The Cost of a DIY iMac: $2929.85

Discussion in 'iMac' started by 12dylan34, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. 12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    So I decided to hypothetically build a semi fully-loaded iMac equivalent on Newegg with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB fusion (1TB HDD+128GB SSD). An iMac similar to this would be around $3000. Turns out my hypothetical build comes to $2929.85. Not a bad difference, if you ask me.

    The big item in this is the display. I got the Dell u2711, which is apparently the same panel used in the iMac, which comes in at almost $1000.

    Some potential points of contention:
    • The GPU. I got the GTX 580 because you can't get the GTX 680MX by itself at the moment to my knowledge, and the 680MX is similar in performance to the 580M. Also, the GPU I chose is 3GB because I couldn't find a 2GB version.
    • The motherboard. I had no idea what I was doing, so just chose one that had both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt. Correct me with a better option if I'm wrong.
    • Power supply. The one that I got has more wattage than that of the iMac, but I believe that it's needed to run this graphics card and all of the other components.
    • Honestly, many of these parts are higher quality than you would get in an iMac.
    • The self-built route has some advantages. More ports, more drive bays, better cooling, and better upgradability and serviceability.

    So that's that. Again, the big thing here is the display. That really put it up there.

    Attached Files:

  2. robanga macrumors 68000


    Aug 25, 2007
  3. Razorhog macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2006
    Thanks for that. So the price is a little cheaper, but not worth the trouble of dealing with a hack. IMHO.
  4. Johnf1285 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 25, 2010
    New Jersey
    The All In One factor is so sleek. That's why I ditched my PC back in July for a 2012 iMac. The box on the floor with all sorts of empty space and big modular parts was just too ugly for my likings.

    I am not new to Macs and have had a few iMacs in the past (amongst other Mac computers), so I am excited to be back!
  5. RoastingPig macrumors 68000


    Jul 23, 2012
    Yamasaki Catleap for 300$ is the exact 27' screen apple uses there just not a+ certified so apple chooses not to use them and then a korean company buys those screens puts em in a generic case and sells them on ebay and that what i use
  6. Thunderbird macrumors 6502a


    Dec 25, 2005
    But it looks like you've selected a mid-tower case. The iMac is an all-in-one. Do you mean to say that you are building a computer equivalent to the iMac's specs, but not necessarily following the all-in-one form factor?
  7. 12dylan34 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    Yes, that would be the case. I guess that "DIY iMac" wouldn't be the best term to use, then.
  8. THOPMedia macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2012
    Yep, my iMac came to 3001 with tax but I am getting the ram separately from crucial so I stuck with the 8gb.

    A fair price for a great quality product.
  9. tann macrumors 68000

    Apr 15, 2010
    Nottingham, England
    I found this as well when I would compare some of the Apple range of computers to competitors and the price difference on a lot of occasions is quite small.

    Only on the more expensive items (iMacs/rMBPs etc) but it is still there.
  10. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Some of the items are more expensive than they need to be like the MB but I guess if you want TBolt, you got to pay. THe SSD also seems very pricey. The PSU is bigger than it needs to be. I would have chosen a GTX670 for a little bit more as it has far lower power requirements and better performance than the GTX580.
  11. MeFromHere macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2012
    Does your display have edge-to-edge antireflective coating? How much extra does this cost?

    Is your display bonded to the glass front panel to eliminate the additional reflections caused by the air gap? How much extra does this cost?

    Is your display individually calibrated, with the calibration results being used to adjust the driver circuitry for optimum viewing? How much does this cost if you hire someone do to it? How much does the proper equipment cost if you do it yourself? (I have no idea what Apple's calibration procedure is, or how the data is used.)

    The first two items make for an obvious improvement in the 2012 iMac compared to the 2011 version. As in, "first 5 seconds" obvious when the systems are viewed side by side. I don't think my eyes are good enough to tell if the individual display calibration matters.

    How much all this matters will vary depending on individual needs and taste. Regardless, I haven't seen anyone point to a display assembly that's truly equal to what Apple is putting in the iMac this year. Price comparisons are kind of weak when we're comparing unlike products.
  12. alksion macrumors 68000


    Sep 10, 2010
    Los Angeles County
    Fact of the matter is that you could build a PC that out benches the iMac for decently cheaper. But there are many things other than RAW specs that make the iMac more appealing to me.

