Monday, October 30, 2006

MacBook Pro better value than Dell or HP

I have been given the task to get a couple of the highest powered laptops I can for some researchers I work with. Fortunately I can get education pricing from all the major manufacturers and my University has negotiated special pricing on top of that. I approached each of the companies that we deal with and asked for 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo laptops with 2Gig of RAM and 17" screen. The following is a list of the laptops and prices that I received. The Toshiba dealer I approached said that Toshiba Australia don't sell Core 2 Duo laptops at this stage.

Surprisingly Apple comes out as the best value. There are some differences between the systems that may or may not worry you, such as hard drive speed, size, graphics speed (if you are a gamer), screen resolution etc.

CPU Speed2.33GHz2.33GHz2.33GHz2.33GHz
HDD120G (5400)100G (7200)100G (7200)160G (5400)
Display Size17" wide17" wide17" wide17" wide
Display Res1920x12001440x9001920x12001680x1050
Weight (kg)43.363.43.1
Grf MakeNVidiaATINVidiaATI
Grf Model7900GSX1600FX 1500MX1600
Grf RAM256M256M512M256M

What does worry me is the lack of Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys. I do a lot of code editing and frequently use these keys. Before investing in the system I am going to have to be sure that I can comfortably and quickly navigate around a document. I should also mention that the 7200rpm hard drives are very interesting - and I would like to benchmark the difference with some of our statistical analysis software. Dell and Apple mentioned that they could install the 7200rpm drives. Do 7200rpm drives have heat or reliability issues?

Just confirming that all prices are in Australian dollars and have the educational discounts offered by the respective companies (usually available to institutions, staff and students).


Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh! NOW I get it! You are so stupid that you think the "education pricing" it BETTER than regular pricing. It is NOT. IT gives better support than peopel going through the web site, but the actual pricing is NOT better.

Anyone with half a brain that has access to educational pricing knows this. I guess you have less than half a brain

Jamie said...

Is it possible that the author is quoting Australian dollars and you are thinking in US dollars?

Simon said...

Dearest sweet Anonymous/Carapi. I explained what my requirements are and what I did quite carefully. However the prices are in Australian dollars, which I only alluded to once. I just assumed that people would see that this is the Australian pricing just as you assumed that every amount you see is in USA dollars. I am sorry that you are confused by the foreign currency and are confused by educational pricing which you claim may be more expensive. However, In my research I did notice that the prices I was quoted were reduced quite a bit from the retail pricing. I also noticed, in passing, that standard retail pricing similarly reflected cheaper prices for Apple; I did not and will not report on this as it is not interesting to me at this point. This is what I have to work with given that I am purchasing for an educational institution.

As far as I know we don't have access to these discount vouchers which seem like an idea to rip off the unweary.

I asked all of the companies to tell me about the models of laptops that meet my specs and I have reported the pricing that was given to me.

I am sorry that you feel threatened by my reporting on the prices and I am sorry you feel the need to deny their truth by baring false witness. I assure you these were my requirements, these are the systems I have been quoted on with the above pricing. I will assume your intent was to protect consumers against inflated reporting of prices, and I am sure you are not a poorly educated, inbred, narrow minded, loud mouthed, Windows fan-boy who is an embarrassment to his family, feels threatened by an alternative operating system and flies off the handle with accusations before carefully thinking things through.

Hugs and kisses
- neoporcupine

Anonymous said...

great response neoporcupine :)

Anonymous said...

hahaha good old flamers, go have a rage dump guys!

He reviewed a certain spec for a specific reason and decided to share his findings, no need to let it ruin your day!

I'll admit I'm not as up to speed on the educational-pricing conspiracy theories as these anon's but a quick look on the apple website shows the Aussie price as $4399 or if you're a student, $3870.
If I know anything about one number being bigger than another, the educational price is cheaper.

Cheers for the review NeoP, I'm just considering getting my first mac so it came in handy.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know the page up, page down, etc controls are all accessable from the apple key and the arrow keys used in different combinations.

Avi said...

I got used to my MBP's keyboard very quickly. And I'm a software developer, so I use them all day, every day. The Page Up, Page Down, Home, and End keys are secondary functions of the arrow keys. In order to use them, one simply presses the fn key while pressing the desired arrow key. This may sound like a pain, but it's really not - the fn key is right under your left pinky finger, so it's easy and fluid to hit the combination every time.

That said, if someone prefers a full-size keyboard, there's no reason not to use any standard USB or Bluetooth keyboard.


Anonymous said...

You get used to the key combos in no time. They're just a little different that what you would find on a windows lappy, but nothing that would justify a price increase, or would it make me shy away from Apple.

