Why are Macs so expensive?

By bradthegreat · 19 replies
Feb 7, 2008
  1. Okay, so here's the deal. I decided to do a little investigating the other day, using Dells and Apples. I chose Dell because that is what we use at work and I wanted to research as if I was the average user, not the avid system builder that I am...

    so, I go to Dell, ring myself up a brand new Dell XPS M1530 system, 4GB mem, 2.2Ghz Core 2, 160GB HD, 256Mb vid card, 15.4" screen, Vista Home Premium. Price: $1,868.00.

    I go over to Apple and assemble the Macbook (not eve the Pro!) with 4GB mem, 2.2Ghz Core 2, 160GB HD, won't tell me the video card, 13" screen, OSX. Price: $2,349.00.

    By my calculations, the Macbook will cost me $481 more...for the exact same hardware, if worse b/c of the video being inferior. What the deal with that? Everyone is whining because Vista costs soooooo much...why? Basically, people are paying almost $500 more for the Mac OS, right? Is there something I am missing here? Are the XPS and the MacBook not comparable; does the MacBook last longer than the XPS? Why is there such a hate for Vista price and not the same for OSX? I am not a hater, I am just trying to understand justifying $500 more if both systems are comparable. Any comments would be appreciated.

    oh, here are the links I used:

  2. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Yes, you are missing something completely obvious.

    You just 'spent' $850 on 4GB of RAM from Apple when you could get the same stuff from newegg for 10% of that.

    Now you order that same Macbook and its $1,374.00, add on $90 for 4 GB of Crucial RAM (known to work well in Apple notebooks) and suddenly you are at $1464.00 which is a lot cheaper than the Dell. Although you are right, the graphics card on the Dell is better. Doubt its $400 better though.

    Its $1999.00 for the Macbook Pro with 2GB of RAM and a 120GB hd. The MBP is slightly more expensive with half the RAM (as shown above though its cheap) and 40 gigs less HD.

    So to summarize you can get the Macbook quite a bit cheaper but with a smaller video card (and smaller screen). The Pro is slightly more expensive, but it is the "Professional" line from Apple. With the Apples you also have the ability to run Windows, to many its worth the slight increase in price to be able to run OS X and Windows without having to buy 2 machines.
  3. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    Ok I did a comparison and this is what I found. Bold shows favored difference.

    Dell XPS M1530 $1629

    -Tuxedo Black
    -Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor T7500 (2.2GHz/800Mhz FSB, 4MB Cache)
    -Genuine Windows Vista® Ultimate Edition
    -High Resolution, glossy widescreen 15.4 inch LCD(1440x900, CCFL, 220 nits)
    -2GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz (2 Dimms)
    -Size: 120GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
    -Slot Load DVD+/-RW (DVD/CD read/write)
    -256MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT
    -Intel Next-Gen Wireless-N Mini-card
    -Dell Wireless 355 Bluetooth Internal (2.0+Enhanced Data Rate)
    -56 WHr 9-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery
    -High Definition Audio 2.0
    -Thickness: 0.93" - 1.38"
    -Weight: Starting at 5.78 lbs

    Macbook Pro $1999

    -Silver Aluminum
    -Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor T7500 (2.2GHz/800Mhz FSB, 4MB Cache)
    -Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
    -High Resolution, matte widescreen 15.4 inch LCD(1440x900) LED Backlight
    -2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz (2 Dimms)
    -8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    -NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 128MB of GDDR3 SDRAM and dual-link DVI
    -Built-in AirPort Extreme (802.11n)
    -Built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
    -60-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery (with integrated charge indicator LEDs)
    -Combined optical digital input/audio line in, combined optical digital output/headphone out, stereo speakers, microphone
    -Thickness: 1"
    -Weight: 5.4 pounds

    Points to Ponder
    -The difference is $370
    -The macbook pro has an LED backlit screen which dell charges $150 more for on the 1330 model (the macbook pro screen is 15" though, so it'd cost more than a 13.3" LED screen).
    -Dell sometimes offers further discounts via coupon codes.
    -The macbook pro is an even 1" thick, where the dell is ~1.4" thick at the back.
    -The xps 1530 has double the video ram.
    -No option of XP on xps 1530.
    -Macbook pro has optical in/out audio jacks.
    -Xps 1530 has more usb ports and hdmi


    The macbook pro costs a little more, even if you factor in the LED screen. However, some of its characteristics are hard to value monetarily, like the "value" of being 1" thick, the "value" of os x 10.5, the "value" of the magsafe magnetic power adapter, the "value" of the backlit keyboard, the "value" of not having tons of "crapware" preinstalled, the "value" of not having to deal with viruses and/or malware, the "value" of apple support, and the value of the included "iLife" apps.

