updated 07:50 pm EDT, Wed July 9, 2008
Cost of Mac vs. PC laptops
Mac laptops are not really more expensive than their PC competitors, according to an analysis by one of the major Windows-centeric computer magazines. PCWorld set out to answer that question through some head-to-head comparisons and in most cases the answer was "no." Writer James Martin says he owns a MacBook Air but also uses Windows machines, and sees benefits in both formats. WIth no particular axe to grind, Martin says he wanted to see whether the commonly-held belief that Macs are always pricier could really be proved.
One test compared a MacBook AIr to a Lenovo ThinkPad X300. PCWorld says Lenovo has gone to great lengths trying to demonstrate its model is better, with ads pointing out the MacBook Air's lack of an optical drive and other features.
Smilarly equipped machines -- each with a 13.3-inch display, 2GB of memory, built-in webcams and 64GB solid state drives -- were compared by PCWorld (although the Macs ship with faster Intel Core 2 Duo processors). Martin says a 20-percent-off sale bumped the Lenovo machine down to $2600 -- compared to $3200 for the MacBook Air with an external optical drive. But the article was apparently written before Apple's decision last week to cut the cost of its 64MB solid-state hard drives in half.
A check of the Apple Store Wednesday puts the MacBook Air at $2700, including a $99 external optical drive. So without the Lenovo discount the X300 costs $3370 -- $670 more than the MacBook Air.
The next test pitted a basic MacBook against the Dell XPS M1330. Each machine ships with 2GB of RAM, a 160GB 5400-rpm hard drive, and a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Adding Adobe Photoshop Elements and a longer-life battery to the Dell (one that lasts as long as the standard MacBook battery) puts the cost of both machines at about $1300 each.
In the final test, PC world compared the MacBook Pro to HP's Compaq 8710w Mobile Workstation.
Martin says both machines came equipped with 17-inch high resolution displays, dedicated graphics cards, 250 GB hard drives, 2G of memory and 2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors. The MacBook wins this one hands down at $3050, while the Compaq costs $3560. But to be fair, the Compaq comes with a free three-year warranty (AppleCare costs $349) and a built-in biometric scanner.