Price of Apple's MacBook vs. Dell's Inspiron Notebook: A Theoretical Experiment

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ericmjl, Jul 6, 2006.

  1. ericmjl macrumors member

    Jul 3, 2006
    In comparing the prices of Apple Macs and Dell portables, my research team (i.e. myself) has found that between Apple Macs and Dell portables, when configured for theoretically similar performance and features, Dell portables cost much more than Apple MacBooks.

    My research team (i.e. myself) went to the Apple Canada Education Online Store, and configured a white MacBook 2.0GHz with the following configuration:
    • 13.3" Widescreen Display
    • 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo Processor
    • 1GB DDR2 SDRAM (512x2)
    • 120GB HDD
    • iWork '06 Pre-installed
    • SuperDrive (4x)
    • Airport Extreme
    • Apple MiniDVI-VGA Adaptor
    • Mac OS X 10.4.2
    Not forgetting that all Macs come with the following:
    • Front Row Remote
    • Bluetooth 2.0+ EDR
    • Built-in iSight
    • Mac OS X CD
    • iLife '06
    The price for this configuration is C$1845.

    In order to obtain a comparable Dell system with theoretically similar performance, my research team (i.e. myself) chose a Dell Inspiron 640m with the following configuration (justification for selections in parentheses):
    • 14.1" XGA Display (most similar to 13.3" display in terms of viewing area)
    • 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo Processor
    • Windows XP Media Center Edition
    • Genuine Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005 backup CD (to equal the Mac OS X CD included)
    • 1GB DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz, 2 Dimm (to equal the capacity of the MacBook)
    • 120GB HDD
    • 8X CD/DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW) with double-layer DVD+R write capability
    • 85 WHr 9-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery (to equal the MacBook's battery life)
    • Dell Wireless 350 Bluetooth Internal (2.0 + Enhance Data Rate)
    • Easy Media Creator 8 (to equal functions of iLife, although not the ease of use)
    • D-Link DSB-320 USB Web-Cam (to equal iSight)
    • Dell Ditty 512MB Flash MP3 Player (to provide equalization (though not true equalization) of the free iPod Nano 2GB promotion by Apple for Education Customers)
    • Microsoft Office Basic- Includes Word, Excel, and Outlook email (similar, though not equal to iWorks)
    • Remote Control for Windows XP Media Center Edition (to equal the Front Row remote)
    • Combo: Paint Shop Pro, Photo Album Premium, and Paint Shop Xtras (to equal iPhoto)
    • Combo: Sonic DigitalMedia and MyDVD Plus (DVD+RW only) (to equal functions of iMovie and iDVD, as well as native Mac OS X burning capabilities)
    The price for this configuration is C$2125.

    My research team (i.e. myself) realized that the myth of Macs being more expensive than PCs can be easily debunked. Yes, the base price of Macs is more expensive than a PC - the unconfigured Mac was C$1349 compared to C$999 for the unconfigured Dell Inspiron notebook. But then compare what you get - no Bluetooth built-in, no Front Row remote, no iSight, no iLife... think about how much you miss out on. Not forgetting the integration between iLife software, and the ease of use that comes with it.

    But when you try to bring in equalization add-ons, such as additional software and hardware, you'll find that the Dell Inspiron notebook costs much more than the MacBook (at least C$280 more). Even with taxes, the MacBook is C$2103.30, which is still less than the Dell. It is easy to see how PC manufacturers, especially Dell, try to cut corners in order to cut costs. The hidden costs of these extras are masked by the low prices of their baseline, and baseless, configurations.

    My research team (i.e. myself) would strongly recommend a Mac to anybody looking for security (from Windows viruses) and ease of use. If anybody tries to bring out price as an option, please refer them to this experiment posted here on MacRumors Forums. (For citation, please just use the URL of this thread.) Additionally, my research team (i.e. myself) would recommend that other users perform the same experiment with other PC manufacturers, such as HP, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Acer etc., and come up with other prices. Not only would this provide a stunning Mac vs. PC price comparison, it would also help reveal price comparisons between PC manufacturers.

    All-in-all, Mac provides more value for money than PCs.

  2. yankeefan24 macrumors 65816


    Dec 24, 2005
    Thank you for the breakdown. 2 suggestions:

    either have both edu prices or neither of them. Unfair apple edge.
    If both are non-edu prices, you shouldn't include the dell memory thingy. If both are edu prices, then you should.

    Thank you!
  3. generik macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2005
    The Macbook is very competitively priced yes. Can't say the same for the MBP though..

    Also one aspect of pricing you conveniently neglected to mention is that from time to time (virtually all the time actually) you can get vouchers and coupon codes that'd take 30-40% of your total price easily. Apple on the other hand.. doesn't negotiate with terrorists (us)
  4. milozauckerman macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2005
    Base 640n w/ 1GB RAM standard, 1.83GHz processor - $823
    Base Macbook w/ 512MB RAM standard - $1099

    That's what people look at. No, you don't get a CD - most people don't notice (though they should). And you don't get Bluetooth, but most people buying the lowest-end laptop don't notice and don't care. Hard Drives are the same, processor's the same, Dell actually gives you more memory.

