27" i7 iMac ($2668) vs i7 HP ($1710)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by gchiker, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. gchiker macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2009
    I've done a cursory search of the dreaded "Mac or PC" question, and have found some good, helpful info. I was all set to pull the trigger this weekend on a brand spanking new 27" iMac (w/ Intel i7 processor, 4GB RAM & 1TB HD), when I happened upon this weeks ads. Lo and behold, there's a shiny new HP desktop w/ an i7-860, 8GB RAM & 1TB HD for ~$1000 ... Dang! Not quite apples-to-apples (no pun intended (well, maybe a little intended)), but still a HUGE cost delta. My experience with Mac's has been a bit up and down: back in 06 I bought my first Apple computer, a WhiteBook : the “up” is that I REALLY liked the OS while the “down” is that I’ve had to replace the hard drive, the "logic board" & now the screen is flickering. Last year, I bought my daughter one of the aluminum MacBooks with the glass track pad and she seems to be happy as can be. So my experience has been less than stellar with Apple laptops. All that being said, I place a high value on OS X, I've been frustrated with the Windows XP "challenges" and now am wading through the following pro's and con's (Two items of note: There is nothing I do that requires a 27" screen and I plan to keep the next desktop for at least 5 years (currently using a lovely '02 vintage Dell that has not had any HW related issues)):

    +++ OS X (no bloatware, limited-to-non-existent viruses, spyware, etc.)
    ++ Packaged S/W and utilities (iLife, Time Machine, etc.)
    + Pretty
    ++ Stunning monitor / display

    - Upgrades are limited (memory only)
    --- Expensive
    $2,199 : 27" i7
    $ 169 : AppleCare
    $ 80 : Fusion or Parallel
    $ 110 : Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade (some of my required applications are Windows only)
    $ 110 : Office for Mac

    + Windows 7 (decent reviews)
    ++ Can upgrade most components: keeps computer relevant
    +++ Inexpensive
    $1,000 : i7 w/ 23" monitor
    $ 200 : internet security product (5 years @ $40 per)
    $ 130 : Photoshop & Premier (video & photo editing & mgt)
    $ 380 : 27" monitor (not as good as iMac, but good enough for my purposes)

    --- Hassles with OS (based on previous experience)
    - Bloatware / cr*pware
    - Virus / adware / spyware

    So ... am I missing anything obvious in the + or - category in this debate? Does it really boil down to the "Mac" experience will cost me almost a thousand bucks?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. pukifloyd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 25, 2008
    Most people buy macs because of the OS, the quality and the customer care.

    It is expensive but in the long run it will be worth it as there are less hassles with macs. You may get a cheaper windows machine which may be more powerful but you won't get the same OS, the build quality and the customer care.

    Go for the iMac and you won't regret it.

    This is what I think.:)
  3. skottichan macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2007
    Columbus, OH
    Plus, if necessary, the iMac can also run Windows 7 and/or <insert flavor> Linux.

    But, with that said, you should buy what you feel you'll enjoy the most for the money you spend. It doesn't matter what faceless people on the internet tell you to buy (myself included), only you matter when it comes to what you buy.

    Either way, good luck and I hope you enjoy whichever one you purchase. :)
  4. gothamm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 18, 2007
    honestly, i would pull the trigger on the HP.

    with windows 7 being a vastly improved over vista, OS superiority is starting to come down to mere preference.
  5. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    then buy the HP?

    do you really need the i7?

    a 27" i5 is only $1850AR, thats a $350 instant savings, for just a few ticks slower.


