OPINION

Macs Are More Expensive, Right?

Everyone knows PCs are faster than Macs, but Macs cost more. Right? There are two issues here: cost and performance. Right now I want to focus on the cost side of the myth, leaving performance for another column, possibly in late September.

For today, I’m simply going to argue that Macs and PCs are optimized for very different kinds of jobs and thus cater to different perceptions of what constitutes performance. Fundamentally, what counts for both is suitability to purpose, not bits shuffled per second.

That suitability-to-purpose idea is reflected on the cost side by the Mac’s commitment to multimedia components, such as the SuperDrive and FireWire connectivity missing on the PC.

On the performance side, it’s reflected in the software supplier’s commitment to the Mac with the general consequence that Macs are faster where the supplier made good use of unique Mac features such as the true multiprocessing capabilities in OS X or the Altivec short array processor. PCs are faster for software ported, essentially unchanged, from the PC.

Desktop Comparisons

If we take vaguely comparable units from the low end, midrange and high end of the Apple and PC lines using pricing from the Apple and Dell Web stores as of August 21, 2004, we get the comparisons shown in the table.

The Macs have built-in FireWire, Airport Extreme, and 10/100 Ethernet ports along with the OS X operating system and a bundle of software that includes iLife and stuff like AppleWorks, Quicken and the World Book Encyclopedia.

The PCs come with some variant of Microsoft Windows XP and varying levels of discount on Microsoft Office. Thus, Office Professional costs $359 on the low-end Dimension, $319 on the OptiPlex and isn’t offered with the Precision bundle.

Oddly, Office Professional for the Mac includes a PC emulator, and the package most comparable to the “Professional” PC edition appears to be called the Standard Edition. It sells at $399 for all Macs.

Macs Over Spec

If we look at these raw cost comparisons carefully, it becomes obvious that none of them really work because the Macs are consistently over spec relative to the PCs. The entry level eMac, for example, costs $350 (78 percent) more than the PC but is usable only to run Windows 98 and other software carried forward from previous generations.

Desktops Price Configuration eMac $799 17″ CRT, 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 256MB DDR333 SDRAM ATI Radeon 9200 32MB DDR 40GB Ultra ATA drive 14W stereo system AppleCombo drive DellDimension 2400 $449 Intel Celeron processor at 2.40GHz 128MB shared DDR SDRAM at 266MHz 17″ (16.0″vis) CRT Monitor 40GB Ultra/ATA 100 Hard Drive Integrated Intel Extreme 3D Graphics iMac $1,799 17-inch widescreen LCD 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra 64MB DDR video memory 256MB DDR333 SDRAM 80GB Ultra ATA hard drive SuperDrive Apple Pro Speakers AirPort Extreme Ready Bluetooth Option DellOptiPlex GX270 $1,759 3.0 Ghz P4/800; 256MB, DDR, non ECC, 333Mhz 80GB EIDE 7200RPM, 8X DVD+RW Dell UltraSharp 1703FP flat panel 64MB, nVidia, GeForce 4MX G5 Dual $2,999 Dual 2.5GHz PowerPC G5 1.25GHz frontside bus/processor 512K L2 cache/processor 512MB DDR400 SDRAM Expandable to 8GB SDRAM 160GB Serial ATA 8x SuperDrive Three PCI-X Slots ATI Radeon 9600 XT 128MB DDR video memory 56K internal modem DellPrecision 670 $4,009 2 x 3.4Ghz Xeon 512MB 160GB SATA, 7200 RPM Hard Drive 8X DVD+RW/+R 128MB PCI x16 (DVI/VGA) ATI FireGL V3100, Accept Dell’s rather warmly endorsed package of the basic upgrades needed just to run XP comfortably, and the price difference falls to $190 (24 percent). That’s still considerably less expensive than the eMac, but still short stereo, an RW/CD/DVD combo, graphics capabilities, wireless connectivity and dual FireWire ports. Adding everything except FireWire brings the price to rough parity but still leaves the PC underspecified relative to the eMac.

