at Newegg.

The bottom line here is: if you buy a Mac, don’t buy upgrades from Apple, because this is where you will light up your wallet (or purse) on fire. The prices for upgrades makes absolutely no sense, and follows a pricing scheme I just don’t jive with. Do some research on upgrades and buy elsewhere. There is a huge discrepancy in Apple’s pricing for its systems and pricing for system upgrades.

While there’s definitely truth in what the author is saying he’s conveniently ignoring another factor that leads to the perception that Macs are overpriced: A lack of choices.

The lowest end Mac you can buy is the Mac Mini which starts at $599 and has the following stats: 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 80GB Serial ATA drive, 24x Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW), Intel GMA 950 graphics processor with 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory, no monitor, and no keyboard or mouse

Now let’s compare that to the cheapest of the Dell desktops, the Inspiron 530, which comes with the following: Intel® Celeron ® Processor 440 (2.00GHz, 800 FSB), 1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz, 250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM), 16X DVD+/-RW Drive, Integrated Intel GMA 3100 with up to 256MB of DDR2 shared with main memory, no monitor, and USB Keyboard and USB mouse. Total cost? $299. That’s $300 cheaper than the Mac Mini and it has more hard drive space, a DVD burner, better integrated graphics, and a keyboard/mouse! In the Mac Mini’s defense it does give you a dual core processor, but that doesn’t justify a $300 difference in price. If we bump it up one step to the $489 version of the same PC that will net you an Intel® Pentium® dual-core processor E2180 (1MB, 2.00GHz, 800FSB) and a 17 inch SE178WFP Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor and it’s still $190 cheaper than the Mac Mini.

I suppose you could argue that OSX is such an awesome operating system that it justifies the $300 price difference between the Mac Mini and the low-end Dell, but most folks don’t see it that way especially when you consider that they’ll still have to buy a monitor/keyboard/mouse if they don’t already have one. Additionally if theres any Windows software that they have to/want to run then they’ll still need to dish out the money for a copy of Windows XP or Vista on top of the already higher cost of the Mac Mini.

So, yes, if you go out and actually try to find the exact same hardware on both platforms you can demonstrate that the price differences between a Mac and a PC aren’t all that great, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t better deals available on PCs that will perform as well or often better than a higher priced Mac will.

But don’t take my word for it. The folks at the NPD Group did their own study and found that the average Mac price is now twice that of Windows PCs:

The going price for a Mac notebook is now over twice that of a typical Windows model, according to data collected by The NPD Group. While the average selling price of a Windows notebook has dropped from $877 in June 2006 to $700 today, the average cost of an Apple system has remained consistently above $1,500 and has only dropped $59 in the past two years. Differences in desktop pricing are more extreme still and have Macs selling for approximately $1,000 more than a common Windows desktop, which sells for about $550.

Specifications often vary sharply for these systems, with Apple often focusing on faster processors than some rivals in notebooks but at the expense of memory and hard drive space. Its insistence on using mobile processors and custom designs for desktops, however, has created feature discrepancies where a Dell Inspiron 518 tower nearing the $700 mark features two more processor cores, three times as much memory, and twice the hard drive space of an $1,199 entry-level iMac despite both coming with near-equivalent LCDs.

While the average price for Windows-based systems is described in the NPD data as having largely flattened and unlikely to drop further in the near future, the disparity between these and Macs has only widened in the last few months, according to eWeek. Apple’s general policy of refusing to alter prices until its next hardware revision has reduced the value of its systems relative to Windows competitors.

In short there isn’t really a misconception at work here. Macs are more expensive than PCs and will likely continue to be so for some time to come, though some analysts are expecting Apple to eventually start pricing their computers more competitively in order to continue growing their share of the market. I don’t know if that’ll actually come to pass as Apple seemed to have settled for being a small part of the market in return for higher profit margins a long time ago. It’s kept Jobs in black turtle necks so far.

27 thoughts on “Is there a misconception about the price of Macs versus PCs?

  1. Yet for the home user who spends a lot of time online, a Windows machine tends to degrade quickly after purchase. I have had many nontechnical users tell me their macs worked just as well after three years as when they bought them.  Well worth the price differential if you are figuring in cost of ownership and factoring in your time.

  2. I see Macs remain decent choices if you need one for work, don’t play any games, or have money to burn.

  3. DOF, the author of the original article wasn’t arguing on the point of whether or not the OS makes it comparable. Only that the hardware wasn’t anymore expensive than what you can find on the PC side.

    Benior, I concur. I actually like OS X based on what little I’ve used it, but not enough to shell out the money it takes to buy a Mac. If they’d just open it up so I could buy the OS and run it on my own hardware I’d probably do so, but they want to control what you can use so they can put a premium on it. I’d go Linux before I went Mac as a result.

  4. Is the author picking and choosing a bit? Yes, but at least he picked reasonable items for comparison.

    I don’t know why he didn’t pick the Mac Mini, but I can tell you the Dell 530 doesn’t come close for comparison. Maybe hardware, but the two are catering to 2 different markets. The Mac Mini is tiny… let me repeat, really tiny. The Dell 530 is just… ugly.  tongue wink But seriously, the Mac Mini is trying to grab the market of people wanting smaller PCs. So naturally this costs more. Just like the thinner laptops cost more. I think we’re comparing Apple’s to oranges. smile

    While the average selling price of a Windows notebook has dropped from $877 in June 2006 to $700 today, the average cost of an Apple system has remained consistently above $1,500

    Sorry, but the claim is disingenuous. How many different manufacturers of PC Laptops are they comparing to the what… 4 or 5 different Apple laptops? They’re taking an average of possibly some 30 companies with some possibly 5 different models from each company and comparing it to an average taken from 1 company. Again, it’s apple to Oranges as far as I’m concerned. Plus the article reports no methodology for the study. Are they including custom built PCs which of course would be cheaper? Did they set some sort of baseline for comparison?

    despite both coming with near-equivalent LCDs

    Complete BS. I would like to see any monitor that can still beat out an Apple. Maybe other companies have caught up, but for years Apple has completely owned the LCD department in terms of quality. And the Mac Book Pro’s monitor kills the laptop competition from what I have witnessed with my own eyes.

