Buying Dillema - PC vs. Mac - HUGE $$$ Difference

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by ~Shard~, Oct 29, 2003.

  1. ~Shard~ macrumors P6


    Jun 4, 2003
    I am hoping to get some advice from the Mac community on why I should switch from my PC to a Mac. I have been following this site, as well as the Apple site for the past 6 months now, and have been getting more and more excited about buying a new Mac this winter. I have really fallen in love with Macs and really want to get one.

    I want a high-end system, and was looking at a 1.8 GHz PowerMac, but recently ran into a dillema. My friend gets computers at cost, and drew up a quote for me - one for a PC, one for a 1.8 GHz PowerMac. I knew there would be a price difference, but I was willing to pay more for the Mac. OSX alone is worth it, plus being more fun to use, more stable, the longevity factor of the system, etc. - I had it all figured out and justified the extra cost. However, check out my friend's quote form his supplier. This is in Canadian $, so I'll inlucde the USD equivalent in brackets:


    Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (800 MHz)
    350W Power Supply
    8 USB 2.0 ports (2 on front), 5 PCI slots, 800 MHz FSB, 6 DDR, 8x AGP, FireWire
    16x DVD-ROM
    160 GB SATA HD
    1 GB DDR400 PC3200 SDRAM
    17" LCD w/ DVI
    GeForce FX5600 256 MB DDR RAM, VIVO, TV-OUT, DVI
    SB Audigy2 6.1 Surround
    basic 3-piece speaker system
    4-port cable/DSL router
    V.92 56K modem
    10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet Card
    wireless optical mouse, keyboard, floppy drive, yadda yadda...


    1.8GHz PowerPC G5
    900 MHz FSB, 8 DDR, USB 2.0, USB 1.1, FireWire 400(x2), FireWire 800, Optical digital audio in/out
    NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
    1.5 GB DDR400 SDRAM (2x256 stock, 2x512 added on)
    160GB Serial ATA 7200 RPM
    10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet
    56K V.92 internal modem
    Three PCI-X Slots
    AGP 8x Pro
    AirPort Extreme Ready
    Bluetooth Ready
    same 17" LCD as above
    basic 3-piece speaker system
    4-port cable/DSL router

    Kay, here's the kicker - the price:

    PC: $2879.07 taxes in ($2193.80 USD)
    Mac: $ 4652.15 taxes in ($3545.33 USD)

    As I said, I expected the Mac to be more, but not $2000 CAD more!!! I was willing to spend more for the Mac, but, well, now I am unsure what to do. I realize the Mac some some better features, and in this configuration, 512MB more RAM, but this is such a price difference - Macs really are more expensive it would seem!

    I want to do "the right thing" and buy the Mac, however I don't know if I can simply justify $2000 more for it - that is an AWFUL lot of money for almost the equivalent system, as can be seen in the specs. I almost am willing to put up with WinXP for this much money.Plus, I use XP at work, and come on, admit it, it is a vast improvement and much mroe stable than the stereotypical Windows machine. I still don't think it holds a candle to OSX, and I think OSX is exponentially better, but, well, I'm rambling... ;)

    I would really appreciate any comments or feedback. I am a PC user who has been living and breathing Mac the past 6 months, waiting to buy one, but now I have a dillema! I really want to switch...

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

  2. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    First off, RAM from Apple (especially for the G5s) is WAY overpriced. You can chop off $800 from the price by just buying the RAM from a 3rd party vendor (Like Crucial ).
  3. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    I just tried to build the same machine (without a display) (with only base RAM) (WITH AppleCare) for $2797 USD.
  4. grapes911 Moderator emeritus


    Jul 28, 2003
    Citizens Bank Park
    If you want the mac buy it. You'll love it.

    But here are some questions:

    1) Do you really need it right now. Can you wait 6 months or a year? Save up some more.

    2) Do you even need that high of a system? There are other mac configurations and systems that aren't as much money.

    3) Do you play games? A pc is better for gaming. Or maybe two midgrade systems (one pc and on mac) would suit you better.

    Hope some of this helps.
  5. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002

    Chop off the price of the RAM, and the cost of the LCD on the Mac -- for now, and upgrade later.

