How Much Would a DIY PC Cost to Match Apple’s $9599 Top Mac Pro? $11,503

| Analysis

Every Apple hater on the planet goes to bed at night safe and secure in the knowledge that Apple's products are overpriced junk, and that real men and women do-it-yerself. But now FutureLooks—a site dedicated to "Stuff for people who like computers"—has gone and upset the apple cart by pricing out a DIY PC that (almost) matches Apple's highest-of-the-high end Mac Pro, and found that it cost almost US$2,000 more to build.

The site started off with Apple's new Mac Pro with a 12-core 2.7GHz Intel processor with 30MB of L3 cache, 64GB of RAM, 1TB of PCIe Flash storage, and Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM. Total price? $9,599.

That's a ton of machine, and even more power—far more than most people would need (but note that anyone wanting to send me one need only ask for my shipping address). As a source of comparison, however, it's as good a place to start as any.

The comparison is a tad difficult to make, and FutureLooks' Stephen Fung did what I think is a solid job of making choices that kept the comparison as close as he could. He chose a small, high-end tower, for instance, acknowledging that the small footprint of Apple's new Mac Pro has value for many users.

Silverstone FT03 mATX

Silverstone FT03 mAtX Enclosure

At the same time, the reality is that while small for a tower, the Silverstone FT03 mATX enclosure is still much larger than the Mac Pro, and that larger size means there's more room inside for additional options. That also has value, and even contributed directly to saving some money on matching the 1TB of SSD storage Apple sells.

Since Apple's SSD solution is proprietary, and since his other configuration choices used all of the PCIe slots in this case, Mr. Fung chose two 500GB SATA3 SSD drives that can be operated in RAID0 mode for comparable performance to Apple's drive. That's a significant savings compared to buying a single 1TB drive.

Other choices include getting the closest AMD video cards as possible since the units Apple is selling with the Mac Pro appear to be special-built for Apple. Mr. Fung chose the AMD FirePro W9000 6GB GDDR5, at $3,400.31 apiece (you need two of them).

He also had to stick with 32GB of RAM as the configuration he came up with doesn't support the 64GB of RAM in Apple's model. Other components include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth dongles and a power supply.

Add all of this stuff up at the retail level—the price that would be paid by any DIYer—and it comes out to $11,530.54, or $1,931.54 more than the retail price of Apple's Mac Pro.

Funny that, right? Do, please, feel free to point the Apple bigots steeped in the false lore that Apple's stuff is overpriced junk towards this article.

There are caveats to the price, however. Some lower-priced video cards from Nvidia may be a better choice for Windows users because Adobe's support because, "CUDA implementation is a little more mature than OpenCL in those apps." As the video cards represent the majority of the price, that's a very significant issue for some users.

In the comments at FutureLooks, some Apple bashers dismiss the value in a small enclosure and scoff at the idea that Apple's integrated soldered-in choice has any merit, value, or relevance at all. Those things are subjective, but the underlying reality that you can't match Apple's price if you match the specs is an objective truth.

Comments

geoduck

This actually reiterates something that has been reported every couple of years since the earliest 2000’s. When you compare LIKE SYSTEMS, computers with the same or comparable fetters, the “Apple Tax” disappears.

geoduck

GD-it, features, not fetters

A. Schild

One website prices a comparable system for more money and suddenly Apple isn’t overpriced anymore.

Sick objective investigative reporting bro.

Lee Dronick

I didn’t see anything in the story about an operating system which could also add to the cost of a DIY. Of course there are free operating systems.

Joe Weinberg

That’s terrible for Apple.  I mean they are losing $1900 for every system sold!  Why would they do that?

xerloq

The “lore” is that Apple stuff is overpriced and *proprietary*, as there is no way to make a like-for-like component build. Throughout the article, Fung states he couldn’t find equivalent parts because of the proprietary nature of the Mac Pro, and therefore had to make compromises. One of the final points in the article was, quote:

“With so many substitute components on the PC DIY side, you can do the work at the same level as someone with the professional stuff, for far less, and have a truly custom system that’s like no one elses. And at the end of the day, no one’s going to know if you created your project on a PC or a Mac, unless you tell them. But you will be pocketing more of your money each month without the higher lease of the top end Mac Pro.”