    What game isn’t compatible with Mac? It seems the market for gaming on Macs is very quickly growing. I just recently bought my wife a Mac and was walking through a store today to look into the free training classes and saw a huge row of new games available, including one of the only games I currently play, Age of Empires 3.

    In short there isn’t really a misconception at work here.

    We will have to agree to disagree here.

  5. Webs writes…

    I don’t know why he didn’t pick the Mac Mini, but I can tell you the Dell 530 doesn’t come close for comparison. Maybe hardware, but the two are catering to 2 different markets.

    The whole point of the article was that comparable hardware cost about the same and the Inspiron 530, ugly or not, meets what the Mac Mini has to offer for considerably less and still includes a keyboard and mouse. And when you move it up to a price close to the Mac Mini, it offers more including a monitor.

    How you can claim it “doesn’t come close” is beyond me after checking the stats for both machines.

    But seriously, the Mac Mini is trying to grab the market of people wanting smaller PCs. So naturally this costs more.

    Why should it cost more? Unless the Mac Mini is using a proprietary motherboard, which it shouldn’t need to as there are literally dozens of Small Form Factor motherboards out there, the only difference is size.

    Then again that is the Apple way: Give you less and charge you more for it.

    Sorry, but the claim is disingenuous. How many different manufacturers of PC Laptops are they comparing to the what… 4 or 5 different Apple laptops? They’re taking an average of possibly some 30 companies with some possibly 5 different models from each company and comparing it to an average taken from 1 company. Again, it’s apple to Oranges as far as I’m concerned.

    How is the argument disingenuous? What difference does it make if there’s two or two hundred competing laptop makers out here if the hardware on offer is comparable? Are they competing for marketshare or not?

    It’s a simple fact that PCs tend to get cheaper over time whereas Macs don’t. Rather than offer an older model at a reduced price Apple just refreshes the hardware a little bit, slaps a new name on it, and keeps the price artificially high. Granted the days of Apple marking-up hardware by 50% are long gone, but they still tend to have a margin of around 20% to 30% compared to equivalent PC hardware on desktops and around 10% on laptops.

    Apple is partly to blame for their being only a small selection of Macs to choose from. They make a point of suing any clone makers out of business for one reason only: To maintain the higher profit margins they have on their hardware. If they allowed clone makers to sell hardware for about what it goes to Window’s users they’d have to drop their prices to compete and they don’t want to do that.

    Are they including custom built PCs which of course would be cheaper?

    Why would custom PCs be cheaper? The author of the Tom’s Hardware article didn’t seem to have a problem using custom PC builds to try and prove his point.

    Complete BS. I would like to see any monitor that can still beat out an Apple. Maybe other companies have caught up, but for years Apple has completely owned the LCD department in terms of quality. And the Mac Book Pro’s monitor kills the laptop competition from what I have witnessed with my own eyes.

    That’s debatable. Apple doesn’t make its own LCD panels and never has – those are currently produced by L.G. Philips for Apple – though they do design the casings. L.G. Phillips’ LCDs are considered pretty good, but not necessarily the best. Samsung could give them a good run for their money (and probably do). These days high quality LCDs at a decent price aren’t hard to come by for any computer. Other than looking cool there’s nothing all that extraordinary about an Apple LCD other than the price.

    Let’s see how that 20” Cinema Display stacks up against the 20” Samsung SyncMaster 2053BW I’ve got:

    Both are 20” widescreen WSXGA+ LCD flat panels, both have a recommended resolution of 1680 x 1050, both have a pixel pitch of 0.258mm, both have a brightness ratio of 300 cd/m2, the Samsung beats the Cinema Display with a contrast ratio of 1000:1 to Apple’s 700:1, the Samsung beats the Cinema Display with a response time of 5ms compared to Apple’s 14ms, and the Cinema Display beats the Samsung on viewing angles with a 178°(H)/178°(V) compared to the Samsung’s 170°(H)/160°(V). Performance wise that’s about all there is to consider, but I’ll concede that the Cinema Display has two USB ports and two Firewire ports which the Samsung does not, but the Samsung overs both a DVI and a Analog D-Sub connector which the Cinema Display does not. Lastly the Cinema Display draws 65W of power (3W in power saver mode) compared to the Samsung’s 40W (1W in power saver mode).

    I feel it’s safe to say that my 20” Samsung is at least on par with the 20” Cinema display, if not better, and I’d be willing to argue that based on Contrast Ratio and Response Time it is better. When you consider prices – $249.99 for the Samsung (not counting a $20 rebate currently being offered) versus $599 for the Cinema Display making a difference of just this side of $350 – I’d definitely argue that the Samsung is better.

    What game isn’t compatible with Mac? It seems the market for gaming on Macs is very quickly growing. I just recently bought my wife a Mac and was walking through a store today to look into the free training classes and saw a huge row of new games available, including one of the only games I currently play, Age of Empires 3.

    You do realize that Age of Empires III came out in November of 2006. Which was over a full year from the October 2005 release on Windows, right?

    But lets see what I can come up with. There’s Bioshock, Call of Duty 4 though that will finally be available on September 22nd almost a year after the PC version hit store shelves, Unreal Tournament III, Fallout 3 isn’t currently scheduled for the Mac although the PC version will hit on October 7th, Mass Effect, F.E.A.R., and Half-Life 2 and it’s associated games just for starters. I could go on as that’s just off top of my head, but I think the point is made.

