Mac Pro to Equivalent PC Price Comparison (laying the debate to rest)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Mercuric Oxide, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. Mercuric Oxide macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2008
    So it's not uncommon to go into a thread and hear terms such as "apple tax" and all. Well I just specked out a PC equivalent to a Mac Pro, and contrary to what many people in the PC community who think you can score this for half the price as a MP, both computers come out to within $200 dollars of each other (guess which is cheaper)


    (these are the aspects of the PC to show the similarity to the MP)

    ASUS DSEB-D16 Server board
    2 * Socket LGA771
    Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® 5440 Series 12MB cache 1333 FSB (MP is 1600 FSB)

    Intel® 5400 Memory Controller Hub (MCH) Intel® 6321ESB I/O Controller Hub (ICH)

    Total Slots: 16 (4-channel)
    Capacity: Maximum up to 64 GB
    Memory Type: Fully-Buffered DIMM DDR2 533/667/800 Reg. ECC

    Total PCI/PCI-X/PCI-E Slots: 4
    Slot Location 1: 1 * PCI-E x16 Gen2
    Slot Location 2: 1 * PCI-E x8 slot (x8 link)
    Slot Location 3: 1 * PCI-E x16 Gen2
    Additional Slot 1: 1 * SO-DIMM socket for optional ASMB3-SOL
    Additional Slot 2: 1 * PCI-X 100/133MHz (for LSI 8300XLP ZCR Card)

    Six SATA (RAID) slots, 1xEIDE, and 8 SAS.

    Quad teamable gigabit LAN.


    1. ASUS DSEB-D16 Server board: $640.00

    2. CPU's: 2x Intel XEON 5440's, 2.83 GHz, $720/each

    3. Case: Silverstone full-tower case, $270.00 w/hot swappable SATA Bays x4

    4. RAM: 4x2GB sticks of fully-buffered 800Mhz RAM: $400.00

    5. HDD: 2x500GB WD RE2 drives: $240.00

    6. Video: ASUS GeForce 8800GT 512MB: $220.00

    7. DVD: ASUS 20X SATA DVD-RW +/- DL with litescribe: $30.00

    8. Firewire: 2x800Mbit, 2x400Mbit firewire card (case has header for front panel accessability) $35.00

    9. Audio: Turtle Beach Montego 5.1 Channel sound card with dual optical out: $40.00

    10. PSU: Zalman ZM1000-HP 1 KW Power Supply: $300

    11. OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit single license OEM: $170 OR Linux (-$170)

    12. Other: Logitech Keyboard + Mouse: $30

    (Components from Newegg)

    Total: $3645 (Linux/Pre-existing Windows license) OR $3815 (Windows Ultimate OEM)

    Mac Pro

    (we all know what the MP has, so I'm not going to spell everything out)

    Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® 5462 Series at 2.80 GHz, 12MB cache 1600 FSB


    1. Server board

    2. CPU's: 2x Intel XEON 5462's, 2.80 GHz

    3. Case: MP Aluminum case

    4. RAM: 4x2GB sticks of fully-buffered 800Mhz RAM: $400.00 (OWC)

    5. HDD: 2x500GB WD RE2 drives: $240.00 (OWC)

    6. Video: nVidia GeForce 8800GT 512MB (+$200 CTO)

    7. DVD: 16X SATA DVD-RW +/- DL

    8. Firewire: 2x800Mbit, 2x400Mbit

    9. Audio: 5.1 Channel with dual optical out

    10. PSU: 1 KW Power Supply

    11. OS: Mac OSX Leopard

    12. Other: Apple Wired Keyboard + Mouse

    13. Other: Bluetooth 2.0

    1-3,7-13 = Base Mac Pro: $2799

    Total: $3640 (keep in mind, you're keeping the original 320GB HDD and 2GB Apple ram, so you will have 10 GB ram and an extra 320 GB HDD compared to the PC with 8GB and 2 x 500 GB).

    Total: $3640

    So a PC equivalent to a Mac Pro cannot be purchased for a cheaper price, but will cost you an additional $175 (or 5$ if you choose Linux or have an extra license of Windows). And not only that, you have to purchase all of these parts and build the computer yourself. So unless you have "mad skillz", your home built PC will be lacking in quality compared to the Mac Pro.

