The other day I posted a shootout comparison of the low end Dell Dimension vs. the Apple eMac. Of course, I got blasted by sharp-eyed, sharper-penned readers who said my comparison wasn’t apples to apples.
The really sharp readers looked at what was actually written and noted, “Mac vs. Dell. It’s like comparing, well, apples to, uh, something resembling oranges.”
The low end Dell and the $799 eMac are similar only in that both are personal computers, have screens and hard drives, an operating system, a CPU, a keyboard, and a mouse. The $549 Dell, as a few readers pointed out, has a few things going for it (expandability, for one) that the eMac doesn’t.
Others, mostly wise ones, also noted that I didn’t cover TCO (total cost of operation/ownership), which wasn’t the intent. It was a comparison of features and price. I felt an overwhelming need to try to compare the two low end machines, Apple vs. Dell, as closely as possible, feature for feature, box for box.
To be fair only to the “box” comparison, Dell wins handily with a $250 price advantage. The cheaper Dell wins, right? Yes. Box to box. Now, start comparing features, TCO, usability, upgrade requirements, and things change rapidly and favor the eMac.
I read a recent article by Paul Murphy on LinuxInsider. Paul has this strange notion that Macs are less expensive. Period. High end. Low end. Servers. Desktop (iMac). Macs are less expensive and do more. Really?
After reading through his thinking process, I was impressed. Paul’s articles on the Mac vs. PC comparison wars are good reading. In nearly every case, Paul says Macs are less expensive, and perhaps a better buy for IT departments.
So, though the lowly eMac fares well when compared to a Dell “box” how do Apple’s offerings compare at the High End?
First, let’s define “high end.” That’s easy enough since Apple has only two real product categories at the so-called high end: the PowerMacs, and the Xserve. Since Xserve is designed primarily for server use, let me focus on the PowerMac instead.
The top-of-the-line PowerMac G5 2.5 ghz tower is a wonderful machine. Not only is it powerful, it’s loaded with goodies. Firewire. Firewire 800. USB 2.0. Dual CPUs. Cooling zones. Fans, fans, and more fans. Shiny aluminum outer skin and oversized Swiss watch precision on the inside.
A number of benchmarks put the dual 2.5 ghz PowerMac on par or actually faster than the fastest dual CPU Intel Pentium.
The $2,999 you’ll spend for the PowerMac G5 also gets you 512 megs RAM, an 8x SuperDrive, 128 megs videoRAM, DVI and ADC (for video), sound in/sound out, digital sound, and good old Mac OS X.
The PowerMac is built for power and speed. It’s a true workstation for computational goodness, graphics, video, audio or to simply provide a way to make others envy your taste in computerliciousness.
So, let me compare the dual 2.5 ghz Apple PowerMac G5 with a comparably equipped Dell Precision Workstation 670. Only this time, software isn’t an issue. Box for box. Hardware component to hardware component.
Oh, and no monitor, either. After all, since the PowerMac G5 comes with DVI, an Apple Cinema Display can now run on the Dell. And, Dell’s flat panel monitors should work on the Mac (they’ll be sucky looking, but still…).
Nose to nose. What’s the feature set? What’s the price? Ready for a surprise?
Click Here for Page 2 and the results.
Continued from Page 1…
I was sufficiently impressed that a Linux guru found Apple’s Macs so affordable that it was necessary to do a reality check. Granted, on the low end, the eMac “box” is a little more expensive than the Dell “box”.
But what about the high end (the non-server) desktop workstations? Are Apple’s PowerMac’s still competitive with the low cost leader, Dell?
Here’s what you get with the Dell Precision Workstation 670.
- Dual Intel Xeon CPU @ 2.8 ghz; 1 MB Level 2 Cache.
- Microsoft Windows XP Professional; SP 2
- 512 megabytes RAM (DDR2 SDRAM, 400 mhz, 2 DIMMS)
- 160 gigabyte SATA, 722 RPM Hard Drive
- 48x CD-RW/16x DVD-RW/+R Optical Drive
- 128 megabytes nVidia Quadro FX 1300 video card
- SoundBlaster Audigy Audio Card
- 56k Modem
- 10/100 Ethernet
- USB 2.0 connectors (5)
- Keyboard and Mouse
That’s the basic Dell box workstation. No monitor. No Firewire. No extra RAM. Nothing special.
How’s the Dell compare to a PowerMac? There are a couple of differences. First, the dual Xeon CPU is at 2.8 ghz vs. 2.5 ghz for the Mac. In many comparison tests, the PowerMac dual 2.5 ghz PowerPC CPUs outperform even dual 3 ghz Intel machines.
Faster Xeon CPUs would cost more money on the Dell workstation.
Also, the PowerMac comes with a built-in 8x SuperDrive vs. the 16x optical drive for the Dell. The PowerMac also has 400 and 800 Firewire built-in. The Dell would require an add-on card (not included in the price below).
With Apple’s PowerMac, you get plenty of powerly goodness, too.
- dual 2.5 ghz CPUs/1.25 ghz FSB
- Mac OS X 10.3.5 Panther
- 160 gigabyte SATA hard drive
- 512 megabytes of RAM
- 128 megabytes video RAM
- USB 2.0
- Firewire 400/800
- 10/100/1000 Ethernet
- 56k fax/modem
- Keyboard and Mouse
- And more.
No, no comparison of other software. There’s nothing that really compares with Apple’s iLife suite of applications anyway. It’s a bonus. Thank you for buying the PowerMac.
Box for box, what’s the price tag?
Apple PowerMac G5 – $2,999.
Dell Precision Workstation 670 – $3,070.
The PowerMac is $71 less than the comparably equipped Dell “box”. Now, no flames, please. Don’t jump for your keyboard yet. Yes, you can get a less powerful Dell workstation at a lower cost. I went for the high end in this comparison and tried to keep the components as “apples to apples” as possible.
As Paul Murphy pointed out, Apple’s are less expensive than PCs in a number of important areas, not just TCO. Out of the box, even a high end PowerMac can be less expensive than a comparable Dell workstation.
That Mac is slower than a Dell, right? Well, the proper answer is, “it depends.” Paul Murphy thinks otherwise. Click Here for another of Paul’s views on the matter.
Personally, I think Apple has a number of things pumping on all cylinders right now. iPods. iTMS. iLife. iMac G5. PowerMacs. Xserves. Performance. And price.
What do you think? Do you have a Dell experience you’re willing to share with other readers? What’s your thought on Apple’s new “positioning” of the product line? As always, click on the Comments link to leave your thought with others.