    If the games available on the Mac work for you that’s great, but that doesn’t change the fact that with a lot of the big hits the Mac will see the release of a port about a year later, if at all. Things are improving, Spore will be a simultaneous release on the Mac, but that’s the exception made for titles that are likely guaranteed hits. There are some titles, such as Crysis that the Mac doesn’t have a compatible video card that could hope to run it.

    We will have to agree to disagree here.

    I suppose so, though you’ve not really provided anything that would refute the examples I gave. The best you can offer is that the Mac Mini is aimed at a different market than the Dell Inspiron 530 and that the latter is “ugly.” Both statements may be true, but are irrelevant to the argument. Hell, I’d agree that the Mac Mini is aimed at a different market. A market composed of people who don’t mind spending a premium on hardware they could get for cheaper elsewhere. The fact that Apple charges half a grand for 2GB of RAM or $450 for a 1TB hard drive and people pay it just proves the point.

    Again I’ll concede that there’s a decent debate to be had that OS X may make that price difference worthwhile to some people, but on the topic of whether Mac hardware is overpriced it’s clear that the answer is yes.

  6. it’s probably a good thing that most games’ mac versions are released a year later, given the in no way remotely state of the art video cards in most people’s macs. Ooh, if I get a powermac I can get an 8800GT. Still a decent card, but if it’s the top gaming choice on your top of the line machine, you’re behind the curve.

    A little while back I actually priced out various PCs from various manufacturers to their Powermac counterparts, and the macs generally came in $500-1000 more than identically, or even higher spec PCs.

    I’d look up some examples, but I’m posting from my iPhone, and in addition to Safari crashing a lot if you’ve got more than one open window, there’s no cut and paste feature, so no links while I’m mobile.

  7. Mac Minis are tiny. 6.5 x 6.5 inches. So the mobo really needs to be about 6 x 6 for the other stuff in there give or take a couple inches. I had a hard time finding a mobo that small that supported Duo Cores, while I’m sure they exist. In any case, the Dell you referenced is much larger than a Mac Mini, so they still don’t really compare. Hardware wise they are close, but to me it’s like comparing a Mac Air to a Dell XPS gaming laptop. Sure they Dell might outperform, and have cheaper hardware, but the two are in a different class. I fail to see how the two systems can be compared or what conclusions could be drawn by comparing the two.

    Why would custom PCs be cheaper?

    I can build a custom PC that not only outperforms a $900 Dell, but is $300 cheaper. Since the article gave us no methodology about the study, we do not know if this data was included in their findings. I was referring to the study you linked to with this and my original statement.

    How is the argument disingenuous? What difference does it make if there’s two or two hundred competing laptop makers out here if the hardware on offer is comparable? Are they competing for marketshare or not?

    They way I look at it is this. If I say I am going to compare two car manufacturers on cost and see which one is cheaper, I am going to look at a specified number of cars randomly chosen from one group and the same number of cars random chosen from the other group. Then take the average and compare. And the two groups should be similar to have valid data. But why would you compare BMW to Hyundai? Anyone could tell you BMW will come out as being more expensive. There is essentially nothing wrong with doing this, but comparing the two and reporting the data would be somewhat deceptive as one obviously caters to a different market.

    Did the study you linked to do this? I have no idea as there is no information as to how they came up with those numbers. But I am stating that without giving us any insight into the methodology of the study, they are being disingenuous.

    Is Mac competing for the same market or a high end market? I don’t know. But I will say it would seem to make more sense for Apple to attempt to compete with the lower end at some level, but so far it seems they are not really attempting such a thing.

    The fact that Apple charges half a grand for 2GB of RAM

    I only saw that with the Mac Pro. If you go to Apple’s website and configure a system and look at the difference between 2 and 4 GBs it’s $200 for everything else. One could argue that $200 is a lot to pay for a 2GB stick, but then from there the argument goes into whether or not one thinks there is such a thing as high quality RAM. And Newegg still lists DDR2 800 2x1GB chips for as much as $175 for desktop and a more reasonable $117 for laptops. But all this shows is that people are stupid enough to pay. And just because Apple increases the price on memory doesn’t necessarily mean they do so with everything else.

    You do realize that Age of Empires III came out in November of 2006. Which was over a full year from the October 2005 release on Windows, right?

    No I didn’t and was my reason for asking the question. I haven’t been able to keep up with release dates of games lately and I was really asking because I wasn’t completely sure not because I was trying to make a point. At least a point other than Mac’s seem to be getting much better support for games available on PCs. Maybe not, but it seems to me the list is growing, even if it does so after the release dates.

    On another topic, couldn’t someone dual boot windows and run the game on the Windows side? I know it’s more of a pain and sort of defeating, but I’m asking more out of curiosity? Or maybe a better question would be, has anyone done any performance testing of this?

  8. The Mini is an outdated piece of shit that Apple SORELY needs to either give a major update or abandon entirely.

    How you can claim it “doesn’t come close” is beyond me after checking the stats for both machines.

    which would you rather have sitting next to your monitor or below your TV. Some bulky piece of crap Dell or a sweet looking MacMini?

    Why should it cost more? Unless the Mac Mini is using a proprietary motherboard

    Yes, it does. Its an Apple designed and built logic board.

    Then again that is the Apple way: Give you less and charge you more for it.

    Less what? Style? Quality? Performance?

    Apple just refreshes the hardware a little bit, slaps a new name on it, and keeps the price artificially high.

    Apple posted a fiscal third-quarter net income of $1.07 billion. Not bad for only 13% of the market.

    If the games available on the Mac work for you that’s great,

    There is no game that can’t run on a Mac anymore. Since they switched to intel its as simple as installing the winblows OS on any of their machines to run any windows game.

    There are some titles, such as Crysis that the Mac doesn’t have a compatible video card that could hope to run it.

