Comparing Apples to Apples

Estimated reading time: 2 minute(s)

Comparing a Dell XPS 400 to an Apple iMacIn many conversations I have with friends who would benefit from having a Mac but just don’t know it yet, one of the main counterpoints offered is that Macs are just much more expensive. This is just not true. Yes, the bottom line is greater, but that’s because you’re getting MORE. 🙂 So, for fun, I decided to configure a Dell system and an iMac with the same (or nearly the same) specs… just to see which would be cheaper. I figured it would at least be close, but that the Dell would maybe still win.


Apple 20″ iMac (with AppleCare) = $1968
Dell XPS400 with 20″ monitor and 3yr service comparable to AppleCare) = $2199


You guys… not only are you getting better hardware, better software, and better customer service… IT’S CHEAPER!!! AND, it runs Windows, AND they’re not hard to use!!! (I have spent two days trying to get my friend’s Dell to connect to two different wireless (and ethernet) routers! TWO DAYS! My Mac connects instantly, with ZERO configuration.

For the list of specs/options that I selected for both machines, click the links here:
Dell | iMac

I really think that no Windows user would be dissapointed with their purchase of a Mac. Especially the iMac. It’s definitely the absolute best value of any platform. (At least that I am aware of.)

If you’re interested, I recommend:
Purchasing a NEW iMac (17″ or 20″)

Or, save a couple hundred dollars on a refurb 17″ Intel iMac. (only $1099)

You seriously can’t go wrong.

This public service announcement brought to you by BWD-Graphics: Apple Authorized Business Agent AA071715 🙂


  1. Ok. I know you like a mac. However, I have to question your research method. How did you choose a Dell XPS system? I realize they’re expensive – that’s because they’re THE top of the line cutting-edge hardware. I can buy a comparable Dell to your Mac for less than that by custom-building a Dell from another setup.

    Furthermore, this especially holds true if you look at LAPTOPS, which is really what everybody wants these days anyway. Sure on a macbook pro you get the lit keyboard … and I’m pretty sure that’s the only difference aside from price.

    To begin:

    For the desktop, I started with the E510, a comparable system to the iMac you selected, but with the addition of a subwoofer and two tweeters for speakers, then a better processor (intel duo 2.8ghz, while the iMac only uses a 2.0ghz). Also, there are TWO DVD+/- combo drives and a built-in flash card reader. For the same price as your iMac. And that’s with top-of-the-line hardware. Not to mention, if you wanted to run windows on your iMac, you’d still have to buy it, so add $350 to the price you quoted.

    It’s the little things that add up for the mac; no pre-installed modem, and while it might save a little space (which is why everybody gets laptops anyway), it falls short on processor speed and flexibility – I can upgrade the Dell with new parts later (new drives, extra hard drives, more USB ports, etc), while your mac is still going to be the same ol’ mac.

    As for laptops, I have the same specs for each laptop: macbook pro 15.5″ and the Inspiron E1505.
    -intel duo 2ghz processor
    -2gig RAM
    -100gig 7200rpm hard drive
    -15.4″ widescreen HD display
    -full productivity suite (for apple, it’s ilife and iwork, for Dell it’s Office Pro and Adobe Elements)
    -DVD superdrive
    -bluetooth, modem, network, wireless preinstalled (by virtue of the Dell’s intel duo M card, this is a given)

    Guess what? The E1505 was $1000 cheaper. I didn’t even add the $350 for windows onto the price of the macbook pro; it was clear to me how much more expensive it is.

    I’m not knocking the quality of apple products, just the price. For comparable technology, it’s certainly far more expensive, and less modular.

    There. I looked at your blog.


  2. oh yeah, on both Dell systems (the laptop and the desktop) I selected Windows XP Media Center Edition for the OS; it’s basically Windows XP combined with the iLife software (minus the web editor).

    so there.


  3. Another oh yeah moment.

    I remembered something: I can build those Dell systems cheaper than what I quoted because I’ve discovered a few shortcuts with price; there’s this great website called “xpbargains” that have coupons up all the time. I found a 40% off coupon for my Inspiron 6000 laptop, and that’s with similar specs to the system I built for your little competition (minus the duo processor, they hadn’t come out yet, for which I shall now shed a small tear). In addition, I got the minimum amount of RAM and bought it all third-party, cutting another $300 off the price of the factory model. I know you can do that with the Apple hardware too, but I’m not sure what that does to the price.

