MacBook Pro Pricing Compared to Dell Inspiron 1520

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Zadillo, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. Zadillo macrumors 65832

    Jan 29, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    One thing I see that comes up over and over again is how terrible Apple is when it comes to pricing, how they are charging an insane premium and that the MBP's should be sold for much cheaper than they should be.

    Now that the Dell Inspiron 1520 is available, it is now possible to do a head to head between them. My expectation had been that the Inspiron 1520 would provide a much cheaper alternative than an MBP, given Dell's reputation generally for affordable computers, not to mention general differences (i.e. the weight and thickness, etc.).

    So, I configured an Inspiron 1520 as close as possible to an MBP as I could - with a note that some things are better than what you get with the $1999 MBP (such as more VRAM, etc.). I ended up with the following config:

    2.2GHz C2D
    Vista Home Premium (ultimate wasn't an option)
    1440x900 glossy widescreen (not LED backlit though)
    256MB GeForce Go 8600M GT
    2GB RAM
    160GB HD (they don't offer anything smaller)
    Wireless-N mini-card
    Integrated webcam
    2 year warranty

    As noted, this isn't identical (more VRAM, warranty is 2 years instead of 1 year base AppleCare warranty, HD is bigger), but it's as close as I could get.

    Final price on this config was $2136.00, with savings of $292 that brought the total price down to $1844. With tax, my final cost for this system would be $1936.24, compared to $2098.95 for me to buy a base model MBP with tax.

    So, essentially, the similarly spec'd Dell Inspiron 1520 is a total of $162.71 cheaper.

    As noted above, there are pluses for the Inspiron - more VRAM, which plenty of people have complained about on the base model MBP - more HD space. And certainly, an argument can be made that the Inspiron gives you much more flexibility (since one could configure this system cheaper by going with a slower CPU, etc. for example, and one can also configure it with a higher res 1680x1050 screen, for example).

    Also probably worth noting that for another $660 an Inspiron 1520 can be configured with a Blu-Ray drive.

    But I'd also say that there are minuses too.

    a) The Inspiron doesn't have LED backlighting.
    b) The Inspiron 1520 weighs 6.4 pounds, compared to 5.4 for the MBP.
    c) The Inspiron 1520 ranges from 1.47" thick at the front to 1.65" thick at the back, compared to 1" thick across the board for the MBP.

    But ultimately, I'd say that there are pluses and minuses when comparing the two.

    The big thing as I see it though is that I think this shows that Apple is actually offering a pretty darned nice deal with the MBP. The fact that a similarly spec'd Dell Inspiron 1520 (even including $292 in instant savings) is only about $160 cheaper than a base model MBP, indicates to me that Apple is offering pretty darned good value, all things being equal.

    Not saying the Dell Inspiron 1520 doesn't serve its purpose; again, the vast array of configuration options are nice, and Apple just can't compete with Dell on that front.

    I can understand the people who wish there was more flexibility in configuring the MBP, and I won't argue that point here (other than just to say Apple doesn't necessarily have the resources to make such a highly configurable MBP).

    But what I'm hoping to point out here at least is that for the actual configs Apple is selling, they aren't really so abusrdly overpriced - I've seen so many people make claims about how they could get a machine "just as good as an MBP" for $1000 less, and I think this shows that isn't true. Again especially taking the weight and thickness difference into account, I think the pluses of the MBP over the minuses (less VRAM, etc.).

    EDIT: Just wanted to address a few points that people have brought up in this thread.

    1) Yes, I know I am comparing this to the $1999 MBP, and not the $2499. It has been argued that I should have done a comparison with the $2499 MBP because it has 256MB VRAM. This is a fair point, although part of the reason I didn't do that was because the Inspiron 1520 can't be configured with the 2.4GHz C2D in the $2499 MBP. But yes, it would make it more comparable because the VRAM and HD size would be the same.

    But frankly, I'll still make the same point about the $2499 MBP compared to the above Inspiron 1520. Yes, it would be more expensive (taking out the $250-300 difference represented by the 2.4GHz C2D, it would still be about $360 cheaper to get the Inspiron 1520.

    I will still argue then that even the $2499 MBP presents a fair value for what you get (difference in size, weight, etc.).

    2) It's also been pointed out that I didn't mention some obvious things, such as Mac OS X itself, MagSafe, the backlit keyboard, etc. These are all fair points, but I just didn't want to get too into those details here.

  2. Trepex macrumors 6502a


    Apr 5, 2007
    Ottawa, Canada
    Interesting post. Don't forget the design of the MBP and the OS. The thing really is impressive, aluminum case and all, and if that's your cup of tea then you're going to end up paying more for it.
  3. Zadillo thread starter macrumors 65832

    Jan 29, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    Yeah, I didn't want to spend a lot of time on the more subjective things (OS X vs. Vista, the overall design of the MBP vs. the Inspiron, etc.). I did try and spend some time on the objective factors though (the thickness and weight comparison, which I think is important regardless of what you think of the overall design and appearance of the two machines).

