As a Mac user/evangelist, people often tell me that Macs are over-priced. Those who build their own computers are quick to boast that they could build the same computer for less than Apple charges. I heard this claim so often that I began to believe it. After all, Macs are not known for being budget machines. Then I built a Hackintosh and I was shocked to learn that although Macs are generally more expensive than run-of-the-mill PCs, they’re not really over-priced for what you get.
To prove my point, I’m going to pretend that I want to build a Windows-based computer with components that spec-for-spec as similar to the control iMac as possible. All prices are in Canadian dollars (currently on par with USD).
For the sake of this comparison, we’re going with the most expensive 27″ iMac.
- Processor: 3.2 GHz Core i5 (Ivy Bridge)
- Memory: 8 GB PC3-12800 SO-DIMM
- Storage: 1 TB 7200 RPM 3.5″ Hard Drive
- Graphics: NVidia GeForce 675MX, 1 GB
- Display: 27″ IPS display @ 2560×1440 pixels
- Networking: Gigabit, 802.11 N, Bluetooth 4.0
- Connections: USB 3.0 (4 ea.), Thunderbolt (2 ea.)
- Audio: Built-in speakers, built-in microphone, Line in
- Camera: FaceTime HD camera
- Keyboard & Mouse (Bluetooth)
- OS: Mac OS X
- Photo Editor/Organizer: iPhoto
- Movie Editor/Organizer: iMovie
Cost: $1,999.99 CDN
All component prices are sourced from Memory Express, a local computer hardware retailer. Most often, I looked for the least expensive equivalent.
- Processor: Core™ i5-3470 Processor, 3.20GHz w/ 6MB Cache ($209.99)
- Memory: Vengeance 8GB DDR3 1600MHz SODIMM ($89.99)
- Storage: 1TB Barracuda SATA III w/ 64MB Cache ($69.99)
- Graphics: GeForce GTX 660 SuperClocked 2GB PCI-E w/ Dual DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort ($209.99)
- Display: HP ZR2740w Performance Series 27in LED Backlit IPS LCD Monitor ($699.99)
- Motherboard: GA-Z77X-UD5H w/ Dual DDR3 1600, 7.1 Audio, Dual GB Lan, 1394, CrossFireX / SLI, HDMI, DisplayPort ($194.99)
- Camera/Mic: LifeCam Studio HD Webcam for Business ($79.99)
- Speakers: S-120 2.0 Speaker System ($19.99)
- DVD Writer: SuperMulti 24x DVD Writer, SATA, Black, OEM (19.99)
- Case: Bitfenix Outlaw ATX Mid Tower Case, Black ($49.99)
- Power Supply: Builder Series CX500 500W Power Supply ($59.99)
- Keyboard & Mouse (not bluetooth): Wireless Desktop 800 ($34.99)
- Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate x64 (64-bit) SP1 DVD – OEM (@209.99)
- Photo Editor/Organizer: Google Picasa (free)
- Movie Editor/Organizer: Windows Live Movie Maker (free)
- Assembly: Assemble & Load OS ($70)
Cost: $2019.87 CDN
The iMac was less expensive by $19.88!
Hardened PC advocates may not like to hear it, but Macs are not necessarily over-priced, they’re just not entry-level machines. They’re not built cheap and they’re not priced cheap. No one in their right mind will tell you that a Mac is budget-friendly (or the right choice for everyone), but I hope that this demonstrates that they’re not as grossly over-priced as a lot of people have come to assume.
Final point in favour of the PC: As a Hackintosh user, I like the home brew PC’s ability to add hard drives, extra memory, and expansion cards.
Final point in favour of the Mac: I had to cut some corners to keep the cost of the PC down. With a Mac, I get great performance in a beautifully-designed machine. Also, no Windows 8.