So Fung’s ultimate point IS that the Mac Pro is overpriced unless you have very specialized needs, but you missed that in your recap of the article.

Unbound Smith

So, out of all the PC builders in the world, you found the one idiot who doesn’t know what he’s doing.  But since his report says what you want it to say, he *must* be the only one doing it right.  Amirite?

/eyeroll

Paul Connell

@geoduck “This actually reiterates something that has been reported every couple of years since the earliest 2000’s. When you compare LIKE SYSTEMS, computers with the same or comparable fetters, the “Apple Tax” disappears.”

No, it doesn’t, not in all or even most cases.  This most recent example is one in which Apple comes out less expensive, but it’s only the case if one wants exactly those components - the two graphics cards and the 1 tb SSD make up the vast majority of the system price.

If you don’t happen to need those specific components, you can still build a far more powerful system for considerably less - right now.  I’ve priced out a 24 core (dual 12 core Xeon) system for around $7,500, which includes a 480 gig SSD, 64 gigs of ram and a decent consumer level video card.  That’s 2X the cpu processing power for several thousand less - and which the Mac is incapable of ever matching due to it’s uni-processor architecture. 

As with any statistics, you can always draw the conclusion you want if you’re content with a sampling size of 1.

Applolno

Did you even bother to read the original article?  It looks more like you tried to pick and choose excerpts to just praise Apple.

Here’s a little excerpt of my own.  “So is there a scenario where a PC DIY system could be constructed as a better value than the New Mac Pro?  Definitely.”  But I guess you must have “missed” that paragraph since it didn’t support your argument.

The article also explains that the AMD graphics cards have equal performance to Nvidia cards that cost half as much.  So take $3 grand off the final price and Apple has already lost.

And it’s no surprise that most companies (not just your beloved Apple) are capable of mass producing an item more efficiently and at a lower cost than a single consumer can.  Especially when it’s packed with upgrade-proof proprietary hardware.

For what it’s worth, I’ll sleep easy tonight knowing you wrote this half-truth article to desperately prove that Apple isn’t a rip off.  And yet you still failed.

Tom Daigon 1

Sorry bud. I bought a HP Z820 that cost me only $10,000 after discounts and it blows the garbage can away.

HP Z820 Workstation
Windows® 7 Professional 64
HP Z820 1125W 90% Efficient Chassis Intel® Xeon® E5-2687W 3.10 20MB 1600 8C
Intel® Xeon® E5-2687W 8C 3.10 20MB 1600 CPU-2 (Must be same speed as Processor 1.)
HP Liquid Cooling Solution (HP ultimate cooling solution allows for lower acoustics.)
NVIDIA GTX Titan
64 GB ram
500GB 7200 RPM SATA 1st Hard Drive 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 2nd Hard Drive
HP 500GB SATA 7200 3rd HDD (Second drive must be SATA)
HP 500GB SATA 7200 4th HDD (3rd HDD must be SATA and must be same capacity/speed)
HP SATA Blu-ray Writer 1st Drive
HP 5/5/5 Warranty
HP Promo ZR30w 30-inch S-IPS LCD Monitor
FREE next day Fed-X shipping

