If there’s a bigger surprise in computing the past couple of years, it’s that Macs are no longer MORE EXPENSIVE than comparable PCs running Windows. In fact, at the very low end, there’s little to separate the cheapest PC from Dell and the lowly eMac from Apple.
Surprise? Feature for feature, the eMac holds its own against the Dell. Yes, the Dell “box” is less expensive, but doesn’t come with as much as a Mac.
How about the high end? Common thinking is that Mac again is more expensive. Guess what. Our comparisons this past week had difficulty finding a comparable high end Dell PC (feature for feature) as inexpensive as the fastest dual CPU PowerMac you can buy.
What did Mac users have to say about the “news?”
Ask Mac users a question and you’ll get answers. We got answers. Wednesday was the comparison of the eMac and the cheap Dell Dimension? What did Mac users have to say? Plenty. For example, reader “pehowland” chimed in:
“As others have said, you can easily remove about $100-150 worth of the extras you added to the Dell without bothering most people wanting a low end machine – and in most cases you could replace them with open source alternatives. The GIMP is a fine photo editor (and runs on Windows). OpenOffice is a good free alternative to Word. And so on.
To the reader who commented that you needed to also buy antivirus, anti-ad and fireqall software for the PC, I should point out that there’s a great free antivirus program available (AVG), a great free anti spyware application (SpyBot) and a great free firewall (ZoneAlarm) that runs rings around the default MacOS X firewall.
Finally, the Celeron 2.4GHz is faster than the G4 1.25GHz. The Dell is also upgradeable – I can put in a faster graphics card later, a better sound card later, a dual-layer DVD burner later, a larger disk later, etc, etc. I can even upgrade the processor with too much difficulty. With the eMac, I’m pretty much stuck with what Apple provided.
So, the Dell is cheaper and its got much more growth potential. It uses an OS that is not as good as MacOS X, but that does have widespread commercial support, both in terms of software you buy and helpdesk support from ISP’s, etc. For a beginner, the Dell looks more attractive than the eMac.”
Whew! Is that a mouthful, or what? But spot on, for the most part. Reader “vics” seemed to agree with the premise; Macs can be inexpensive (if not cheap), when total value is considered:
“But this only covers the actual ‘physical’ machine. It doesn’t even begin to address the Mac’s FAR superior ‘end-user experience’. I am an IT Professional who supports 80+ Dell PC’s running Windows XP Pro.”
These poor users spend most of their day trying to get the Operating System out of their way so they can do some work. Mac OS X ‘just works’ – not ‘some times’ or ‘most of the time’, or ‘except when’, it just works, EVERY TIME. Want to eMail someone a Word document in XP?
Step 1, go out and buy Adobe Acrobat (the full program, NOT the Reader), Step 2, Jump through the right windows ‘hoops’ and eventually you can save that .doc file as a .pdf so ANYONE out on the Internet can Open it.
On a Mac? 1) Open your document, 2) go to File, Print, Select Save As PDF and it’s done. eMail it, post it on the Internet, print it – doesn’t matter-it just works.
That’s only ONE of a gazillion examples of things you may need to do at work every day and how OS X just let’s you get it done and move on… “
That covers the gist of Mac users regarding the low end comparison of an eMac vs. a Dell Dimension. What of the high end?
What happens when you compare a base “high end” PowerMac with a top-of-the-line Dell Precision Workstation? Which one costs the most? Which is the most powerful? What do Mac users have to say?
Plenty. Click Here for Page 2.
Continued from Page 1…
Who’s got the cheap goods at the high end of the desktop market? Dell or Apple’s PowerMac? We found plenty of Dell’s Precision workstations that cost considerably more than the high end PowerMac. We couldn’t find any that cost less. Surprised?
Reader “compudude” pointed out some of the less obvious but helpful differences:
“Good comparison. Much easier to compare on the high end than the low end… too much corner cutting gets involved when determining what someone really wants vs. needs, and it just messes up the equations with subjective stuff.
One observation, to the poster who commented re ECC ram, the Dell in question does not use ECC ram, and neither does the Mac. ECC is mostly used in server applications, not workstation applications, so why bring that up?
In my main observation, however I join that same poster in noting that the Dell system in question comes with a *considerably* better video card than the Mac… depending on what you intend to do with the system.
The Mac’s ATI Radeon 9600 XT is a nice card, sure, but it is a consumer and gamer-oriented card, as opposed to a real workstation-class card, represented on the Dell by nVidia’s Quadro line of video cards. Just because they both have 128mb of video ram doesn’t mean they are equivalent.
The Dell is missing some Firewire ports, as you noticed, and it is also missing gigabit ethernet, which you did not mention. Of course, adding both to the Dell would cost under $100.”
Mac user “levangel” responded with just as much fervor, vocabulary, and passion to “compudude’s” thoughtful considerations:
“I know, Compudude, that you are correct, and that PCs are sometimes better than Macs at running certain cross-platform programs. I wasn’t trying to suggest otherwise, for you clearly know your stuff. (In fact, the Scientific American article came to that same conclusion).
I have no experience with Maya, but have heard from others that it runs better on a PC. (As an aside, I’m curious as to why that is… Might you venture an opinion? I am genuinely intertested, and you seem well versed in the subject). And frankly, I’d love to see a full range of professional cards like the nVidia Quadro available for professional Mac users. I hope that day isn’t too far off.
The main point that I was making still stands. The latest PowerMacs are very competitive when it comes to high-end, high performance computing. Especially when you compare a G5 to a Xeon running at a similar clock speed. But no, the G5 won’t be faster in every instance. And for some programs, buying a Xeon would be the better investment. (And yes, I know that AMDs Opteron processors sizzle, and that’s where I’d put my money if I had to buy a PC).
But as more and more programs are ported to OS X, the list of programs that work better on a PC is growing shorter everyday. Whole industries are discovering the G5 and OS X, and saving money by doing so.
I’ve read more than one article suggesting that the G5 is so much faster than a Xeon at so many tasks that a PowerMac more than compensates for video card handicap.
But man… Wouldn’t it be cool to see what a PowerMac can do with a serious graphics card from nVidia or ATi? I’m hoping that isn’t a pipe dream, and that SJ has some surprises up his sleeve at MacExpo in January. I appreciate your thoughtful, well-reasoned opinions. Thanks for posting.”
So, Apple scores well at the low end of the high end. Not bad, and a surprise to many Mac users, too. Is that all? Is there anything else left to compare (besides the mid-range iMac category and we’ll do that another day)? Yes.
Shipping costs. Since we’re not comparing Total Cost of Operation/Ownership, or benchmarking applications, is there anything else? Mac user “ckahri” says it’s all in the shipping.
“Doesn’t anyone ever look at SHIPPING COSTS? Dell routinely charges $90 shipping—for a $20 shipping transaction. Now SOMETIMES they offer free shipping.”
“But today, to get free shipping you have to buy certain things—and if you order something else over here, oops, that doesn’t have free shipping. I think $90 is nuts—and please note that the last I checked, Dell’s profits were about $40 per computer—-in other words, they make their money on their shipping charges.”
“If Dell offered free shipping they would have lost money in 2002. Apple shipping is always free.”
Whoa. Is that cool, or what? Dell makes their profits from shipping charges. Could Apple be more profitable if they charged extra for shipping?