The same problems afflict the iMac vs. OptiPlex270 comparison. The base PC is $40 less expensive than the midrange iMac, but the PC lacks the iMac’s connectivity and multimedia capabilities. It’s possible to add these, but doing so pushes the PC well over the high end of the price range for the iMac.

In this case, you should be aware that the PC represents Dell’s latest product generation while Apple has just stopped taking orders for the current iMacs in anticipation of introducing the next generation iMacs in September.

At the High End

The high-end comparison shows the result of the underlying difference in functional focus much more clearly. Like the iMacs, Apple’s current G5 offering is actually well past its intended replacement date because of IBM’s delays in shipping new CPUs. But the basic box is still a full $1,000 less expensive than Dell’s newest Xeons.

As usual, however, the PC lacks the Mac’s connectivity features. More importantly, my price comparison above omits the monitors for both because the recommended monitors are designed for different jobs and are not remotely comparable. Dell’s 20.1-inch flat panel LCD, at $899 by itself or $700 if bundled with the Precision 670, is just a monitor.

Apple’s cinema displays are more than that. They’re intended to function at the core of digital production environments. Thus all three models, from the 20 inch to the 30 inch, have things like DVI and dual FireWire ports to enable plug-and-go video recording or media sharing.

In consequence, the price ranges from $1,299 to $3,299, or $600 more than Dell wants for the 20-inch unit, but the additional things they do can’t be done with the Dell at any price.

The least unfair comparison, therefore, is obtained by adding the Dell monitor, as the lowest common denominator, to both machines, thereby penalizing Apple’s price by the $199 difference between Dell’s stand-alone and package price. Do that and the Mac comes in at $3,898 with the Dell at $4,709 — making the Apple about 20 percent less expensive despite offering more features.

At the low end, therefore, the PC desktops are marginally less expensive than the Macs — if you can do without their connectivity and multimedia capabilities — and considerably more expensive if you can’t. At the very high end, however, all of the design focus is on multimedia processing and the PCs simply aren’t competitive from either hardware or cost perspectives.

Server Comparisons

Servers Price Configuration Apple X-Serve $4,399

2GB, 160GB, 2 x 2Ghz G5unlimited usersMacOS- X

Dell 2850 $9,370

2GB, 2 x 73GB, 2 x 3.2Ghz XeonWindows 2003/XP Server 25 users

Sun V20Z $5,6992GB, 2 x 73GB, 2 x Opteron 248, Solaris x86

The Dell 2850 is a brand new machine while the Xserve is at the end of its product cycle with the replacement delayed — only because IBM has been slow to deliver the higher-speed CPUs.

More importantly, the Xserve is designed for a very different role than the PC. It runs Unix and so can do anything the PC server can, but the design optimizations target work that the PC is very poorly suited to doing — streaming out multigigabyte digital imaging files. Thus it has additional connectivity and a matching Xserve RAID array aimed at completing the package needed by digital media developers.

The Xserve RAID package uses very large, and individually slow, ATA drives in parallel to offer cheap ($10,999 for 3.5 TB) bulk storage for large multimedia files that are usually stored and retrieved via serial I/O. For this type of application, what counts most are reliability and sustained I/O streaming — requirements that are met very well by a design combining RAID protection with highly parallel ATA.

Dell doesn’t offer an Xserve RAID equivalent, and the 2850’s PC design is not internally well suited to continuous sequential I/O. Instead, it’s optimized for short but high speed I/O bursts of the kind associated with document or database storage and retrieval.

Client Access Rights

The killer issue, however, on comparing Apple’s X-serve to the Dell 2850 is that Apple doesn’t charge for client access rights. As a result, the Dell 2850, which costs nearly 30 percent more than the Xserve before software, costs more than twice as much as the X-serve once Microsoft’s $3,295 charge for a 25-user license gets counted.

At the server level, therefore, a less unfair comparison would be to the Sun V20Z. Sun’s machine, like Apple’s, is 64-bit capable, has page protection, runs Unix and provides for full SMP. For roughly similar dual-CPU, 2-GB units with Unix, Sun wants about $1,250 bucks more than Apple with most of that difference accounted for by Sun’s use of UltraSCSI 320 I/O in place of serial ATA.