I use Windows @ work, and I've a Dell here at work, and it took me ages to get used to keyboard compared to my VAIO keyboard, you train yourself in what you have. And when you get something new, you just train yourself again.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note on the Apple Edu Discount. It is roughly about 10%. Buying Edu used to get you 3 years warranty instead of just 12 months, but they stopped that.

Anonymous said...

to get your home and end key to work again, download Double Command

Anonymous said...

This would probably have to be the most boring useless article i have read. Big point to notice, why would you buy a high end laptop with high end mobile graphics etc and only get 5400rpm drives, pfft, Alienware is the way to go.


why buy a mac, just run tiger a well as xp. Thats what i do, i just got my tech savvy mates to port drivers for me :)


and just another addition rofl...the only reason i hate mac is coz they now sell logic audio and it dont run on pc. Hacked 5.5 all the way!

Anonymous said...

Just a point of interest... does Dell or HP actually have education pricing scheme?

I looked around a bit, but couldn't find it... could had used the wrong keyword on Google though. But in the case where only Mac has education pricing scheme... wouldn't it be much more better (and fairer) to compare all 4 using its full price? Not everyone has access to education pricing....

Anonymous said...

To Qoute Mattems...

" I Am an idiot, I am an idiot, I am an idiot"

What retarded douche bag takes the time to run a hacked version of OSX on a PC, only to bash Apple?.
Wait, I am sorry, I asked a question I could have answered myself...
I have a few Intel Macs, I run OSX on them, however, when you see me bashing Windhoes, you wont see me running that 3rd rate garbage software on my Mac.

You will get used to the key commands on the mac pretty quick, even if you use a BT keyboard.

Anonymous said...

So you asked the companies for a system to meet your specs? Sounds like they gave you the product they wantedyou to buy, i.e. the most expensive one. In this case, Apple's simplicity paid off in them having the cheapest recommended system.

I checked myself and this is what I found for U.S. retail, not educational:

Low End:

Inspiron E1505
Core 2 Duo 2.16 Ghz
120GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
8X CD/DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW) with double-layer DVD+R write capability
256MB ATI MOBILITY™ RADEON® X1400 HyperMemory™

Price: $1,664


2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
120GB hard drive
6x double-layer SuperDrive
ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics with 128MB SDRAM

Price: $2,179

High End:


Core 2 Duo 2.33Ghz
160GB 5400 RPM SATA Hard Drive
8X CD/DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW) with double-layer DVD+R write capability

Price: $3,374


2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
1680 x 1050 pixels
2GB memory
160GB hard drive
8x double-layer SuperDrive
ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics with 256MB SDRAM

Price: $2,799

So, for the specs he wants, he's right, Apple's deal is much better.

But for lower end systems Dell may provide a better deal.

Anonymous said...

Dell has a 3 year warranty for $199, while Apple charges $349. And the Dell XPS m1710 has a much much better graphics card than the macbook pro. So with the 3 year warranty, it's $3228 Dell vs. a $3148 apple.

Coop said...

Personally, I find the Dell laptops feel like a toy. They're all plasticy and feel like they would break if they fell of the couch. I dropped my G4 Powerbook down a 1 story flight of stairs and the sucker booted up fine. Nothing but a dint on one of the corners.

And as for apple's 3 year warranty, I was happy to pay the extra. I've had brilliant service from their tech department. Twice I've spilt a drink on my laptop (you'd think I'd learn after the first time to keep liquids and puter separate). And on both occassions the guys at the service centre found a way to write up the paperwork so it wouldn't cost me a cent.

If Dell's waranty and service can live up to that, then kudos to them.

I definately give a pat on the back to Apple for making a laptop that has so far stood up to my best (unintentional) efforts to break it.

Anonymous said...

If u want to compare, do it against HP DV9000t series. Full spec apple to apple HP $1700 vs Mac $3000. Apple better value? Yeah right.

You Apple fanboys are always ridiculously biased. Go figure!

Anonymous said...


I must say this was a pretty stupid blog. Let's forget about the prices for a moment and instead focus on how the machines will be used.

Will they require Windows-only applications? If so add ~$200 for XP Pro unless your school have a site licens. If using parallels remember to also add $100 for that app.

Also remember that the laptop may need to be setup multiple times, one time for OS X, one time for XP in parallells and on time for BootCamp for graphics-intensive apps.

Will they require OS X-only apps? Well if so the match is already over for HP and Dell.

How important is screen resolution? A 1920*1200-screen pack 30 percent more pixels than a 1680*1050-screen - meaning increased productivity.