    This isn't a surprise - Dell knew that they had to introduce a basic Core Duo laptop priced lower than Apple's offerings.

    Is it worth the premium to me? Sure. (Well, technically, no, I have zero interest in the bottom Macbook but hypothetically...). What a consumer sees going in is that Apple's price is kinda competitive (though noticeably higher), but certainly not cheaper.
  5. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Funny, when I ordered my 17" MBP, I had a look to see what a similar system wuld have cost from Dell--was WAY more expensive from Dell, as well as thicker and heavier. I was quite surprised by how much, actually.

    And though I don't have the figures handy, I did a straight-across Dell-Sony-MacBook comparison about three weeks ago, and while Dell and Sony both offered models that cost much less than the base MacBook, they often were borderline useless--no wireless or something like that. The end result was that a similarly configured system, even if you just stuck with XP Home (which is NOT equivalent to OSX, particularly on a dualcore system) was usually about 10% more with Dell or Sony, even taking into account all their specials and coupon codes.

    None of this was with any sort of educational discount--just straight forward online store prices on that particular day.

    As milozauckerman said, the big difference is that Dell and most other manufacturerers offer a "Base" model that looks good but has every corner cut to bring the price down. If you really do just want a dirt cheap laptop, this is good for you. If, however, you actually might use the extras, you're either going to end up paying more once you end up custom-configuring the Dell, or you're going to be frustrated when you later on have to buy a webcam... and a wireless card... and a DVD burner... and a better battery... etc.

    It's one of the reasons I feel better about pointing the unexperienced toward a Mac--even if they just buy the base model, they're not going to come to me later wondering what they need to buy to do X, since it comes with pretty much everything you need even at the base model.

    Then there are the little nice things that you probably wouldn't pay for, but might well enjoy, like a copy of Comic Life and Omni Outliner included with every Mac.
  6. lu0s3r322 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 28, 2005
    well let's say u shop at the apple education store, to compare with that you can find dell coupons online everywhere. you can save up to $750 with the dell you configured so the final price, if the buyer is smart, is i think $1375, $500 less than the macbook
  7. DevilsRejection macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2006
    dell's are built like crap, people pay more for apple quality, and i pay the most for thinkpad quality.
  8. drake macrumors 6502a


    Jul 5, 2005
    No coupons in Canada.
  9. theBB macrumors 68020


    Jan 3, 2006
    At least Dell is offering free shipping AND handling now. A few months ago, they had free shipping, but you had to pay $50 for handling. What a load of BS that was!
  10. ericmjl thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 3, 2006
    Yes, both of the prices are education prices, and I factored in 14% taxes in British Columbia to figure out how much the MacBook would cost after taxes (that's the C$2000+ figure). I didn't do that for the Dell, however.
  11. Doctorsti macrumors regular

    May 30, 2006
    I was going to get a macbook but all the little problems here and there prevented me from buying right now. The reason I bring this up is because Dell edu is currently offering 35% off the inspiron 1505 which has a 15 inch high def screen with 2.0 GHz dual core, 2 GB memory and 100 GB HD with all the fixins, besides Office since iwork doesn't come included with the macbook. My price after mail in rebate for the silver level protection was 1400 dollars give or take 20 or 30 dollars. Now I do realize that the inspiron is 1.6 inches thick and weighs almost 6 pounds but for that power and screen size it's competative with a MBP... oh yeah and it had a 256 nvidia video card. Soooo I have to say if I was going to buy another machine right now it would have been the Dell. Between edu discount and 35% off I got over 1000 dollar discount.. try that on a mac. To redeem myself for this post I will say that while the Dell is a much much much better bang for the buck I am going to save my pennies and get a MBP in the spring when Leopard comes out. I will be likely spending a considerable more amount of money but I really want to try out the mac OS and leave my windows days in the past. We'll see. I hope Vista doesn't come out around the same time and work really well. (I am not holding my breath)
  12. Yoyodyne macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2005
    I think that is a great point that many holed-in Mac users don't see. The majority of experienced Dell buyers never pay the advertised price. Check out Notebook for the mentioned coupons.

    Secondly, the OP (and Dell, I admit) bundled some unnecessary software, which can easily be replaced by freeware that is both closed and open source. Believe or not, but XP has internal applications that do most of those functions, Microsoft just doesn’t focus on them in their marketing.

    The beauty of Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, etc. is that not everyone wants Bluetooth, a webcam, or simply wants more than two choices of laptop models. Yes, the MacBook is a great value and is in most cases the best buy. I do not agree that Apple has the best prices when you look at the big picture. For instance, to get a tower in the PC world is infinitely cheaper, and it will last longer than a soldered, cramped up All-In-One like the iMac. To get a tower from Apple will cost a minimum of $1999.