    You obviously haven’t been to a mac forum if you think that. Any MacPro can have dual video cards in Crossfire or SLI, the only down side it it takes windows to recognize them as such. OSX sees them as two independent cards.

    The fact that Apple charges half a grand for 2GB of RAM or $450 for a 1TB hard drive and people pay it just proves the point.

    Apple has always been horribly expensive in BTO changes. Why? Because it takes time and personnel to take a machine off the line, make whatever little change(s) that person ordered and put it back in line. Everyone should know that you are supposed to buy the computer and change whatever memory or drive(s) you want when you get it.

    Comparing Dell and Apple is like comparing Nissan and Mercedes. You can get a Nissan GT-R for $70,000 and go really fast in a Datsun or you can get a Mercedes SL65 for $175,000 and go really fast in style.

  9. Considering that I do a lot of graphic design I had to consider my choices carefully. 

    Software is easier to get and cheaper for PC’s.

    At this point in time most graphics software runs on PCs over Mac. Those that run on Mac either run exactly the same (adobe) or not as well (many 3d software).

    Macs have been and continue to be style over substance.  It has a nice OS, but the hardware is lacking for the price and the software is limited and buggy.  Even the much vaunted adobe causes us to restart our makes several times a day.

    Macs are pretty.  Pc’s have gotten pretty.  I work on a top of the line Mac with all the bells and windows for my day job.  Adobe and Quark bog down the system and force me to restart constantly.  There is no software on Mac’s that let me live edit websites…sure there is plenty of syncing software, but no live edits…so I have to use browser software. 

    At home I ended up buying an XPS just as the new macs came out.  For the price, I got more, and it ran my old software and new software.  My XPS continually out performs my office Mac. 

    I can do pretty much the same thing on both machines.  My mac crashes, my pc hasn’t crashed for years.  It’s still runs the latest software. 

    Of PC’s bog down.  People are stupid.  They don’t restart their pc, they don’t clean out their pc.  They visit porn sites, warez sites and fill them with crap that just isn’t available for Macs.  But Macs eventually bog down too, faster if you the software you use can’t deal on a mac.  Flash can stop my mac machine cold.  Simple, flash slide shows.

    If I just needed a writing machine, and an internet surfing machine…sure mac is just fine.  But I need a lot more which macs just don’t perform well at. 

    I don’t intend to sway anyone with this.  Mac users like their style, but there’s good reasons that for a lot of things PC’s are just better.

  10. There is no software on Mac’s
    that let me live edit websites…sure there is plenty of syncing software,
    but no live edits…so I have to use browser software.

    A simple Google search reveals ton’s of HTML editors available on the Mac. I knew right away this statement was completely false because OSX is built on Open Source Unix and Macs readily support Open Source software. In fact, Apple the company, pays their engineers to use work time for development projects that are Open Source. So the money grubbing image we have isn’t completely true.

    My XPS continually out performs my office Mac.

    Because it’s newer? Again this is a comparison of Apples to Oranges.

    But Macs eventually bog down too

    Are you really trying to make the argument that Windows is more stable over the long run than it’s counterparts?

    Flash can stop my mac machine cold.  Simple, flash slide shows.

    This will happen in Linux and Windows as well if Flash is not properly configured and/or installed. Or if the browser has bugs associated with Flash such as FireFox 3.0 did during beta and early releases. This is not an OS dependent issue.

    But I need a lot more which macs just don’t perform well at.

    It seems that most industry numbers would disagree here. Every company or organization I have worked at uses Macs for high end audio/video and picture manipulation. And most leaders in those respective areas of audio/video/picture work use Macs to do the work for quality and efficiency reasons. PCs may have started to catch up here, but I think it would be a huge coincidence for Macs to suck in the area and groups like Linkin Park use Macs exclusively for mixing audio on collaborative projects.

    See this is the kind of mis-information about Macs that gets annoying, the same way Vista mis-information annoyes you Les. Thus why I originally sent around the TH article. I am not a fanboy by any means, but I am also not a “Technology Solution TrueBeliever%trade;”. What I mean is, I support the solution that works. Whether that be Windows, Unix, Linux, OSX, whatever. Use what works, and works best for the cost, not what necessarily integrates nicely or goes along with the status quo. Sometimes the status quo needs to be changed, like the WYSIWYG editor of Wikis. Mac wins out here in my opinion.

  11. This reply will be very long and I apologize in advance for its length, but I’m attempting to back up my argument so verbosity was a result.

    Webs writes…

    Mac Minis are tiny. 6.5 x 6.5 inches. So the mobo really needs to be about 6 x 6 for the other stuff in there give or take a couple inches. I had a hard time finding a mobo that small that supported Duo Cores, while I’m sure they exist.

    Mac Minis use a motherboard in the Mini-ITX form factor size and there’s several motherboards available in that size that’ll run dual core CPUs starting at around $189. It’s definitely not a hugely popular form factor, but there’s even smaller available out there.

    In any case, the Dell you referenced is much larger than a Mac Mini, so they still don’t really compare. Hardware wise they are close, but to me it’s like comparing a Mac Air to a Dell XPS gaming laptop. Sure they Dell might outperform, and have cheaper hardware, but the two are in a different class. I fail to see how the two systems can be compared or what conclusions could be drawn by comparing the two.

    So you’re saying that because they are in different classes it’s OK that the Apples are more expensive and less powerful? How does that refute the argument that the Macs are overpriced compared to equivalent PCs?

    As to how they can be compared, they have similar processor ratings, similar RAM ratings, similar graphics cards, and so on and they’re both aimed at people who don’t want to spent $1,000+ on a new PC.

    But what the hell, for the sake of the argument, I’ll concede the point that the Mac Mini’s size makes it an unfair comparison. As it turns out Dell has something that should fit the bill in the form of the Studio Hybrid which also uses a mini-ITX motherboard and measures just about the same size as a Mac Mini.

