The Apple Mac Cost Misconception

We Build a PC to Match a Baseline Mac Pro

Laptops aside, things could be different for desktop machines. We set to find out by customizing an exact system in as many aspects as possible to a baseline Apple Mac Pro, which costs a hefty $2799. We tried to cut costs in our PC wherever we could without sacrificing quality, and also tried to pick components that would closely match Apple’s offering.

Here’s what we came up with on Newegg:

The Mac Clone
Custom built PC to orderMatched to baseline Mac Pro
Supermicro MBD-X7DWE-O Dual LGA 771$429.99
Intel Xeon X3360 Yorkfield 2.83GHz x 2$1109.98
Kingston HyperX 2 GB ECC FB-DIMM $134.99
Seagate Barracuda 320 GB SATA 3.0$79.99
Sapphire Radeon HD 2600XT 256 MB$34.99
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE 7.1$27.99
Cirago BTA Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR USB$9.99
SYBA 1394a FireWire400 Controller$12.99
SYBA 1394b FireWire800 Controller$29.95 on
Lite-On DL-DVD Burner$23.99
Lian-Li PC-A71A Aluminum Full Tower$229.99
Thermaltake Toughpower W0155RU$319.99
Keytronic E06101USBC Keyboard$38.99
Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical OEM$11.99
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate$277.49
Total price$2773.33
Price difference$5.67

The above is essentially a baseline Mac Pro replicated using the cheapest minimum required components to build. The difference? A negligible $5.67. Those who claim that they can build "the same" PC for half the price are at this point baseless.

Also note that the Mac Pro will ship with iLife ’08. Personally, I don’t use it. So I don’t need it. However, I know many people that do use it to create websites and manage their pictures. Windows Vista kinda comes with tools to manage photos, and such, but there’s no integration with online services.

There are obviously (or not) several reasons why Mac hardware is more expensive than the PC equivalent. First off, they’re all meticulously designed. Apple’s entire line-up all have the same look and feel, and everything feels coherent. There’s a theme to everything. Of course, this isn’t for everyone. Not everyone likes the Apple look and feel, and not everyone really cares about it either. The point is, there are people out there who just get very upset when talking about the other platform. Relax! No one’s forcing anyone to buy something they don’t want to buy anyway. This goes for both PC and Mac users alike.

The problem with the Mac Pro in particular is that it’s base hardware configuration is imbalanced. Massive processing power, but limp graphics and hard drive offerings. Apple needs to launch a Mac tower, with components in line with the iMac, which would prove to be more sensible and popular as well as more affordable. Interested buyers would then have an option of an expandable machine that’s not priced at Mac Pro levels.

Apple’s much smaller than say a Dell or a HP, and some of the pricing is reflected in this fact as well — although not much. Apple’s high prices are a matter of being "premium." Apple really isn’t out there to only sell a bunch of computers. It is out there to market a certain computing life-style. Where all your media devices and things you may do with a computer are tied together in an easy to use and manage methodology. The company definitely wants to distinguish itself from say Dell or HP or your brick and mortar PC builder.

This is the same for Voodoo PC. Why go through the order with an expensive Voodoo or Alienware computer when you can build one for way less? Because of the cool-factor. Don’t get me started on how many people actually own these systems. The answer is a lot. Otherwise, those two firms and others like them wouldn’t be so popular.