Your grandma is buying you an expensive graduation present for college, and you need a new computer. What do you get? A MacBook, of course! Well, perhaps the choice isn’t as obvious as you might think. In fact, one thing should be very obvious when buying a computer: don’t buy a Mac.
I recently purchased a Dell Inspiron 3520 for $400 and have had a very positive experience. I decided to use this as a point of comparison with a MacBook Pro to see the difference between what a standard company charges a consumer for a component and what Apple charges for the same component. What I found was astounding.
I chose the 15-inch MacBook Pro with standard display (you can upgrade to Retina display for only $400 more!). The default configuration begins with an Intel Core i7 running at 2.3 gigahertz (meaning that the computer can execute 2.3 billion single-bit calculations per second). My Inspiron’s processor also runs at a frequency of 2.3 gigahertz. This clock speed is low to average for a laptop—yet the MacBook costs $1,800. For a laptop that expensive, I would expect a better processor than the one in the MacBook. But not to fear; you can upgrade to a processor at 2.6GHz (gigahertz), a somewhat noticeable difference in speed, for only a $200 increase. In fact, spend just $250 more (on top of the initial $200) to upgrade to 2.7GHz, an extremely negligible difference. Man, what a deal!
One of the most disturbing price spikes was in the memory. Memory serves as platform on which programs and windows open—the more memory, the less lag. The standard configuration for the MacBook Pro has 4GB of memory—what actually happens to be the same amount as in the Inspiron 3520. 4GB of memory is not very much, but again, Apple provides a nice upgrade path—you can get your MacBook with 8GB of memory for just an extra $100. Of course, you can buy 4 extra gigabytes of laptop memory online for just $26, but isn’t everything from Apple 400% higher quality anyway?
In terms of hard drives, Apple charges $100 for a $15 upgrade and $200 for a $30 upgrade. I recognize that there have to be price increases for labor and profit, but 6 times the wholesale price? Not only is that absurd, but it breaks the boundaries of classiness, even for a corporation.
Apple charges consumers two to seven times as much as the wholesale price. If that doesn’t dissuade you from buying the MacBook Pro, I don’t know what will.
For those people who are willing to sacrifice money for the convenient help of Apple Care, the sacrifice is not as great as you might think. All companies have warranties with included customer support, and any problem that cannot be solved over the phone can usually be solved by a customer support agent who comes to houses, or online on forums. As for the operating system (the basic user interface, including the home screen and layout of shortcuts on the desktop), you don’t have to sacrifice that either: Apple sells OS X software discs, allowing users to buy PCs and use them with the standard Mac interface.
Buying a laptop can be a difficult decision to make, and it is often hard to commit to one device when it costs $1,000 or more. Turning to the MacBook can be an easy and reliable decision, one in which it is easy to feel confident. But don’t let the fancy bitten apple on the lid fool you into thinking that you’re getting a good deal; you’re getting ripped off as much as possible. There are plenty of well-performing, well-priced PC laptops out there; some of my favorites are the Dell Inspiron 17R ($800), the Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 ($900), and the ASUS N56VJ-DH71 ($1000), all of which have similar tech specs to the MacBook Pro (none have been personally tested by me, but reviews both online and from friends are very good). Whether you like Windows or OS X, small or big, cheap or high-end, there is a PC out there just for you, and it costs at least 40% less than its Apple counterpart.