Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 25th Oct 2009 12:51 UTC
Editorial A couple of years ago, a professor at my university had a very interesting thought exchange with the class I was in. We were a small group, and I knew most of them, they were my friends. Anyway, we had a talk about language purism - not an unimportant subject if you study English in The Netherlands.
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RE[3]: Comment by wirespot
by looncraz on Tue 27th Oct 2009 06:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by wirespot"
Member since:

The $800 figure was just to make a point, I'll be precise, now, for your enjoyment:

Specs are equal to or greater than Apple's basic configuration as part availability permits. No used parts. From eBay, unless noted.

I had to make a few upgrades to the Apple in order to do a proper comparison as I had a problem finding the slow quad xeons at a good price, 1TB hard drives are abundant, and 4GB DDR3 ECC is the current value king in server memory. I also had some issues drumming up the exact details of the MacPro mainboard, so I guessed based upon Intel's lineup.

I'm sure this could be done cheaper/better.


Prices are rounded or approximated based upon listing, and I chose only parts that would be easier to obtain at a given price-point. Or, in statistical parlance, I removed the outliers in order to test the null.


2x Xeon 2.66GHz___(three listed)________650.00
Dual Socket MBRD__(hard to find)________375.00(retail)
8GB DDR3, ECC________(lots)______________95.00
1TB HDD, SATA 3gb/s 16M, 7.2k____________72.00___ZZF
ATI HD 4870 1GB_________________________148.00___ZZF
22X DVD +/- R/W DL+, etc...______________29.00___ZZF
Wireless MSE + KBRD______________________40.00___ZZF

The case is too varying to really classify, I'll allow a nice $500 budget for it considering how nice the MacPro cases are in reality...

Fancy Case_____________________________500.00

Total: $1909.00

We can call it $2000
hell, let us just call it $3000, just for kicks... and to make up for price changes and the little things that are missing ( sound, speakers, but NOT A MONITOR ).

Apple's Comparable Configuration

2x Xeon 2.66GHz
8GB DDR3 1066MHz ECC
1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB
16X "SuperDrive"
Apple Wireless Keyboard
Wired Mouse ( +$20 for "magic" - which does look neat )

No other options selected.


I kid you not. Without a monitor.

I have spent about an hour, now, on this post, being careful to pick comparable, new, parts. The Xeon prices are of a bundle deal which includes both quad core CPUs. The motherboard's price was based upon new intel server boards, like those used in the MacPro, and the price is that of one of the few retail listing I found.

The worst of it all is that a used MacPro of those specs will sell for less than $1500 with warranty remaining. That is some terrible devaluation!!

But, for that "$3000" on the home-brew "$5000 MacPro-equal," you get a bit more to show for it, at worst. You get a 22x vs 16x "SuperDrive," and double the video memory.

The reality is you could easily pack in water cooling, a nice screen, awesome speakers, and a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, a copy of RebelEFI, and lease a copy of MacOS X for the extra money I threw in, at this writing.

Then, the extra money could be used to buy a nice Palm Pre and a new engine for your car. Or, you could give it to Apple so you can call them up once or twice in your lifetime, just because their tech support is SO awesome!

The choice is yours, but -if you buy a Mac for its value- I don't understand it. At least not from a logical standpoint.

If you tell me you simply love the machines, and you are really just buying into the image - I can understand that. You like the culture, the community, the elitism. You like the looks, whatever!

I am on my twelfth Volvo now, for pretty much just those reasons! But I don't delude myself to think I am getting the best value. I am getting a good value simply because I enjoy the feel of the car. I like the quirks, like having "confusing" door handles, round turn wheels to change the backrest angle, five cylinders, headlight washers, etc...

You tell me you like a Mac because of its character, I will be at a loss of how to combat that logic. It can't be beaten. Because it is true. And it is emotional. Logically, however, I should own a car that is easier & cheaper to repair with better gas mileage - I drive 2-3,500 miles/month @ 26-28MPG, a Toyota Corolla would give me 36mpg and would be cheaper all around... even if it needed to be replaced more often. And, logically, you should put your money where you get the most return.

Emotionally, you can get whatever you want, but you can't call it the best value. Not now, not ever.

--The loon

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by wirespot
by zlynx on Tue 27th Oct 2009 16:23 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by wirespot"
zlynx Member since:

Kudos for doing the numbers. You cheated just a little bit.

Apple charges a high upgrade price on the CPUs. By bumping from 2.26 to 2.6 GHz you add $1400 to the system.

With everything the same but keeping the slower CPUs I get $3,639 for the Mac Pro.

I also don't think you found the Nehalem Xeons for that price at ZipZoomFly. I see 2.26 E5520 for $382 each.

And no operating system yet, but lets say you get a OEM copy of Win7 for $100.

There is also warranty, service, assembly, burn-in testing, etc.

Probably up to around $3,000 like you said.

So it's $3,000'ish vs. $3,639.

And that's where people get the idea that the real cost of OS X is about $500.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by wirespot
by boldingd on Tue 27th Oct 2009 20:38 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by wirespot"
boldingd Member since:

Even assuming you're right, I still wouldn't pay $500 for OS X. I'll have to install Windows for gaming, practically speaking (unless steam launches on OS X tomorrow), and that's where I'll spend a lot of my time. So, I'll be hopping into whatever the other OS is only for work tasks. Hint: if I'm gonna pick a just-for-productive-work OS, it's not going to be OS X for $500.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by wirespot
by looncraz on Wed 28th Oct 2009 16:11 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by wirespot"
looncraz Member since:

I found the Xeons on eBay :-)

I should have watched the item, maybe I'll look for them later.

I did the upgrade because I couldn't find an affordable matching pair of CPUs, I went with the best value for the build rather than base-line comparison.

I did this because that is what a person would do when building a system - look for the best bang for the buck. Apple's $1400 upgrade cost is truly mind-boggling.

Likewise, the RAM was cheap because I used 2x4GB sticks, rather than Apple's bulk-bought 4x2GB. 4GB modules were the value king, 2 GB would cost more per GB.

The video was a no-brainer. What a steal! Especially considering Apple charges $200 for it after removing the base card.

Sure, the base-line system from Apple would have cost considerably less, but to build it on your own is not the wisest way to go. In the real world, you look for the best bang per buck, so I did exactly that, upgrading the Mac only if I needed to do so to match the best general-market values.

Of course, if one has the smarts to go this far, one would be expected to be capable of providing one's own support. All the hardware I selected is under factory warranty as well.

I think a comparable chassis is the most difficult part of the game. Apple has been making incredibly lovely machines for years.

Of course, if you really want a good deal, you would just buy a slightly used MacPro for half of the general market expense.

That is just crazy.

--The loon

EDIT: dyslexia rules!

Edited 2009-10-28 16:17 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2