Interestingly, strip out the OS and Sun’s hardware is about $600 less expensive than Dell’s. Include OS licensing for access by fifty general office users and you can buy both competing servers for the price of one Dell 2850.

Laptop Comparisons

Notebooks Price Configuration Dell 12″ $2,214

Inspiron 700M, 1.6Ghz PM, 256MB, 60GBIntel Extreme GraphicsXP Professional

Apple 12″ $1,599Powerbook, 12″, 1.33Ghz, 256MB, 60GBNVIDIA GeForce FX (64MB) Dell 15″ $2,677Inspiron 9100, 3.2Ghz P4, 512MB, 80GBRADEON 9700 (64MB)XP Professional Apple 15″ $2,499Powerbook 15″, 1.5Ghz, 512MB, 80GBRadeon 9700 (64MB)

The notebook comparisons are comparatively clean and decisive.

Dell’s low-end Inspiron 5150 ($1,079 after 10 percent discount) offers a 15-inch display but is otherwise not competitive with Apple’s 12-inch iBook ($1,099). Dell doesn’t offer anything to compete with Apple’s 17-inch Titaniums ($2,799) at the high end.

In between, both Apple’s 12-inch and 15-inch PowerBooks are less expensive and include more extensive connectivity capabilities than do the PCs.

So, bottom line, are PCs cheaper than Macs? No, despite what you read in the PC press, it’s the other way around. Compare Apples to apples, and Macs are cheaper than PCs.


Paul Murphy, a LinuxInsider columnist, wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 20-year veteran of the IT consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.


18 Comments

  • Macs are not more expensive than Dell or any other PC – just need to know where to find a bargain when you shop online. I use http://www.buyforless.com a lot. List special offers, coupons etc. I prefer Mac over PC for a number of reasons. Better graphics. Speed. Service. Easy of use. But i also like saving money when i can.

    • why are we even comparing Apple’s with dells. People dont buy computer from dell. Only illiterate people buy computers from Dell. To build a dual core system with ATI crossfire costed me more than the MAC G5 i bought. And guess what? when i do video production work on Adobe Premiere, after effects and such i notice something. IT RUNS BETTER ON A MACINTOSH!!. Listen people, its true that there are more PCs than Macs. There are, however, more cockroaches in the world than humans. That doesn’t make the cockroaches better.
      Thanks
      Your firendly neighbourhood PC and Mac user, Craeyon

      • Yes, PCs are initialy cheaper then Macs, but if you add in all the maintenince fees, they cost more or at least the same, and you still will get all of the mac software, and hardware, pretty much for free. The cost of a computer also includes its lifetime maintenence. Let me explain.
        The Macs can run for 7-9 years efficiently not being bogged down at all except for the AM ount of info you put on it, although it may be outdated so will be the PC. But with PCs you get a lot of spyware that slows the computer down to a screeching halt. (so you will need to spend some money, if you are a regular computer user, to get that cleaned out by a professional for what $100 at the extreme cheap end) Also you must get your computer yearly virus protection for around 50 dollars a year, or you’ll be paying for it anyway, so thats around 350 dollars just if you go seven years, and 450 if you went nine years, but most likely you’ll just get another computer by then because its an old machine and it doesn’t work as well as it use to from all those addware and spyware build up, so we’ll just say $300 dollars for the adverage person. Now, there is a 50% chance at least that your computer will get a virus or crash in those 5-6 years right? so if you might also add that in, and get it really extreamly cheap, it’d be like 200 dollars, and lets divide that by 2, because I want to keep it fair and show the 50% in it. So for the maintenence has been over half the price! 500 dollars for around 6 years, is about adverage for a pc. Now I have just made it so the two systems are on the same playing field for life expentensy and preformance throughout the entire time. so add $500 to the adverage dell, which its what, 350, which would equal $850, for the cheapest pc you can buy possible.
        Now, i’m fairly certain that the macs have more or equal to $150 dollars in software and hardware then the worst pc you can buy. A lot of my figures have been taken from businesses and overall studies that you can find almost anywhere on the web. I AM both a mac and a pc user, so I AM familiar with the costs of a pc as well. So what i’m saying here is that if you are truly looking at both sides with an open mind and look at all the price differences over the whole time you have it, the mac is going to cost you less or at least the same price with less head aches.

