Price Point / Value Debate : Custom PC vs Mac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by captkirkmtl, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. captkirkmtl, Aug 3, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011

    captkirkmtl macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2010
    #1
    Hi everyone,

    Dreadfully I admit... I bought a windows PC.

    I've been using my trusted 20'' aluminum iMac since 2008. Love it a lot. I also installed Lion on it too. But there was an issue... The ATI 2400 XT did not allow me to play Starcraft 2 at High Settings. I could not also upgrade the GPU which was a shame, because its a beautiful computer and the OS is the worlds best.

    I started investigating the possibility of replacing my iMac with a new iMac. The price was unaffordable for me. I could not afford 1000+ computer.

    A friend (also mac user) suggested i build a custom Gaming rig for half the price of the lowest iMac Config. I built my custom PC from parts on sale at ncix.com and build a very very powerful system. The total cost was ~450. The spec's are:

    Phenom X4 955 3.2 ghz Quad Core - 120 $
    MSI Motherboard - 100 $
    8gb of DDR3 RAM - 60 $
    500 gb HDD - 30 $
    Radeon 4650 1gb - 60 $
    600 Watt PSU (Coolmaster) - 45 $
    Antec 300 Gaming Case - 40 $
    Windows 7 - 0 $ (my university offers win7 copies for free)


    I can now play Starcraft 2 at Maxed out Settings at 1080p on my LG LCD screen. I'm also planning on playing Diablo 3 on this PC too.

    My question is... Is there a problem with mac computers? Or are we paying premium prices not for performance, but for the "overall" package of features? The mac mini is about 580 CDN right now and its nowhere near the custom rigs performance point and the custom rig cost ~450.

    I'd like to also add that its been a hard transition from the Mac OS to Windows 7, LOL. But it has to be done, because budget-wise, I cannot game for 1000+ $ computer or even a mac mini that has barely the performance of the custom rig. Or am i missing something here? I've been trying to rationalize my decision to buy a custom-rig for the past 1-2 weeks. Was it the right decision?
     
  2. rockyroad55 macrumors 601

    rockyroad55

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Location:
    Phila, PA
    #2
    No, no problem at all. You are a smart buyer because you based your computer on your needs (check out this other thread on the MBP section where some guy bought his just because he liked the aluminum body) so you weighed out your choices and got some valuable opinions from your friends.

    You are a gamer and I definitely can agree with using Windows for gaming and I hope other users here agree with me on that. No matter how nice a Mac can be, at the end of the day, I WANT TO PLAY BFBC2 ON MY WINDOWS NOT MY IMAC!!! I respect your choice and most users just prefer Mac OS over Windows because of its refined look and "simplicity." Hey, at least you have an iMac still right?

    Also, can your custom rig run BFBC2 or even BF3? Family member wants to build a rig but has no clue how to do it.
     
  3. captkirkmtl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2010
    #3
    I think BF3 can run on medium-high settings i assume. Tell your family member to visit www.ncix.com . Its a canadian company which has incredible prices on computer parts. Really good stuff.

    Regarding that person who bought a mbp because it had a aluminum body. I choose the iMac because I believed in Computing as a lifestyle choice in 2008 and maybe i had the money to spend on such devices. Right now Canadians and Americans are in tough times. So its really hard to justify that decision any more. Money is hard to come by in the recent months. I guess if it wasn't tough times i would still go ahead and buy a 27'' iMac.

    I guess to a certain extent this thread exists to justify my purchase to myself, LOL. But I feel like this issue exists in the mac environment. Most ppl debate this issue quite a bit. The Mac price point vs PC price point. Oh well, lol...
     
  4. kellen macrumors 68020

    kellen

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #4
    How much was windows 7? Not listed in your build.

    Not really a secret that gaming is more cost effective on the windows side.
     
  5. captkirkmtl thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 27, 2010
    #5
    Windows 7 is free for University Students under the MSDN program.

    A non-university student might have to dish out 200-300 bucks for win7. Easily making it 800 right away.
     