    In its stand it comes out to 8.8 x 3 x 8.3 inches and in its base configuration it also comes without a monitor. The base cost is $499 saving you $100 over the Mac Mini and it includes a 1.86Ghz Dual Core Intel processor (slightly faster than the Mini), 1GB of shared DDR2 RAM at 667Mhz (same as Mini), 160GB SATA Hard Drive (double the space of the Mini), 8X Slot Load Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Drive (better than the Mini), Intel® Integrated GMA X3100 (much better than the 950 in the Mini), and it includes a keyboard and mouse.

    Adding a keyboard and mouse onto a Mini is another $98 and adding a 20” Cinema Display (which is the smallest offered) is another $599 taking you to a total of $1296. Adding the more expensive of the two 20” monitors Dell offers to the Studio Hybrid (it includes a built-in webcame) tacks on another $290 for a grand total of $789.

    Doing the math we get $1296 – $789 for a whopping $507 savings with the Dell for a machine that is built using the same tiny form factor motherboard and even has the same limited expansion possibilities.

    Tell me again how the Mac Mini isn’t over priced.

    I can build a custom PC that not only outperforms a $900 Dell, but is $300 cheaper. Since the article gave us no methodology about the study, we do not know if this data was included in their findings. I was referring to the study you linked to with this and my original statement.

    I seriously doubt the NPD group was considering home brewed PCs when doing their study. They tend to look at pre-assembled standard PCs offered by the manufacturers.

    They way I look at it is this. If I say I am going to compare two car manufacturers on cost and see which one is cheaper, I am going to look at a specified number of cars randomly chosen from one group and the same number of cars random chosen from the other group. Then take the average and compare. And the two groups should be similar to have valid data. But why would you compare BMW to Hyundai? Anyone could tell you BMW will come out as being more expensive. There is essentially nothing wrong with doing this, but comparing the two and reporting the data would be somewhat deceptive as one obviously caters to a different market.

    If Apple were making its own components I could see the basis for that sort of argument, but they aren’t. They’re buying the same off-the-shelf parts that the PC makers are and are charging a premium for it because they have fancy case designs. BMW and Ford make a lot of the parts that go into their cars themselves so your analogy is a poor one. BMW can at least make the argument that they put more effort into the manufacturer of their parts over Ford. Apple can’t make that argument about anything other than the case they stick the parts into and as nice as those cases are, they don’t justify the markup on the hardware. At least not in my mind.

    Did the study you linked to do this? I have no idea as there is no information as to how they came up with those numbers. But I am stating that without giving us any insight into the methodology of the study, they are being disingenuous.

    The article I linked to links to this Apple Watch article by Joe Wilcox on the issue which is where the reference to NPD comes in:

    On Saturday, Aug. 2, I got to wondering about Mac versus Windows PC pricing after seeing two HP notebooks on sale at the local Target. One of them, a 14-inch model, the HP DV2946NR, sold for $699.99 and packed 4GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive. Capacity for both features is twice that of the $1,299 MacBook—and shared graphics is 356MB compared with a meager 144MB for the MacBook. I wondered: If Vista notebooks are selling for so little and packing so much, how does this compare with Mac desktops and notebooks?

    Today I contacted Stephen Baker, NPD’s vice president of industry analysis, about computer average selling prices at retail. That HP notebook is right on mark: ASP for retail Windows notebooks is $700. Mac laptops: $1,515. Yeah, right, they’re more than twice as much. But there’s more: The ASP for Mac desktops is more than $1,000 greater than for Windows PCs, and Mac desktop ASPs were higher in June than they were two years ago.

    The author goes on to say:

    In the past, I have defended Apple’s pricing, because when comparing Macs and Windows PCs of similar price the hardware features were about the same. That situation has dramatically changed in the last six months, particularly the last three months. I should have paid more attention than I did to this growing disparity, which is separate from but related to average selling prices.

    Windows computer ASPs have fallen about as low as they’re going to—they’re at bottom for desktops and nearly so for laptops. Since summer 2006, desktop ASPs have changed little, according to NPD data. By comparison, the average notebook sold for $177 less in June than it did two years earlier. But ASPs are no longer free-falling. The average notebook ASP was just $714 in May.

    “We aren’t seeing any particularly substantive moves down in price on the Windows side, either in desktops or notebooks,” Stephen Baker said.

    Windows PC manufacturers are compensating and differentiating from one another by bulking up hardware. They’re trying to increase perceived value for the same price. Meanwhile, Mac notebook configurations aren’t much different today than they were in February, when Apple announced the last major upgrade of the MacBook and MacBook Pro product lines. In April, Apple significantly bulked up the iMac, but its memory and hard drive capacities trail Windows PCs costing much less.

    He goes on to compare an iMac ($1,199) to a Dell Inspiron 518 ($739) which aren’t even close to each other on some of the components and then asks:

    Which would you choose? The Mac has more graphics memory, but the Dell is easily upgraded. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Webcam are extra-cost options on the Dell. But the Inspiron 518 has three times the memory, twice the hard drive capacity and a “Quad” instead of “Duo” processor. Dell offers more for less than the iMac. But that “more” also means Windows Vista, which won’t satisfy some shoppers.

    Back to average selling prices, the gulf between Windows PCs and Macs is simply stunning—and desktop Mac ASPs are $111 higher in 2008 than 2006. No wonder, Apple has such high margins. But they can’t last, and I believe Apple realizes it.

    Here’s a Mac guy saying the same thing I’m saying. Apple charges more and gives you less.

    I only saw that with the Mac Pro. If you go to Apple’s website and configure a system and look at the difference between 2 and 4 GBs it’s $200 for everything else. One could argue that $200 is a lot to pay for a 2GB stick, but then from there the argument goes into whether or not one thinks there is such a thing as high quality RAM. And Newegg still lists DDR2 800 2x1GB chips for as much as $175 for desktop and a more reasonable $117 for laptops.