  • Yes, PCs run at a faster clock speed than Macs, but they have 20 clock cycles per operation, meaning it will take longer to do an operation than a Mac running at 7 clock cycles per operation. PC makers have used this tactic for years, they thought that if they blotted the PC with gigahertz that the consumerwould be so dazzeled that they would forget every other factor.

    • rwwff – I think your statements verify the point of the article. For your needs, a multiple computer network is what is functional. And in that context, cheap, no accessories boxes are best, which means x86’s.
      .
      For someone who wants to do multimedia, the advantages seem to lie with a mac solution. Apple has done a good job of building a strong integrated multimedia platform.
      .
      Everyone has different needs, and skill levels. For a pc tech, building something from scratch is sometimes (though certainly not alway) a cheaper way to do things. And you can use whatever systems come your way affordably.
      .
      For a pure user, such a thing is not an option, or desired.
      .
      The article (with perhaps a bit of a bias, yes) is trying to point out that the comparisons that are used in the commons are often based on marketing ‘info’, and not accurate, not only because the originators were, ummm …. fudging, but also because people choose to simplify the argument to the details that favour their point of view.

      • I think PC manufacturers are starting to catch on to this. You’ll notice that we’re sort of halting around 4.0GHZ… It will be interesting to see if PC’s can catch up in say.. The next year.

  • Every Windows PC needs a yearly "subscription" to an antivirus, firewall and maybe pay some shareware as Ad-Aware, to keep some-what more secure.
    The iMac G4 was long time overpriced for me. That changes with the iMac G5, 500$ cheaper.
    In the PC vs. Mac battle PC people forget talking about ergonomics, design and lifetime, Macs are never trashed after 6 years of use.

    • Venture,
      You are totally misinformed my cyber friend..
      >> Macs are faster where the supplier made good use of unique Mac features such as the true multiprocessing capabilities in OS X or the Altivec short array processor.
      I’d love to know how OS X has "true" multiprocessing abilities (lots of use if you’re going to run Linux) that XP doesn’t have. And array processors are great . . . if you want to process arrays. That works for a small AM ount of software (which of course is presented as far more important than any other kind).
      no AM ount of semantic spin can change the fact that the Architecture of the Mac is superior to that of the PC, but developers simply take the cheap route for most software implementations by taking portable software from PC to Mac. Time is spent optimizing the software for PC and then when time comes to ship the Mac version, they run it thru a compiler, run a few tests and package it for sale (at a premium). Rarely (Apple the biggest maker of Altivec, Multiprocessor aware apps) do companies (especially Game makers, which games are always used as benchmarks) take the time to optimize software for a Mac – be it the OS X built in features, or the Altivec and MP parallel bus design of the G5.
      This IS a FACT. It’s called the Walmart factor. PC’s are cheap and everyone buys them, so the PC software companies make a lot of $$ on the software and have a vested interest in making sure it’s the best it can be. Whereas Apple customers are a tiny niche and are not going to effect the bottom life of a company if it’s software isn’t well loved.
      We Mac users are all to often willing to accept scraps (Adobe is a prime example of this, with some of their non-photoshop suits).
      Peace-Out.

  • Funny. I did the same comparison early this year. I needed a new laptop to replace may aging Pismo and I wanted a 15" Powerbook. I just had to justify the expense. It turns out that given the features _I_ need (I do software development and a little graphics work, not video production) a Del 5150 is not only half the price of a comparable 15" powerbook, but has a better screen and runs Linux better:
    http://www.valdyas.org/fading/index.cgi/hacking/applevsdell.html?seemore=y
    I still want that Powerbook, though.