    This was fun, I love shopping for computers, perusing the various websites, etc. If you want to out-class your apple, go with the XPS systems from Dell, they’re meant for high-speed gaming, incorporate THE latest tech specs, and they look cool too (I didn’t know till recently that you can pimp them out with lighted speakers and the back of the screen).


  4. Whoa… easy there, Butch…

    Actually, I started with the XPS because Dell’s top of the line is Apple’s standard starting place. The processor, graphics card, hard drive, etc. I also chose an iMac because that is like the “included” monitor.

    Why do you defend your Dell with such passion? I assembled two comparable systems, and the Apple won? Why is that so hard for you to believe? You have to remember that with an Apple you are getting the “top of the line” hardware, top of the line software (please don’t compare windows xp media center with iLife ’06… it might compare with just one app, Front Row, which comes standard with most Macs now. To get iLife functionailty, I had to add a few software packages to the Dell.) You’re also getting superior customer support, again, for less than what Dell charges you for a “similar” service.

    It’s your choice what system you use, but I was just pointing out that as far as overall value, Macs are NOT more expensive. Bottom lines can be manipulated, but when you actually compare “apples to apples”… Apple wins.


  5. Oh… I will give you that you need to spend $200-$300 to use Windows on a Mac… which you wouldn’t be spending on a Dell.


    Um… you’re getting a Mac, AND windows? So… that’s two computers in one? For only $200-$300 more?




  6. To the passerby:

    Chris and I like to go back and forth on this Mac vs Windows argument. You’re welcome to join in, or not. It’s all in good fun. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, or their choice in computers. I do however stand by my original statement that you will not be dissapointed if you chose to go with a Mac.

    Carry on!


  7. I’m with Greg – it’s a playful banter that we’ve had going for years now. In all other areas, I highly respect his judgement 😉

    In fact, Greg, I could ask you too why you defend your macs with such zeal. But I think we both like what we’re used to, and you must admit, I’ve been able to see the advantages of owning a mac. I mean, I’ve bid on a few of them on ebay for goodness sake! Course, I didn’t win, but that’s because I’m not willing to bid very much since I dont’ really need a new computer at the moment.

    Perhaps you should do some more research in the Dell world. XPS systems are, yes, THE top of the line, but when you customize other systems, they come out to be … well, the same, minus a few cosmetic differences. I’m curious to see how a G5 would compare to a Dimension, since they’re both towers.

    On a serious note, I’m pretty sure that the main difference between Apple and Dell is the target market. Apple appeals to the average Joe, the ordinary citizen who doesn’t know a ton about computers and wants simplicity but a broad range of uses for his computer. Dell, on the other hand, appeals to the corporate world (for example, Dell and IBM servers are among the best in the world), with the Office Pro package and the many networking possibilities. I’m not saying they don’t cross over into each other’s domains, just that the general focus of each is a different audience. I use a Dell mostly out of habit, and partially because I was a science major in college and needed the versatility of a PC’s business applications. And Apple hadn’t really gotten good yet when I was buying my first Dell desktop.

    To make a comparison: Apple is like Hyundai. I’ve had to suck it up before with Hyundai, because their cars used to suck royally. And then they changed management or policies or something, and recapitalized and now they make really great cars – I even bought a used Santa Fe and may get another one when we get home. Apple is the same; they used to suck royally compared to the PC, but they can hold their own now.


  8. Yea, Greg, Chi was also wondering why you defend Apple with such fervor…

    But enough talk. Diplomacy is for liars and cowards. It’s time for you guys to duke it out! Winner gets to flaunt their brand with impunity. 🙂


  9. […] I’m not quoting her exactly, I wish I could. But it wasn’t really her words that were so fitting, so telling. It was the way she said them. Without thinking, both of us had summed up one of the most clear distinctions between the two operating systems (Mac and Windows) and simultaneously revealed a strange enigma within our technological society: For some reason, we’re all OK with some people having computers that work, and a great number of us not having computers that work… even if they are the same price!* […]


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