    And definitely pay the extra $50USD for the ATI 9600 card.
  6. iJon macrumors 604


    Feb 7, 2002
    well first thing is where the hell did you get that price for the mac. most of that stuff is stock but way over stock price. after you explain that how about you tell us what you plan to do with your computer and we will be able to tell you if the mac would benefit you at all.

  7. asphalt-proof macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2003
    I was in the same situation you are in just a couple of months ago. I researched for aabout 6 months and then decided that the mac best suit my needs. Why? I decided that I can play the games I like on it, I don't have to hassle with drivers (pricelss in my opinion), and the using an iPod on a Mac is as close to a religious exprience as I have ever had. Yes I am a recent switcher. I could have gone and spent abut a $1000 less on a comparable system but then I would e stuck with Windows. i use it (Windows) at work and hate every XP minute of it. Find out what you need your computer for. If its or Halo, get the PC. If its for school, home, casual use, you are going to have a hard time maxing out an iMac. To each his own. By the way, to lower your price of the machine, use the educators discount... even if you have to buy the thing for your "niece" in school. It will save you some money.
  8. Edot macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2002

    First off, those prices for the mac seem a little off. Second, isn't is kinda of expected that if someone can provide parts at cost for one computer, but not the other, that the other computer would be more expensive. If you want to compare shouldn't you seek out the price of the mac at cost? I guess in your situation it would be much cheaper to go with the PC. However, you cannot apply this in general because you are in a unique situation. Saying PC's are cheaper than Macs is not a justified statement just because of your ability to obtain a PC well below market price
  9. ddtlm macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2001
    If you choose the PC, at least get an A64 instead of a P4. :)
  10. rdhazrd macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2002
    In a smaller town in Wisconsin
    Another thing to consider the fact that you are comparing a P4 to a G5, my 450MHZ iMac G3 is considerable faster than any P4 system at 2-2.25GHz I've used. Good points where stated like the RAM, go third party vendor or ebay, the educational discount is cheaper (but not so much with the hardware, only like $100-150 off where Panter is only $69 for students). I'll make you a deal, you send me the amount your friend says he can get you the Mac and I'll get you the same Mac and keep the extra for my time. :D At that price I could get you the same setup but could also bump it up to the dual 2Ghz model.
  11. MacAztec macrumors 68040


    Oct 28, 2001
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    Odd, I just priced out a G5 (at the edu. store which everyone buys from). Here were the specs: (+ means upgrade)

    G5 1.8GHz
    Stock (512MB) RAM
    +Airport Extreme Card
    +Bluetooth Module
    +Logitech Z-680 System

    Came to a total of 2720. Now, add 1GB of RAM (180$) and a frickin 19" LCD (550$) and you still cant come out to the total you got.
  12. FightTheFuture macrumors 6502a


    Oct 19, 2003
    that town east of ann arbor
    Re: Buying Dillema - PC vs. Mac - HUGE $$$ Difference

    yikes dude! this guy is looking at a serious mark-up! but business is business. can you not find any life in your current pc's monitor, speakers? i wouldn't up the ram too quickly, and once you can afford it, you can take a look and poke around at the great layout inside the machine.

    the G5 really cooks - and they still have yet to harness most of the power with more native 64bit apps! the feeling of switching is great! sooner or later, you'll forget about your old pc, collecting dust. mine's an expensive paperweight. you can get much more work done faster, quicker, and more satisfying, and if the feeling bodes you, you can get a cheap PS2 to quench that gamer satisfaction
  13. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    uh... I am as fanatical a mac zealot as you will find, but that's patently ridiculous. The only way a 450mhz G3 could be faster than a 2 Ghz P4 is if the P4 were using 4 MB of RAM. :rolleyes:

    I also do not understand the price the OP got for the G5... some explanation is in order here. (btw, if you get the mac, upgrade to the Radeon 9600. It's more than worth your $50.)
  14. iJon macrumors 604


    Feb 7, 2002
    g3 450 faster than a 2ghz p4, hahahahahaha, what are you smokin. the g4 could barely keep up with the p4.

  15. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    If everybody bought based on price alone, we'd all be driving Yugos -- and loving it.

