Who among us would not like to have a mini-tower Mac for $399? What’s not to like?
Speed, expandability, loud fan, can all be yours for $200 less than a less equipped Mac mini. Mac clones dominate the headlines again. But not for long.
I read with great interest James Galbraith’s ‘How Psystar’s computer measure up to a Mac’ for Macworld. I noticed he didn’t call Psystar’s clone a Mac.
Macworld did what most of us would like to do. They built their own Mac clone, called ‘FrankenMac’ and it ended up costing almost $1,000.
They also bought the Psystar Mac clone, called Open Computer, for $715. What happened to $399. Feature creep. Adding more stuff to a computer makes it cost more money.
Then, they compared the nearly $1,000 FrankenMac running Mac OS X Leopard to the Psystar Open Computer Mac clone for $715, then benchmarked both of them to a Mac mini and the low end iMac, $599 and $1,199, respectively.
Everybody loves a shootout, especially the undertaker.
In the end, the shootout was between two of the lowest end Macs, true Macs, that you can buy from Apple, and two somewhat more expensive Mac clones, Psystar’s Open Computer, and Macworld’s FrankenMac.
These kinds of benchmarking shootouts leave multiple winners and losers and Macworld’s Mac vs. Clone smackdown was no different.
The fastest of the four machines was the FrankenMac, due in no small measure to the quad core Core 2 Duo Intel Inside. Of course, that Mac clone cost nearly $1,000.
The slowest of the four machines was Apple’s entry level Mac mini, though not by much, losing third place to the Psystar Mac clone. Faster CPU, more RAM, faster graphics card. Oh, and more money.
In between the clones was Apple’s entry-level iMac, the 20-inch variety, circa April 2008. In other words, you can spend more money, create a clone of a Mac, run OS X Leopard on it, knowing that future upgrades will be iffy and not all Mac features will work, and you’ll save a few hundred dollars.
Excuse the phrasing, but Mac clone headlines notwithstanding, these clones do not a major trend in the making make.
Why bother? There’s nothing to see here. Move along.
With the exception of the quad core FrankenMac, the differences in benchmarking tests were nominal. Seconds. A few seconds. Not many seconds, between zipping files, encoding a song in iTunes, running some Photoshop effects, and so on.
Again, why bother? Most of us won’t. Making a clone is a nice Saturday afternoon project, but is unlikely to make many Mac customers happy should they get their hands on one, unlikely to save anyone much money, if at all, and unlikely to become a trend.
That said, would the world be a better place if Dell were to ship their PCs with an authorized version of OS X Leopard running on it?
There’s too many Dells in the world already.
Another question, not answered, though danced around, is, if it runs OS X Leopard is it still OK to call it a Mac? Psystar calls their clone ‘Open Computer’. Macworld called their’s Frankenmac, not FrankenMac. In other words, if it’s not from Apple it’s not a Mac.
At $599, the Mac mini is a full fledged Mac with decent performance specs, especially when compared to the PowerPC Mac mini variety, and even when compared to early PowerPC G5 models. It’s not the fastest Mac, but it’s no slouch.
As much as we would love to have a Mac mini tower for $599, until Apple loses sanity and goes back to re-licensing the Mac OS, it won’t happen. Clones and FrankenMacs are fun to talk about, maybe fun to tinker with, but won’t go mainstream.