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

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.