    Applecare is cheaper at LA Computer by $30 (and more when on sale)

    Fusion is $40 if you just shop a bit

    You can upgrade the drive in an iMac, not impossible. Plenty of external options. You are starting with 1TB, thats a bunch. You are only looking at 1.5TB or 2TB at the current time...
  6. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Can you actually link the HP? A lot of the time there are significant differences in hardware beyond processor/HD size/RAM, so I'd hesitate to compare them based on just that description.
  7. mreg376 macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Time will tell with Windows 7. Maybe this will be the first Windows operating system that won't self-deteriorate just by running, and maybe it will. But the answer to your question is always simple -- if you want to spend less money, don't buy the Mac.
  8. brisbaneguy29 macrumors 6502


    Nov 27, 2007
    Well after looking at your calcs, you seem to have missed the office suite on the Windows side of the calc, but missed the photoshop suit on the Mac side of the calc. The screen on the Mac side is an IPS LED screen, and lets face it in the end if you go the Mac option, you have your choice of OS's. Mate no one can tell you what right for you, but personally, I am more than happy to pay double for OSX, call me a fanboi, whatever, it suits me, and Windows doesn't.
  9. andymodem macrumors 6502a

    Nov 20, 2008
    Baltimore, MD
    If you go the HP route, you don't need that "security product". If your behind a router w/NAT, all you need is the built in Windows firewall, and the free Microsoft Security Essentials.
  10. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    I'm going to have to disagree with that. Windows firewall is complete garbage, as well as MS Security essentials.

    I spend a large amount of my day removing malware on corporate machines. Windows gets infected extremely easy even with antivirus/antimalware on the machines.

    To minimize your infection try something like Kaspersky and webroot spysweeper together or Avira AV is a decent antivirus also.

    Or, what I would do is just not worry about any of that and buy the Mac. Windows 7, although MUCH better then vista still has its fair share of issues.
  11. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004

    Could you link to the specific HP. As I have looked at the HP site and did not find an exact match to what you describe.

    Also does this HP include.
    - Radeon 4850 (much faster video card than the 4350 in the closest HP matches I could find)
    - Win 7 Ultimate as it is the fairest comparison to Snow Leopard (encryption, connect to domain networks, language switching, backup and restore)
    - Wireless-N and bluetooth
    - High quality Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (much greater range than standard RF plus no cords on the desk which the ultra short range RF usually requires)
    - All in one just slightly larger than the screen by itself (the cooling system and engineering going into that case costs a lot more that a bulky desktop)
    - MS Office (the HP likely only comes with MS Works if that is good enough then the free Openoffice.org should be sufficient for the Mac)
    - 3 year warranty (or else the Applecare should be removed from the comparison)

    Also as opposed to the HP you could build you own computer for a good deal less using like components. Or for the same price using much higher quality parts or faster parts. You won't have the bloatware, can choose a case that you really like and can pick and choose all of the best reviewed parts. Rather than the lowest bidder like the manufacturers use.

    If you are looking for a direct comparison this is the closest match I could find. Much to my surprise the iMac comes out with the favorable price advantage. Though in 3 months iMac price will not change while the HP will drop.

    HP e9270t series
    i7 860 2.8Ghz
    27" LCD (1920x1080 with is much cheaper quality and cost than the iMacs higher res screen)
    Radeon 4850 1GB (better than iMacs at 512MB)
    8GB RAM
    1TB HD
    Win 7 Ultimate
    Wireless (RF) keyboard/mouse
    Basic cheap speakers (the iMac has basic quality one built in)
    Wireless N and Bluetooth
    Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and Premiere Elements (closest match to iMovie/iPhoto)
    MS Office Home and Student
    + $500 (hardware offset)
    Total $2683

    i7 860 2.8Ghz
    27" LCD (2560x1440 much higher resolution and quality than the HP)
    8GB RAM
    1TB HD
    Snow Leopard
    Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse
    Basic quality speakers built in
    Wireless N and Bluetooth
    MS Office Home and Student
    Total $2530

    As direct hardware matchs can not be found. I tried to create an offset for the superior parts used in the iMac. These values can not be perfectly matched as some parts do not have direct like components available for PC's. This also does not account for the far more expensive cooling system, mounting and case used for the iMac.

