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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jackeebleu
Member since:
2006-01-26

So I went to Apple's site, clicked all over the place trying to find this new expensive MacPro. Then it was, the great White Whale,

"Quad Core starting at $2499"
"8-core starting at $3499"
"12-core starting at $4999"

The machines are not yet available to be configured or priced. In fact on the macro main page it states, "Coming August".

So being a fan of being fair and balanced. I searched high and lo for machines that used the new Intel Xeon 5620 "Westmere" processor. Not HP, not Dell, but was able to track down a Lenovo ThinkStation. Tried my damnedest to match it specs to those listed on (http://www.apple.com/macpro/specs.html), but I found this:

(Here's pic proof, http://tinyurl.com/3yegnrm)
ThinkStation D20 Windows with SAS Hard Drive
System components
*Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64
*Tower 7x9 Mechanical with Intel 5520 Motherboard
*8GB ECC DDR3 PC3-8500 SDRAM (1GBx8 UDIMMS)
*ATI Fire Pro V7750 (1GB, DP+DP+DVI)
*Integrated Audio
*Internal RAID - Not Enabled
*300GB SAS 3.5" Hard Drive - 15000 rpm
*Lenovo 16x DVD +/- RW Dual Layer (Windows 7)
*Dual Integrated Broadcom Ethernet 10/100/1000
*IEEE 1394 Adapter
*Lenovo Preferred Pro USB Full Size Keyboard - US English
*Lenovo Optical Wheel Mouse - USB Primax 400 DPI
*Line Cord - US - U, F, D, S, T, L, A Models

Cost $5008 - $285= $4723

Per Apple's page:

*Two 2.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5620 “Westmere” processors
*ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, PCI Express 2.0, two Mini DisplayPort outputs, and one dual-link DVI port
*Four FireWire 800 ports (two on front panel, two on back panel), Five USB 2.0 ports (two on front panel, three on back panel), Two USB 2.0 ports on included keyboard
Front-panel headphone minijack and internal speaker, Optical digital audio input and output TOSLINK ports, Analog stereo line-level input and output minijacks, Multichannel audio through Mini DisplayPort
*1TB or 2TB hard drives, Serial ATA 3Gb/s, 7200 rpm, 32MB cache, 512GB solid-state drive, Serial ATA 3Gb/s
* 18x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
*Keyboard/Mouse included

And again, looking like it's gonna start around $3500, we don't know because Apple hasn't posted the config for the new machines yet. On that approximation alone, the author is basically FOS.

Reply Score: 1

telns Member since:
2009-06-18

You've got some important differences there. Those video cards are both ATI and both 1GB, but the VPro is fully $500 more expensive. A 300GB 15K SAS runs about $200 more than a 1TB SATA, etc.

Reply Parent Score: 1

redm Member since:
2005-07-06

You've got some important differences there. Those video cards are both ATI and both 1GB, but the VPro is fully $500 more expensive. A 300GB 15K SAS runs about $200 more than a 1TB SATA, etc.


Some prices for the major components.

via Newegg
$390/ea Intel E5620
$160 ATI Radeon HD 5770
$70 1TB HD
$20 DVD burner

Obviously there are more parts to price, but $4-5k? No.

Edited 2010-08-06 22:37 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

alcibiades Member since:
2005-10-12

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

Reply Parent Score: 3

jackeebleu Member since:
2006-01-26

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


Wait a minute. Isn't that how you do comparisons? Wasn't the basis of the article and most peoples complaints that Apple is more expensive that its competitors, is bilking its customers, and delivers less real value?

I've taking the standard machine config, and compared it to another machine config from another manufacturer on EQUAL footing. Since people base the fact that Apple is using industry standard parts across its product lines, they should be just as cheap as equal PC's. This is called an Apples to Apples comparison (no pun intended).

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."


So the basis of the argument should be changed then. It's not a matter that Apple is more expensive, as I've proven is not the case, it's that the OP had a requirement that no Apple product, let alone, other manufacturers met, hence, so he built his own. Thats not Apple's fault, again, that's on fallacy on the OP's part. If HP or Dell made a compelling product with those specs at the lower price point would the OP have bought it? Or remained content in building his own using discount parts? Thats like me going to Burger King, saying "I want a Western Whopper (flame grilled quarter-pound beef patty, sesame seed bun, mayonnaise, lettuce, mustard, tomato, pickles, ketchup, sliced onion, BBQ sauce, Cheddar cheese, & bacon), but I want it on Ciabatta bread, with no bacon, and I'm lactose intolerant, so make my cheese soy based, and oh yeah, I only have $1.20 to spend on this, now, please hurry, I've got a very important meeting and I cant be late." It's not Burger King was too expensive or doesn't offer options people like me enjoy, its that my expectations aren't inline with Burger Kings offerings. So Burger King should be relieved of any blame.

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.


Again, this is a case of wanting something, but not really wanting it. Its called a value proposition. Apple wants to give you the whole kit and caboodle, but you want it on your terms. Like having Cindy Crawford as your mate in her prime, but being mad because she has put on makeup and do her hair so that she "looks" like Cindy Crawford.

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
You mean processors that perform? Like the ones that Intel recommends for use in servers that aren't normally in desktops or gaming rigs but Apple found a way to put them in a desktop form factor anyway? I wonder if thats why they call it MacPro rather than Mac Hobbyist? Hmmmm.

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.


You should have stopped at the first sentence.

Reply Parent Score: 2