Linked by Universal Mind on Fri 6th Aug 2010 16:16 UTC
Apple The "Macs are too expensive" argument is one of the most tiresome and long-lived flamewars in internet history. Obviously, Apple makes a premium product and charges premium prices, and you can always find a computer from another vendor that seems to match or exceed specs that costs less. But if you look at Apple's Mac Pro line, and compare it not so much to other vendors, but to the past lineup of Mac Pros, you discover some very unpleasant truths that help explain why Apple is enjoying record earnings for their Mac line, but doing so to the detriment of some its most loyal and valuable customers.
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You are making the classic mistake.

The way to do the comparison is NOT to take a Mac configuration and then try to duplicate it. You will generally end up spending more, but this does not prove that the Mac is better value or not more expensive. It only is if that is what you started out needing.

So how should you do it?

Figure out what you need. The Hackintosh poster above did this, and figured he needed a quad core Pro. "I'd buy a 4-core Mac Pro for $1500 in a hearbeat - but it doesn't exist".

Then he looked to see what the nearest thing to this was in the Apple lineup, and he found it was a couple thousand more expensive and more computer than he needed.

The Apple tax comes from two levies. One levy is paying more than you need to for a given configuration. This happens in a grand way with the Mini. It also happens at different points in the cycle with all the models, though at some points more than others. The other levy comes from having to buy a different, often way over specified, and completely unbalanced, configuration from what you need. This happens with the Pro line, where you end up with this bizarre combination of rarified processors, middle to low range commodity graphics, and commodity memory and disks. All in very expensive custom cases for goodness' sake.

This is how Apple maintains margins, and its why for any money conscious buyer, Apple is almost always a bad choice. And that means any institution that has better things to do with the money, and any individual who is making sacrifices to buy their machine.

I always get asked, should we be thinking about a Macintosh. And when I explain the tradeoffs, the conclusion is always, no we should not.

However, despite the spin coming out of Cupertino, the way to do this comparison is, start with what you need, then look for what is available from the usual suppliers, then compare this with what Apple offers. Do not start with some arbitrary Mac configuration which is probably not what you need in the first place, and then prove that it is equally expensive to duplicate it. That proves nothing.

Edited 2010-08-07 10:38 UTC

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