    I just checked with the Mac Mini and bumping it up to 2GB costs $100 more. Bumping the Dell Studio Hybrid to 2GB costs $50 more. Do the math and tell me that Apple doesn’t overprice their hardware.

    I seriously doubt that Apple is using high-end RAM in most of its machines. The Mac Pros maybe as I believe those use ECC RAM, but not the Mac Mini or the iMacs.

    According to Crucial’s RAM finder a 2GB kit for the Mac Mini should cost you $49.99. Apple wants to charge you $100 to go from 1GB to 2GB. Do the math and tell me Apple isn’t over picing its hardware.

    You can get Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) for $73.99 ($48.99 after the $25 MIR) CORSAIR XMS2 DHX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) for a mere $144 ($114 after $30 MIR). Both of those are high performance RAM kits.

    But all this shows is that people are stupid enough to pay.

    What it shows is exactly what I’ve been saying it shows: Apple over prices its hardware. They charge you more and give you less. The fact that some people are dumb enough to pay it doesn’t change the fact that Apple is over pricing its hardware.

    And just because Apple increases the price on memory doesn’t necessarily mean they do so with everything else.

    This is true, but it’s probably a safe bet that they do. Not to mention the fact that I have provided concrete examples of how they, in fact, do markup their hardware.

    No I didn’t and was my reason for asking the question. I haven’t been able to keep up with release dates of games lately and I was really asking because I wasn’t completely sure not because I was trying to make a point. At least a point other than Mac’s seem to be getting much better support for games available on PCs. Maybe not, but it seems to me the list is growing, even if it does so after the release dates.

    I fully concur that the situation is improving in the Mac gaming scene, but it’s still got a ways to go.

    On another topic, couldn’t someone dual boot windows and run the game on the Windows side? I know it’s more of a pain and sort of defeating, but I’m asking more out of curiosity? Or maybe a better question would be, has anyone done any performance testing of this?

    There’s certainly plenty of people who do that. You’re still limited by the video card hardware being a couple of generations older than what’s available to standard PC users, but for most games it should perform as well as an equivalent Windows box would.

    Moving on to Moloch…

    which would you rather have sitting next to your monitor or below your TV. Some bulky piece of crap Dell or a sweet looking MacMini?

    That’s irrelevant to the issue of whether or not Apple charges more and gives you less.

    Yes, it does. Its an Apple designed and built logic board.

    I’ve not been able to verify one way or the other on if Apple builds the Mac Mini’s motherboard, but I seriously doubt they do. It’s a mini-ITX form factor and there’s plenty of companies out there that produce boards in that size.

    Less what? Style? Quality? Performance?

    Performance. Style is not relevant to the discussion and the quality is the same as is available to PC users because it’s often the same off-the-shelf hardware.

    Apple posted a fiscal third-quarter net income of $1.07 billion. Not bad for only 13% of the market.

    Actually it’s 8.5% of the market according to the folks at Gartner.

    That’s great, but it’s still irrelevant to the point being made.

    There is no game that can’t run on a Mac anymore. Since they switched to intel its as simple as installing the winblows OS on any of their machines to run any windows game.

    Which incurs an additional cost (assuming you don’t pirate the Windows OS), defeats the point of owning a Mac, and doesn’t change the fact that Apple charges more and gives you less.

    You obviously haven’t been to a mac forum if you think that. Any MacPro can have dual video cards in Crossfire or SLI, the only down side it it takes windows to recognize them as such. OSX sees them as two independent cards.

    Running the game in Windows obviously proves the point I made when I said “the Mac doesn’t have a compatible video card that could hope to run it.” If you’re running Windows then what you have is a Windows box and not a Mac. The point still stands.

    Apple has always been horribly expensive in BTO changes. Why? Because it takes time and personnel to take a machine off the line, make whatever little change(s) that person ordered and put it back in line. Everyone should know that you are supposed to buy the computer and change whatever memory or drive(s) you want when you get it.

    And yet Dell will make those same upgrades on their PCs without gouging the living fuck out of you in the process. Your point doesn’t refute my argument.

    Comparing Dell and Apple is like comparing Nissan and Mercedes. You can get a Nissan GT-R for $70,000 and go really fast in a Datsun or you can get a Mercedes SL65 for $175,000 and go really fast in style.

    Again the car analogy falls flat because Apple isn’t making the majority of its parts.

    If you’re fine with paying more for the same parts you could’ve gotten cheaper in a Windows box just because you think it looks prettier in the Mac case then, by all means, spend the money. That doesn’t change the fact that Apple is charging you more for the same hardware. That, in fact, Apple is over pricing their hardware.

  12. Are you really trying to make the argument that Windows is more stable over the long run than it’s counterparts?

    When you’re commonly dealing with large graphics files and intense graphics applications Windows IS more stable than a Mac on the long run. I’ve watched it myself when I was doing graphics and design work, constantly watching brand new Macs crash at a moment’s notice while my three year old PC running WindowsME managed to put along mostly without error. Better still, I could TELL when the PC was about to crash. With the Macs I couldn’t tell at all.

    I like Macs. They’re premium Cadillacs of overpriced design that drive the PC market to improve itself. If I could afford to and I was buying a computer for my grandmother I’d buy her a Mac because I can’t imagine she’d ever do anything with it to stress it out and the lack of software choices would be simpler for her. She’d certainly appreciate a computer that fit in with her shelves more. I’d buy one myself as a networked computer to say, place on a nightstand by my bed or something as a replacement for a phone with more functionality too, if I could afford it.

  13. Apple overpricing their hardware?!  “Don’t you talk about my prophet!  I’ll kill you!!!”  cool grin

    Whew! Sorry.  Where did that come from?