    But some people like driving in style.
  16. hulugu macrumors 68000


    Aug 13, 2003
    quae tangit perit Trump
    True TCO

    I can see why you have questions: the 1.8 w/ all the trimmings is more than the price you've quoted for the PC, which I can only assume is right, but as you noted at cost. One of the things I would assume, is you buy anything you can for your Mac (memory, monitor, those great speakers, etc) from him. Secondly, the 1.8 is a Pro machine and as such it contains a few things that you may not need, but which up the price, these include Firewire 800, Fibre Card support, etc.
    Thirdly, the Mac and OSX.3 is a better experience, think Porsche vs. Volkswagen. They share many parts, they are made on similar factory floors and yet you would never compare a Jetta to a Boxter. That's the Wintel PC versus the Apple.
    In my experience the G5 will save you oodles of time:
    XP crashes less than its predecessors, but nonetheless it can be a flaky beast.
    No virii, yup not a one go check it out.
    Fewer hacks and even fewer malware. Argue that it's either security through obscurity or *BSD is just that great, either way you get the same affect.
    Few drivers, and great open-source support. Go to and you can find really interesting software for OSX.
    Ergonomic, nice machines, nice keyboards across the board (I'm a writer and few keyboards match the quality of the ones coming out of Cupertino)
    Great support, online is a great source from Apple itself, no more googling for solutions to your latest Windows flub.
    The iPod and iTunes, iPhoto, Safari and other great pieces of software.
    OSX which is a server-strength operating system that anyone can set up thanks to zero-configuration (Rendevouz), try it sometime, it's rediculously easy.
    So, I know the amount is a lot, but remember a few things: you must compare retail prices to retail prices, I know your friend can hook you up, but that doesn't mean your computer will work any better in a year; the resale value for Macs is great while a PC is like a Lexus, you loose money as soon as you set the radio dial; security and the outstanding software update (yes, Apple updates their software, but it also rediculously easy to use) saves time; and you will simply love working on your computer.
    It depends on what you do of course, if you're a gamer I think you'd be better off getting an Xbox/PS2/Gamecube, if you're an architect then CAD keeps you with Windows, but if you make movies, music, or shoot photos, write email, surf the web, write, etc. you need a Mac.
    'Nuff said.
  17. pinto32 macrumors 6502

    Oct 19, 2003
    From Apple Store: (no discounts: regular price)

    1.8 Ghz G5
    1.5 Gig Ram (512 stock + 1GB from ($ 88 per 512MB stick)
    160 GB SATA HDD
    ATi Radeon 9600 Pro (or subtract $50 for a FX 5200)

    $2624(US) plus cost of monitor


    1.8Ghz G5
    1.5 Gig RAM (512MB stock + 512MB free ($40 install fee) +512MB Crucial RAM ($88))
    160GB SATA HDD
    NVIDIA FX 5200
    FREE Epson C84 inkjet printer

    $2522 (US) plus cost of monitor
  18. dieselg4 macrumors regular


    Oct 20, 2003
    Rockin' Pittsburgh!
    dell for comparison

    I'm not sure which one really works better for yu, but in order to try an compare apples to apples (no pun intended) i configured this ssytem on Dell's website:
    Dell Dimension 8300
    P4 2.8 800mhz bus
    XP Pro
    1gb DDR 400mhz Ram
    120 GB SATA (Dell doesn't offer a 160)
    no floppy
    8x DVD RW CD RW
    Dell wireless keyboard & mouse
    no monitor
    Harmon Kardon Speakers & SUbwoofer
    56 k modem
    gigabit ethernet
    Truemobile 2300 wireless b/g router
    1 yr. warranty
    Sound Blaster Audigy 2
    $2353.00 (US dollars)

    This doesn't include Dell's version of iLife applications, which they charge extra for.

    I consider Dell a good barometer for system pricing. Its a reputable company but it might jsut as well be moot since you can get a pc cheaper from your friend.

    Just my $.02
  19. suneun macrumors member

    Feb 5, 2002
    You could consider dropping the Superdrive to a Combodrive. It saves $300 Canadian. Depends if you really think you'll use your Superdrive. In the last year and a half, I've made one movie DVD and one data DVD. I plan on making more data DVD's, but that's just because I'm running out of HD space (140 gigs).

    Definitely get the ram elsewhere. Each 512 mb of ram should cost about $90 US dollars.

    What kind of 17" LCD are you planning on? I hope you're not factoring in an Apple LCD. You could get a different LCD at a much lower price (no problem with the connection, right?). Don't forget to drop the modem, too for $44 Canadian off, unless you'll need it.