    But yeah, those are worth mentioning to some degree - I think they still tie into my main point that Apple isn't charging the super insane premium any more that I think they get accused of.
  4. chex macrumors regular

    May 17, 2007
    I haven't seen any complaints about overpriced hardware since the intel swith tbh. Before the switch there's no doubt that apple hardware was overpriced for what it was.

    Right now you could argue that the macbook is on the verge of becoming an overpriced piece of obsolence, but it has a few months in it yet before that becomes true.

    Having said that, there are a lot of people I know that are holding off buying the macbook because of the lack of Santa Rosa and don't want the pro because of the size.
  5. yudilks macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2006
    Excellent post..

    For me $160 definitely justifies the 'premium' for Mac OS X and the lack of viruses on it (at least for now), and an awesome design with very thin form factor...
  6. L3X macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2006
    Chesapeake, VA
    good post Zadillo, i will refer people to this thread when i'm debating this with someone.

    Another 2 factors that give the MBP some more value is their backlit keyboard, the slot loading drive, instead of the tray loading drive, and iLife suite. Granted, a whole case can be made for OSX over Vista, but Windows does not have anything remotely close to iLife.
  7. NtotheIzoo macrumors regular

    Jan 24, 2005
    Totally agree...I have some friends on the cusp...this will hopefully push 'em over!!
  8. iW00t macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    What a dumb comparison

    Why are you comparing it to the $1999 mbp?

    You should be comparing it to the $2499 MBP because like you know, the Dell has 256mb of vram.

    Suddenly $160 becomes $660.

    The Dell has better video, larger hard drives, and cheaper to boot. On top of that Dell frequently has promos and various coupons that can knock hundreds off retail. Only fanbois will say "Yeah I will pay $160 for osx" in light of such a biased and blind comparison.
  9. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    Well, nice points, but to me it more or less doesn't matter. I won't buy a dell or any windows machine for my graphic design & illustration business anyway, so I don't care about these endless price comparisons.

    For some people the dell is the better tool for the job, for others its the mbp. Whatever the reasons are, programmes, os, games, sleek design, ... almost everything is justified imo.
  10. AkiNikoTanTan macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2007
    Well personally i think that if one compare specs by specs, yes you will get a similar machine somewhere outside at a cheaper price, but remember those are window machines, using a OS which is so much inferior compared to Mac OS X. They might have a better specs but at the end of the day, they still hang for no apparent reasons, need to run anti-virus,anti-spyware to be safe , need regular defragmentation.

    Specs alone cant really justify the value of a computer, there are also other factors to consider too.
  11. Lock macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Yeah, but now the Macbook pro has a 2.4 processor compared to the Dell's 2.2.

    Clearly the 2.2 Macbook is a pretty good deal and the 2.4 isn't worth the price for most people. This has been established in at least a dozen threads that I've read on this site.
  12. Vuzie macrumors regular


    Jun 20, 2007
    Don't get a Dell... please. In 4 years, my current Inspiron has gone through 3 motherboards, 2 LCDs, 3 video cards, 1 fan/cooling unit and DVD/CD-RW drive, 1 hard drive. The only original parts are the case, keyboard, and battery. Not enough problems to warrant a lemon. Oh... and I've had to re-install Windows more times than I care to. Everyone I know that's purchased one has had countless problems. With my system approaching end of serviceable life and warranty... I've gone :apple: without a second thought. You should too.
  13. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    MacBook Pro has a backlit keyboard with aluminium shell and light weight design.

    MacBook Pro has an ambient light sensor that adjusts the screen brightness, aswell as the keyboard brightness.

    MacBook Pro also has motion sensors that detect massive g-forces and freeze the hard drive to try and prevent any data loss during an unfortunate fall.

    MacBook Pro's trackpad features two-finger scrolling - never seen a single laptop other than Mac's that have that (yes some have the scroll thing down the right side of the trackpad but isn't as easy).

    MacBook Pro's come with FireWire 800 (I think it's just FireWire 400 on the Dell...)

    MacBook Pro's all come with a remote control.

    That's why the MacBook Pro costs as much as it does.
  14. Zadillo thread starter macrumors 65832

    Jan 29, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    I'm sorry you found my comparison "dumb", "biased" and "blind" but that wasn't my intention. My point was to try and configure a machine that would be as close as possible to the $1999 MBP.

    I did acknowledge above that the closest Inspiron does have some advantages over this model (extra VRAM, larger HD, etc.).

    Note also that I included the extra $292 instant savings off the normal price, so I did factor in Dell's usual savings/etc.

    I didn't compare it to the $2499 MBP because yes, although it has the same amount of VRAM, the Inspiron 1520 can't be configured with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo (and if it could, you're looking at an extra $250-300 or so just for the CPU upgrade). If the Inspiron 1520 COULD be configured with a 2.4Ghz C2D, the price would still not be that far apart - the $660 difference you mentioned doesn't factor in the cost of a matching CPU.

    I didn't get into that though, because it also wasn't possible to do a direct comparison that way either.

    But frankly, again....... even comparing the Inspiron 1520 I configured with a $2499 MBP, I think the MBP still stacks up very well in that case. Yes, it's more of a significant price difference, but the MBP still has significant premiums - a pound lighter, only 1" thick, LED-backlit screen.

