The Apple Mac Cost Misconception

The Advantage: Running Mac OS X and Windows Vista

Exaggerated pricing myths on Apple systems aside, Apple’s biggest selling tool is Mac OS X and the fact that you can now run Windows XP or Vista on the same machine native. With BootCamp, you can get the best of both words in a general sense. Let’s make it clear though that if you’re a serious gamer who plays games like Crysis, you would still be held back because of the lack of high-end 3D graphics support. The latest for the Mac is a Radeon HD 3780 — good but not the best available.

For most other games and everything else, it really works nicely. Windows drivers for the Mac are fully provided by Apple to enable all hardware on the Mac to work in Windows. So you get a full Mac and a full Windows system. You get the best of Mac OS X and the best of Windows on one machine.

At this point, some people will say something like "well the only reason why BootCamp is provided to install and run Windows is because Windows is better." This is not the point. If you already have a PC and enjoy it and find it does everything you need, stick to it. If you’re in the market for a new system to replace a main desktop, this is the article for you. If someone is insistent on one thing, there’s no reason to continue reading. If they’re open to new ideas and new ways of doing something, then read on.

The operating system continually refines itself and Apple markets this OS as the ultimate desktop experience. Lest there be any confusion, Apple also sells OS X Server although the market for OS X server is admittedly very tiny. Who needs pretty graphics in a serious server environment anyway? Most of the time, there no head attached to a server — things are administered through a remote terminal.

Mac OS X is also based on a very robust UNIX foundation, which lends itself to being quite secure and powerful. However, given that the market share for Macs is much smaller than Windows, its prevalence to attack ratio is also lower. There are simply a greater number of Windows machines to be exploited. If the market shares were reversed, we would see Mac OS X exploited at a far greater level. However, keep in mind that the majority of Internet websites run on a *nix back end, it demonstrates that at the core, there are fewer holes to begin with. At the end of the day, anything that’s used more will no doubt reveal more security holes.

An entire in-depth review of Mac OS X Leopard is beyond the scope of this article, and would require adding more than 10 pages, so we’ll leave that for the future. In fact, Apple is preparing the next major release of OS X, called Snow Leopard and we’ll definitely look at that release when it ships. For now, I highly recommend John Siracusa at ArsTechnica’s review of Leopard for a really good understanding of why OS X is so powerful and why it’s very good at scaling into the future.

Expect to see things like the new powerful ZFS file system be introduced, which will allow for such features as byte-level delta backups.

The lack of a registry makes everything a bit more agile. Applications store their own settings in .plist files or within themselves, making for installs and uninstalls a snap — just drag the application over or delete it. Rarely do you have to worry about lingering or overlapping system files.

In a nutshell however, OS X delivers what many Windows users have to install several utilities for — and the majority of the good ones come with a small fee. Let’s take a look at some of these features.

  • The OS is proprietary since the EULA states you cannot use it on non-Apple hardware. Not because it doesn't have market share. Because it does.

    My gripe with apple's pricing is that there are no real budget oriented options. The cheapest macbook is 1000$+. The cheapest laptop I can find with Vista is 600 or less at Costco/Sams Club.

    Everyone says that OS X is faster and yada yada yada. I know people are going to shoot me for this, but I find all of the fancy desktop effects to be VERY laggy except on laptops with a dedicated video card. The Laptops especially slow to a crawl unless they have >2gb of ram. Like Vista. I work on these every day and if I ever bought one, it'd be for the looks- the OS is nothing special IMO. I'd install Vista on it.
  • rodney_ws
    Cherry picking over-priced PCs does little to prove your point. I realize that when you're going the Apple route you don't have many options, but those of us on the PC side have TONS of options... and even the most basic among us would be able to purchase higher performing, lower cost PCs than the ones you selected to go up against the Apples.

    For $1549 I purchase an HP laptop w/ 4 GB of RAM, 20.1 inch screen, Blu-Ray, 5 speakers, and an Nvidia 8800 GTS. My system absolutely crushes that $2000 MacBook Pro in every category... and still cost $450 less.

    Don't get me wrong... I "get" Apple. They look awesome, are well built, have an awesome retail presence, and they are right for some people... just not for me.
  • compy386
    If you're stupid enough to pay retail for a Dell, then Apple just might be the computer for you.
  • ouch1
    Funny how you are comparing base model MAC's to bleeding edge PC's. That my dear journalist is not comparing apples to apples. It is comparing apples to apple pie. Big difference. That just goes to prove for that same cost as a very high end PC you can get a base model MAC with a very proprietary OS (i.e. can't install it on anything but a mac with invoking the Jobs cops, check the EULA). Please if you make the mistake of buy an Airbook have fun changing the battery (you can't) or watching a DVD while on the road (again you can't no built in DVD drive).
  • hixbot
    Wow, you took a PC desktop with identical hardware and proved that it would cost the same as the baseline Mac Pro.
    What's the point? You can build a PC with hardware that isn't identical but PERFORMS better for CHEAPER. Picking the same overpriced PC components doesnt prove anything.
  • customisbetter
    i read the first page and stopped. Apples are designed to look good and be reliable. I get that and many other people do as well. They really aren't designed to be performers for cheap. The PC will ALWAYS win in the price category (and usually performance as well) because you pay for the reliability and style of Apple. Please stop comparing the two.
    Just to humour you though. The ENVY has a Carbon Fiber Chassis. BAM! There's 300 right there.
    BTW i am both a PC and Mac Owner.
  • angry_ducky
    I don't think that comparing the MacBook Pro and the XPS M1730 is a good comparison; the XPS is a desktop-replacement gaming machine, and is therefore bigger and heavier than the Mac. Also, the 8700M GT will outperform the 8600GT, and I am unable to find where it specifies that the 8700 has shared graphics memory.

    Dell sells the XPS M1530 which is a 15.4 inch laptop designed more for multimedia than for gaming (similar to the Mac). The M1530 starts at $1000, and with identical specs to the MacBook Pro (and Vista Ultimate), the price is $1650.
  • jwl3
    The main point is that with PC's you have hundreds of different vendors I can buy a computer from. Due to competition the price is always lower. The author is being disingenuous by picking for comparison laptops at non-discounted prices. Dell ALWAYS has deals with $400-$500 off. Apple NEVER discounts their products.

    I bought an Acer laptop from 2 weeks ago for $399. It came with a Dual core pentium, 120GB HD, and 1GB ram. What can you get for $399 at the Apple store - a tricked out ipod?

    Oh and another thing - if you play games at all, you can forget the Apple. Games just aren't made for it and the ones that are come out 1 year after the PC release.
  • jwl3
    Additional thought:

    The author's main point is that Macs are similarly priced to PC's. Then halfway through the article, he states that MAC prices are at a premium because it's from a top-shelf manufacturer and it is sold to cater to a "lifestyle. "

    Which one is it you duplicitous fool? Are you actually acknowledging that Macs are severely overpriced vs. PC's?
  • wow they messed up big time with this article. comparing thickness and weight of a 17" laptop vs a 15" macbook pro. sounds fair to me. also lets go ahead and say that the 8600m GT is faster than the 8700m GT. who wrote this, honestly? anyone who knows even a small amount about graphics cards should know that an 8700m GT does not use shared graphics memory. The 200GB drive in the dell is also most likely a 7200rpm vs the 5400rpm in the macbook pro. 802.11n wifi is a $20 upgrade on the dell, had to not include that to make the mac look better. Also that dell is designed for SLI graphics cards upto two 8800m GTX with 1GB of memory, lets see the 6lb macbook pro do that. Different machines designed for different purposes. Pick a better comparison tom, seriously!