Is The "Apple Tax" Real? Mac vs. PC Pricing Compared - HotHardware
Is The "Apple Tax" Real? Mac vs. PC Pricing Compared

Is The "Apple Tax" Real? Mac vs. PC Pricing Compared

It's an argument that has been around for almost as long as Macs have been rivaling PCs. And despite the fact that so much has changed over the past few decades, the argument still arises almost every time Apple introduces a new computer. No, it's not the argument of "PC versus Mac" from a software and compatibility standpoint; that's an entirely different animal worthy of its own analysis. This is an argument over dollars and cents. For years, PC loyalists (or just those who are anti-Apple for one reason or another) have argued that Apple computers are more expensive than their similarly equipped, Windows-based counterparts. From notebooks to desktops and pretty much anywhere in-between, many have complained passionately about the so-called "Apple tax."

Is The "Apple Tax" Real? Mac vs. PC Pricing Compared

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Good article but my only complaint it that in apples workstation they do not use a work station video card they use a typical video card you would find in any mid range desktop. While the other two desktops you showcase do use workstation cards the Nvidia Quadros. So While apple claims that it is a workstation I  see it as an expensive desktop as the only thing the Mac Pro had that is remotely workstation it its CPU. 

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Agreed Der. Good observation actually.

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even if you upgrade to the $4999 pro tower you can only configure it with either two 5770's (+100) or one 5870 (+200). Not very workstation like if you ask me. 5k with a company like Boxx would get you much more than apple has to offer in its "workstation" line up.

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Y'know, the word that I am getting from both camps is that you can make a Mac last about 5 years, but a PC only lasts 2 or 3 years !

One thing that isn't mentioned in the article is the necessity of buying the Apple Care Protection Plan.

Are there similar extended warranties for PCs ?

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Yes, of course there are similar extended warranties for PCs from a lot of the majors.

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If we are talking pr-emade PC's- like Dell or HP. I would agree on the 2-3 lifespan.

They are mostly passively cooled and the cable management is ghastly.

BUT. With proper cooling my 50% OC'd E6400 system is still purring. My upgrades have only been to cooling and a PSU (My old one shorted- but didn't take anything out.

If you custom make a PC I don't think longevity is an issue.

Macs are somewhat know for they're longevity, but I am greatly concerned about my unibody MB Pro. This thing heats up and slows down on a whim.

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I think it's important to discuss the nature of a "tax." A tax is not something a manufacturer includes, it is something additional that goes to someone else. The original notion of such a tax was actually a Microsoft tax, not an Apple tax. The Microsoft tax--a tax people must pay when buying a product using a Microsoft OS--included:

  • The price of AV software
  • The price of AV software updates
  • The cost of time spent reinstalling Windows
  • The cost of time spent dealing with malware that gets past the AV software you purchased
  • The cost of having to upgrade hardware more frequently
  • The outrageously high costs of MS OS upgrades
  • The cost of time dealing with Registry issues
  • The cost of time dealing with DLL issues
  • The lost of money due to rapid loss of resale value
  • The much higher help desk costs
  • The much higher in-person technical assistance costs
  • The costs of time waiting for software fixes to be installed by understaffed and overworked IT departments

These are just a few of the Microsoft taxes people had to pay if they purchased a Windows-based computer. When MS realized the enormity of these taxes and the effect that more people describing them would have on their sales to the enterprise, they turned their marketing droids and MS fanboys loose pointing out that Apple computers were more expensive then computers from fast buck box stuffers. Fearing the word "tax," they turned around and inappropriately applied it to Apple computers.

There is no Apple tax! Period. The price of a Macintosh, as your article showed, is currently around the same price as top tier competitors. In some cases it's more expensive. In other cases (such as the new Airs and iPads, and the recently discontinued servers, which you didn't include in your article) it's definitely less expensive.  With Servers, the Apple hardware and software combination was far less expensive than anything else. Apple Macs are definitely more expensive then cut-rate products from no-name or second-tier box stuffers. But calling it an "Apple tax" is as ludicrous as saying that there is a tax when you go to a fine restaurant rather than Taco Bell.