Bryan Chaffin

I seem to have a struck a nerve with some folks…

alex reznik

your article is full of epithets like “Mac Haters”, “Apple bigots”, and ” Apple bashers” when in reality, you completely missed the point of the original article. The “proprietary” components cost as much as the monopoly will set the price since no other system accepts them, and you will find comparable performance in high end nvidia or amd(radeon) video cards. Sure, there is a performance boost for hardward build specifically for software and tested together, but when your components are to spec, you will not see it. The cost of a comparable system is in the neighborhood of 3-4K, no more (based on years of experience and adequate research). Sure, it will not run mac, but the only beauty of mac is freebsd underneath. (I don’t expect you to understand what that means, enough to say that the core of the mac operating system is what draws so many knowledgeable people to it, not the fluff that attracts fanboys smile

CudaBoy

I smell a rat. This is just wrong. FutureLooks must be on crack. Historically (and I’m 100% Mac owner from 80’s) a PC could ALWAYS be built to CRUSH any Mac, at any time, especially graphics-wise and system bus speed,  and always for less money than a Mac. Windows always sucked so bad it negated the idea of ever owning a PC though. What magically changed now??

James Rowell

I did a basic cut and past shopping on “Google shopping” and Newegg.com” and came up with the same system for 7200.00 far below the 9599.00. That included an OS.
Apple has a great product, of this there is no argument; however, if ya want to you can build a DIY system for far less in the PC realm.
You should really check your facts before publishing an article of this nature.
I think that is what a good journalist does…

i_newit

3 letters, O, S, X.

^_^

@Paul Connell:

The Mac Pro reaches peak performance of 7 TFLOPS ( = 7,000 GFLOPS)

Two E5-2687w V2 (latest 12-core Xeon processors) bring 2 x 259 GFLOPS = 518GFLOPS (13 times less).
For more information: http://media.wix.com/ugd/e53cc7_d9d115bb3548496481e893af130cf943.pdf

The only comparable nVidia card would be the Tesla K20, which costs $3,499 at new egg. It’s peak performance is 3.5TFLOPS. Using two of those will give you the comparable 7TFLOPS performance peak of the Mac Pro.

Depending on usage, one card would be better than the other, as K20 has has 5GB RAM and transfer rates of 208GB/sec, while the D700’s is equipped with 6GB RAM and 264GB/sec. Yet, both have the same peak performance.

Nevertheless, both cards are in THE SAME PRICE RANGE.

Going for a 2 x Tesla K40 (12GB, 288GB/sec, 4.29TFLOPS per card) will give you a total of 8.58 GFLOPS peak performance (a 22% increase), but each of those cards costs $5,299. Two of those cost $10,598.00 and that is the price for the GPUs only.

Most 2D, 3D and Video editing software products already support OpenCL acceleration, so even a 10-CPU, 12-core architecture is no match for nVidia/ATI-equipped workstations.

If you are doing general purpose computing, by all means, feel free to not buy a Mac Pro.

But, I would urge you to compare server class hardware with a SERVER CLASS HARDWARE under comparable/similar loads.

Paul Connell

@ ^_^ “The Mac Pro reaches peak performance of 7 TFLOPS ( = 7,000 GFLOPS) Two E5-2687w V2 (latest 12-core Xeon processors) bring 2 x 259 GFLOPS = 518GFLOPS (13 times less).”

Facts aren’t of much importance to you, are they?

—First of all, the E5-2687w V2 is an 8 core processor, not 12.  The 2697 V2 is the 12 core.
—Second, exactly what processor do you think is in the Mac?  It’s the 2697 V2.
—Third, that 7 TFLOP number you’re having an orgasm over is coming from the two graphics cards - NOT the CPU.  So you’re comparing apples to oranges, no pun intended. 

As I said, for THAT SPECIFIC HARDWARE, the Mac Pro isn’t a bad price, although as James Rowell pointed out, a little shopping around CAN build the same system for less.  But the point remains, you can still build a more powerful system for less depending on your needs.  For straight CPU processing power, a home built system using TWO of the Mac Pro’s 12 core Xeons can cost thousands less.

^_^

@Paul Connell,

I’ve put the wrong part number, but here is an excerpt from the document I linked to:
- With 12 cores running up to 2.7 GHz, E5-2600 v2 delivers 259 GFlops per socket, a 56% increase over the previous generation.
So, my calculations are quite precise.