    Hardware offsets
    - Monitor offset $445 (value of Apple from average costs of Acer 27" 2048x1152 $430 to HP 30" 2560x1600 $1200 subtracted by cost of HP 27" 1920x1080 $370, prices off of newegg.com; [$430+$1200]/2 - $370 = $445)
    - Keyboard/Mouse Offset $90 (Mighty Mouse $70 + Apple Wireless Keyboard $70 - Logitech LX310 RF Keyboard and Mouse $50 = $90) edit: Logitech chosen for correlation of HP's RF keyboard and Mouse
    - Video Card Offset -$35 (though 1GB and 512MB 4850's run the same on Newegg now this is just because they are trying to dump the stock pile in favor of the 5000 line)

    I have my customers use Firefox and the free Avast Anti-Virus Home Edition and they don't have further problems. I also have all of my friends, family and myself using this combo and none have had a problem with malware or viruses since.

    Avast also uses hardly any system resources. I have never noticed a difference in data transfer speeds, gaming frame rates or other tasks with the A/V on or off on a high end single core CPU or better with sufficient RAM (1GB for XP, 2GB Vista/7).
  12. andymodem macrumors 6502a

    Nov 20, 2008
    Baltimore, MD
    We will have to agree to disagree then.

    Sounds like your corporate environment has some serious security issues if you have to spend a large amount of your day removing malware.
  13. MacKiddyWiddy macrumors 6502

    Aug 18, 2009
    imac ofcourse... the HP will just annoy you seeing as its running windows and you'll have to reformat like every month just to keep it nice and speedy [​IMG]
  14. gchiker thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2009
    The need / desire for the i7 is based on my previous purchase patterns for desktops (every 5 - 7 years) and a strong desire to start archiving and editing home video, to tinker around with photo editing and having as many applications running in the background as possible ;). Thanks for the tip on LA Computer, although I am unfamiliar with them - is purchasing Apple Care from a secondary vendor something fairly common? As for Fusion, I thought that was only the upgrade price, but either way not a big factor in the overall cost.

    The HP is sold at Frys, here's the specs (sorry if the formatting is messed up):

    Model: Intel® Core™ i7-860 Processor
    Speed: 2.8GHz
    # of Cores: 4
    Cache: 2MB L2 Cache + 8MB Shared L3 Cache
    Hyperthreading: Intel® Hyperthreading Technology
    Chipset: Intel® P55

    Memory: 8GB, DDR3, PC3-10600, 4 DIMM, Open Slots: 0

    Hard Drive: 1TB, 7200RPM, SATA
    Optical Drive: Blu-Ray Player and SuperMulti DVD Burner with LightScribe Technology Write: 16x max DVD-R, 8x max DVD+RW, 6x max DVD-RW, 12x max DVD-RAM, 40x max CD-R, 32x max CD-RW. Read: 16x max DVD-ROM, 40x CD-ROM
    Media Drive: 15-in-1 memory card reader: supports SmartMedia, xD, MultiMedia Card, Secure Digital (SD), Mini Secure Digital, Compact Flash I, Compact Flash II, IBM Microdrive, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo, RSMMC, MMC Mobile, MMC+

    Type: PCI-Express x16 Video Card
    GPU: ATI Radeon™ HD 4650
    Memory: 1GB
    Ports: DVI, HDMI & VGA

    Type: High Definition Audio
    Channels:8 (7.1)
    Front Ports: Headphone, Microphone
    Back Ports: Optical Audio Out; Microphone/Line-in/Line-out; Rear speaker-out; Side speaker out; Center (subwoofer)

    Front USB: 3
    Back USB: 6

    Wired: 10/100/1000 Base-T
    Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n
    Slots:3 PCI Expressx1 (2 Open)
    1 PCI Expressx16 (Occupied)
    Bays: 2 External 5.25" (Occupied)
    2 Internal 3.5" (1 Open)
    1 External 3.5" (1 Open)
    1 External PMD bay (Open)

    I've got office for XP, hoping it'll run on Windows 7 (which I guess I could use on the Mac, but that doesn't really appeal to me). As for Photoshop, I was hoping iPhoto would cover my needs for the near term.