    So basically, it's kind of like comparing apples and oranges ;)
  4. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,272   +456

    I have a MacBook Pro and had an XPS Gen2. I love(d) them both but the next time I'm going to spend my own money on a laptop it will be an XPS. I actually prefer the glossy screens with higher resolution capabilities of the XPS (my 17" MBP can only do 1680 - though they may have changed this on the newest of MBPs) and the sound of the built in speakers for the MBP is just pathetic compared to the XPS. Also, the best video you can get from a Mac laptop is an X1600 or 8600M which is only acceptable for light gaming at most. By the way, good luck getting the optical part of your audio out to work in Windows - I haven't gotten it to function yet, but it works fine in Leopard. Analog out works fine on both OSes but who wants that?
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,123   +982

    I have a good friend with a 24" iMac running Parallel's Desktop (a virtual system) with XP/Pro.

    Absolutely all hardware features are operational on either OS or both at the same time.

    The goofy part is the printing from XP/Pro is 'round about via IP remote printing back
    to OS X printer. the best one can say is it works

    historically, Macs have been slightly more expensive, but frequently the comparisons
    are apples to oranges as the network, sound, video were not included in the PC.
    {yes I saw that this thread included those options}

    also historically, with fewer OEM components, getting drivers was trivial and stability has been excellent (ie no BSODs)

    {just my $0.02 :) }
  6. bradthegreat

    bradthegreat TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 104

    yeah, I think Macs have always been more expensive, but they are getting more affordable. I think that and the bad PR that Vista is getting, whether deserved or not, are causing more people to migrate. At least at my college, the hip thing to do is get a Mac.

    yeah, so you could run Paralells, but doesn't that cost $$?? Also, you have to buy an XP license...

    I dunno, the debate could go on and on, but I think Apple is definitely gaining in the laptop market, and if they ever are the same price as PCs, Microsoft will have its work cut out for it regaining the user trust.
  7. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

  8. jd300

    jd300 TS Rookie

    true they are pricy , i like thier preformance, so i guess to me that justify the price
  9. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Yes. What you are missing is the 'experience'. Apple has a very small, closed ecosystem and because of that, they can offer you a better top-to-bottom experience.

    I've used these examples before - but for example - you can hold down the T key on boot up and turn your Macbook into a firewire disk which can be plugged into another system and read like an external drive. Now, take that a step further - you can boot from your laptop's drive using your other Apple computer via a firewire cable by holding the option key during boot... It is thoughtful things like these and the MagSafe power supply that you are paying for... but that's just the tip of it. Apple also has, IMO, the best (American!) warranty service of any consumer computer company, which I'm sure is 'hidden' in the total cost of their equipment.. not to mention countless other little things (a very effective LCD dimmer, intuitive touch-pad gestures, multi-touch pad, slot-loading optical drive and so on). Also, the quality of their components has always been a cut-above your average PC for sure, with choices in the past like Orinoco-based wifi cards and newer choices like OLED LCD screens. That stuff costs extra... And they DO make you pay for it. :)

    I'm a PC person and I've never cared for Apple stuff that much, but they have (generally) good products and people are willing to pay for the experience, not to mention the 'extra stuff' that Apple provides. I'm not really one of those people, but a lot of my clients are and I can see where they are coming from.
  10. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    What do you like about their performance?
  11. avister51291

    avister51291 TS Rookie

    To tell you the truth, I'm wondering about the same thing.
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,520


    The only thing I can figure is that Steve Jobs is a Svengali like figure that can make people believe every half truth out of his mouth is the word of God.

    I like the I-phone that you can't replace the batteries yourself. But, more than that I like the Macbook Air! Gosh, I just think it's the greatest to pay $2700.00 for a laptop without an optical drive. After all I'm too big a p****y to carry a big heavy 7 or so pound laptop around that will do twice as much for half the price. I think I'll start saving for an Airbook tomorrow, right after my lobotomy.

    I'ts bad enough I have to listen to my kid (40) tell me his "Mac Mini" is a real computer.
    2256 MB of RAM, 40GB HDD, CD burning only. I gots to git me one of them babys! That POS was over priced too! Oh BTW I bought an Emachines ,that's right, Emachines, at the same time, the Mac Mini's down with a bad HDD, while my T-5026 is still going strong.
  13. jonmcc33

    jonmcc33 TS Rookie Posts: 60

    Gotta laugh at the "paying for the experience" crap. What is that like, a car salesman trying to sell me on the resale value of a used Toyota that's already 3-4 years old as opposed to a newer Hyundai that is cheaper?