    The only differences between the PC and Mac Pro are the FSB (1333 vs 1600), having those differences was as close as I could get. So getting a processor for the PC with the higher FSB would put the price of the PC even further beyond the price of a Mac Pro. The MP also has an extra 2 GB ram and 320GB HDD (from the base config), giving it even more of a boost.

    Mac Pro advantages: Pre built, better build quality, OSX and Windows, CHEAPER.

    PC Advantages: Better expandability (esp GPU)

    So the next time you use the phrase apple tax, remember that it only refers to the additional components that can be purchased 3rd party (such as ram and HDD's), which any wise consumer would do.
  2. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Just wondering, is the power supply for the PC included in the case you cited?

    I agree though, people who think the Mac Pro is "overpriced" are usually not paying attention to the pedigree of motherboard, RAM, and CPUs utilized and end up not comparing like to like. It's certainly okay to say that Apple doesn't make the machine you might want, but in the case of the Mac Pro, it's not overpriced.
  3. junior77 macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2007
    On the PC side, did you include the cost of Windows XP/ Vista OS license? $300
  4. Mercuric Oxide thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2008
    Oh wow guys, I completely forgot! I did not add the 1 kw power supply or Vista, I will update my post.
  5. maxp macrumors member

    Oct 16, 2006

    Ugh this post REEKS of fanboyism.

    Im only giving the other view here in this no doubt 100/1 sided argument but $300 for windows xp/ vista HAH! Yeah right.

    This whole list is massively inflated, and regardless of whats under the hood of a mac pro you can buy something that matches 95% of its performance for less than half of the price. Seriously come on.
  6. kgarner macrumors 68000


    Jan 28, 2004
    I agree that adding the retail price for windows is a bit much, but I have yet to see anyone who claims that you can build a PC configured like a Mac Pro for less (much less 50% less) offer any proof. I have spec'ed out similar Dell systems and the Mac Pro was cheaper by a long shot
  7. jb60606 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 27, 2008
    now fairly compare the iMac or that Mac Mini to a PC equivalent.
  8. pipomolo42 macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2006
    1/ you do not *need* Windows. you can run Linux
    2/ if you want Windows on a mac, you have to pay for it as well
    3/ a Mac is not expandable. It'll do the trick for some time, but after one year you'll just realize that you have to spend $3000 on a completely new machine, even if more than half of its components are still ok.
  9. Mercuric Oxide thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2008
    I didn't add 300$, I added 170$ for the single license OEM. If you use Linux, that puts the difference to $15. The PC is still more expensive.

    Now, please tell me how you can still get all of that for 50% less???
    Did you not read my post?, the list is not inflated, those are ALL the parts you need to build a pc, and one equivalent to a MP.

    Please elaborate on which parts were inflated, I didn't even add a keyboard and mouse! Just what the computer needs to work.
  10. pipomolo42 macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2006
    please remember that the initial cost is only part of the investment ... and it's simply logical that Apple pays less than you for the different parts. Just try to buy 10000 of each, and see how much it costs per machine then.
  11. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    That's odd, because I used a PowerBook G4 as my main machine for three straight years, bought a Mac Pro and realized that was more power than I needed, sold it, and continued to use the PowerBook until I bought this second-hand MacBook Pro. Said PowerBook went through 4 versions of OS X (shipped with Jaguar, and was still very competent with Leopard when I got rid of it), and handled all of my Internet, schoolwork, and digital video needs for the bulk of its life. I even played WoW on it—it wasn't a screamer, but it worked.

    You can say a lot of things about Macs, but one thing you can't bemoan is their longevity.

    EDIT: Wait, why does that even matter? We're talking about the cost to the end consumer. This is the least sensical point you've made yet.
  12. Mercuric Oxide thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2008
    The "apple tax" is fairly evident in the other systems, but not the Mac Pro. With the Mac Pro, the "50% less" argument is completely invalid.
  13. Mercuric Oxide thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2008
    And you think the companies selling these PC parts do not buy them in bulk? I'm not sure what the point of your post was.
  14. GotPro macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2007
    No... you are using the wrong motherboard.

    The motherboard of the Mac Pro has a 1600MHZ fsb... not 1333...