    A bit more risk then I'm willing to take. Yes, I've got my router nailed down fairly tight, but I got others in the house that use the desktop, so I need to be a wee bit more cautious. The Microsoft products are ok, but I've been really pleased with the 2009 release of Norton IS. Peace of mind is what's driving me in that direction.

    Ref specs above. I don't know how the 4650 compares to the 4850, so the iMac may have an edge there.

    Good point on the Windows Ultimate, although I think the Professional version would be enough to serve my needs - still, that will add a bit to the cost of the PC. Wireless N comes with the HP, and I'm relatively pleased with my MS RF keyboard and mouse (although the mouse isn't nearly as cool as the new Mighty Mouse). Agree with your packaging assessment, hence my "+ Pretty" :) I've got Office already, so no savings / cost there.

    The warranty part is a bit of an unfair knock from me on the iMac. The problem is, if I have a HD, graphics card, sounds card etc. go bad, I'd feel reasonably comfortable cracking the case and working on it. I just don't see that as a viable option for the iMac.

    The monitor is another tough one to judge. I don't *think* I need a high-res 27" display, so a mid-pack 24" should do the job for a while. The advantage of having a separate monitor is that I can always add a second, or as prices continue to drop a larger / better primary.

    As for the build your own suggestion, wellll ... I don't think my skill-set (and time allotment) support that as a viable option.

    I guess I do have to agree with your HW offset ref., just not sure that I'd value it quite as high as you suggest. Thanks for the detailed analysis and breakdown on that one.

    Thanks for everyone's time and thoughts. Your input shows this as a tighter comparison than my original analysis - still probably looking at about a $750 delta. If anyone has any other thoughts on what I may have overlooked, please let me know.

    (as an aside, I dropped by the Apple store yesterday afternoon - man that 27" is sweet! Almost too big. Unfortunately they didn't have any of the quads on the floor to play with, just the C2D 3.06 GHz. Not sure how much that really matters though since I didn't have any applications to drive all 4 cores.)
  15. feelthefire macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2006
    I'm mostly interested to know where you plan to get BOTH photoshop and premier for $130 combined.

    Photoshop alone is $699 and Premier is $799.

    Unless you're talking about the Elements versions, which are completely different products and not materially different than iMovie and iPhoto.
  16. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Microsoft Security Essentials is free ant-virus and spyware protection. It works well too. http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/

    Also, Windows 7 has a backup feature, as well as a previous version feature. While not as seamless as time machine, it provides the same functionality.

    If you use firefox and don't browse porn sites, your PC will work just as well as a mac - macs are still able to have bloatware and spyware installed on them, it's just that there aren't many bad programs in existence... yet.

    Save yourself a grand, seriously. Windows 7 made me switch back.
  17. gchiker thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2009
    Oops, sorry I wasn't very clear on that line item. Yeah, I was thinking of starting with Elements. As you note, I figure they're reasonably close to the products bundled within OS X.
  18. kurzz macrumors 6502


    May 18, 2007
    It's amazing how people try to justify the price with superficial fluff and perceived value. If you're in a financial pinch, that $750 is a lot of money. I'm not fond of HP but you're getting that iMac mostly for the aesthetics and beauty of the computer itself. Don't let people convince you to get a Porsche when all you need or can afford is a Honda.

    Though keep in mind that the iMac screen is a premium monitor. You could still get a premium standalone IPS monitor for your HP and it'll still cost less overall than the imac.
  19. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    iPhoto is not comparable to Photoshop Elements. iPhoto is a photo organizer with some limited editing capabilities. Elements is a powerful photo editing platform... they're not even in the same classification.

    I haven't used the latest iMovie or Premier Elements, but if Premier Elements is anything like Final Cut Express (and I assume it is), then it's also substantially more powerful than iMovie...

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