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Visit Charle Gaba's new System Shootout site for the latest shootouts!

Desktop Shootouts
(U.S. $):
Apple Desktop Lineup
Laptop Shootouts
(coming soon!)
Apple Laptop Lineup

The AAPLTalk System Shootout FAQ

AAPLTalk System Shootout Guidelines, Rules, Disclaimers and Explanations

I spent a few hours going through each of the online stores of several major players in the home-PC business, configuring the best system I could for anywhere from $800 - $3,600, depending on the chart.
1. To keep it as fair and reasonable as possible, all hardware & software had to be configurable right on the manufacturers' own online store; sure, you can get RAM dirt-cheap from Bob's Memory Hut, but that kind of defeats the point of these comparisons.
2. Since it's often impossible to get the total exactly dead-on, I've given myself a +/- $25 range for systems under $2,000, and +/- $40 for systems over $2,000.
3. All systems must be current, brand-new (as of the date of the comparison) systems--ie, no refurbished, used, or clearance systems allowed.
4. Grand total prices MUST include standard ground shipping charges, if any, since this can dramatically effect the total cost (some are free, others charge up to $100 for shipping desktop systems!). Sales tax, however, is not included in any comparisons.
5. Grand total prices include any rebates (whether instant or mail-in), promotions, etc. that would be redeemable if that system was purchased on the date configured.
6. If a stock system would normally be lower than the specified price point, I beefed up the specs (larger hard drive, etc.) to bring the price in line, since the given price point is the basis for this comparison..
7. Whenever possible, I try to keep the major specs roughly even--ie, if one system has a 17" LCD or a DVD burner, all systems compared should, since these have such a major effect on the total cost. This is not always possible, especially in the laptop shootouts (some manufacturers don't make DVD-burner laptops, others don't offer 16" screens, and so on).
8. ALL system configurations and prices were taken DIRECTLY off the respective company's Web sites on the specific dates listed on the given chart. Given the crazy PC market, any number of the bundles, add-ons, promotions, etc. could have changed by the time you read this. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH, ESPECIALLY IN THE CASE OF DELL, WHICH SEEMS TO CHANGE ITS PROMOTIONAL OFFERINGS ON AN ALMOST DAILY BASIS!!
9. These comparisons are of BRAND-NAME BOXMAKERS. I am well aware that those who prefer to build their own PCs from scratch can do so for much less than ANY of the listed brands, but again, that's hardly the point. I could change my own oil for a lot less than Jiffy Lube charges, but that doesn't make it wrong to compare them against Pennzoil. Go build your own killer box, enjoy and be well.
10. The DATA listed is, to the best of my knowledge, completely objective and accurate. The sole exception to this are the Processor Performance "equivalency" numbers; read the Processor Notes page for a detailed explanation. However, in a few instances, I was unable to find the correct information even after calling the company directly. These are noted with ???'s.
11. The WINNERS (bold-faced) in some areas are common-sense in many cases (a 60 GB hard drive is obviously better than a 40 GB hard drive for capacity, though it may lose in the speed field if it's 5400 RPM vs. 7200). However, in other cases--especially the software fields--the "winners" are debatable and may be A MATTER OF OPINION.
12. #8 restated: If you don't agree with my calls on these comparisons, feel free to highlight your own. YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY.
13. Feel free to print this chart out to use for your own purposes, recognizing that the company logos & system photos are copyrighted to the respective companies. HOWEVER, I take NO responsibility for ANY purchase decision made based on this comparison. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. MAKE YOUR OWN DECISIONS.
14. Full Disclosure: As you SHOULD have guessed already, I am a Mac user. I sold off my AAPL stock some months ago, and presently have no financial interest in the Apple platform. The data contained herein is factual to the best of my knowledge. The points given for some fields, such as software or processor performance may be debatable...which is, of course, the ENTIRE POINT. Having made these things clear, any e-mails simply criticizing my objectivity will be ignored. Thoughtful input, as always, will be responded to as time permits.
15: If you have nice things to say (or thoughtful disagreements, or general points of interest), feel free to contact me. If you have rude or hateful things to say, or want to argue just for the sake of arguing, please keep it to yourself.
All images and logos are copyright 2002 to the respective companies listed.

The information above is as accurate as I could make it based on a reasonable time studying the respective companies' Web sites. There is no guarantee that these configurations, prices, and features are the best that one could come up with; assorted bundles, free internet access, free extra memory, and so on can most likely be found for any of the above systems. The point of this chart is to demonstrate that Apple's lineup holds its own against any brand-name computer, even in areas in which it has traditionally had resistance. In short, do not base your purchasing decisions solely on this chart or information. Neither I, nor The Mac Observer will be held responsible or liable for any purchase decisions you make based on this presentation.

Charles Gaba started the AAPLTalk System Shootouts at, and has brought them to TMO. Charles is the creative talent behind Brainwrap Web Design.

AAPLTalk System Shootouts Archives

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