Comparing Apples and oranges–er, Dells

Mac users are known for a lot of different things but frugality sure isn’t one of them. Macs have long enjoyed the reputation of being either “high end” or “unnecessarily expensive,” depending on how you slice it. I’ve got a good friend who often chides me for investing in what he calls “overpriced, design-based technology” and I’d say his opinions aren’t exactly unusual in the tech community. And it certainly doesn’t help when Steve Jobs dusts off the old BMW analogy in interviews. Apple has tried to make their products more accessible in recent years, with low-priced lines like the Mac Mini and iBook, yet even these products often fall into the higher end of the price spectrum.

It may come as a surprise then, that Macs occasionally offer a price advantage over PCs from other OEMs. ZDnet‘s Ed Burnette decided to do a price comparison between a Dell XPS M1710 and a 17-inch MacBook Pro. He tried his best to configure the machines similarly; outfitting them with the same Core 2 Duo processor, storage, memory, wireless connectivity and support packages. In the end, the Dell’s final price was $3,222 while the Mac clocked in at $2,699.

A few things worth noting: it wasn’t possible to configure the machines to be exactly the same and the few key differences are noted. And considering these are two machines running different operating systems and coming bundled with completely different software, at the end of the day this is sort of like comparing, well, Apples and Dells. Still, while this is just a comparison of two very specific models, it’s still encouraging news for anyone looking to make a case for buying Macs in a corporate environment.

For more comparison shopping:
– check out this ZDnet blog post

More stories about Steve Jobs   OEMs   MacBook Pro   Mac OS X  


if I remember the article correctly , a custom made dell was compared to generic apple pc. That is hardly a fair comparison.

my thoughts exactly. dude, your making a smell…

This is dubious reporting at best. Where’s the side by side comparision so we can see what the differences are.

A better GPU in the dell could raise the price $150 alone.

Word to the wise, next time you try to do a comparision, show us the comparision if you want any kind of credibility. Instead of telling us “similar” computers were priced differntly.

There is no such thing as a generic Apple PC. With Apple you don’t have the option of not getting firewire, usb, wifi, bluetooth, etc. This is why the Dell needs to be loaded up with extras for there to be a valid comparison.

Great article!

An XPS system? You can get a system that’s non-XPS and that would considerably drop the price as well… I own a Macbook Pro and considered buying a Dell with similar specs and I tried this: The Dell was cheaper.

You’re right… it is hardly fair.

Ease of use, better included aps and overall design elegance hardly give the Dell a chance at delivering equal value.

Well, for me this is agian proof of my personal baseline: “don’t be loyal to any (technology) brand”
As a consumer keep a broad view and you do are allowed to change your opinion at any time.

What a joke. Why did you pick the xps system and not any of the other models that include core 2 duo. I think this is just a mac fan trying to spread more propaganda.

This is poor reporting. Give me the specs on the Apple and I will bet you I can find a Dell that has equal or better specs for at LEAST 10% less if not 30-50% less.

The one thing about Apple is they seldom will discount machines where as with a Dell a savvy shopper can find all kinds of coupons and discounts on the Net to make the price gap much much larger.

You think I like my Dell more than an Apple? Heck no! It was just half the price of the Apple!

You should post the spec of both systems, and instead of customizing the dell, stay with a stocked system; see how much cheaper it is. I’m guessing you’re probably just a Mac Lover.

This is hilarious, you are comparing the underclocked X1600 graphics card of the Mac to a 7900GS or GTX (you don’t state it) which is a MASSIVE difference in the systems.

Yea, cause elegance means soooo much (note that is sarcasim) for people who just want to browse some websites, check their email, and download the latest pictures of their new grandson/daughter, nephew/niece, etc. Price compare the low end models, that is where it matters for 90% of people. And things like bluetooth don’t fit into their need. People buying 17″ mbp are people who want high power machines with OSX, not Mr. Smith from down the street.

This is old news. Apples have been cheaper than Dells for years now.

Sounds like a bunch of anti-Apple folks. Lots of claims of being able to make a Dell cheaper, but where’s the proof? I did a similar comparison and prices came up very close.
The link at the end of the article points to a blog entry that does have much more information about the configurations of both machines. Rather than spread FUD, some of these Dell-fanboys should post their own price comparison.

This is a lame fight between mac users and dell’s supporters. IMHO, you’ll pay more for an apple in an hardware kind of way but you’ll buy an ease of use that is not part of a pc with windows or linux installed. I’ve tried all of them and it’s really depends of your use of the system and your needs.