Respectfully, by using the term "Apple tax" you are acting as a representative of Microsoft. You are putting this false concept into people's minds and functioning as an advertiser for Microsoft. If that's what you are, fine. But if you want to be objective, either admit that you are functioning as an agent of Microsoft or don't misrepresent the facts and the truth.

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There is no Apple tax! Period.

  • The price of AV software      None, I use free AVAST
  • The price of AV software updates   FREE Updates too
  • The cost of time spent reinstalling Windows   Doesn't happen anymore with properly protected Win 7 System
  • The cost of time spent dealing with malware that gets past the AV software you purchased  Wrong again, protected with multiple free programs
  • The cost of having to upgrade hardware more frequently  You mean the ability to upgrade at all for a decent price?
  • The outrageously high costs of MS OS upgrades            I'll give you that one
  • The cost of time dealing with Registry issues  Doesn't happen to me-non issue
  • The cost of time dealing with DLL issues   Way back in the past too, not an issue now
  • The lost of money due to rapid loss of resale value           My $3,700 Mac is now worth $1200.00 and it's two and a half years old
  • The much higher help desk costs  Not for me
  • The much higher in-person technical assistance costs    Nope, not at all since Win-7
  • The costs of time waiting for software fixes to be installed by understaffed and overworked IT departments  Oh hell no, I do my own updating and windows update is free and easy too
  • I believe that most of us addled brain flunkies don't like the high costs of Mac PC's. We call it the Apple Tax,......Get over it.

    I own both and actually like my Mac better for a few things,.........but Win-7 is a smokin' hot OS and worth the money, just like the Mac is.


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    Unfortunately, you are not most enterprise IT departments.

    Microsoft doesn't care about you. They are entirely focused on the enterprise.

    Further, you're falling into the fallacy of moving from the specific (you) to the general (large enterprises) as a valid option without any thing to back it up.

    There is NO Apple tax. Some Macs are slightly more expensive than good quality Windows-based computers. Some are about the same price. Some are cheaper. 

    But you're not an "addled brain flunky." You've just bought the MS marketing line and don't understand what a tax is.

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    You've just bought the MS marketing line and don't understand what a tax is.

    I haven't bought a damn thing and I've been paying taxes since 1971. Don't tell me what I know or not because you don't know me at all.

    Some Macs are slightly more expensive than good quality Windows-based computers.

    Look who bought into the line of bullcrap,.......Macs cost more. A LOT more than Windows PC's.

    And no, I'm not in enterprise, (where they overwhelmingly always choose against dealing with Macs) Yeah, I pulled the dreaded "Market Share" on ya! The one that tells the real enterprise story.

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    I went to dell website myself, and the results I get are totally different ( for the same name ... )

    The HDD is at least 500GB, CPU is at least QC, and the GPU is a FirePro V5800 ( 450€ , compared to the 150€ of the 5770HD ) even in changing a few things ( like 6Gb ram, in a workstation that doesn't sound like a waste... or a 1TB HDD ) It's still less expensive :/

    the CPU in the MacPro is a W3530, with maybe a higher frequency but a worse GT/s ( 4.8 vs 5.86 for the Dell Workstation )

    Dell Precision T7500
    One Intel® Xeon® E5620(2.4GHz,5.86GT/s,12 Mo,4C) RAM @ 1066MHz
    HDD SATA 1 Tb (7200 tr/min) 3 Gbit/s16MB cache
    6 GB DDR3 1333MHz ECC-RDIMM (3x2 Go )
    1Go GDDR5 ATI FirePro V5800 - 2DP, 1DVI (1DP-DVI, 1DVI-VGA adapter) GPU
    3 Year Warranty on hardware and software 24/7
    2.422,04 €

    the MacPro has
    One 2.8 GHz Quad-Core "Bloomfield" Intel Xeon (W3530) processor with 8 MB of L3 cache ( 4.8 GT/s )
    1 TB Serial ATA with 32 MB cache
    ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1 GB of GDDR5 memory
    3 GB DDR3 1066Mhz RAM
    1 Year Warranty

    if I remove the software support in the warranty and the Helpdesk available all the time ( 200 € ) keep the 500GB HDD and the 3GB of RAM, then the price drop to 2099€ ( still a 3 year warranty on hardware )
    so for a slightly bigger HDD, a far worse GPU, close to the same CPU the same RAM and a 1Year Warranty i have to pay 350€ more for an apple solution...
    Tax or not, it's clear to me that Apple is way too expensive for the hardware they put in their computers.