    It’s all about what you need: sometimes Apple is cheaper depending on your preferences. So an objective statement, that an Apple computer is the best value, is bunk on such a subjective and variable problem.
  13. AvSRoCkCO1067 macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2005
    What about service? Eesh I work at Sears and so service is a huge deal for me...AppleCare is, in many ways, superior to Dell's Customer Service, right???

    Especially, of course, if you live near an Apple Store...
  14. Demoman macrumors regular

    Mar 29, 2005
    Issaquah, WA
    Another Dell plant - I cannot believe there are on this message board. You are so obvious; come on an Apple board and start selling Dells, MS, or just dumping on Apple. You folk are really running scared.
  15. Timepass macrumors 65816

    Jan 4, 2005
    Hate to nit pick but you need to have some way on the apple mac book to make up the fact that it Superdrive is only a x4 burner and Not dual layer compared to the macbook. Also all that extra paint stuff makes it better than iPhoto. to get about what iPhoto is just down load Paicaisa from google.

    And the said part is Dell extra deals shoudl be included because dell always has something going on.

    lastly you need something to make up for the fact that the dell monitor is bigger.
  16. Doctorsti macrumors regular

    May 30, 2006
    yes the dual layer 8x DVD burner was the other thing that even the MPB could't top unless you went 17 inch and then you were spending 3K dollars. Oh and I am not a "Dell plant" I really really want a Mac but get tired of hearing how "macs are just as affordable as a PC spec for spec" becuase it's completely untrue. If I wanted to buy another Dell I would have but I am going to save for an expensive Mac.
  17. vv-tim macrumors 6502

    May 24, 2006
    Holy cow... this "research" is so skewed it's NUTS!

    First of all... I configured a Dell E1405 (which I believe is the same as a 640m) to the same specs as a MacBook and with the 30% coupon (common all the time, sometimes go up to 40%) it's $750 shipped.

    $750 vs $1099. That's a $350 premium. Now... the E1405 has a few benefits over the MacBook. It's cooler, cheaper, and can use an extended battery. The MacBook, however, has an iSight camera -- though I rarely use mine -- and looks amazing.

    I'd still pick the MacBook... but yeah.

    You added a whole lot to that Dell that shouldn't be there -- including the extended life battery. The extended battery gives you 7+ hours of battery life on the E1405, that's a whole lot more than you get on a MacBook.

    That said, I'm a huge mac fan. I paid $2000+ for my MBP because I love the design of Apple, not the price.

    The MacBook does show a great value if you factor in design, but if aesthetics aren't important, Dell still beats Apple hands-down for price.
  18. evangelion-01 macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2006
    I looked into this before i bought my macbook, and i got a dual layer dvd burner + 20gigs extra of hdd space and 1gig of ram for about 900bucks, but i decided to go with apple because i wanted to try os x and because is cute ^_^
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I really don't like Dells, but there's way too much wrong with this comparison to take it seriously.

    All in all, I think the MacBooks and Dells are both competitively priced enough that the small price advantage of one over the other isn't an issue.
  20. dextertangocci macrumors 68000

    Apr 2, 2006
    Are you still going on about that whole thinkpad thing?
  21. DevilsRejection macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2006
    yea, why shouldn't i?
  22. wingsky macrumors member

    Jan 17, 2006
    After glancing through the first few sentences and seeing "education" I thought uh oh, this is going to be pretty objective! :rolleyes:

    But seeing as you took the Dells edu discount aswell (I didn't know they had one!) it should be ok, for some people.

    Honestly though, the constant use of the phrase "My research team (ie. myself)" on almost every paragraph p****d me off no end :)

    Thanks for you work though
  23. Mr Skills macrumors 6502a

    Mr Skills

    Nov 21, 2005
    Sorry, I know no-one likes the grammar police but since you were making such an effort to be official in style and economical in your writing.... you should really say "i.e. me", not "i.e. myself" ... I only mention it because you are adding unnecessary syllables to otherwise efficient writing!

    Er.. what? Me? Who? Nothing...
  24. generik macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2005
    Final verdict?

    Underspeced (inspite of premium!)
    Buggy (inexperienced at making PeeCees)

    Good value for money
    Superior Specs
    Apart from Windows (which can be easily resolved with.. hello Maxxus!), no heat whine moo issues!
    Function over form!
    Many years of experience in making PeeCees!
  25. JMG macrumors 6502a


    May 4, 2006
    This "research" is a joke. Dell's don't get discolored. Not everyone here gets the educational discount or free nano, which is a $200 dollar product. The superdrive is only x4 vs the x8 you stated in your post. iPhoto is not comparable to paint shop and etc. Try again. :rolleyes:

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