Now, it seems new technologies are of no importance to you? Ever heard of GPGPU computing? CUDA, OpenCL? Something?

  - Most of Adobe’s products already take advantage through CUDA and OpenCL.

  - A lot of Apple’s products do take advantage as well (OpenCL-only).

  - Most of the 3D rendering software utilizes the GPU to do raytracing and photo-realistic rendering (nothing to do with OpenGL and DirectX).

  - The VLC 2.0 (released in Feb, 2012) player uses GPU-based codecs for most video formats. Latest updates introduced GPU-enabled codecs for effectively all supported video formats.

  - There are a few projects that intend to use GPUs for database engines (started as early as 2010). Here is one:  http://wiki.postgresql.org/images/6/65/Pgopencl.pdf

  - There are a lot of scientific applications to the massive compute power available through GPUs. Running simulations of all kinds - physics, biology, chemistry, etc.

If you use software not capable of running code on the GPU, you will be at a disadvantage using a single-CPU dual-GPU configuration, obviously. But it is almost 2014, what are the odds of that happening?

Dhill Filmworks

Why are all of you “Mac Haters” reading The Mac Observer? W

Why are all of you “Mac Haters” reading The Mac Observer. I don’t go on PC magazines website.
Or cry about how bad PC are.

Paul Connell

“Why are all of you “Mac Haters” reading The Mac Observer?”

Maybe because this very misleading article has been picked up and repeated ad nauseam by all these “news” sites, including this one.  I’ve responded to several. 

I have nothing specific against the Mac Pro, it looks to be a very nice system.  But I DO have something against misleading information and inaccurate examples being reported as fact.  And I’d respond to and fault the same if the situation was reversed and we were talking about PCs.

Paul Connell

@ ^_^  “Now, it seems new technologies are of no importance to you? Ever heard of GPGPU computing? CUDA, OpenCL? Something?”

Dude, you’re simply not getting it.  That 7 TFLOP number you’re going on about is GPU performance.  If you put those same graphics cards into a DIY PC, you’re going to get THE SAME 7 TFLOPS.  So NO, you’re calculations are anything but precise.  You’re comparing the combined CPU and GPU performance of the Mac against CPU only performance on a PC.  It’s absurd. 

As James Rowell found, you CAN build an identical system to the Mac Pro (same CPU, same GPUs) for less if one shops around.  Not hugely less, but certainly not the thousands more being regurgitated by this article.  And as I pointed out, if one’s work isn’t served by GPU performance, you can build a much more powerful primarily CPU based system for thousands less.

And as for it being 2014, yes, OpenCL is being used in more areas, but there’s still plenty of areas which rely solely on CPU performance. 

I’m not criticizing the Mac at all, I’m probably in the minority of non-Mac users who actually admires the compact size, and the amount of performance they’ve managed to cram into it.  But for god sake, if you’re going to give examples, make sure they’re accurate and fair.  Comparing the GPU performance of the Mac with two high-end graphics cards to the CPU only performance of a PC to come up with your 13x advantage is idiotic.

^_^

@Paul Connell

“As James Rowell found, you CAN build an identical system to the Mac Pro (same CPU, same GPUs) for less if one shops around.”

Show me some numbers, will you? What I’ve seen online, is expensive enough.

Don’t pull the 13x advantage out of context. Here is an excerpt from your first post:

“If you don’t happen to need those specific components, you can still build a far more powerful system for considerably less - right now.  I’ve priced out a 24 core (dual 12 core Xeon) system for around $7,500, which includes a 480 gig SSD, 64 gigs of ram and a decent consumer level video card.”