    PC Hardware is cheap in part because of tremendous competition among manufacturers.  There’s always some other chipset or bios or video card.  Windows tries to run with any piece of junk that someone slaps together, so the Windows world of drivers is a polyglot mess.  Apple has made the decision to carefully constrain their hardware base, with several results.  One, they can strictly apply their design standards.  How valuable that is to any individual is up to that person. Two, they have fewer driver problems than PC.  This probably accounts for much of the well-documented Mac stability.  (Flash being a notable exception that really isn’t OS dependent)  Three, without competition there’s no downward price pressure.

  14. BMW and Ford make a lot of the parts that go into their cars themselves

    I’ll ask for supporting documentation as manufacturing theory would say differently. It’s too expensive to import metal and manufacture it into car parts on the spot. While some companies may do this I doubt the cheap cars produced by Ford would, maybe a more expensive Ford would. And from reports I have heard more and more companies are outsourcing the individual part production and then assembling the parts at the main plant because it reduces inventory (which gets reported on annual reports) and is cheaper.

    Mitsubishi has switched their plants to JIT inventory so that they only get parts shipped in as they are needed for production. It limits inventory dramatically and it decreases costs. It might seem counter intuitive to think that it’s cheaper to have someone else make the parts and then put them together than to do it all at one place, but the cost of everything adds up quickly and it really isn’t cheaper. Specialists can always reduce costs more than the jack-of-all trades.

    The point of the car analogy is that you wanted to compare two systems that were different and say, “Ahha there is a price difference and it’s huge.” But really you picked two systems with similar hardware which doesn’t stick because smaller technology costs more until the price is driven down by market conditions. So the original comparison with the Dell 530 fails.

    I have to obviously concede that Apple systems are more expensive when looking at the hardware with the Dell Studio you linked to, and I have already. My intent with the original article and that author’s intend was to say the price difference is not as much as people may think. And sure enough that is what we figured out. At first the Mac Mini was $300 cheaper, and now only $100.

    But I still have issues with the NPD study. They still tell us no methodology. Which is why I usually take data from such organizations with a grain of salt. Their data can’t hold it’s own if they can’t release their methodology with the data from the study.

  15. Looking at the Tom’s Hardware article, the first comparison they do is clearly stacked in the most favorable way possible to make it look like the Macbook Pro is a comparable, or even better value than a Dell.  Why compare a 17” Dell to a 15.4” Macbook, when the model (XPS M1530) just under that Dell has the same size screen, and same processor as the Apple?

    Take a $999 Dell XPS M1530, give it the same processor as the MacBook Pro, toss in Windows Vista Ultimate, the same resolution display as the Mac and webcam, a 250GB HD (no 200GB option to make it equal to the Mac), a 256MB Geforce 8600M GT (same as the Mac), Intel N-wireless, bluetooth and remote, and the Dell comes to a grand total of $1683. 

    A Macbook Pro with a 250GB instead of 200GB HD comes to $2049, a $366 premium for the Mac.  So instead of being roughly equal in price like the BS comparison in the Tom’s Hardware article, buying MacBook Pro over a comparable Dell costs 22% more. 

    The Mac actually fared better than I expected, and it does include a few things the Dell doesn’t (fancier case, Magsafe power, and optical audio in/out).

    I could see the aesthetics, nice little bonus features, and OSX stability being worth that much to some people, but the fact remains that it is considerably more money than a Dell.

    I read some article on MSN today talking about how Apple will only be able to increase their market share so far with such pricey systems, which made me wonder if Apple really wants that.  The iPod, iPhone, and iTunes store have been hugely profitable, and if Apple commanded half the home computer market, they’d be opening themselves up to monopoly and anti-trust allegations since you have to buy the hardware and software from them.

  16. Since I’ll be graduating next year and will need a new laptop for college, I’ve been looking at all different types.

    Both my current highschool and many colleges are attempting to go all Mac now. I just don’t get it. All they do is take them and put windows onto them.
    I had heard it was because they didn’t want people playing games on them, but when you put windows on them that takes that out.

    But I’ve figured out for the $2000 I’ll probably have to spend on the laptop, and I’ve figured out I can get a very nice Alienware laptop for less than most dell or mac ones. And I’ll be able to run top of the line games.

    I guess everyone just likes the big name ones…

  17. Webs: “Mitsubishi has switched their plants to JIT inventory so that they only get parts shipped in as they are needed for production. It limits inventory dramatically and it decreases costs.

    Man, you should hear my mechanic talk about Mitsubishi parts.  Apparently not exactly a ‘solved problem’.  One given year and model, but possibility of three or four different axles, with correspondingly different bearings, seals, rotors, caliper, stuff like that. 

    Apparently most makers (Ford, Honda, Audi, etc.) are much more consistent in how they catalogue parts.

  18. With respect to the Mac mini, I’d argue it’s better value and environmentally more friendly to boot!

    I’ve got USB mice and keyboards piled practically floor-to-ceiling from past computers I’ve owned. If there’s an American who doesn’t already have a keyboard and mouse lying around, I’d like to meet him. The Mac mini doesn’t force the consumer to purchase those peripherals.

  19. Benior: I couldn’t tell you why the author didn’t use your comparison, but with so many options to choose from with Dell I am sure you could come up with more examples that show a price difference, some higher some lower. My point still is that the price differential is not as bad as most people think when looking only at hardware. When you include everything else you’re getting I think the Mac is a much better deal than any PC in terms of quality, performance, and appeal.

    One example, I was in the Apple store with my wife and was looking into training classes for her. The classes offered at the store are free and anyone can sign up, you dont’ have to have a Mac just access to the web to sign up. And there is a new training system called, “One on One”. For $99 you can get trained at your own schedule for up to 1 time a week for 52 weeks. If you only miss two session that year it’s $2 a training session and the session lasts for 1 hour. I’ve never heard of training being that cheap unless it came from a family member or friend. Certainly not up to 52 hours of training.