Finally, I allow that doing the comparison between an xps for high end mobile gaming with a Mac pro isn’t the right thing to do. Should have built with an inspiron 9400 which is more like the mac pro…

Just for the record, here are the full specs for both systems (from the linked article).

Both have:

– Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T7600 (2.33GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 667 MHz FSB) processor
– 17-inch wide screen display
– 256MB dedicated 3D graphics card
– 2GB DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHZ (2 DIMM)
– 100GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
– CD/DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW)
– Integrated Audio
– Standard battery
– Internal Bluetooth (2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate)
– Internal 802.11g wireless (the MBP’s card is n capable)
– DVD and movie editing software
– 1Yr Ltd Warranty
– Customer support (at least 30 days)

Advantages the Mac has:

– Includes a built-in camera
– Thinner and lighter than the Dell (6.8 lbs., 1.0 in. vs. 8.7 lbs., 1.6″).
– Longer customer support (90 days vs. 30 days)
– Back-lit keyboard.

Advantages the Dell has:

– Higher screen resolution (1920×1200 vs. 1680×1050).
– It has more USB 2.0 ports (6 vs. 4) but fewer FireWire ports (1 vs. 2).
– Dell’s Wi-fi card also supports 802.11a.
– Dell’s warranty covers in-home service, while Apple’s is mail-in only.

Like I acknowledged, it’s not a 100% fair comparison but the systems are quite similar. Unfortunately, i can’t speak to the specific model of graphics card on the Dell, as the author of the original article did not publish that information.

I just did the same comparison with the inspiron 9400 instead of the xps and all the same specs that you’ve put on your comment. I even added a webcam and a nvidia 256mb 7900gs and here’s the results:
Dell: 2178 $can
Apple: 3099 $can

The only diff is the core 2 duo that is clocked at 2.16 instead of 2.33 in the dell.
But for a difference of 900$, who give a s***

I did one of these comparisons before too and you guys aren’t seeing things correctly. when you try to get the Dell with the same everything it’s a bit hard. i noticed that when i was configring the Dell, they ddin’t offer 667mhz Ram. also many people have said that the MacBook Pros actually have prototype 802.11n wireless cards in them. When i did the comparison, the only thing the Dell had over the Apple was the Nvidia 7900 moblie card while the Apple was stuck with the Radeon x1600. I know what you must be thinking , but the difference is no more than maybe $100-$150; and at this point the Dell was well over $3200. I even had my friend, who works with dell in sales (he’s walking out of college making 85k with dell; he sells these things like hotcakes; even the 20″ laptops!), couldn’t get a Dell with the same specs as the MacBook for the same price.

those who are saying that the inspirons with the 2.16 proc and saying it doesn’t matter, consider this. the inspirons don’t offer 667mhz RAM or a webcam. and you have to understand that the webcams on the Macs are iSights. they are $150 webcams and are a very high quality. and the difference in price for the 2.16 and the 2.33 is a bigg difference. if you want a 2.16 Apple you can get the 15″ MacBook Pro and the only thing it’s got less is the 1GB of RAM and the 15″ screen.

You PC fans need to understand that you can’t rule forever and need to stop getting all defensive when something you’ve never used is turning out to be better than what you use.

I used a PC for 9 years. i just switched to mac and i’m actually having fun with my computer. i’m excited to use it. i don’t have to worry about things like spyware and viruses; and when security holes are found they are patched in a month or 2 the latest. THE LATEST. i’ve only had my mac for a few weeks and already they patched a security hole that was recently discovered.

Have fun with your PCs i really don’t care what you use but please understand that Apple is gaining ground and Vista isn’t looking a worthwhile investment right now.

i lol’d when i saw this comparison. xps is dells flagship model. it is a hardcore GAMING rig. what was this guy smoking when he did this?

This is irresponsible reporting at it’s finest.

This article is obviously bogus and created by a mac fanboy. Show us your data, the specifics of your comparison….otherwise, your conculsions are BS.

I just bought a Dell Inspirion E1705 (notice, 1705 NOT 1710) – the Inspirion line is much more affordable than the XPS line but still extremely powerful.

My machine:
Core 2 Duo (T7200 – 2GHz)
2GB Ram
NVidia GeForce Go 7950 GS
120GB HD
9 cell Lithium Ion Battery
3 Year Complete Care Accidental damage warranty
My Cost: $2564 (but at the time of purchase there were coupons available for 20% off) these were easy to find using google. That took my actual, total delivered price, with tax, to: $2,044.02.