How will the machines connect to a server? How will the setup be done? Does the school have a proper infrastructure for OS X?

What about support? How long would it take to have a broken machines serviced?

How important is the keyboard? I have seen studies showing a 20 percent increase in productivity when using a trackpoing or similar device compared to using a touchpad. A device which Dell among those listed is alone to pack.

How important is harddrive size AND harddrive speed? For many uses, a 5 gig drive for OS, apps and the files used at the moment is all that's needed. But the speed can still be crucial.

What about graphics card? Is it important? If so a 7900GS will crush a X1600.

I will happily admit that MPB is a fine laptop - but just pushing machine vs machine is pretty stupid - especially when buying for other people using the machines in a centralized enviroment. To be able to make a good judgement a number of things need to be considered, not only amount of RAM and the number of GHz. Especially so if it also involves switching OS.

Anonymous said...

Amazing to see the haters calling ppl fanboys and bias. You could spend a couple hours and find a better deal when it comes to just money, but for the most part, the Apple products are right in there pricewise.

The other thing everyone seems to leave out though, is the following...

Macbook Pros are all alluminum casing, not cheap ish plastic. They are thin and light, not fat and heavy. They are dead silent, unlike their counterparts. They come with bluetooth, iSight cam, Frontrow with remote, and firewire 400/800 standard. The software bundle is far superior; and finally, they can run OSX, XP, or Vista Natively.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has considered Apples resale value either. Take any Dell, HP, etc brand and see what its worth after 6-8 months. Save you the trouble, they lose a crapload of value to the point where its not worth selling.

Now take a look at resale of Apple stuff on ebay (completed items). They hold their value insanely well. My last Powerbook 17 I bought for 2600, used for 3 years, then sold for 1800. Same deal on my Powermac. Bought it for 2700 with cinema display and sold it for 2350 a little over a year later. This wasn't dumb luck either, this is how they do on resale

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, the 5400RPM 160 gig HD has the same data transfer speed as the 7200RPM 100 gig drive. The access time for the 7200 is higher, but sustained data transfer speeds are the roughly the same (slightly higher with the 5400rpm).

Also, the keyboard is not something that takes more than a week to get used to. Good luck with your decision.

Anonymous said...

Transfer speed on the 5400 vs the 7200 is not the same. I can't figure out why posters all over are coming to that conclusion. The 7200 is faster in basically every way by a noticable amount. Read...

I could post more links, but you get the idea. The 7200 is faster PERIOD

Simon said...

>> I must say this was a pretty stupid blog.

If you must say that, then you must. It reflects upon what you must do. I, however, am not forced to say that your statement is closed minded, reactionary, petty and ill thought out. Not at all.

>> add ~$200 for XP Pro unless your school have a site license

We are site licensed so no need for extra dollars on OS. However I will get Parallels, although there is the option of just Boot Camping the whole (or nearly all) of the drive into Windows XP.

>> setup multiple times

Negligible. I will do that in my own time.

>> How important is screen resolution?

To me, not much. To my statistician, plenty. She is also getting a 30" monitor. I am getting a 19" monitor to match my one at home so I don't have to keep switch res.

>> connect to a server? proper infrastructure for OS X?

All good. I understand what you are saying and I would not be getting an Apple computer if I wasn't capable of handling all of the issues myself. People should understand that there are a lot of OS X fearful IT personnel who will stop you from getting this sort of equipment because it is different and scary. The IT people don't know how to fix problems that occur in this OS X thing (and they DO occur) and they don't want to seem like a fool or inadequate; they are too often used to making other people seem like fools or feel inadequate. A good IT person would jump at the opportunity to play with new hardware and operating systems and be enthusiastic about learning something new, getting training and expanding their value. Be weary of the people who fear change or differences. Fortunately I sit in on the hiring of our IT staff and can quickly smell the dross.

>> What about support? How long would it take to have a broken machines serviced?

Part of the University's contract with Apple is one day turn-around service. Same with Dell and HP. So far Dell is excellent at service, Apple is slower and HP is appalling.

>> keyboard? ... trackpoing compared to touchpad.

I will use an external "laser" mouse (a mouse with a fricken laser attached to its belly), and touchpad only when forced. I don't mind the trackpoing [sic ... but I like it] but nobody I know actually does like it at all.

>> harddrive size / speed?

I have huge datasets, but nearly all of my analysis takes less than 10 minutes with only moderate HDD access. The statistician can take > 3 days on some analyses with uncertain HDD access, probably variable depending upon the data set size and type of analysis. Complex matrix manipulation should hopefully fit nicely within 2Gig.

>> What about graphics card?

