That’s a question I hear often from those who remain on the dark side. To most Windows PC users, Macs are just too expensive. My usual response to the question is to point out a few obvious differences.
First, Macs are premium hardware, and quality fit and finish, SSD drives, high quality Retina displays, and Intel’s more powerful CPUs cost money and that’s reflected in the price tag.
Second, I point out that getting a Windows PC with similar hardware and quality as is found on most Macs also drives up the price, so, feature for feature, build for build, both are priced comparably.
Third, I usually mention something that Windows PC users never hear much about. Security, support, service. Yes, every PC manufacturer claims to have support, but how many have a retail location in the mall where you can bring your Mac and speak to a trained technician? Apple covers the cost of such support and service options in the price tag.
Finally, there’s OS X and Apple’s ecosystem, both of which easily differentiate Apple’s wares from competitors. Apple’s products work well together, usually are more secure than Windows or Android, and come with most of the software that the average user needs and wants, and most of which have iPhone and iPad counterparts.
Macs tend to be the purchase of discriminating computer users; those who want more than ‘just a PC’, those who don’t want security and malware hassles, and who prefer to have support and training available at the nearest mall.
Here’s a photo from a few years ago of a journalism class at the University of Missouri. What’s the first thing that pops out at you?
What does that tell you?
Alright, one more thing. What got me on this angle today was an article by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes on how to build a Windows 10 PC for $495. In other words, it’s a gallery of photos and tips on what to buy so you can put together a rather powerful Windows 10 machine for far less money than a typical iMac (though it should be noted that the iMac comes with a screen, keyboard, and mouse, and the Mac mini, also priced at $499, does not.
What do you get for $495?
A modestly powered AMD CPU. An ASUS motherboard with all the needed ports. 8GB of RAM. 1TB of hard disk drive storage. A fan for cooling (you’re building this yourself, right?). A big desktop case (circa 1999). And Windows 10 (the final $100 component). Is this home built PC faster than a Mac mini at the same price? Maybe not. The AMD CPU in the home-built PC is comparable to the Intel Core i5 in the base model Mac mini.
Not included is a screen, keyboard, or mouse, of course, and the Mac mini uses far less power and space than any PC tower, home built or otherwise. Still, building your own PC is an interesting exercise but only for those who don’t value their time much. What happens when the $495 PC breaks? You have to troubleshoot the device yourself, and assuming you can find the component causing the problem, send it back to the manufacturer (or dealer) and wait for a fix or replacement.
The above is a good reason why most PC users these days don’t bother to build their own PCs, and why Apple’s Mac represents about half the industry’s profits on barely 10-percent of the industry’s PC unit sales. Macs are more expensive for a variety of reasons and usually worth it. Back in 2008 I bought a Mac mini which acts as a backup server and email server. It’s been sitting under the TV console for all those years and works great (still running a PowerPC CPU, 512MB of RAM, and OS X 10.5.8).
Was that worth $499?