Dell also offered 12 months with zero percent financing. Apples was only 3 months.

I compared to Apple and it was in the $2,700 price range….but it only had core duo…not core 2 duo.

People constantly try to say that Macs are as affordable as PCs but do your own comparisons, don’t take the authors word for it….or even mine for that matter. It’s easy to do online and doesn’t take that long….you will see very quickly that Apples are much more expensive for older technology.

To the guy saying the Inspirion doesn’t offer 667 MHz ram, YOU ARE WRONG. My Inspirion E1705 DOES have 2Gb of 667MHz ram!

YOU ARE WRONG and you should visit the Dell site again.

Alright, for all those who are raggin this article. I’ve been an apple hater for years, same arguement this guy is bringing up “Same hardware, higher price ” but amazingly what he’s saying is true. I just bought a 15inch macbook pro because the equiv was too expensive anywhere else. So i’m running XP on the thing and it works great, OSX still sucks for most things.

Lot of Mac Fan boys in here. Anyways I’d like to point out after the intel switch macs are now pcs just with the Mac OSX operating System. so now its now a question which pc maker u like better. as for price difference if u look at dell whole line of laptops opposed to apples whole line of laptops dell are generally cheaper by a good portion. Personally I like the look of apples laptops. but when it came around to looking for a computer with a decent amount of specs for under 1000 bucks there wasn’t much in the macbook department. This article is too specific to actually make the claim it states


A Challenge to PC Users:

– Buy a Mac + Parallels + XP
– Load and Work or Play
– Write a one month report on your experience.

Yeah I totally realize I’m repeating what everyone says. But I love how mac users compare the total rip off XPS system with the total rip of MBP. Hey look, Audi is more expensive that BMW. Totally, now I feel justified for buying my MBP. And then Mac users go on to say that since Audi (Dell) also makes VWs (Latitudes) clearly you’re getting a better deal with a Mac. Gee, still comparing apples to oranges eh?

I just did the comparision myself with a base-level 17″ apple versus an XPS dell.

The dell comes in at closer to 3754 to match the base level apple 17″ macbook pro at 2799.

Here is my take on this. I am not a DELL fan or and APPLE fan. In fact when I was purchasing a laptop just a few months ago I really wanted a MacBook pro. Unfortunately I could not find one that fit my needs and price so I settled on a Latitude D820.

These were some of the issues that prevented me from getting an Apple
– Low screen resolution (for the price of a Mac book pro you would think they would offer a choice of higher resolutions)
– Dual monitor support (with the D820 I can do it with D/Dock, the apple employee I talked to said the only way I would have to use the laptop screen and and external monitor if I wanted dual monitors). Not a major issues but was a strike against apple.
– 3 year next day onsite warranty support. Couldn’t imagine having to mail my laptop for repairs and not having my main computer for an extend period of time.
– Price. My D820 came with the fastest Core Duo, 2GB RAM, 80GB SATA, Firewire, USB2, DVD/RW, extra battery, Auto/Air power pack & Office2003 professional. I could not price a decent Mac book pro within 20% what I paid for the D820
– And lastly, the one mistake everyone comparing Apples and Dells makes is they never consider the frequent DELL coupons and discounts. When was the last time Apple gave a discount on their laptops? Who actually pays list price for DELL laptops anyways? With promos and DELL coupons on can easily get upto 30%-40% of the list price.

Re: D820 above forgot to add.
– Screen is 15.4″. WUXGA(1920×1200)
– I paid $1600.00.

Now I went back and compared the mid-range macbook versus the dell inspiron e1405 dual core laptop.

Apple comes in at 1299, the dell comes in at 1350 without the webcam.

Listen People! Do not compare the retail price of 2 machines that come from companies with completely different marketing philosophies!
Apple’s = We have one price and you will be lucky to get 10% off!
Dell’s = We have a retail price for suckers that don’t know any better and are willing to pay it. Those in the know will pay 20-50% less!

I am not here to debate those two philosophies, just to state that if you want to search for a deal then apple is not an option! You can save maybe 10%, but not 40-50%. Dell on the other hand is a great place to find a deal if you have the time, patience and a good deal forum to go to.

We as consumers need to not get so involved with our purchases. If emotions tie in so closely with a purchase, you should probably not make it. What’s my point? These are companies fighting it out for your dollars, with things like “software”, “features”, etc. Why get emotionally tied to one, that ends up breaking your bank account later on? Make a choice and try to make it work, but be ready to walk away in 30 seconds when the heat comes down.

