Why the price discrepancy between PCs and Macs?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Eanair, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. Eanair macrumors 6502


    Feb 27, 2009

    I’m not trying to offend anyone or start anything trollish – but I have an honest question about pricing and comparisons between Macs and PCs.

    In a few threads about the recent iMac updates, I’ve read comments where people have said that the value for money with a Mac is, essentially, not worth it compared to a PC. That, for a similar price, you can obtain/build/upgrade a PC with much better specs.

    Case in point, my partner upgraded his own PC recently for £930 (approximately $1309.90) including tax with the following specs:

    Intel Quad Core i7 I7-920
    6 GB DDR RAM
    500 GB HD
    NVIDIA GTX 260

    Now, compared to me prepared to shell out $1,199.00 (excluding tax) for the upgraded 20 inch iMac with these specs:

    Intel Core 2 Duo
    2 GB DDR RAM
    320 GB HD
    NVIDIA 9400M

    So, what exactly is it that we Mac users are paying “extra” for?

    Is it the OS? The status symbol? (I’ve heard many argue that a Mac is a status symbol) Hardware? Software? Reliability? Customer service not based in India?

    When I was in college, I had friends who had PCs and friends who had Macs. We had about the same level uses for them – paper writing, number crunching, internet surfing/chatting, researching, etc. During college, and after college, most of my friends who were working with PCs had to have parts replaced frequently, send them out for work frequently, and for some of them, just go out and buy a whole new PC when the old one failed. One of them went through 3 PC laptops in the span of 2 years because parts kept breaking and it ended up being better for her to just scrap the old machine and get a brand new one.

    Meanwhile, my friends with Macs were still happily carrying on with the same machine they originally got first year of college or even before while they still were in high school. No one I knew with a Mac had to utilize the AppleCare they bought, and as time went on, their Mac was still a fine machine and they had no need to replace it with a newer model. I would still be happily working on my 4+ year old Powerbook if it hadn’t been stolen. However, it seemed that there was a higher turnover rate with my friends who had PCs.

    So, that got me thinking, even though the price is higher for a Mac, does it last longer than a PC? All that money you might initially save with a PC you might have to keep spending for repairs, or for a new PC altogether?

    Granted, it could be that my PC friends just had the unfortunate luck to get bad quality stuff and vice versa for my Mac friends, and also you have to take into account PCs that are built from scratch by people with the know-how rather than mass produced machines you can get at any electronic store, but is this something other people have observed? If you compare a PC and Mac that you can just pick up at any store like Best Buy, are their turnover/breakage rates significantly different? Is that why/how Apple justifies a higher price tag for Macs with lower specs than PCs?

    (or maybe I’m just overanalyzing and Apple just charges what it charges because it’s Apple and it can, and we just have to take it and vote with our wallets)

    I know this is just personal anecdotal experience, but it was just something I was wondering about when I was comparing PC and Macs between my friends. Any thoughts about why the discrepancy between different pricing for Macs and PCs? (if there even is a hard fast why)
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    There are probably a hundred threads on this topic, if you take the time to search the forums. If you prefer a Mac (for whatever reason), buy a Mac. If you prefer a PC (for whatever reason), buy a PC. They're not the same, and it's not realistic to expect them to be priced the same.
  3. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
  4. Eanair thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 27, 2009
    I did search the forums for mac pc price difference (and tried discrepancy too) and got results talking about C++.

    EDIT: And posts which did address a price difference were merely saying "Macs are prettier wink wink" or something similar.

    If it's not realistic to expect them to be priced the same, why were several comments in the new iMac threads bringing up how for the same/less amount of money, you could get a more tripped out PC? (and users were then saying goodbye Mac, hello Windows 7)

    Is that just a case of the internet being, well, the internet?
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    ... because there are lots of unrealistic people posting, many of whom have no understanding of how the business world operates. You can also buy a Suzuki or Honda or Yamaha sport bike that will be much faster, more technically advanced and at a half (or a third) of the price of a Harley-Davidson. Yet, Harley manages to sell all the bikes it can make every year, frequently with a waiting list. You rarely see Harley owners complain; only those who can't afford them!
  6. kastenbrust macrumors 68030


    Dec 26, 2008
    North Korea
    No offence but those comparions mean nothing, anyone who knows anything about computers can see that straight away.

    What speed was the home build hard drive compared to the iMac? 5400? 7200? SSD? they all make massive differences, possibly up to doubling the speed of your system.

    The DDR RAM, was it DDR2 or DDR3 that the home build used? again another big difference.

    The home build doesnt run OS X Leopard, which is a far superior operating system to Windows, yes this includes Windows 7, which may i add is a load of marketing hype generated by Microsoft, i honestly deep down believe Vista is better than Windows 7 after testing the 7 beta for 2 months, ok so 7 is faster, but the GUI (graphical user interface) sucks big time, just wait until you open more than one internet explorer browser window, and then try swapping between them... your workflow is so slow. Added to that OS X is more reliable, has much much much better battery life than Windows (OS X gets 9 hours out of my Macbook Pro compared to Windows 7 which gets 2 hours!) OS X also runs specialist software many graphic designers, programmers, video editors and professional business people need, and trust me i know accountants who use OS X simply for iWork numbers and they say the price difference makes it worth it because their work comes out so much more professional and presentable. Dont forget iWeb too in which anyone, even with no previous web design experience can make a pretty good almost professional looking website.