Yes, I did not factor the performance of that “decent video card”, but your “far more powerful system” seem to ignore the performance of both D700 cards in the Mac Pro.

jfh17

Not shocking to me one bit that the Pee-C crowd is so quick to discount the Mac Pro. Not like they haven’t been doing it since the beginning of computing and if someone’s already dim enough to think a windows box and OS is superior to any Mac hardware made before this particular Mac Pro came out then their opinion is obviously severly distorted and has no merit.

I mean if you think saving almost $2000 and the time and frustration of getting all the seperate parts from different manufacturers to work in sync then spend hours installing and then re-installing software because if conflicts and tge machine lock-ups is negligible then you’re a lost cause. And don’t say it wouldn’t happen, it happens on my wife’s laptop all the time and that came as a complete system. Obviously doing things the most difficult and half-baked has always been the Wintel way. Why would they change anything now?

More Macs for those of us that will appreciate them in my opinion. Apple has shown this user where the direction of power computing is heading. There will always be those that are too closed minded to embrace change.

Remember, these are many of the same people that scoffed when the IMac was introduced without a floppy drive. Then laughed at the iPhone then the iPad. They are perfect at being wrong. And Apple will give them many more opportunities to be wrong in the future with other quality products also.

jfh17

Funny that most comments on here are from the Wintel experts that can make 10 times the machine for 1/3 the price of the new Mac Pro. Yet no links are privided. They must be surfing the net to bash Apple again on their iPhones while their garbage Windows OS reboots their supercomputers again.

Paul Connell

@ ^_^

It’s becoming apparent that continuing this discussion with you is pointless, as you continue to insist on an apples-to-oranges comparison.

I did not take your 13X advantage out of context at all.  Your 13X advantage was based on dual GPU performance on the Mac to CPU only performance on a PC. 

And my example system based on “if you don’t happen to need those specific components” was referring to the GPUs.  If you don’t happen to need that GPU performance, you can build a CPU-performance system with TWO of the Mac’s E5-2697 v2 CPUs, a “decent” graphics card but otherwise similar for around $7500. 

For your numbers, since I’m bored, a very quick search turns up this:

An identical system:

$6000 Two Firepro W9000s (D700 equivalent) from www.caminoodler.com
$2450 E5-2697 v2 Xeon retail CPU from www.2020pc.com
$600 64 Gigs Samsung ECC DDR3 (1600, not 1866) from www.superbiiz.com
$546 Samsung 840 1TB SSD from www.BHPhoto.com
$350 Asus Z9PA-D8 Dual socket motherboard from www.NewEgg.com
$200 Corsair HX1050 Power Supply from www.NewEgg.com
$150 Corsair 750D case from www.NewEgg.com
$99 Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit OEM from www.NewEgg.com
$64 Noctua NH-U12DXi4 Xeon CPU cooler from www.NewEgg.com

Total: 10,459, about $850 more than the Mac, but you have the option to add a second CPU.  And I only searched the more popular online retailers.

Now if GPU performance isn’t important, replace the two FirePros with a more consumer class card and a second CPU:

$4900 Two E5-2697 v2 Xeon retail CPU from www.2020pc.com
$600 64 Gigs Samsung ECC DDR3 (1600, not 1866) from www.superbiiz.com
$546 Samsung 840 1TB SSD from www.BHPhoto.com
$500 EVGA GTX 780 from www.NewEgg.com
$350 Asus Z9PA-D8 Dual socket motherboard from www.NewEgg.com
$200 Corsair HX1050 Power Supply from www.NewEgg.com
$150 Corsair 750D case from www.NewEgg.com
$128 Two Noctua NH-U12DXi4 Xeon CPU cooler from www.NewEgg.com
$99 Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit OEM from www.NewEgg.com

Total: 7,473, $2100 less than the Mac.

So what have we learned?  The $11,500 price the article regurgitates is more than $1,000 higher than I was able to find in all of about 10 minutes of searching.  If you don’t need the graphics perfromance of the Mac, you can build a faster CPU system for over $2,000 less.  And your 13X advantage is lost when comparing apples to apples. 