Important that it sucks or I will take the thing to a LAN day and have games installed. Damn you foul temptress!

>> pushing machine vs machine is pretty stupid ... not only amount of RAM and the number of GHz.

Again with the "stupid". What was I thinking? I needed to buy a fast laptop. I made a list. The list is above. I had to compare them. Yes there are caveats and you picked up on some of them; I had already considered them solved and did not put them in the article. I could have been more verbose with the blog, I often am, but in this case I didn't feel the need to explain the background too carefully other than the fact that I am certain of my spec requirements. Which is obviously wrong when dealing with the Digg crowd. People want the whole story or they will pick at things that I tried to indicate weren't important to me in a few short sentences. GHz, RAM and screen size is all that matters to me. I don't give a rats pube about anything much else including resale value, metal cases, weight, bundled software.

In all I was given a set of users, and a request for fast laptops. I understand thoroughly what the users do with their systems, and am very familiar with our IT policies and infrastructure. My specifications was for the fastest chip in a laptop and a couple fingers of RAM.

The final orders went in and we will be getting Apple and also Dell. The machines are quite balanced in our view. The deciding factor for the Apple: it pisses people off. The deciding factor for the Dell: it is red.

Thanks for your post, you did bring up some issues worthwhile discussing. I hope I haven't been too caustic.

Anonymous said...

Price aside Macbooks are just well made - that's why they hold their value so well. They're quiet and sleek.

Dell vs Apple is Ford vs Rolls Royce.

You can't get a Dell equivalent for the same money because Dell don't build to that quality.

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to get a laptop for a while now and everybody is telling me wait until macworld to get it which is in a few more weeks. Meanwhile I have done alot of research on how reasonable a MBP is and I've came to the conclusion that MBP Vs any laptop PC is probably not more than $1,000 in difference, but the resale value would make it so your not paying that much for it and your getting a better laptop in the process! I've seen alot of people with regular PC laptops and after a while they lose half the value of their laptops within the first year. I think the reason why people say Mac isnt worth it is either because they had a PC laptop and lost alot of money on and now they r jealous of Mac or They simply can not afford a Mac even though theres nothing to afford when MACs keep their values surprisngly well.

Anonymous said...

NeoPorcupine is something of a legend in the higher-eduation IT sector. A talented nerd, brilliant orator and almost compulsive where research is concerned.

What troubles me here is that the same old 'Mac/Wintel' flame war that I've been watching for almost three decades now has errupted. I think that the 'fear of the unknown' observation is the most cogent statement, aside from the brief MBP/Dell comparasion.

As an someone appropriately qualified in windows networking, mac support, and HP-UX environments allow me to share this with you - if you want people to start to use it without bitching, buy a wintel, if you want them to be able to use it without arse-rape, go unix and if you want them to be happy using it, buy a mac.

Not being a great fan of red, I would have left the dell alone...

Anonymous said...

Apple is a good deal when comparing with any high end Windows system, desktop or notebook.

I switched from using Linux on a Toshiba notebook to MacOsX about 3 years ago. I even convinced the company I work for to switch to Macs and my life as a System Administrator has never been any better.

Nevertheless, Apple is not all sweet and great like it is made to look like by their ads. Apple is not a computer company anymore, they have other real computer companies making their products, you can say that apple is a software company today. Their technical support staff is the worst I've ever seen in my life: rude and full of attitude. The Genius bar is packed with kids who know very little, but yet think they have been chosen because they are the best! With as many as 20 machines ordered last year, 5 had hardware issues and had to be retuned to Apple. Getting a return authorization number was the most tasking thing I had to do. They just did not believe me, accused me of dropping the hardware, and some just assumed I was as dump as they are.

So Apple, as you grow, please hire the right staff to help with your customer support. Teach them to smile while helping people because your success is based on your clients being happy. I just got me an hp and installed Linux on it, not sure why I did that, just did not want to deal with apple for now...

Anonymous said...

You can change the color of the Dell, including the leds...
Dell's XPS 1710 now ships with Bluray, 2 year warranty, and GeForce 7950 GTX and the price didn't increase. This probably closes the debate.

I would never buy a MacBook, as Apple can't keep up with the technological pace of PC producers. Dell for one is EXTREMELY fast in including the latest components in their machines.

Apple will have to increas the resolution fo their panel if they want to include Blueray, 1920x1080 will be a minimum...

Anonymous said...

Hello to all in this forum.
Im in the market to do video editing, been looking at the mac pro 17 which its what im leaning towards. I was told that HP DV9000 is a new one with intel core.
Is it easier,better to capture,edit with either one?Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.Thank you, David.

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