    Good comparison though, you can see that when matching everything as close to the iMac as possible, there isn't too much of difference.
  13. aerok macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2011
    Have you ever seen a u2711? There is almost no glare since it's a matte screen. You can't compare the two!
  14. MacFoodPoisoner macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2012
    A few pointers because I know you are posting in good will, but you are misdirecting people in thinking apple is offering them a bargain:

    Can you get back to us on how much you a DIY 21.5" mac is going to cost, with an ssd and 5400 rpm hard drive, and 16gbs of ram? That's the entry level one maxed out. I think it comes at around $2000. Apple is charging $650 for slightly better cpu+gpu (what about $50 at most price difference), 8gbs of ram (no more than $40) and a 128gb ssd (no more than $70). That's about $160 dollars to $650 dollars, it's close to a 400% margin.

    B. You are comparing a newly released machine... problem is apple was still selling the close to 2 year old imacs with prices from 2 years, while in new egg if you go there say six months from now you 'll get all that at least 15-30% cheaper. That means that in a year's time apple will be making about 30% more ON TOP OF their 40% margins.

    C. You are overpaying for the configuration, some really great 27" panels are coming out at $300-400. The one you put in there from dell might be the same panel apple is using but the color gamut and electronics for it are that of the apple cinema display and it might be the same panel, but that's a huge difference. It's the reason why an nec dispaly or an eizo might cost about 3-4 times more than the same panel by some other guy.
    And it seems you are using desktop parts too (though I didn't check in detail what you did use). BIIIIG difference.

    Great nick, though. :)
  15. TennisandMusic

    Aug 26, 2008
    Your choices could be better. You picked one of the most expensive motherboards I've ever seen. The iMac mobo would be equivalent to a 100 dollar motherboard or so. I would ignore the mobos with a thunderbolt port for price comparisons, as it's just not common yet on the PC. However, you can still get TB on a board in the 100 range.

    So subtract 350 right off the top.

    Second, you picked the most expensive place to buy an old monitor. Look at the u2713. It's newer, cheaper, and can be found place for maybe 600.

    Subtract another 350.

    Immediately we are 700 dollars below your estimate. I could go on and make it similar to what an iMac actually is, but a top quality PC build is still just nowhere near the price of a Mac. I don't get why Apple users CONSTANTLY harp on this. You don't have to justify what you spend, just buy what you want.

    Just for the record I just completed a PC build in the 1100 dollar range with a sick case, top quality mobo, 3570k that I overclock to 4.5ghz, 32gb ram. It smokes just about every computer Apple makes. People just need to give this topic a rest. PCs are just a way better value.

    Not really getting all the insecurity from the Apple side all the time.
  16. hfg, Dec 1, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012

    hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    Just to be fair ...

    We have neglected the "back end" cost/benefits to determine the true cost-of-ownership.

    Consider down the road in 2 or 3 years when you decide to upgrade to a new machine.

    How much will you sell your iMac for used?

    How much will you get for your home-built PC parts used?

    Given that the acquisition costs are fairly close, adding the used sales value to the equation will probably significantly lower the cost-of-ownership of the iMac over a home-built PC / Hackintosh making the Apple product the better buy.
  17. 12dylan34 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    Just to be clear, this isn't a hackintosh. If you look, it's got Windows 8 in the basket. I constantly hear "I can build a PC twice as fast as that for half the price," and I believe that I've proven those that say this wrong by doing this comparison.

    I bought a mostly fully loaded 27 inch yesterday, and I was just happy to see that a custom build was almost negligibly cheaper than what I paid for my machine. Yes, it has distinct advantages, but I wouldn't want to buy a Windows machine no matter what.
  18. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    This may be personal preference, but I'd take an NEC PA271W at $952 instead of the Dell. They used to be much more expensive than the U2711. Both are aimed at similar markets. I used the B+H link because they're the cheapest I can think of on that one. I wanted to show you can get it below $1000 now. It was also significantly better than the last imac display. I'll reserve judgement on the new one until some of the blogs publish their occasionally flawed test results.
  19. Razorhog macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2006
    And don't forget OS X. It's the magic bullet for me. On a per component basis, a PC is a better value. But OS X is very important - as well as aesthetics and resell value. Apple products are a premium, even a luxury item. Infinity vs Kia.
  20. cirus macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2011
    This is a really flawed comparison.

