The Mac Cost


Once in a while, a few people write demanding proof that Macs are cheaper than PCs. This usually carries a subliminal assertion that I must be blind, stupid, obviously unable to provide credible evidence or otherwise impaired in such a fashion that I am oblivious to the utterly obvious fact that PCs are cheaper.

Hell, I feel a rant coming on. It's about time, too. I've just spent four months working on a project I feel I won't be properly compensated for any day soon, so I'll just do the immature thing and take it out on this argument to save attrition in the office. Life is made of little imbalances like this, so take cover.

If you honestly think PCs are cheaper, you are simply buying crap PCs. Period. Go check on prices for real, corporate-grade PCs and then get back to me.

Furthermore, I hereby reverse the challenge and demand proof that you can buy a laptop with the same build quality, features and overall lifespan of an iBook (an iBook, the cheapest Apple laptop ever when compared to the general product range) for the same price.

(The 12" iBook is roughly Eur 1200 right now, and I'll grant it needs more RAM, but it's as good a yardstick as any)

You can be an ignorant twit and say the CPU speed is lower - that just shows you don't know diddly squat about hardware, and that you've been using Intel variants all your life. Go check the prices for a new iMac and a comparable low-end Sun workstation. Look at the benchmarks. Compile Perl on both, if you must. Pick the fastest. Buy it. Open the box. Guess what, it's white. Spend the difference on around 40 three-button optical mice so you can run twm properly on your new flat-panel iMac.

Go ahead - find me a comparable PC that you'll actually be using four years from now. Ignore Sony and IBM (they make the only Intel laptops I'd ever buy brand new, and sell them at decent prices anywhere but here). Don't do it just for the iBook - try finding anything that compares favorably, on all counts, to a PowerBook, an iMac or even a G5 (which is a better UNIX workstation than anything else you can buy for the same price right now).

Heck, at the rate PC hardware evolves, choosing a PC to last two years is like doing contingency planning for the Ice Age (some corporations change PCs on a yearly basis, just to keep up with bloated software).

It's not about Apple - it's about the whole thing: industrial design, electronics, component selection, operating system, etc. And it lasts.

You see, one of the main reasons Macs are cheaper is because they age better - especially desktop Macs, which tend to hang around for decades (yeah, decades, you read that right) of useful service.

The Mac is also cheaper in the sense that I don't have to spend nearly half its cost a year in upgrades, additions and whatnots. Trust me - I have two PCs that are living proof of this (and four boxes of leftover parts, plus two other PCs I can't use anymore because they're obsolete). It eventually got to the point where kicking the upgrade habit became one of the main reasons I bought a Mac in the first place.

Owning a computer is not about owning the biggest, baddest video card/DVD burner/hard disk to foster an ego trip - it's about actually using the damn thing to accomplish something, and I thought it was high time I got something that didn't get in the way all the time.

It worked out so well (it started saving time for me) I ended up getting another. No, I can't produce proof that two Macs are cheaper than one PC.

I won't even bother, because I don't need to persuade anybody. That's another ego trip I can well do without.


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