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

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So, what have we learned from these comparisons?  First off, there's no way that these three comparisons can be representative of the entire Apple Tax argument. That's lesson number one. There is no overriding answer that covers every single Apple machine versus every competing Windows-based machine. Comparisons can be made that prove either side's point. It's a case-by-case basis based on personal usage model as well, and must be thought of that way. The next lesson is that this is an "Apples vs. Oranges" comparison. That's a theme that continually recurred for us.  Attempting to compare Apple to every other PC maker is difficult for two primary reasons: differences in software offerings and differences in design, aesthetics and materials.

Apple places a high value on their own OS X software and their own design chops. Most people, even those who hate Apple, will confess that their chassis designs are often leaps and bounds better than most other PC makers. Just look at the Mac Pro versus any other PC workstation. The Mac design is in a league its own. Of course, whether or not it's worth paying a premium for a computer to look good is something that can only be determined by the consumer. Some people couldn't care less what the case looks like, as long as it's a powerful and reliable machine. But here's a fact: there's a price premium associated with Apple designs, and it varies from machine to machine. There's really no arguing that. Apple machines tend to, in general, cost somewhat more than PC counterparts with similar specifications, and design is one of the huge differentiating factors that's hard to put a solid value on, though obviously that value is definitely tangible.

Now, let's touch on software. Apple clearly feels that OS X is superior to Windows. They tout the operating system as being more stable than Windows (though that can argued) and less likely to be targeted by viruses. The latter has more to do with virus makers targeting the OS with the widest audience than anything else, but no matter the reasoning, there's no arguing that Macs get hit with fewer viruses and other assorted malware. Again, this comes down to a personal decision by the end users. OS X is not right for everyone. Neither is Windows 7. Most of the reason for the "Apple Tax" argument revolve around disagreements here; Mac users generally assume that the OS X operating system is worth paying extra for, while Windows loyalists cannot understand why anyone would pay extra while Win7 handles their needs just fine.

In the end, we found each Apple machine to cost more than a similarly equipped PC counterpart, with the baseline Mac Pro being the exception. Usually the delta is around $50 to $150, and even that can be mitigated by using an educational discount or otherwise finding a deal from one of the many Mac e-tailers out there. Furthermore, each new Mac comes with $99 off of a printer, and there actually is a $99 printer you can select; so, if you need a new printer, that's an imputed $99 total system savings.

We did want to touch on desktops quickly. Apple essentially has no consumer-level desktop outside of the iMac. For example, there's no "headless iMac" to select. The only tower desktop sold by Apple has a Xeon server-class processor in it; nowhere is the option to select a more mainstream Core i7 CPU. Thus, it's impossible to compare Apple's tower to any of the various gaming towers on the market. If you're a gamer, and you need a desktop, Apple shouldn't even enter the discussion. They simply aren't catering to that market much, if at all.

In conclusion, yes, most Apple machines cost a bit more than similar PC counterparts. But if you put a great deal of value on longer battery life, generally improved resistance to viruses, eye-catching designs that use high-quality materials, and will make use of the robust iLife '11 software suite, then the tax--if you can even call it that--is worth paying. The real take-away here is that there's no reason to argue whether or not the Apple Tax is worthwhile; it will always be a case-by-case value-based decision for each consumer.  Depending on your needs, one product or the other will or won't make sense. Now, can't we just all hug and make up? 

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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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