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?