Is The "Apple Tax" Real? Mac vs. PC Value Analysis - HotHardware

Is The "Apple Tax" Real? Mac vs. PC Value Analysis

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Moving on from the notebooks, let's look at all-in-one PCs. Apple's iMac is a staple in the industry, and it's widely viewed as one of the most stylish all-in-one machines out there. With a base price of $1,199 for the 21.5" model, we're pitting it against MSI's 21.5" AE2280, which retails for slightly less at $1,049.99. Here's the breakdown.

21.5" Apple iMac vs. 21.5" MSI AE2280
Specifications and Features (as tested)
21.5" Apple iMac - $1199
  • Intel Core i3 (3.06GHz; 4MB shared L3 cache)
  • 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz RAM 
  • 21.5" LCD (1920x1080 resolution)
  • ATI Radeon HD 4670 (256MB)
  • 500GB (7200RPM) HDD
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
  • VGA iSight Webcam
  • Slot-loading 8x DVD SuperDrive
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot
  • Mini DisplayPort Video Output
  • USB 2.0 x 4 + FireWire 800 x 1
  • RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000)
  • Headphone / Mic Input Jacks
  • SD / MMC / SDHC Multimedia Card Reader
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Apple Wireless Keyboard & Magic Mouse Included
  • 30.5 Pounds
  • 25.6" (W) x 8.15" (D) x 20.4" (H) (Dimensions)
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard + iLife '11 (64-bit)
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Price (MSRP): $1199
21.5" MSI AE2280 - $1,049
  • Intel Core i5-650 (3.2GHz)
  • 4GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 21.5" (1920x1080 resolution) Multi-Touch display
  • ATI Radeon HD 5730 (1GB)
  • 640GB (7200RPM) HDD
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • 1.3MP Webcam
  • 6-in-1 Card Reader
  • Tray-loading DVD Burner
  • VGA / HDMI Video Outputs
  • USB 2.0 x 6 + eSATA x 1
  • RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000)
  • Headphone / Mic Input Jacks 
  • Stereo Speakers 
  • Wireless Keyboard & Mouse included
  • Bundled MCE Remote Control
  • 24.2 Pounds
  • 21.8" (W) x 2.9" (D) x 15.9" (H)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Price (MSRP): $1049

This is a slightly more cut-and-dry look at the reality or misconception of the so-called Apple Tax. When you're strictly comparing hardware specifications -- which isn't a perfect science by a long shot -- the MSI machine bests Apple's iMac in essentially every regard. And it does so for $150 less. We will say that Apple's LCD panels are typically best-in-class, but with the MSI machine, you do get the added functionality of a touch screen. We have stated numerous times in all-in-one reviews that a touch panel makes little sense to us, particularly on a desktop, with the current state of Windows 7's touch interface, unless there is a robust touch interface overlay as can be seen in HP's TouchSmart line of products. Regardless, it's there if you decide you want it.


21.5" Apple iMac

From top to bottom, the MSI AIO PC is just more capable. A faster CPU, a superior GPU, more hard drive space, support for more memory card formats, more USB ports, etc. In this case, you're paying $150 more for the iMac in order to get less impressive hardware and an arguably superior software suite. Again, if you place a high value on Mac OS X over Windows 7, and you'll actually use iLife '11, it's possible that the software value more evenly aligns these two.

Looking briefly at a few other Windows-based all-in-one machines, Lenovo's IdeaCenter (A and B series) both offer beautiful designs with prices starting as low as $699 (with high-end machines only reaching $999), and that even includes a TV tuner and remote with the B series. Dell's Studio One also has a gorgeous design and starts as low as $589, but of course that only ships with a 19" display suitable, so it's definitely not a perfect spec-for-spec comparison with the 21.5" iMac.


21.5" MSI AE2280

It's crystal clear to us that Apple themselves place a high value on their software and design aspects. The question is: do you?

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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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DKraig:
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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    DKraig:
    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.

    DKraig:
    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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