    There is no justification for charging more price for the same product and if you want to go with the whole "experience" thing of paying hundreds more for Mac OS X then you guys need to stop bitching about the price of Vista.
  14. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    The Macbook Air is competitive with other ultra light notebooks. There have been a lot of comparisons made on various reputable blogs. You pay the premium for the ultra light regardless of who makes it. And really, most people don't use CDs/DVDs anymore. If the do its to install stuff, you don't install stuff on a buisness trip, if you exchange files its over a network, or email, or a usb stick. Its like dropping the floppy drive on iMacs back in the day, Apple did it first, and people complained... but now, how many of us actually have a floppy drive in our newest PCs? If you want to carry around heavy notebook thats fine, I do too, I carry my 15" Powerbook around if I go somewhere where I'll need it. On top of that my Powerbook is a couple years old (almost 3 now) and I still use it daily, so I don't 'need' an upgrade. Some people do need an upgrade, and want an ultra light notebook.

    As for the Mini comment. I have a Mini, mine is 1 or 2 generations old. I paid $499 for it a couple months ago. Its got built in bluetooth, DL DVD burner, only 1 gig of RAM..., an 80 gig hd, wireless, 4 usb ports, FW 400, and an Intel Core Duo 1.83Ghz processor. The only real thing its lacking is a decent graphics card. All of that and its tiny. Sure you can get an E-Machines for $499 that probably comes with a C2D 6400, 1GB RAM, 300GB hd, and Vista. But then you have a PSU that is like a timebomb, Windows, no wireless, no firewire, a DVD Burner, and probably the same crap integrated graphics the Mini has. So whats the advantage? A faster processor and a larger hard drive I guess. But at what expense? At the expense of a shoddy PSU that could wipe out everything, and a bigass tower, and probably a 75W higher power consumption at idle.
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,520

    Well, OK.......

    The Mini here (my son's) is 3 years old, isn't anything near what you're describing, and has a broken HDD. It also cost more than $499.00. If you like I'll cede you the concept that yours is more competent than his. We keep going through the idea that the PSU in an Emachine is a time bomb, but as I've reiterated many times, the 300 watt Bestecs aren't lethal to the board when they qiut. So, my kids Mini is 256MB RAM and a 40GB (BROKEN) HDD. The fact the Mini is small is so cute, but all the s*** you have to plug into it is full size, which kind of defeats the purpose, wouldn'd you say? Then there's the USB mouse and keyboard, which eats 2 of the 4 USB ports. So, if the PSU fails in the Emachine, I'll just jack the side off it and install a new one, the HDD too for that matter. I understand that you need 2 putty knives and a fair amount skill to pull the Mni apart, or pay the Apple Store $270.00 for a new drive with instalation.
    Now, compare Apples to Apples (actually Apples to Emachines) and I could replace the 160GB WD caviar in my Emachine for about $60.00 and 10 minutes work.
    Please, don't try to play the green card, my kids Mini is a glorified, desk bound laptop, and it draws power like one, granted. But, coming from this forum as we both do where everybody asks is this 750 Watt PSU enough to run my new gaming computer, I think I'll go right on not giving a Rat's *** about the 350 Watt supply it takes to run my system.
    Why does it always come to This?:haha: :wave:
  16. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Oh I wasn't trying to play green, I just tossed that in because you can't make a fair comparison between desktop and laptop components, and the mini uses all laptop components. I have a Kill-A-Watt that I can use to display actual usage if you want.

    I'm sorry about the HD failure, but that isn't Mac or Apple's fault, they don't make their own hard drives, they buy from others just like EVERYONE else in the PC buisness. I don't know about the earlier Minis, so maybe your son's does use 2 USB ports for KB and Mouse, still doesn't take away the firewire though.

    I've never owned an emachine, nor will I ever own one, but I've seen through years on this forum that the PSUs in them suck, and if you are lucky they don't rape your other components when they go.

    I'm not fighting PC vs Mac here, although I guess in a way I am since I defended the mini. But what I'm really trying to do here is eliminate this BS bias against Apple computers, its so evident through this forum it irritates me. It irritates others as well (jobeard and Rick for example). We realize this is primarly a PC forum, but some of the posters here are so incredibly illinformed or biased its disgusting. If I was new to a forum and saw some of the posts around here that I do see I'd leave because its absolutely absurd, but I've got too many years of my life invested in TS to just leave because a few posters hold some grudge they can't back up with real life expirences.