    And if your going to get started comparing Apple Mac's to Windows based manufaturer machines like Dells dont even get me started on the quality difference, because it exists. Dells are made from cheap plastic, Macbooks from unibody sturdy aluminium, Macbooks have LED backlit screens, Macbooks have magsafe power adaptors (which trust me come in very useful!), they have multi touch trackpads (which now i couldnt actually live without!, i tried using my friends Dell laptop the other day, and i kept two finger scrolling on Firefox and it sucked big time it didnt have it). All these little things add up for an easier more stress free computing experience. So yeah, you pay more, but its really really really worth it.
    I'm not some Apple fanboy, i wont blindly follow them with every decision they make, but taking a calculated decision Mac's are actually better value than Windows machines considering all the things you get.
  7. Eanair thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 27, 2009
    Seems like you're paying for the name/brand in this case.

    If that's the case with Apple, then it is what it is.

    I was just wondering if there was an actual reason as to why a price difference that was figured out by someone, other than it is what it is, and Apple does what it does, PCs do what they do, and that's the end of story. :)

    Like, if developing a Mac OS takes more resources than to develop a Windows OS - or something along those lines.

    Many posts I read about the subject were littered with "I'm a Mac fanboi, that's why!" and "But they're so pretty!" Not exactly what I was looking for though.
  8. yippy macrumors 68020


    Mar 14, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    The difference between the two systems you listed is form factor. The iMac uses more expensive laptop parts to fit into that nice case it has. It also has a built in monitor, something your PC doesn't have.

    Another thing, building your own is always cheaper than having someone else build it for you. I can build my own PC with the same specs as a Dell for noticeably less than the Dell as well.
  9. Eanair thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 27, 2009
    Well, generally, my philosophy on computers is that if it works for you, then great. I personally don't care if you have a 500 GB HD or a better graphics card or what have you - I don't game and I don't need a lot of HD space so I don't NEED that kind of system. But with so much talk going on in the internets about "ZOMG, I can totally get a better PC for less than the new iMacs that are way too expensive" and getting those specs layed out like that, I was re-evaluating what constitutes a better machine for money, and if there was a reason of price difference I could spout back at my PC user pals... :confused:

    If it works for you, it's a good computer.
    If it doesn't, it's not.

    EDIT: This post really isn't coming together coherently... blah! Apologies for that.
  10. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    In the case of Harley-Davidson, you're getting a lot more than just brand name, but that's a topic for another discussion.

    As for Apple, Mac OS X is superior to Windows in many respects. Yes, I like the design of most Apple products, but I own a MacBook Pro primarily because of Mac OS X. Zero viruses, much more secure, simpler to use, less resources eaten up by the OS, much more clean and elegant application installation/removal, better integration between hardware and software, better integration between OS and apps.... I could go on and on.

    Some will have different opinions; this is mine. I've been using Windows PCs since they were invented, as well as some experience with the original Apple II and NeXT computers. I only have one regret about switching to Mac completely: that I didn't do it sooner!

    Your mileage may vary.
  11. plumbingandtech macrumors 68000

    Jun 20, 2007
    There is about 25 years of discussion of this on the Internet.

    Really. This has been discussed so many times it's like asking, why columbus sailed in the first place.
  12. Eanair thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 27, 2009
    Then would you mind linking to said sites/articles/reviews?

    Wouldn't that be more constructive than making a glib remark?

    EDIT: Unless I'm not using a super special magic phrase, Google is not being helpful. Using pc mac price difference/discrepancy in all manner of formulations is not bringing up any websites that have a decent article discussing Mac/PC price differences. There are many forums online I've found where the same question has just degenerated into a Mac/PC flame war, or where the responses are more silly than serious. I know why I prefer a Mac over a PC, and why I believe that a Mac is better value than a PC, but I was wondering if anyone knew of an actual reason for a price difference. Again, if there's not, that's perfectly fine. But if there was any evidence of a hard reason why, I am curious.
  13. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Well, we all know why Columbus sailed... to get pizza! And a MacBook Pro! :D
  14. Eanair thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 27, 2009
    17 inch of course.

    Heck, I would sail the Atlantic for a MacBook Pro... :)
  15. smooth macrumors 6502


    Nov 12, 2007
    I am waiting to see the difference in the cost per day over the "usable" life of my previous Dell and my current Mac. By "usable" I mean, while the computer was functioning at an acceptable level - and I do realize that's a subjective definition, but it makes sense to me.

    I had my previous Dell for 4 years. It went to the crapper in just two years - by that I mean the boot up time was measured in minutes, not seconds. Loading applications was the same with signicantly frequent crashes. No viruses at all. Totally unacceptable to me. So out of that two good years, the cost was $1.51 per day.

