Comparing apples to… Apples

One of the forums I frequent is the PackPride Brickyard.   It is occupied by general chatter of politics and life by and for NC State Wolfpack fans.

Yesterday, someone posted the following:

Reasons to buy Mac vs other laptop

are there any?

seems like you can buy a dell, hp, toshiba etc for almost half of what a mac costs.  given the same features.

After the myth that “Macs are overpriced” was bandied about, I posted a snippet from this article stating that when compared with identically equipped laptops from PC manufacturers, Apple laptops are competitive.

Later on, the original poster asked specifically:

so essentially this s.aspx/xpsnb_m1530?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs= 19&~oid=us~en~29~xpsnb_m1530_anav3~~ vs the macbook pro 15inch. MTkzOTI0Mg

seems like the dell machine has more for less.  but again, i really don’t know anything so educate me if you please….

So, being the perfectionist that I am, took some time and responded:

Processor:  Both have a 2.4 GhZ Core2duo.   However the Dell has an 800Mhz Front Side bus, while  the MBP has a 1066 MhZ front side bus.  This means the Mac, while having the same speed CPU, can transfer data faster.  Overall this would amount to about a 4-5% speed boost for the Mac.

Dell – 4GB Dual Channel 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
2GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM (expandable to 4GB).
The Dell has more memory, but the MacBook Pro is over 37% faster in the memory department.  Using lower speed memory than the processor FSB is one way Dell cut corners on the price.  This would give the Mac a significant speed boost.

Dell – 256MB NVIDIA®  GeForce®  8600M GT,
NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT graphics processor; and NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM.
The MBP has better video.  Actually it has two video chips.  The 9400 is lower power while the 9600 provides more speed for intensive applications.  You can select which one to use depending on your needs.

Those are the biggest differences I can point out.  From what I can tell, the Dell uses older, slower components to wring out the lowest price it can.   If you’re not interested in raw speed, then the Dell would be fine for you.  However if you want the “best” hardware, the Mac is better.

Now Microsoft is launching a new ad campaign which parallels this discussion.  It has a girl looking for a 17″ laptop for under $1000.   She goes into the Apple store, but comes out disappointed when all she sees under $1000 is the white Macbook.  “Guess I’m not cool enough for a Mac,” she says.

Later, she finds an HP Pavilion laptop with a 17″ screen for $699.   Since I don’t know the exact model, I looked on the Best Buy site for an HP Pavilion with a 17″ screen for under $1000.  Here’s the specs for the $699 model, with the 17″ MacBook Pro specs in parentheses:

Processor:  2.1GHz AMD Turion X2 on 800 MHz front side bus (MBP: 2.66 GHz Intel Core2Duo on 1066 MHz FSB)

Video:  Radeon HD 3200 (MBP: NVidia 9600 GT and 9400 M, yes two chips.  One for performance, one for power conservation.  You choose which one to use.)

RAM:  4GB DDR2 667 SDRAM (MBP:  4GB DDR3 1066 SDRAM)

Screen Resolution:  1440×900 (MBP:  1920×1200)

Weight:  7.8 lbs (MBP:  6.6 lbs.)

Price:  $699  (MBP:  $2799)

While the Pavilion would serve the needs of most computer users, the MacBook Pro is definitely a “beefier” computer spec-wise, however it is one pound lighter.  By comparison, an equivalently equipped computer directly from HP lists at around $2000, however it is still heavier and has lower screen resolution than the MacBook Pro.

Remember to check every computer’s specs in detail before deciding to buy.  Most PC makers skimp on parts to drive down the price as low as possible, but Steve Jobs has said “”We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that.”

Compare Apples to… apples.

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