    I believe LNCPapa is the only person on this forum that has more hours spent on PC and Mac than I do, and I would seriously question that.
  17. jonmcc33

    jonmcc33 TS Rookie Posts: 60

    I'd take a normal ultralight laptop over a MacBook Air any day. They are at least not fragile. I actually have a Dell D400 myself (running OpenSUSE 10.3). I love light laptops. But that MacBook Air? No freakin' way. Laptops generally do not get the best treatment and I'd dread owning one of those over my D400.

    Not sure what you mean about the PSU thing or higher power draw. Windows Vista uses SpeedStep just as well as Mac OS does. A 300GB draws as much as an 80GB hard drive.
  18. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Good for you, but another bad point.

    You can argue plenty of other things, but the Macbook Air IS solid. You've obviously never played with one. It has no give or bend whatsoever. I honestly don't think it is possible to make a laptop that thin more sturdy than what it is and keep the price the same or less ($1700).

    It's no Toughbook, but neither is your D400.

    Again, your lack of experience with computers is made clear... Cheap computers = cheap PSUs. I'm not even sure how got 'SpeedStep' involved here. Try again.
  19. jonmcc33

    jonmcc33 TS Rookie Posts: 60

    Not sure if you've ever played with a D400. Yes, it is quite solid. You can put something on top of it and not worry about destroying the LCD under the lid. I've seen how people treat laptops in general and I doubt that a MacBook Air would survive any of that.

    ROFL! Try 10 years of experience in IT support, kid. I spent 8 years as a 3C0X1 in the USAF (SSgt) and my peers considered me a subject matter expert with PC hardware. After I separated from the USAF I have spent the last 2 years doing IT support for a large corporation as well supporting the headquarters as well as users in locations across the United States, Canada and England.

    Cheap computers do not equal cheap PSUs. I doubt you know one thing about the inside of a PSU to be honest. If you think that OEMs put the same type of power supplies that come with $20 cases then you are very mistaken.

    What kills those cheap computers and their power supplies are lack of proper cooling. They are usually packed on the inside to preserve space and use maybe a single fan or two on super low RPM so it doesn't become a loud and annoying PC. Then of course most people don't clean the inside of those systems often so heatsinks get clogged with dust, that makes the system hotter and the air inside hotter because the air cannot flow over the heatsinks to help cool what they are attached to. Not sure if you are familiar with the thermal limits of a capacitor or not. I've seen them melt and explode before with too much heat.

    But that might all be a bit complicated to you or maybe you lack ANY experience in dealing with stuff like that.
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,520

    You simply don't know what you're missing.

    Mac gets quite a push from it's reputation in the graphics and photo sector, and to be fair their "Color Synch" color management is excellent. As always each persons results may vary.
    I actually don't have a bias against Apple computers, now towards (many) of their owners is a different story. They're usually way, way holier than thou. They're usually bragging that their Apple is immune to viruses, when truth be told, the virus writers simply ignore them quite a bit. If the whole truth be told, most of them are too stupid to handle security on a Windows box. And obviously, that is present personnel excluded. I actually think M$ is being too laid back about responding to their crap a** , obnoxious, and condescending ad campaign. My experience is that everybody that goes out a buys an Apple, starts talking down to you the minute they plug it in.

    There'es certainly no need to apologize or sympathize with me for Junior's misadventures. I threw together a spare parts box for him based in a Celeron 356, Foxconn board, 2 GB 667Mhz Kingston "Value RAM", Pioneer DVR112 DVD burner, Seagate 80GB SATA2, Antec "Smartpower 400", and Windows XP MCE 2005. Junk though it may be, at least it will burn a DVD and run Photoshop Elements. The Mini doesn't meet minimum requirements on the PSE5.

    Oddly enough, PCWorld reports a relatively high level of owner satisfaction with Emachines. Hey, they did the survey, don't shoot the messenger.

    When you talk about mindless bias, without experience, I keep telling everybody that the new Bestec 300 Watt PSUs, while still a POS, don't take out the mobo when they go. Yet everybody answers that with horror stories about the 250 Watt supplies. Is that mindless bias without experience? Who knows, right.

    The real answer to this thread should have been very succinct; "because there's a whole lot of price fixing going on, boys and girls". Yeah, it's illegal, but try and prove it.
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