 

Paul Connell

@ jfh17 “if you think saving almost $2000 and the time and frustration of getting all the seperate parts from different manufacturers to work in sync then spend hours installing and then re-installing software because if conflicts”

First, your smarmy personal attacks on the intellect of “Pee-C” guys highlights your immaturity right off the bat. 

Second, as for your assertions of reinstalling PS software because of conflicts, its is YOU who’s living under a rock and in the past.  I have nothing specific against Macs, but I just happen to prefer PCs, and I’ve been building my own for the past 10+ years.  with a little research beforehand, I’ve had ZERO conflicts with the components I’ve built systems with.

And I’ve posted the parts, prices and web sites on which they can be found.

Intruder

@Paul Connell: How much time does it take the average person to assemble/test/troubleshoot a system like that? I’m asking that as an honest question, as I have never assembled my own system (like probably 95%+ of the population). What value is placed on said time, as well as the unified warranty, etc…?

jfh17

Yeah Paul.

So basically in some instances and configurations one is more expensive than the other and vice versa. You are taking one persons opinion, experience, cost for hardware, etc. as the only option when of course there’s many different ways a computer like this could be put together. Plus the fact that building your own box then installing the Mac OS can be done but isn’t something that I’m interested in doing even though I’m more than capable of doing it.

Then everyone is comparing the maxed out Mac Pro. My Mac Pro configuration meets my needs for only $4,700. That’s 6 core, dual 32gb ram, 512 pci-e ssd. Not including displays, peripherals, keyboard, etc. but oh well. I don’t to have 4k yet and for same price can purchase 3 really nice displays. Then I have a computer that meets my current needs but is ready to be upgraded when/if I need. Plus according to multiple sources on the internet the cpu and gpu can be upgraded (if you want to believe it) in addition to being able to double the ram at far less than Apple’s current cost if I need in the future. Compare this to the G3 powermac I purchased in the late 90’s that cost around $2,600 and was 350mhz with 12gb hard drive, 128mb ram, 16gb sdram, no ethernet or modem, no cd/dvd burner/reader and with a 17” crt ($700). Then factor all the money I spent upgrading it iver time: maxing out the ram to 1gb (wow!), sdram to 128mb, external firewire dvd burner, modem, etc. And it still only ran OS9 until OSX came along.

The ultimate deciding factor for me personally is the Mac OS. Like anything it’s not perfect but suits my computing needs more than any configuration of a windows computer ever could. I started computing on PC’s and systems before them like Commadore 64’s and Texas Instrument computers. I still use windows pc’s on occasio but I don’t and will never purchase one for myself.

You don’t think Mac is of any value because of the lower cost for you to configure hardware for your computer that Apple dosen’t let you. Seems like most people biggest beef with Apple is limited choice or only limited options to upgrade the gpu. So be it.

There’s no value in any computer for me if it won’t run Mavericks.

Great that we both have computer options that meet our personal needs.

jfh17

And lastly Paul:

Screw you and your smarmy Pee-C attitude. Someone making puns on the internet is SO immature and uncooth. Should I just call Pee-C’s gay then? Why, it must have given your delicate constitution a case of the vapors to hear anti Pee-C comments on a Mac site!!! What a shock! I have an easy solution for you: gtf off here troll.

^_^

@Paul Connell,

I’m not comparing oranges to apples. I did use the $7500 configuration example YOU gave, and YOU stated that it is “far more powerful system”.

Enough about that. Your own numbers show additional costs of $850.

In a year or so, you’ll be able to build even cheaper PC. Or, maybe more powerful one for the price of a Mac Pro. I would not argue.

Yet, all your self-made PCs will still lack a good computer case - small, effective cooling, noiseless.

FYI: I used to build my own PCs since I was 14. My last PC had water cooling, and was the most quiet computer I’ve ever owned ... until I bought a Mac. End of story.