    But Mac OS is more user friendly, since it's not as widespread as windows there are less viruses and so less problems.
    but for an advanced user, there aren't too many differences, I don't have Viruses ( and I don't "have" an AV ), i don't waste my time since I don't have problems, and when I do I usually don't need to call a Helpdesk.

    So yeah, i guess if you don't know anything in computers, buy a MAC, if you don't care about the cost, buy a mac, for the rest you can buy a normal computer at a normal price.

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    One thing I would mention about the iMac in particular, is the exact type of LCD - The IPS LCD panel.  You do mention it is high quality, but not everyone realizes what technology is actually used, and why it is used.


    IPS gives a better viewing angle (little to no change in colour no matter what angle it is viewed from, unlike typical TN LCDs), and improved colour (a true "millions of colours" display instead of the dithering TN has to use.


    on the 21.5" iMac, the IPS based LCD panel accounts for approx $400 of the cost of the system.  (Trying to find an IPS panel for most PCs, the cheapest one I could find was a SRP of $400 from Viewsonic, some were up to $600, it is more dramatic when you get to the 27" iMacs, where the cost of the screen from any manufacturer varies from $1,000 to $1,400 out of the $1,699 SRP)


    The MSI model does have the expense the touch screen aspect, but that only works out to about a $100 option.  The Lenovoa & Dell systems only ship with TN panels (unless that changed recently)

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    Point taken, Brian. Good observation and agreed.

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    On the whole, this was quite a balanced article.  However, repeatedly the author refers to Apple's lack of a consumer level desktop aside from the iMac.  The mac mini is a unique type of CPU, very small in size and different in form factor from most PC towers, but it is a consumer desktop that is cheaper than the iMac which is for some reason ignored by the article.  Including it might not help in reaching an easy conclusion about apple pricing, but it does represent the lowest end of Apples desktop offerings.

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    Let me play devil's advocate for a minute (if not eternity) and question this whole concept:

    How exactly is buying a custom product from a specific manufacturer, at that manufacturer's price, a "tax"? If you buy a Yenko Camaro, are you paying a Yenko tax, or are you paying more to get a specific bundle warranted by a specific entity?

    Isn't a tax something you have to pay on everything, but which adds no specific value to the product you're buying? With Apple's prices, you get Apple's unique hardware design (I'm thinking specifically cases), OSX, and Apple support. That hardly seems like a tax.

    If any "tax" exist at all, isn't it the "Microsoft Tax", which (thanks to MS's monopoly position) the entire world pays on 94% of pre-built systems - whether they want Windows or not? This is something you pay when you're buying a system that wasn't even built by Microsoft (or their contractors).  Now *that* is a tax.

    If you specifically want Apple hardware, you can't seriously call Apple's ability to set their own price on their own product a "tax", right? If you compare two similar but different cases that have the same features, you don't say the more expensive one is "taxed" instead of "more expensive" do you?  The whole "Apple Tax" concept smells like a Microsoft PR invention meant to throw people off the real tax.

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    MacBook Pro 17-Inch
    Intel Core i5 540M
    Nvidia GeForce GT 330M GPU
    4GB DDR3-1066
    500GB 5400RPM
    8X DVD Writer
    Total = $2,300

    Asus G73JW-A1 (17-Inch)
    Intel Core i7 740QM
    Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M GPU
    8GB DDR3-1333
    1TB (2x500GB) 7200RPM
    4X Blu-Ray Reader / 8X DVD Burner Combo
    Total = $1,745

    Dell XPS 17 (17-Inch)
    intel Core i7 740QM
    Nvidia GeForce GT 435 GPU
    6GB DDR3-1066
    500GB 7200RPM
    Blu-ray Reader / DVD Writer Combo
    Total = $1,275

    HP G72t Series (17-Inch)
    Intel Core i5 560M
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470
    4GB DDR3 1066
    500GB 5400RPM
    8X DVD Burner
    Total = $919

    Just saying...