    • Look at the picture — use the machine — why anybody would not see that the Mac is so much better, I don’t know. All of the Dells in our office (including one brand new hotrod) have terrible, untrue color — the macs, even the imacs, have astounding displays. And usability, well . . .
      There is one set of machines that feel clunky and one that doesn’t. PCs, even the best ones, are clunkers — that does not make them more business-like — thet makes them clunkers.
      And then speed — this lack of understanding about native code or or the most basic differences between RISC and CISC is incredible, considering all the pseudo-detail that gets spouted — anybody who has seen a G5 compress with Sorenson has seen astounding speed.
      All the guys who have PCs, except for one rabid gamer, having experienced the macs, want to switch.
      This astounding defensiveness on the part of PC people who want to tape hubs to their displays in order to prove themselves right — or spend more money after the fact in repairs, adjustments, support, and tweaks — well, it’s astounding.
      And then this idea that it’s all wonderfully rebellious and individual against those sleek, imperial macs — hmm.
      Bill Gates is not Robin Hood. And neither are machines built in his image.

  • If you choose your statistics carefully enough, you can always prove something close enough to the point you want to make to sound convincing.
    For example, you can prove that if you take a PC, and add all the features that Apple includes out of the box, you often find that the resulting PC costs almost as much as a Mac. Occasionally the PC you end up with costs more than the Mac.
    But that doesn’t really prove anything about the costs of Macs and PCs in general, unless you’re looking for a computer that has *exactly* the specs of the Mac, and you don’t want *any* of the features the resulting PC has that you haven’t added to the "comparable Mac".
    So what do you do, you handwave, you say "PC users rarely expand their computers, so the PCI slots and drive bays don’t matter". But you don’t turn around and say "Mac users rarely expand their computers, so the Firewire ports don’t matter". You don’t mention the better video card, or things like the great keyboard on the IBM Thinkpads. Your target Mac user doesn’t need these things, so you don’t mention them, but you *do* demand parity in all the things Apple’s got that the PC you started with doesn’t.
    Here’s where this one falls down. Paul’s writing about "multimedia" computers.
    Is an iBook with a 12" or 14" screen really a multimedia computer? Can you really use Apple’s great video software effectively on a 1024×768 display? Heck no. You want the most real-estate you can get. Hey, for $50 more you can get a screen on that Dell Inspiron 5150 with more pixels than the 17" PowerBook! Now which one’s the "multimedia" computer?
    Or how about the eMac. It’s got a 17" display, right? Well, um, yeh… but it’s a low resolution shadow-mask display. I paid $170 for my CTX aperture-grill several years ago… I’m sure you can do better now… and it’s far crisper and easier to read than the fuzzy eMac. What do I do if I really need that for my "multimedia" work? Well, add $170 to the price of the eMac, and stick that pretty white box on the floor, or pay $1500 or so for a tower Mac.
    So even if you’re optimising your Mac for "multimedia" work, it’s not at all obvious that the Mac optimised for your actual requirements isn’t going to STILL cost a lot more than the PC with the hardware you really need.
    People buy Macs for the software. Buying it for the hardware and putting Linux on it just doesn’t add up unless you’re one of the rare people who are right smack-dab in the sweet spot.