Stop comparing XPS to Apple…XPS systems are over priced. Compare them to the Inspirion line and Apple will be overprices for the same equipment.

COUPONS – just google Dell Coupons and see how much you can save. Now do the same with Apple and see how much you CAN’T save.

Conclusion: Dell > Apple
End of story.

Dear comment 19
First of all, the 667 mhz ram is available at dell, and that what I’ve put into comparison. secundo, I’m not promoting pc over mac, I’m only arguing that it is ridiculous to affirm that apple is cheaper than dell. I’m not anti-mac even though I’m a pc user. I’m totally with you when you say “please understand that Apple is gaining ground and Vista isn’t looking a worthwhile investment right now”. But i’m saying if you want versatility and a money wise solution, you’d better buy a pc than a mac.

Seems to me it was a very fair comparison. If you take the time to actually read the comparison link

it is clearly explained. Specifications, differences and pricing. What else do you need?

I’ve read it and it’s missing the fact that the xps is a gaming system and a mac pro is all BUT a gaming system. These days, gamers seems to want to pay more for gaming than ever before so, vendors takes avantage and lever up their prices. Have you seen how much cost an alienware gaming system? it costs more than 7000$ for an high end device.

So for those of you that still believe that apple is cheaper than dell, just do a comparison between a xps system and an inspiron and you’ll discover a 1000$ gap filled with gaming capability. That same 1000$ gap worth 500$ for apple…

So, 500$ cheaper for a dell and stop bugging me with the web cam, those who don’t use one pay for it and doesn’t get a discount and if you really need one, you don’t have the choice to buy the model you want. If microsoft would sell a laptop with a microsoft webcam embedded, I’m sure it’d be sued from pissed off user that wanted to buy their own webcam…

This is stupid…huge gfx card difference.

OK so here it is. Your all doing the same thing over and over and over again but yet no one has actually posted any screen shots. Here we go. DELL WAY OVER PRICED but yet specs are so close. I am certified for mac & DELL and id have to say they are both good. One does something the other doesn’t. Take both these machines or even yet buy a cheap dell and a macbook give them to one person to use. One at a time. Let them use the mac for one month then make them do the same thing for the dell the next month. This should include surf download movies music pictures, send receive email maybe other stuff. Take them back and scan them for speed and viruses and spy ware. OBVIOUSLY the pc looses.

I am a help desk tech support person know and i take calls for both pc’s and mac. The only thing i hate about mac is mac mail. The repeated thing i hear about pc’s is my mail wont send or receive my web browser wont open my email is so slow surfing the net is so slow my antivirus is not working Or i have to pick up the phone and say MAM, Sir your computer has a virus and is sending out to much traffic trying to infect other machines Can you please take it in to the shop to get fixed. Some times i get the reply with i dont have a virus its your network we have our anti virus installed.

Here we go look at the prices. Note I have not changed any price things for the apple but I had to change lots for the dell. Bluetooth and wireless standard on the mac but you have to pay extra & over priced from dell.

Every single one of these “cheaper” posts that I have seen have a different video card. If you are not comparing two machines with the EXACT same video card, you are wasting time. The difference in price for video cards can be more than $500.

Comparing price between Mac and Dell and picking a Dell gaming rig is hillarious, given that if you are a gamer you are running Windows anyway.

Um, Look at the word FREEEEE

FREE Upgrade to 512MB NVIDIA GeForceGo 7950GTX Graphics – $450 Value!

Unfair and inaccurate comparison. The XPS is for gaming, and has a vastly superior gfx card as well as higher screen resolution.

Saying a machine is “for gaming” isn’t all that meaningful. Does the XPS come with games? Not for free. Better sound than the E1705? Not for free. Better graphics card? Not for free, but the Dell site recommends that if you’re going to upgrade to Vista. In any case, the two machines were spec’d for “multimedia, games, or software development”.

In response to a reader comment I did an E1705 vs. MacBook Pro price comparison here.

Also I ran the prices for the E1705 vs. regular MacBook at a lower configuration here.

does it matter? as far as PCs go, Dells suck, Lenovos are way better, as they provide great support, and extreamly high reliability.

you should be comparing Lenovos and Macs.

i agree with many of the above comments. please specify “similar models.
i mean this isnt a gaybar talking straight. its a tech blog and tech issue therefore id expect better articles then just a paragraph that can’t even cite simple comparative stats.

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