    Agree with you here.

    580 is a really bad gpu for comparison. Compare it to the 670 (a bit more) or a 7950, both of which are more powerful.

    The screen is completely optional. I don't know why people always, when they make a comparison, include the screen. If I buy/build a pc, im going to use a monitor that is good enough for me to get the job done. For most people that is a 22-24 inch 1080p screen. Sure the imac has a great screen but if i would never buy that screen to begin with (some people find 27 inches too large) then it adds little value to me. Apple does not sell powerful components without that screen (so i'm going to have it if i buy a 27 inch imac) however, i can buy a pc without that screen. What i mean by this is if im the type of person who does not require a 27 1440p screen then it cannot be included in cost comparisons between pc and imac (because I would never buy it if I didn't have to).

    In that case the price comparison would be skewed further.
  21. definitive macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    there are cheaper ips screens out there. either way that system would run circles around an actual imac, and would have tons of space for future upgrades, so you wouldn't have to spend another $2k+ when the next revision of imac comes out.
  22. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    you have to include the screen apple uses. The point of the exercise isn't to see whether there's a cheaper computer out there that does what you want - it's to see how much of an "apple tax" there is given the components used.

    What you're trying to do is the equivalent of configuring a car to be equal to a BMW and then using a cheap engine nowhere near a the power or quality in the BMW because "you don't need the better one." That's fine - a cheaper engine may work just fine for you - but it really doesn't prove that the BMW is overpriced for what it is, just that it doesn't fit your needs to pay for the quality.
  23. 12dylan34 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    It's not a bad comparison. The purpose of this was to build a machine of similar performance to the iMac and see how much it was. The desktop 580 is of similar performance to the 680MX in the iMac, so it's the logical thing to choose. I also admitted the benefits of upgradability, cooling, and serviceability of the custom build in my original post.

    I knew that there were potentially flaws in what I chose, but I figured that people like you would (sort of) correct me to attain a more accurate estimate.

    (Not for cirus) Also, I openly admitted that I had no clue what I was doing with the motherboard in my original post, but I'm hard pressed to find a dual channel thunderbolt motherboard for under $180. I realize the one I chose was around $450, but another guy said the one in the iMac is worth $100.

    Also, I think it's only partially about justification to me. A custom PC build comes with $5000 of software and plugin repurchasing for me, so Windows is totally out of the question and was never an option.
  24. cirus macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2011
    Yes its a bad comparison. It doesn't matter if performance is roughly equal, its price/performance index is badly skewed making it a poor choice (580 is not a recommended buy at this time).

    I can give an example using cpu's; a i7-3770k is about the same performance wise as a i7 990x extreme edition. (

    So the logical thing is to choose the i7 990x (old tech-same as the 580) over the i7 3700k. Lets just ignore the fact that the i7 990x costs about $1121 ( while the i7 3770k costs about $329 (

    For about the same price ($10 more) you can get a 7970 with three free games that is significantly faster ( and can be overclocked even faster (and uses much less power). If you want to keep it nvidia then the gtx 670 is about $375.

    You gotta pick stuff that makes sense in these comparisons.

    @ QCassidy352

    Fair point.

    Agree with you about comparison about apple tax. I just also want to point out to others that these comparisons are flawed if we make a comparison based always on apple tax rather than what one actually needs. Stuff always gets added to the pc and increases its price but the stuff that the pc may have that the imac doesn't have seems to sometimes slip by (probably not in this case though).

    Yes apple tax comparison is important, but ultimately you buy a computers based on your needs, and hence usability.
    (Im thinking if im required to buy it (the 27 inch imac and its screen) to get the better gpu and cpu then its sort of like an apple tax if I don't want the better screen).
  25. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It depends on the developer. Some of the larger developers are extremely lenient if you want to switch. $5000 can represent a couple applications or many, so I have no idea how much work would be involved in checking.

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