  • Oh dear.
    What a confused mish-mash of "information."
    Let’s take it from the start. PCs are cheaper than Macs, whether you want that to be true or not.
    >> Macs are faster where the supplier made good use of unique Mac features such as the true multiprocessing capabilities in OS X or the Altivec short array processor.
    I’d love to know how OS X has "true" multiprocessing abilities (lots of use if you’re going to run Linux) that XP doesn’t have. And array processors are great . . . if you want to process arrays. That works for a small AM ount of software (which of course is presented as far more important than any other kind).
    >> The Macs have built-in FireWire, Airport Extreme, and 10/100 Ethernet ports along with the OS X operating system and a bundle of software that includes iLife and stuff like AppleWorks, Quicken and the World Book Encyclopedia.
    Firewire (if you ever have a need for it, which is unlikely with USB2) costs $20 on a PC, 802.11g adapters cost $27 (if you need them), and Gigabit Ethernet is $13 (if you need it). The Apple tradition of including advanced technology (whether you need it or not) costs way more than adding the functionality piece by piece to a PC. I don’t see the need of adding ports I will never use or having bandwidth I’ll never take advantage of, knowing full well I can get it if I have to.
    For another $29 I can add Word 2002 and a bunch of other useful productivity software to the Dell. That includes Microsoft Money and Encarta, which will come with the WordPerfect package for free.
    >> That suitability-to-purpose idea is reflected on the cost side by the Mac’s commitment to multimedia components, such as the SuperDrive and FireWire connectivity missing on the PC.
    The Superdrive is missing on the $799 eMac as well, but on the Dell it’s a $41 upgrade from the supplied combo drive. And the DVD-RW on the Dell writes to all kinds of media at faster speed than the $999 eMac.
    So should we be glad that Apple has "a commitment to multimedia," or should we use Dells’ model, where the extra capacity is there if you need it and not if you don’t?
    >> Accept Dell’s rather warmly endorsed package of the basic upgrades needed just to run XP comfortably, and the price difference falls to $190 (24 percent).
    I don’t know where the idea of "running XP comfortably" comes from, but it’s not on the Dell website. On Dell’s website, in the "Help me Choose" section for RAM and the HD, for instance, XP doesn’t get a mention. I’d like to know why increasing the HD from 40GB to 80GB helps XP (or any OS) "run more comfortably."
    If you want your accounting department to be full of computers that have "a commitment to multimedia" then apple is for you. If you want a more reasoned discussion go here:
    http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=50009562&f=48409524&m=983009765631&r=983009765631#983009765631

    • This article is misleading, like most other computer comparisons. The worse PC to buy, cost wise, is the one that has the most features that you do not use. I use lots and lots of storage, an 8port KVM switch hooked to five machines, and don’t even have working speakers to plug into my computers. Networked together, I have, and use, 1.5 terabytes of storage, and most of my machines have 512MB ram. I run slackware on three, XP on one, Win2k on another. None of my machines cost anywhere near what the article was quoting for the high enders, but none of the listed high enders even comes close to my computing requirements.
      This is the *REAL* benefit of PC’s; I buy and pay for only what *I* need. Do I have a computer based DVD player? nope. Do I have a use for a computer based DVD player? nope. Did I pay for a computer based DVD? nope.
      And including monitor cost in a price comparison of systems is absolutely brain damaged. I’ve used the same Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 20 for a little more than a decade; and its gone through literally dozens of computers, starting with a lowly 386/33mhz machine, to now a cluster of P4’s, and I expect it to go on for several more years, and through several more CPU’s.
      One system:
      MB/Case/PS/CPU/512RAM: $400 – $600
      500 gb storage : $300 – $350
      CD Player: $30
      Slackware 10.0: $0.00
      Now where AM I going to get a mac with 500gb of storage and 512mb ram for under $1000 ????? [minimum cpu speed 2.0 ghz]