RonMacGuy

I seem to have a struck a nerve with some folks…

No kidding, Bryan.  You’ve started a holy war, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the ‘Declining and mostly irrelevant iPad’ battles of 2011!!  Some of these kids may actually climb out from their mommys’ basements and start to throw their custom-made, liquid-cooled computers at each other!!

But hey, it’s been amusing reading so far.  I especially like the one who said you can build a better PC for cheaper so long as you simply use a ‘decent consumer level video card’ - really?!?!?  Huh!!

 

Paul Goodwin

“Sorry bud. I bought a HP Z820 that cost me only $10,000 after discounts and it blows the garbage can away.”

Just what exactly in that C do you think blows away the MacPro?  I can tell you: Nothing. In fact it’s markedly inferior.

And the other comments about making a cheaper PC if you don’t need the graphics performance are equally as idiotic. The MacPro is designed to be a high performance machine for graphic intensive work. So comparing it to a PC with a different purpose and target customer isn’t applicable.

You can always DIY a last generation PC and spend less than a Mac if you are so inclined to do so and endure the pain of integrating all the parts into a reliable working platform. The simple truth is that ever since Apple went the Intel route, there’s very little difference in price in comparable a macs and PCs. One thing is for certain, if you DIY a machine that has the equal hardware-software performance of this MacPro, you’ll spend far more because Apple can buy the new parts cheaper than the DIYer. And in the end you’ll run what on it? Windows 8 ? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

mrhooks

When you compare LIKE SYSTEMS, computers with the same or comparable fetters, the “Apple Tax” disappears.

AFAIK, the big counter(s) to that statement is/are the previous Mac Pros with a single Xeon CPU.  That CPU was very expensive, but its performance was the same as a Core i7 for far less money (thus the high-end iMac outperforming the low-end Mac Pro).  The only advantage of the Xeon was the ability to be used in a multiple-CPU system, meaning it was pointless to use it in a single-CPU system - you’re paying hundreds for a feature you’ll never be able to use.  That low end Mac Pro could have cost far less if only Apple would have put a Core i7 in it.

You also pay a lot for the nice case.  Some of us are willing to pay for it;  others are not.

I don’t know if it’s still true - haven’t compared prices in years - but the Mac versions of GPUs used to cost more than the PC versions.  I remember paying $150 for a GPU that could be had for $100 or less on the PC side.

Lastly, the constantly changing proprietary form factor (and lack of aftermarket motherboards) means Mac Pros have limited upgradeability.  This is a “feature” that is rarely considered in these types of comparisons.  Even if you’re spending less often, having to shell out thousands at a time can be really tough.  And iMacs…why should I have to pay for a new monitor every time I buy a new computer, especially when I have a fantastic NEC monitor (with no stupid glaring glass)?  It’s wasteful.  Not to mention, it’s not a very good form factor.  Ports in the back only?  People talk a lot about TCO, but what about TCO across multiple machines vs. upgrading parts in the same case?

I’ve been a Mac guy since System 6, but like a lot of other people, I want the system Apple won’t offer - an iMac-spec (and priced) machine without the built-in monitor and with more internal expandability.  And, quite frankly, I’d still like an optical drive, even if only to watch an occasional movie while I work, or to rip CDs (some of us still like having the physical product).  But I guess Apple is just too in love with the iMac form factor.  Apple is making it more and more difficult for me to continue buying their computers.