    For my MacBook to beat that, I need a 3rd year of good usage out of it. I'm about halfway there and I am not seeing any signs of slowdown that my Dell had so I have a feeling that the daily cost for the MacBook is going to be less - even though the MacBook cost more out of pocket. When it hits 3 years it will be $1.46 per day - though I'd like to keep it 5 years if possible. Because I use it more than my previous machine, I need it to work effeciently so by keeping it 5 years I need it be working well in that 5 years.

    This of course is by no means perfect. My MacBook already has an edge as I use it much more than my wife and I used our Dell combined. My wife has her own laptop now, a Dell, and it is holding its own surprisingly well - though she downgraded (or upgraded depending on your point of view) to XP and removed some programs that slowed her machine down - an option we didn't have for our first machine. Plus one thing I've learned on this forum is that alot of people replace their machines very frequently so my method would be a moot point to them.

    So there's no easy answer as to why the discrepancies and whether the extra cost is worth it is going to change depending on user preferences. From my experience (which is limited) Macs are going to be cheaper for me from a longevity perspective.
  16. Eanair thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 27, 2009
    Thanks for your input smooth! :) I would be really interested to know what the results are once you're finished with your comparison!
  17. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    If you found the flame wars, you've found some of the many threads. That's usually what such discussions degrade into.... silly arguments. You're not going to find a "hard reason" along the lines of: "Macs have X. PCs don't have X. X costs $$. Therefore, Macs cost $$ more than PCs."

    If you already know why you prefer one over the other, and you're willing to pay the difference for whatever value you are getting in return, then you're doing good. For some, just the "cool look" of a Mac is enough in their mind to justify the price. These types are usually younger, less mature, and less serious about what they use a computer for. For others, it may be the simplicity of how Macs operate in comparison to Windows PCs. Whatever the reason for preferring one over the other, if it's good enough reason for you, it's good enough.

    I'd tell your friends, "If you prefer PCs, great! Enjoy them!" I prefer a Mac for my own reasons, and I'm happy with it. I have zero need to convince anyone else to agree with my reasons for buying what I buy.
  18. Eanair thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 27, 2009
    Okay, that's totally perfectly cool, and thanks again for your response. :)

    I was just wondering if there even WAS some kind of hard reason that had been calcuated out at one point. I don't know, maybe someone had a plethora of spare time and sat down and calculated all bits and bobs of things - and it was buried deep in the recesses of the internet wasteland or something. Crazier things have happened...

    But hey, no problem either way. Just curiosity poking up.

    Spoken for truth. If it works for you, then great. If not, then find something that does. Because YOU will be the one using the computer, YOU need to be happy with it.

    Mmm... problem is that some of my PC friends don't really accept that. They believe I am throwing out extra money for an over-priced trendy computer that looks good with an iPod, and think it their duty to rescue me from the evil Apple Empire, or just call me stupid for it.

    I guess I was thinking it would have been nice to have some hard numbers to show them to say, basically, Macs are a good value for money, so please, leave it be...

    Personally, I think wrestling with a Windows OS that tries too many times to save you from yourself is perhaps equally stupid, but meh...just my experience with Vista I guess.

    I'll be over here, enjoying my Kool Aid. ;)
  19. Pak^Man macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    And the answer is...


    PC business is a competition; Apply is a monopoly (only one compnay can legally make a system russing OSX).

    Now most people have bad ideas about monopolies, but in this case its a good one because it allows one company :)apple:) to control the quality of software/harwrae/drivers (the entire ecosystem).

    BUT, monopolies have more control over pricing because they do not have to worry about customers going away to buy a HP OSX machine, rather than an :apple: OSX machine.

    You seem to be British, so I would suggest any A]Levels economics text. I think McConnel/Brue have a very detailed and reader friendly one out there.

  20. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Well, it doesn't really matter WHAT they accept or don't accept, does it? After all, it's YOUR money, not theirs! I'd tell them to MYOB.
  21. j5045096 Guest

    Oct 27, 2007
    So walking in Costco today and I see an Acer netbook (tiny laptop) for $299 loaded with Windows XP home. I swore off Windows two years ago but I was like man a mini laptop for $300 -- I'm a gadget guy so of course I stopped. ...I moved in in less than two minutes after I played with it and remember why I hated Windows so much and how much better the netbook I already have (iPhone) is.

    Mac or PC -- I'm just glad I have a choice! Thank you capitalism! (to Washington: it's really not a bad thing!--although I do want my gov'mnt cheez)
  22. Mr. lax macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2007
    I think you answered your own question there, its all about build quality and a superior operating system
  23. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    You arent going to find a reason for the inflated prices other than "because they can". When people stop being suckers then the prices will come down.
  24. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    It's not about anyone being "suckers". I had a set of criteria in choosing a notebook computer. The MacBook Pro met all my criteria better than any other computer. The price I paid was fair and reasonable to me. I got what I paid for. I've been very pleased with my MacBook Pro, more so than with any computer I've owned before. That doesn't make me a sucker. Price isn't the only consideration for everyone. In my view, my MacBook Pro would have been still worth it to me at double the price.
  25. Turmoil macrumors regular

    Jul 2, 2008
    Apple makes better computers, a far superior operating system and provides superior customer service. Apple computers provide a better value than Windows PC products.

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