  6. klinic macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    #6
    It will run it, but don't expect it to be fun for it. :p I have a GTX 480 in my gaming rig, and BF:BC2 still stresses it. But in DX10 and simply "high" settings without 32xAA my old GTX 260 could do it easily. And those could probably be had for about $100 now. I sold mine over a year ago for $200.
     
  7. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #7
    If you are a gamer Windows would be the obvious choice, but if you wanted a Mac you could always run Bootcamp and get the exact same speed if it was a native Windows built machine.

    That way you have Mac OS for whatever you want to do and then you have Windows to game on.
     
  8. rockyroad55 macrumors 601

    rockyroad55

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Location:
    Phila, PA
    #8
    What's a good graphics card for it? I was looking at the GeForce 9500 GT.

    Also, to anyone that needs help getting a legitimate copy of W7 or Office Suite, there is a way to do it, but PM me. Not soliciting it, it's a legit way to get it, no thing illegal.
     
  9. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #9
    You see these "value" threads from time to time. Quite often I'll point out that OS X has some intrinsic value but on a pure hardware comparison, Apple gear tends to be expensive.

    Here is an example. We have some old Core 2 Duo Mac Minis. I wanted to put Lion on them. Oops. Can't do that. I mean it's great that OS X runs so smooth on only 1 gig of RAM but now that Lion wants 2 gig, I have to go digging for a putty knife. Then I find that there is nothing I can do to get Time Machine backing up properly on my wife's machine. My machine backs up to a Time Capsule all the time over 802.11n with no (recent) problems. Hers can't even get through a single backup "seeding" all her files over. Then I find out all our Minis only have 802.11g. G? Are you serious? No problem. I'll grab one of those $13 usb N cards. NOT. Apparently they are windows only. So not only does Apple gear cost more up front (for arguably better build quality and a better OS), but it often costs more to upgrade later on. I suspect this is due to economies of scale. There are thousands of windows boxes for every Mac and if I was making a usb gadget and I was in a hurry to get the thing out, I know that if I'd resort to a Windows only approach, I'd have more possible buyers.

    So I can repeat how to me it's "worth it", what I won't do is claim they are on a par except in a few circumstances. For instance, today there was an article saying the PC makers were having problems competing with Macbook Air on price for the same hardware. I've little interest in gaming. I play a little quakeworld now and again. Heck that runs on a 486 so of course I can run it on any Mac, even these Intel graphics based machines we have around here. But I won't fault anybody for choosing a custom PC rig for gaming. What I will say is that if you want a great end to end experience and gaming isn't a top priority, you can't go wrong with Mac gear. To many users it's "worth it" but if all you have is $400 and you are standing in front of a display with a $999 Macbook Air, a $599 Mac Mini and a $300 windows box, I'm not gonna fault you for walking out with what you can afford.
     
  10. captkirkmtl thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 27, 2010
    #10
    Spot on. Luckily I have the luxury of just using the new PC for only gaming and the iMac for my everyday computing. Just wanted to explore this idea a bit before i came to any conclusions.
     
  11. Epic Xbox Revie macrumors 6502a

    Epic Xbox Revie

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  12. RWil85 macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 2, 2010
    #12
    probably in a way that can't be discussed on these forums..
     
  13. Epic Xbox Revie macrumors 6502a

    Epic Xbox Revie

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    #13
    He said something about his university. I was wondering if I was eligible as a university student as well. :rolleyes:
     
  14. RWil85 macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 2, 2010
    #14
    my apologies..that was too much reading for me at this time of night - i assumed, haha.

    when i was using a windows laptop back in college - i remember being able to get things like MS Office Suites, etc. at a discounted rate - but, never free..

    interesting.
     
  15. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2009
    #15
    Windows (OEM) can be bought from Newegg for $100 (Home Premium).
    It's OEM though, so it has to stick with that computer and if you buy a new motherboard, you'll need a new license (another $100). I heard that you can call Microsoft, tell them the board died, and they might be able to reactivate it for you.

