Apple vs. Dell price war

In the market for a new computer? This is a great time to buy with prices down and power up. How do two similarly equipped high-end Dell and Apple models stack up in terms of price? The answer may surprise you.

Looking for a new computer for multimedia, games, or software development? If you're like me you've probably always heard Apple Macs carried a price premium over machines from companies such as Dell. I decided to put that belief to the test by comparing the prices on two similarly configured notebook computers.

[Update: For a lower-end comparison see this follow-up article.]

In particular I compared the Dell XPS M1710 with the Apple M17-inch MacBook Pro. Both notebooks were configured with the following components:

  • Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T7600 (2.33GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 667 MHz FSB) processor
  • 17-inch wide screen display
  • 256MB dedicated 3D graphics card
  • 2GB DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHZ (2 DIMM)
  • 100GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • CD/DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW)
  • Integrated Audio
  • Standard battery
  • Internal Bluetooth (2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate)
  • Internal 802.11g wireless
  • DVD and movie editing software
  • 1Yr Ltd Warranty
  • Customer support (at least 30 days)

Total price (before taxes and shipping) as of 03Dec2006 10:30pm EST:

  • Dell: $3,222
  • Apple: $2,699 
  • Difference: $523
Of course, the computers could not be configured *exactly* the same way but I tried to get them as close as possible. Here are some of the differences that favored the Mac:
  • Includes a built-in camera for video conferencing. 
  • Thinner and lighter than the Dell (6.8 lbs., 1.0 in. vs. 8.7 lbs., 1.6").
  • Longer customer support (90 days vs. 30 days)
  • Back-lit keyboard.

And here are some that favored the Dell machine:

  • Higher screen resolution (1920x1200 vs. 1680x1050).
  • It has more USB 2.0 ports (6 vs. 4) but fewer FireWire ports (1 vs. 2).
  • Dell's Wi-fi card also supports 802.11a.
  • Dell's warranty covers in-home service, while Apple's is mail-in only.
Both companies carry many other models, and the customization possibilities are endless. But for these particular configurations, Apple comes out the clear price leader. Surprised?