 

macuser27

Dear all, I find the tone of this discussion disturbing and it is strange to see with which language Mac users try to defend a system which most of them probably have not seen live yet or may not even buy.
I am running a bunch of Mac Pros, Mac Minis, Macbook Pros here alonside with Windows PCs and for somebody who is actively using both platforms, it is astonishing how incomplete informations are absorbed relatively quickly. Building a custom PC means that you must purchase individual components at a much higher price than the one a heavy-duty-manufacturer (such as Apple) has to pay. I am fairly certain, based on my experience in hardware distribution, that Apple will receive a huge margin on the components due to high volume purchases and negotiations, all of which a single person shopping for single components will never be able to receive. So in reality, the DIY PC described in the original article, would be much cheaper it if was actually “manufactured” by a hardware vendor.
That said, the Mac Pro 2013 is certainly not a bad machine at all. Personally, I wished for several reasons that Apple had taken a different route (offering more internal expandability), but it is just how it is ...

gnasher729

Let’s try to make the comparison a bit more fair. Let’s say I’m willing to pay good money for a powerful computer, I have an offer from Apple, and someone building computer makes me an offer. (Or do we compare an offer from a commercial company with a do-it-yourself job, where time spent falls under “entertainment” and not under cost? )

With the Apple product, many people look at it and don’t buy. So a commercial builder also has to take into account the cost of sending offers to people who don’t buy. With the Apple product, ordering by mail, in the UK I have the legal right to return it and get my money back. So I hope the commercial builder takes into account the cost of taking back unwanted products. Apple offers phone service for some time, and excellent customer service in their stores. Is that taken into account? Apple gives a year warranty. Does the builder account for the warranty cost? (When Rover went bankrupt, customers buying by credit card received 17% of the purchase price back because they now owned a car for which no warranty would be provided). In the UK, the seller is responsible beyond the one year warranty period.

That is all cost included in the Apple price, while the build-it-from-parts numbers seem to be “Bill-Of-Material” (BOM) only.

Lee Dronick

Good points gnasher.

Intruder

@gnasher: exactly the point I (unsuccessfully, I might add) tried to raise several posts earlier.

There is also cost of advertising, R&D, parts storage, employee benefits, etc.. (called overhead, G&A and fringe). These are not expenses usually incurred by a DIY builder.

Michael Stashuk

The ‘Apple Tax’ is on the mainstream and lower-end systems, which are far more marked-up than similar low to upper-middle DIY part for part.

Methinks that in this case, it’s the fact that 60% of the build cost is the two FirePro cards (and, i’d like to see detailed head-on performance comparisons vs the Apple ‘proprietary’ cards as well).

FirePro Cards, and the upper-upper end Intel CPU’s, are low volume, high-margin devices purchased by corporations and professionals in CAD/Architecture/etc..Not even final rendering, as farms of low-cost linux-based rackmounts do that. Its an exclusive and specialized market where everyone (AMD, Apple, etc) sells very few and marks up parts greatly, and you aren’t going to get a FirePro Card or a 12-core Xeon on boxing day for half-price.

It’s an interesting exception to the general rule that Apple offers better design, better quaiity control and overall reliability, and fashion, in exchange for selling you essentially the same parts from the same manufacturers (often ‘built for apple’ in part to confuse direct comparison), at a huge markup or Apple ‘Tax’. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion, but pointing out an exception does not in any way disprove the rule.

A much more scientific study would be to see how much total computing power one could build for 10k from apple, and on the open market, or other more mainstream studies like build the best five systems on the open market at $2k each, then see what it costs to match their performance shopping only with apple.

The apple markup isn’t a tax, its a fee, for their better design, aesthetics, supposed quality, etc. Whether it is worth it is an individual decision, but as it relates more to the outside of the computer than the inside, only one ‘apple tax’ can really be charged per system (proprietary or not, Jonathon Ive had no role in the aesthetics of a FirePro card, though one might be built for apple). There’s only so much you can mark up design-wise on a $10k PC, and I suspect Apple recognized that with the Mac Pro, a competitive price makes since, as margins will still be high per-system, and at the ultra-high end, it makes marketing sense to have that niche visibly filled with Mac Pros, as it reflects upon Apple down the line when people are choosing a more down to earth system.

I like the Mac Pro and the Price. But, declaring Apple now competitive on price with DIY is quite a leap, and likely, one with nowhere to land on!

Log-in to comment