    If you live near the US, there are always options like Education store pricing (you or through a student-friend) or getting someone to do the lifetime single discount for you (as an Apple Developer).
  20. Java macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2003
    Marin County (where else?)
    Re: Buying Dillema - PC vs. Mac - HUGE $$$ Difference

    Do PC makers really put the power supply a componet to their system?
  21. mattroberts macrumors regular


    Oct 25, 2003
    the prices here are way off in my opinion. even the comparison is unreasonable.

    Let look taxes out as i don't know where you live shard. but the general sales tax is 15% in Canada (PST&GST) or(HST) unless your an albertan (Lucky devil)

    the cost for this system
    1.8GHz PowerPC G5
    • 512MB DDR400 SDRAM (PC3200) - 2x256
    • 160GB Serial ATA - 7200rpm
    • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
    • 56k V.92 internal modem
    • SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW)
    • Apple Keyboard & Apple Mouse - U.S. English
    • Mac OS X - U.S. English

    is 3399 CDN

    If your getting a deal on the PC try and get a deal on the MAC, ask a friend in School to hook you up and buy a mac

    the price for the above system is then (edu dis)
    3099 CDN

    thr truth is a routrers cost 69.99 at staples. Ram is $400 Cdn at Canada Ram. it would be easier if you priced out the monitor.

    but the cost is above that of the PC *BUT* your MAC is the top of the line system the PC you have quoted is top of the line LAST YEAR

    it also
    - has less ram
    -less included OSX program IDVD IMOVIES ICHAT AV etc.

    go buy the latest AMD System (athalon FX 64) that came out in Spetember (equivalent to G5) your easily looking at 3700 CDN with discount for a similarly equipped machine. Looking at clock speed makes no sense in comparing the two systems,

    This isn't a fair or reasonable comparison, so buy the mac :p
  22. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
  23. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles

    Sometimes I feel like beatin' a dead horse... /singing

    something else to consider is software. How much more software will you have to buy to get the same software that comes bundled w/OS X? Pricing hardware only seems to be a very common thing for PC-only users to do. But maybe that's because no off-the-shelf PCs come w/any worth while software? ;)

  24. kuyu macrumors 6502a


    Sep 16, 2003
    To me, it seems silly to spend $2000 - $3000 on a big giant Playstation 2. Just buy enough computer for your productivity needs and buy a $200 game system from your local walmart.

    I know, I know, people are ranting "but you can't get some of the computer games on the consoles!" Big deal. This principle works in reverse too. Next year the next-gen systems debut, and they will blow peoples' minds. Hardcore peecee gamers will be pissed that they spent $3,000 to play Doom III and Half-Life II. That's $1,500 a piece!!!

    FYI: All of the games of 2-3 years from now on consoles will be MORE impressive than either of these titles. Just save your money and wait for the market to come down in price.
  25. Gelfin macrumors 68020


    Sep 18, 2001
    Denver, CO
    I think there are some other things to consider here.

    First, does your friend have any opinion about what sort of computer you should be using? It's easy to stack such comparisons to make one option look much worse than another.

    Second, I don't even know what "at cost" means in terms of Macs. Apple makes all their own products and sells you a whole computer. They set retail prices for their resellers. That's why you see resellers like MacWarehouse always throw in a free printer or something. Apple doesn't permit them to cut the price significantly, so that's MWH's way of competing. If your friend's supplier is honestly providing wholesale prices, you're getting a very skewed picture.

    Third, I don't think your friend's supplier is giving you the whole picture. I could buy parts retail, off the shelf, and build a system with those specs for much less than US$2200. In fact, early this year I built a much better system than that for less than US$2200 (to support my gaming habit). I worry that your friend's supplier is trying to take you for a ride. You're not getting a special price. You're getting a story that will maximize the supplier's profit on the deal.

    See, the supplier doesn't have a lot of control over the margin he gets on an Apple system, but he has much greater control over pricing for the PC parts. Since you turned the discussion into a PC-vs-Mac comparison, it's easy to inflate the Mac price enough to make a not-so-great PC price look like a great deal.

    The way I see it you have two options (besides "PC or Mac"). Either you can get what's going to make you happy and forget the nickel-and-dime comparisons, or you can educate yourself enough to make the comparisons yourself, since just about everyone else is going to be trying to influence you one way or the other.

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