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PCWorld: don't assume Mac laptops cost more

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.

by MacNN Staff





  1. dagamer34

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Besides, what other manufacturer has stores which can provide service support to your computer without automatically having to ship it out? Endless value right there for people who absolutely NEED a working computer and can't afford 2-3 weeks without it while it's being fixed!

  1. InfraredAD

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Commenting about the tail end of the article here... The biometrics in most PC laptops can be bypassed without much trouble, and that's really unfortunate given what this technology could provide. It's just not on par with higher-grade renditions of the same thing.

  1. Titanium Man

    Joined: Dec 1969



    There remains a problem with a gap in the low end of the Mac lineup. I have no doubt that comparably equipped laptops cost about the same, but many people just want the cheapest laptop they can get, and Apple just isn't serving that segment. They have nothing below $1100, which turns off a lot of people.

  1. lancelott

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Here we go again...

    Titanium Man,

    There is NO gap in the lower end. Macs are not MADE for those lower end customers at all. Even the mini is just there to satisfy people that are already mac loyalists and need an inexpensive, desktop solution that will probably not be a Main PC.

    If you want a cheap computer, go get a crappy Acer, Dell, Gateway, emachines, etc... Macs are NOT for you then.

  1. rspress

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not True

    I picked up a refrubed MacBook with superdrive for under 800 bucks from Apple. It looked brand new to me and can be covered with Applecare for 3 years. The deals are there for lower priced Apple laptops you just have to look for them. Another plus is that a covered laptop gets user replaceable parts shipped overnight for free.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Refurb saves you gobs

    Dittos to rspress. Buying Apple refurb drops the price DRAMATICALLY, and it is still warrantied for just as long. You can never tell cosmetically if there is any difference, and in my experience and others that I know, the hardware has never given any issues after the Applecare runs out.

    However, someone out there has to buy new so the likes of us can buy refurb ;-).

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Yes, let's make sure Apple doesn't increase their market share too much by making them more affordable. We only want those who can afford a mac to own one. Those low-income people deserve to use PCs!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    15" notebook

    And, again, they never compare the other way. You have to pay through the nose to get a 15" laptop compared to windows counterparts. I guess Apple thinks consumers don't need a big screen, or if you have a bigger screen, you need all the other stuff that they include with it.

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