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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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

LobalSurgery Member since:
2006-09-07

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.


Well, that's not entirely correct. I could have bought something from Dell, HP, etc. but I wanted complete control over hardware components for the sake of better compatibility. I probably could have made these work with additional effort, but the cost difference was small (see below) so I didn't go that route.

Just now, I priced an HP Elite HPE-380t at $1100 that has a Core i7 processor, 9 GB of RAM (at 1066 MHz however) and an ATI 5450 graphics card. It's a little slower and a little pricier than my build, but it's already put together. If Apple had something like this, I'd have bought it. As I said before, I would have paid a reasonable premium over this amount to get the Mac Pro case, standard wireless, official support etc. Other OEM's make a < $2500 Core i7 tower (and not by an insignificant margin), but Apple does not.

I like Apple hardware (and obviously OS X) but right now the Mac Pro line does not make much sense for me.

Reply Parent Score: 1

alcibiades Member since:
2005-10-12

My interest is not that there is a Mac product I want, so I look around and try to get it cheaper, and may or may not.

My interest is, I (or a client) have a need, and this need can be met with a given hardware configuration available from a variety of sources in the market. I look and see, does Apple have anything competitive.

90%+ of the time, the answer is no. You want to match it, you have to buy more than you need, or get less than you need. The result of this is what interests me and my clients: buying Apple results in spending more money and getting nothing for it, or else it results in spending the same amount of money, and geting less than you need. In short, 90%+ of the time, its just stupid.

The classic case this occurs with is the Mini. What you get with the Mini is mediocre performance at an inflated price, but with something quite exceptional in addition: its a machine you can carry around in your coat pocket.

Try and duplicate that functionality at a cheaper price, in general, you cannot. Well, with Intel mini ITX boards for i3 and Core2, maybe you are becoming able to now. Until recently it was impossible.

But do you really, really need to carry it around in your coat pocket? When that feature costs you a few hundred dollars? 90%+ of the time you don't. Or you want more performance. So buying Apple will, as usual, lead you to less performance or more cost. In short, most of the time, its stupid and a waste of money.

Reply Parent Score: 2