    Glad you are liking your PC. Building is fun.
     
  16. Epic Xbox Revie macrumors 6502a

    Epic Xbox Revie

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  17. captkirkmtl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2010
    #17
    Software Engineering Students are given Windows 7 for free. Most developer students are given stuff for free in most universities. At least thats the case in my university.

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/academic/default.aspx

    This is microsofts site. You can check if your university is enrolled in this program.
     
  18. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #18
    Any of the Radeon or GeForce cards where the second digit is a 6 or below is a low end card for gaming such as the 9500GT you mention. Also the GeForce 9500GT is several generations old. As is the Op's Radeon 4650. I wouldn't even want to play a new game on my Radeon 4850 even though it was a high end card as it is two generations old now.

    I'm a fan of ATI cards myself. Mainly because of the lower energy usage. I wouldn't bother with anything lower than a Radeon 6850 which is only about $150 at Newegg.com and is exponentially more powerful than the GeForce 9500 or Radeon 4650. The difference in graphics settings that can be achieved is not just minor it is quite dramatic. If you can swing the price of a 6870, 6950 or 6970 I would get one of those.

    Be sure to also get a good power supply to run the card. I recommend getting an 80 plus certified PSU. They are energy efficient and actually hit the watts they advertise. This Xigmatek looks pretty good if you are on a budget. Don't go with one of those cases that come with a PSU they are garbage. Also don't reuse a PSU they wear out overtime and when it goes it can fry the entire computer.
     
  19. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Pa
    #19
    OP: You are exactly correct in that the cost of a mac is not the components specifically that go into it, but rather the cost of buying into an ecosystem, and the looks.

    I myself had a Macbook Pro and a gaming desktop, but when it came time for a new computer, I got a Dell Vostro laptop, and found it was more powerful than my desktop, for about 1/2 the price of a comparable Macbook Pro. Was it worth it? To me, 100% worth it. I save about $1000, and to be honest I dislike the idea of the App store for OS X, and the closed wall iEcosystem.

    The main thing to remember is that you've just switched OS's. Don't try to do things the same way, do things the Windows way. Use folders to organize your photos, instead of iPhoto. You can just leave your music where ever it is, and have WMP or Zune search those folders for all music files. There's no need to keep everything in a single location. Etc etc etc...

    Lastly, as far as components go, get a better graphics card and CPU if you haven't purchased them already. They're both a generation (or two) old.
     
  20. rockyroad55 macrumors 601

    rockyroad55

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Location:
    Phila, PA
    #20
    Some colleges have engineering departments with free software, but the schools don't really differentiate between students. I'm a Business major but got the Office suite and W7 for free because I just logged into that department with my school credentials.
     
  21. RWil85 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2010
    #21
    Very nice, crafty stuff..

    Wish there was a workaroundthat i knew of like that while i was in school..
     
  22. captkirkmtl thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 27, 2010
    #22
    Interesting. Its surprising windows licensees each worth 200-300 bucks are just being handed out like that, lol.
     
  23. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #23
    A single license may be worth that to some people, but a long term Windows user is worth a lot more to Microsoft. Giving students cheap software is a way to get them locked in.
     
  24. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #24
    That's for the home edition. Which I don't think they make many sales of. Most of the licenses are sold through OEM's like Dell. Whom don't pay anywhere near that much.

    Considering that single OEM copies run $100 for Win 7 Home Premium and that 3 License upgrade packs are $150 or $50 per license. I would imagine that Microsoft gets less than $50 per Windows home version sold.

    The much bigger cash cow is Office. Which many people purchase every two or three generations.
     
  25. rockyroad55 macrumors 601

    rockyroad55

    Joined:
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    #25
    If you are a student, you can get Windows for free or a huge discount off them. I purchase Office for Mac every time a new version arrives since I love updating myself to newer tech and my school also updates everything at about the same time too so it helps.
     

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