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    I never said it wasn't "more expensive" - I'm arguing the definition of "tax" vs. free-market pricing.  Big Smile

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    3vi1, I was responding to the argument in general, not your post. I could care less about the semantics of an 'Apple Tax,' the bottom line is you get more hardware for your money on the PC (as in Windows or Linux) side than you do with Apple, particularly if you're willing to roll your own rig.

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    3vi1, I was responding to the argument in general, not your post. I could care less about the semantics of an 'Apple Tax,' the bottom line is you get more hardware for your money on the PC (as in Windows or Linux) side than you do with Apple, particularly if you're willing to roll your own rig.

    And I don't disagree that, if all you consider is hardware specs, that's true.  Though, you could hack OS X onto the cheap hardware.  :)

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    I think the "Tax" part of it is just slang folks have thrown around over the years.  It's absolutely free market pricing and Apple has a certain market share percentage that they probably enjoy better margin in as a result.  Can't fault them for that really.

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    Yea the pc is the only way to roll if your a gamer. Apple prices for graphics cards are stupid. Now Garage Band is a different story.

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    It's an interesting but false comparison...

    1) The native resolution of the 17" MacBook Pro is 1920x1200 vs. the Dell XPS with 1600 x 900. If you do the math the Mac has almost double the number of pixels, which is like having a 34" screen vs. a 17" screen. Here there is no comparison. How would you feel about a 17" PC with half the pixels of the XPS 800 x 450? See what I mean. The Mac screen is simply better. Also, from the reviews the viewing angles on the Dell are horrible and simply don't compare to the Mac. Of course the Asus has the same screen resolution as the Mac but the price is much-much closer.

    2) The Core i7 quad-cores in these PCs run at 1.7 MHz and turbo up to 2.8 GHz if you only use two cores. So in the end they don't end up being much faster than the dual-core models used in the MacBook Pro. Truth be told, with the exception of professional software 95% of the programs you use can't use more than two cores. By professional software I mean professional 64 bit software like LightRoom or Apple's Aperture.

    3) Once you go beyond 4GB of memory it really doesn't matter all that much. What programs can use that much memory? If your single tasking something like a game it simply goes unused. There is a reason Apple doesn't have more than 4GB in any of there base models.

    4) The MacBook Pro boots in half the time of the XPS and the battery last twice as long. Not much point in having a laptop if it always has to be plugged into the wall, right?

    The bottom-line is that their is a point of diminishing returns as you add processors, ram and hard drives due to operating system limitations. Weight and size of the laptop also increases, the battery life takes a serious hit, the amount of heat generated increases and it becomes more a hot brick than a moblie device.

    Instead Apple adds things like a multi-touch trackpad, which the XPS doesn't have, Mag-Safe power connector so your laptop can't be yanked onto the floor, an Aircraft Aluminum case to keep the keyboard from bending like it does on the XPS while typing. Not to mention a better screen.

    Also, OSX has only one version, the Ultimate version, so add another $150 to the cost of those (half-ass) Home Basic Windows 7 installs to move up to the Ultimate version. OSX is a fully integrated 32/64 bit operating system, which runs both in one OS not two like Windows. A 64 bit OS  is required to utilize more than 4GB of memory. Did you know that?

    You guys buying 8GB of ram using a 32 bit Windows 7 system do understand that you can't use more than 4GB of memory, right? What's the other 4GB for? Penis enhancement?

    I could spend all day destroying these specs. They just don't translate directly into better performance and a better user experience, especially when you battery runs dead.

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    I have yet to see a 32bit version of windows 7. I know they make them but I have yet to see it so. The 32bit part is mute.

    As for what program use more than 4gb or ram? Just those programs that Macs are supposedly better at running. Video editing, Photoshop, and 3d design. 


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    I have a 32 bit version of Home Premium that came with an inexpensive ( $329.00 ) Dell laptop so their out there. Still anyone that builds a computer already knows all the facts about the ram usage. As far as the different flavors of Windows, most of the extras are things you can live without anyway. Now how much market share does Apple have with PC's? Oh yea I guess you can fool some of the people some of the time.

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    In the US Apple's market-share now stands at 10%. If you count the iPad as a computer, which it is, Apple's US market-share stands at 25% making them the number one vendor in the US and they command a 35% share of worldwide computer profit. Rather impressive, right?

    They also surpassed Microsoft in revenue this quarter.

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