  • The author’s analysis regarding the Dell 20" monitor versus the Apple Cinema displays is in err:
    .
    "Apple’s cinema displays are more than that. They’re intended to function at the core of digital production environments. Thus all three models, from the 20 inch to the 30 inch, have things like DVI and dual FireWire ports to enable plug-and-go video recording or media sharing.
    In consequence, the price ranges from $1,299 to $3,299, or $600 more than Dell wants for the 20-inch unit, but the additional things they do can’t be done with the Dell at any price."
    .
    First, the Dell comes with a 4 port USB 2 hub. It may not have a firewire hub, but you can buy that for $30bux, and USB2 is just fine for most people. You’ve got to be kidding me by saying that a 2 port firewire hub is something you cannot get an any price. Tape a hub onto the dell for 30 bux and consider that the price. This is pandering argument set up by the author at best.
    .
    What the Dell monitor does offer over the Apple’s is as follows:
    .
    .
    (1) Better price–The Dell can frequently be bought for about $700bux like here:
    .
    http://www.bensbargains.net/ktalk/1093425064,207,.shtml
    .
    Even the lowely 20" Apple display can rarely be had for even $1000.
    .
    (2) The Dell monitor swivels tilts, moves up and down on its pedistal, and pivots. The apple monitor does not really swivel, you must move its entire base for that, which is not great. The iMac does this better, and the Dell swivels much like the iMac. The Apple monitors certainly do not move up/down and cannot pivot. The Dell pedestal is very flexible–and both dell and apple allow you to detach the screen from the base and use a VESA mount bracket to wall mount the screen if you like.
    .
    (3) The Dell monitor also has FOUR video inputs while the Apple only has one. The Dell has a DVI, VGA, Svideo and composit video support and even does picture-in-picture between the multiple video in ports. You can move between the 4 video sources with a built in video source switcher right on the face of the Dell. Thus, the Author’s mention of DVI as if to imply it were somehow missing from the Dell is bizarre at best and seems disingenuous. Also, for $50 bux you can even add integrated speakers on the Dell.
    .
    (4) The dell monitor has superior display specs. Oh, and the Dell 20" is a higher resolution display–i.e. 1600×1200 (1.92 megapixels) versus the 20" Apple’s 1680 x 1050 (1.76 megapixels). Contrast 600:1 Dell, 400:1 apple.
    .
    http://www1.us.dell.com/content/learnmore/learnmore.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~f=lg&~id=monitors&~line=desktops&~lt=popup&~series=dimen&~tab=details
    .
    http://www.apple.com/displays/specs.html
    .
    .
    What the apple screen offers over the Dell? The following things:
    (1) The 23" and 30" have a slightly brighter display 270cd/m2 vs 250 on the dell. The 20" apple display is also 250 just like the dell.
    .
    (2) Kick ass industrial design. The apple monitors are just beautiful. By the way, the dell is a nice looking monitor. IT is in two tone aluminum and black, and actually sits well with a G5. The base and side of the monitor match it well. But it’s not as slick as the apple monitors.
    .
    Regardless, for the price of one apple 23" display I bought 3 Dell 20" displays. The dell blows the apple 20" display out of the water in every way except design. That’s the reality. The analysis is tortured to find otherwise. This kind of gross blindness on a supposedly objective analysis makes me not entertain the other arguements which may well be on point.

    • Quote: PS: one more note about the low end: the *cheapest* display you can get from Apple is, indeed, the $1299 20". They dropped their $699 17" model two months ago.
      Funny, as they still offer the 17" model at the Apple Store!

  • Although Im a full Mac user (since 1985), to be fair to the "linux" publication you should include some linux distro (I knew almost nothing about them) in the price comparison for servers.
    The article is really a gem of honesty or –at least– attach to the fact analysis. Congratulations.

  • Excellent article, but I’d like to point out something about the monitors. You say "Dell’s 20.1-inch flat panel LCD, at $899 by itself or $700 if bundled with the Precision 670, is just a monitor. Apple’s cinema displays are more than that. They’re intended to function at the core of digital production environments. Thus all three models, from the 20 inch to the 30 inch, have things like DVI and dual FireWire ports to enable plug-and-go video recording or media sharing." It sounds like you’ve totally bought into Apple’s marketing fluff. The Dell does indeed have DVI, so basically you’re paying (in the case of the 20") $400 for USB and FireWire ports which, I’d like to point out, are on the *back* of the display–not particularly handy. Furthermore, the Dell has more pixels (1.92M vs. 1.76Mpixels) and has additional inputs for VGA, composite video, and S-Video. To top it all off, the Dell will even do picture-in-picture with one computer (VGA or DVI) and one video (composite or S-Video) source. I have a Dell 20" in my cube connected to my G5 (DVI) and OptiPlex (VGA.) A handy button on the front of the display cycles through the inputs. Compared to that versatility, the Apple display is… just a monitor.
    The rest of your argument is sound and is again played out in a way you didn’t mention: you can’t get a 23" or 30" from Dell, period. Once again, if you want low end, PCs are good; if you want high, the advantage is all Apple.
    PS: one more note about the low end: the *cheapest* display you can get from Apple is, indeed, the $1299 20". They dropped their $699 17" model two months ago. Compare that to Dell, where you can get a 15" LCD *and a computer* for $499. (dell.com/tv; they have the ‘free upgrade to flat panel’ special every month or two.)

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