    You need a SuperMicron 1600MHZ fsb motherboard... add another $200.
  15. GotPro macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2007
    True... but you are leaving out the part where you can still sell your existing machine for $2500 and get a brand new machine for $500.
  16. Mercuric Oxide thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2008
    Yes, I noted that in the end. But even though I provided every spec, some people are still blind to the truth. So by changing that, I would be accused of being a fanboy :D

    Also, I couldnt find the exact processor on sale, so I used the one with the 1333 FSB. But it doesn't matter, as the PC is already more expensive. It would just make it more expensive.. I only wanted to show that equivalent PC's are not cheaper (in the case of the Mac Pro).
  17. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    near Cambridge
    I've just been going through a similar exercise but based on UK prices. The Mac Pro is much cheaper (especially with a student discount) but if you don't need 8 cores then a pc system based on a single 4 core chip is cheaper.

    What really bumps up the price is motherboards for 2 Xeon processors and the Xeon processors themselves.

    A motherboard, 2 2.8GHz Xeons and a decent case (without power supply) alone comes to around £1500 while the student price for the Mac Pro with 500GB drive and 8800 card is less than £1700.

    For many users 8 cores is overkill but in my case I want to run lots of processes in parallel so the Mac looks a bargain. Having said that I've still not taken the plunge and am making do with a dual core Linux workstation.
  18. MIDI_EVIL macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2006
    Just to add...

    Mac Pro comes with a keyboard and mouse, can boot more OS's, has a 1600 FSB not 1333, and near silent operation in an absolutely beautiful aluminum casing.
  19. Mercuric Oxide thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2008
    Yes, some of the PC components aren't as good, as well as some missing.

    I left the keyboard and mouse, as well as a bluetooth card out of the equation. Even foregoing paying for Windows, the MP is still cheaper (than a home built system!)
  20. Mercuric Oxide thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2008
    OK, I made some more updates to the post so people do not think that I am adding things to make the PC cost more.
  21. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    The mac pro, in it's cheapest configuration, is a great deal if you need that much machine. It is the same price or cheaper than an "equivalent" machine.

    the thing about it is, an equivalent machine is a powerhouse workstation, not a "regular" machine.

    95% of the people using a Mac Pro don't need ECC RAM, except that the mac pro requires it. They don't need xeon cores. They probably don't need 8 cores right now, either. They don't need a workstation motherboard or 6 SATA hard drive capacity and a 1K-watt power supply.

    The problem is that you can get (in most situations) 90% of what the mac pro has to offer in a PC that costs half as much or less. There is not, however, an equivalent Mac.

    The imac costs too much and makes WAY too many compromises for the people who complain about the mac pro's cost vs. PCs. These people don't need a mac pro. They need a desktop machine that isn't built on a mobile platform (all non-xeon macs are mobile machines even if they aren't actually mobile).

    the whole point is that nobody who needs a mac pro thinks they are overpriced. They've looked and they know. It's a good deal if you need 32gb of RAM space and processing power out the rear end.

    It's a great deal, actually.

    the problem is that the imac is NOT what most people want, and there is no Apple product that fills the void. If there were, Mac Pro sales would plummet, because most people buying mac pros don't need them. imac sales would plummet, too, because most people would rather buy a shuttle-sized desktop and connect a monitor to it.

    so you're arguing with nobody. you're right, but nobody really cares that much.
  22. jb60606 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 27, 2008
    Mouse & keyboard? Please. A PC comes with one too, but who the hell makes it a buying point?

    Any Intel based PC can run the same operating systems a Mac can and have been able to long before the Mac could. It's not the OS - it's the hardware and the key is the x86 architecture.

    If a PC user wanted a motherboard with a 1600Mhz front side bus, he could buy one.

    If a PC user wanted near silent or even absolutely silent operation, he could buy the components.

    A PC user has thousands of cases to choose from.
  23. speakerwizard macrumors 68000


    Aug 8, 2006
    i think it was in 3d world the other month did a comparison as well and the results were quite amazing how cheap the mac pro really is, i'm extremely happy with mine, not just because i feel it is a bargain but the elegance of upgrading and sound levels. of course i got my ram and extra HD elsewhere though, thats the rules with apple though isnt it? ;)
  24. Infrared macrumors 68000


    Mar 28, 2007
    All of them crap :)
  25. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    1) For more.
    2) For more.
    3) NOTHING out there for PCs looks as good as the cheese grater. Show me some stuff; I like looking at PC cases, but I eventually quit because they're all aesthetically displeasing.

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