    Both my current highschool and many colleges are attempting to go all Mac now. I just don’t get it. All they do is take them and put windows onto them. I had heard it was because they didn’t want people playing games on them, but when you put windows on them that takes that out.

    There are also administrative reasons. DOF can likely go into more detail than I can, but the basic idea is once you have the Mac dual booting you can drag and drop Windows images onto the Windows side. And you can perform maintenance tasks to the Windows side while someone is using the Mac side. It takes a while to set up and configure one Mac this way, and there are some huge learning curves, but once you get past that administration becomes really easy. The Network Admin I used to work with had some really positive things to say about the setup last time I talked to him.

    Man, you should hear my mechanic talk about Mitsubishi parts.  Apparently not exactly a ‘solved problem’.  One given year and model, but possibility of three or four different axles, with correspondingly different bearings, seals, rotors, caliper, stuff like that.

    Yea, Mitsubishi sells themselves to the lowest bidder for everything which really will get you into trouble. I think most of the other companies seem to find one supplier and stick to it until proven a change needs to be made. I heard that Caterpillar will send Six Sigma Black Belts to suppliers in order to improve their quality and reduce cost, rather than find a lower bidder for the part. That to me is pretty impressive and has a very positive effect.

  20. Webs writes…

    I’ll ask for supporting documentation as manufacturing theory would say differently. It’s too expensive to import metal and manufacture it into car parts on the spot. While some companies may do this I doubt the cheap cars produced by Ford would, maybe a more expensive Ford would.

    Next time you’re in Detroit look me up and I’ll take you on the River Rogue Factory Tour and you can see for yourself that, yes, Ford does make its own parts. There’s a fair amount of off-the-shelf parts for the electronics and stuff like the light bulbs and radios, but they also produce a good chunk of what goes in. Stamping plants are a wonder to behold.

    I have to obviously concede that Apple systems are more expensive when looking at the hardware with the Dell Studio you linked to, and I have already. My intent with the original article and that author’s intend was to say the price difference is not as much as people may think. And sure enough that is what we figured out. At first the Mac Mini was $300 cheaper, and now only $100.

    I assume you mean more expensive.

    But I still have issues with the NPD study. They still tell us no methodology. Which is why I usually take data from such organizations with a grain of salt. Their data can’t hold it’s own if they can’t release their methodology with the data from the study.

    The NPD Group is a marketing research group and one of the things they do is track sales data and consumer-purchase trends. They release all sorts of data such as charts of top selling video games which Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft always like to latch onto. They’re generally pretty well regarded in the industry.

  21. Apples are pretty, and Windows sucks in many ways. But you can get yourself a very looking PC and load Ubuntu on it for 1/3 the cost of a Mac. And have the best of all worlds.

    Apples are simply now silly.

  22. Read the article I posted. There is no way you could build a PC with comparable features for “1/3 the cost” unless its a low end piece of junk.

    You all are whining about games on a Mac, how many native Linux games are there?

  23. I never understood the appeal of Macs, but I do understand that the Apple vs. TakeYourPick amounts to a religious debate.

    I don’t care if Apple hardware is cheaper or even worth its price, I don’t like being locked in to a hardware platform if there are open alternatives. In theory, limiting hardware choices makes for a more stable OS, but then I also don’t see the appeal of MacOS, either. There are a handful of Mac-only apps that I wouldn’t mind taking for a spin, but they’re not nearly compelling enough to seriously consider Apple.

  24. how many native Linux games are there?

    Some recent native Linux games

    Title             Publisher           Year

    Ankh (Port, 2005)  Runesoft     2007
    Second Life       Linden Labs       2007
    Tribal Trouble 1.5   Oddlabs ApS       2007
    DROD: The City Beneath   Caravel Games       2007
    Jardinains! 2       Magic Chopstick Games   2007
    Knights and Merchants   Joymania Development   2007
    DEFCON         Introversion Software   2007
    Penumbra: Overture   Frictional Games   2007
    SoulFu         Aaron Bishop Games   2007
    Ballistics       Linux Game Publishing   2007
    Professor Fizzwizzle   Grubby Games       2007
    H-Craft Championship   Irrgheist       2007
    Lunar Domination   Valen Games       2007
    Runes of Avalon   Anawiki Games       2007
    Adanaxis       Mushware       2007
    Weather Master       AIT Games       2007
    Nico en el Planeta Robot CMY Multimedia   2007
    Quake Wars: Enemy Territory id Software   2007
    AstroMenace     Viewizard       2007
    Fashion Cents Deluxe   My Game Company   2007
    Ore Explorer       Ur PC Game       2007
    Eschalon: Book I   Basilisk Games       2007
    Path of Magic       Anawiki Games       2007
    Tanea’s World       Volatile Dove       2007
    Eve Online       CCP         2007
    Roman Battles Lux   SillySoft       2007
    Toribash 3.0       Hampa         2008
    Vendetta Online 1.8   Guild Software, Inc.    2008
    Waterstorm       Rarebyte       2008
    Kingdom of Loathing   Asymmetric Publications   2008
    Spandex Force     KarjaSoft       2008
    Runes of Avalon 2   Anawiki Games       2008
    Savage 2       S2 Games       2008
    X-Plane 9.0       Laminar Research   2008
    Droid Assault       Puppygames       2008
    Penny Arcade       Hothead Games       2008
    Martians vs. Robots   Tommy Twisters       2008
    Clonk Rage       Redwolf Design       2008
    Penumbra: Black Plague   Frictional Games   2008
    Full Metal Soccer   QuantiCode       2008
    Jack Keane (Port, 2006)  Runesoft       2008
    Summer Session     Tycoon Games     2008

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