    So even doing that comparison with the $2499 MBP, I think my fundamental p point still stands; Apple is offering a pretty nice machine for not a whole lot more than what Dell is selling their machine for (even factoring in hundreds in Dell "instant savings").
  15. Zadillo thread starter macrumors 65832

    Jan 29, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    Fair points, I didn't want to get into some of the more specific MBP stuff (MagSafe, backlit keyboard, etc.) but these are all factors too.
  16. Zadillo thread starter macrumors 65832

    Jan 29, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    Fair points, and I think it's safe to assume the MacBook will eventually get a Santa Rosa update.

    However, I think one thing we've seen is that Santa Rosa has been a much quieter and less significant update than I think some people thought it would be. The biggest difference for most Santa Rosa consumer laptops right now is the upgrade from GMA950 to GMAX3100 integrated graphics, and those are nice, but for most of the things people use their consumer laptops for, the differences aren't really notable. The GMAX3100 performs somewhat better with 3d games, etc. but it's still a dog, so the real benefit there isn't that strong, I think.

    Honestly, for most of the stuff a MacBook (or a similar HP, Dell, etc.) are used for, I don't think we're seeing major differences between the older platform and Santa Rosa.

    Point taken though. I didn't specifically go into the regular MacBook here, although I think it does still compare favorably to many similar consumer notebooks in its price range.

  17. Zadillo thread starter macrumors 65832

    Jan 29, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    I've gone ahead and updated my original post with an edit at the bottom to address two of the main complaints I've seen (first, that I didn't compare it to the $2499 MBP instead, and second, that I didn't mention OS X itself, MagSafe, backlit keyboard, etc.).
  18. katorga macrumors regular

    Oct 28, 2006
    Plastic vs Metal

    The Inspiron is matches the MBP on feeds'n'speeds, but the quality just is not there. Every single Dell I've used has had a terrible LCD screen. Every Inspiron I've seen rattles at the screen latch. The plastic around the fan vents can get brittle and snap off.

    The Inspiron is thicker, heavier, made out of lower quality material, and has lower quality QA. It is designed to service both the $500 laptop market and the midrange, which means if you configure it with midrange parts and a midrange price, you are still getting $500 laptop quality.

    But it probably will run a lot cooler with all the vents and extra internal air space.
  19. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    Just stating the obvious here but doesn't it boil down to whether it can run Mac OS X or not on this forum?

    I mean, in all fairness, I couldn't care less if Dell introduced a flying notebook with Twin-Turbo "who cares" and what-not. It still cannot run my desired Operating System at the end of the day.

    If you do not require Mac OS X then every other notebook maker is a great alternative and most of the time cheaper too.

    The general experience is that the MacBook Pro leaves one with a much better overall feeling. It just seems more complete and well thought out.
  20. Zadillo thread starter macrumors 65832

    Jan 29, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    Yes, of course. The main reason I created this thread was to address a complaint I've seen often (here and elsewhere) that Apple is charging WAY too much for their machines (and by that, I mean people claiming that Apple is charging like $1000 more than the machine should be, and people claiming that they can get a similar system for that much cheaper elsewhere).

    So I'm merely trying to address the overall price issue and point out that Apple's prices are not as ridiculously high as some people like to claim.

  21. L3X macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2006
    Chesapeake, VA
    regarding the SR update...

    One of my favorite features of the SR chipset is the ability to have 4 GBs of memory. This is the main thing i was waiting on with the MBP.
  22. Fayler macrumors regular


    Jun 6, 2007
    Its ironic that while I was reading this, the Dell desktop I'm on (while I wait for my MBP to get here) crashed...

    I think that $200 more for a MBP is completely worth it. I will never EVER buy another Dell again after watching my friend's Dell laptop go down the hole from a virus even when it had "virus protection" on it and then having to deal with this Dell desktop. While my desktop has never had any hardware issues, the software issues I've had to do with it have just been horrible. I hate reinstalling windows every few months.

    I look forward to handing this Dell off to my father and never having to deal with this beast again, especially when my friends Core Duo MBP runs everything so well compared to my Dell.
  23. AceOfBass macrumors member


    May 13, 2007
    what I don't think has been mentioned yet is that Mac's are made under 1 roof from components that are made to work with each other. PC's on the other hand tend to be "franken-computers" that are just pieced together with whatever happened to be laying around. I would think the price difference is covered by that alone, not to mention OSX kicks the crap out of windows. I made the switch about a week ago and I haven't looked back since.
  24. miniConvert macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2006
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    In terms of raw components, yes, they can be had under other brands for less than Apple charge.

    However, MBP != Inspiron. In terms of quality the MBP is more closely related to the Latitude notebook range, and the price differences are much tighter there. I mean, damn, those latitudes are so big and ungainly - comparing them to a MBP is like comparing oranges and, well, Apples.
  25. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Mar 20, 2004
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    You are right. MBPs should be compared with Latitudes. Inspirons are cheap, fragile, low-quality machines aimed at price-sensitive consumers. My company is always looking for ways to save money but would never stoop to buying Inspirons.

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