Sunday, October 28, 2012

Apple’s 2012 iMac vs. DIY PCs. Are iMacs really that expensive?

Apple just introduced their latest line of iMac desktops. They are elegant looking for sure, even thinner than the previous generation, but they come with the hefty price. The base price of the 27” model is priced at $1,999. Remember, this is the base model. It would cost a lot if you go up in the ladder.

Price is not the only problem with the iMac. The slim design comes with limitations. You cannot put components in the highest end of the performance spectrum due to thermal limitations. How can you dissipate all that heat from it? Even if you had the money, you cannot build a monster with an overclocked 6 core CPU, 3 or 4 graphics card,over 10TB of storage and 3 displays (that you can game on). It just isn’t possible. So, even if you take the pricing away, PCs have their applications that no Mac can serve. They can simply extend further and further beyond what an Apple desktop PC can.

Now, let’s come to our topic for today.

Ever wondered how much it would cost you to make a PC with the same config or ever wondered what you could build for the same price? Then read along.

2012imac-1

2012 27” iMac (base specs)

  • CPU: Core i5 3470 3.2GHz (turbo up to 3.6GHz)
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3-1600
  • VGA: nVidia Geforce GTX 675MX
  • HDD: 1TB 7200RPM “unknown” brand
  • Display: 27” IPS 2560x1440
  • Webcam: Facetime HD camera (720p? 1080p?)
  • Speakers: integrated stereo speakers
  • Keyboard/mouse: Apple wireless keyboard and magic mouse.
Let’s look at how much it would cost you to build a DIY PC with similar specs to the 2012 27” Apple iMac ($1999 base model).

DIY PC with specs similar to 2012 27” iMac

Custom PC
GTX 675MX is a mobile GPU. It’s available for desktops. The closest performing one should be a Geforce 650Ti. But it has lesser number of shaders. So I would go with Geforce 660 (non-Ti) here. - EVGA SuperClocked GeForce GTX 660 $229.99
※Remember, this is noticeably faster than the one in the iMac.
Grand total: $1,755.88.
So that’s $244 less than Apple’s offering. Apple’s pricing is not THAT bad to be honest. Only 12% more expensive than our custom PC build. However, you could – if you wanted to – save about another $100 more from the PC.
So, now you must be wondering, where that $1999 base price would get you, if you were building a DIY PC.

$1,999 DIY PC

custom pc 2
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 3570K (we will be overclocking this to 4.5GHz) - $229.99
  • Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 – $119.99
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo- $31.99
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8GB low profile – $39.99
  • VGA: MSI Geforce GTX670 PE 2GB – $389.99
  • SSD: Samsung 128GB 830 series SSD – $108.99
  • HDD: Western Digital 2TB Green – $109.99
  • Display: HP 2711x 1080p display – $299.99
  • PSU: PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W – $109.99
  • Case: Fractal Design Arc Midi – $69.99
  • Keyboard: Logitech G510 – $94.99
  • Mouse: Logitech G500 – $54.99
  • Webcam: Logitech C920 – $84.99
  • Speakers: Logitech Z623 – $131.99
  • OS: Windows 8 x64 $99.99
Grand total: $1977.84 (All prices from Newegg.com.)

We had to drop the screen to a one with 1080p resolution to sneak in some quality components. Even when gaming,

So there you have it. Performance wise, the one we built for $2000 was noticeably faster and has high-end components across the board.

The CPU can be overclocked and 4.5GHz is not so hard to reach. At 4.5GHz, it is 40% faster in multi threaded applications (such as video encoding), and 25% faster in single threaded applications. The video card’s performance is night and day compared to the 2012 iMac. It has twice the raw performance of the GTX 675MX in the iMac. We even got a 128GB SSD and double the storage compared to the 2012 iMac. Only the display resolution is not as high as the one in the iMac, but it is still a 27-incher.
So, there you go. Now you can choose which way you want to go.

But remember this. If you go with an iMac, you will have to buy a whole new iMac once the hardware gets outdated. But with a PC, if you chose quality components, all you have to do is to upgrade the CPU, motherboard, (RAM), video card and hard drives. You can use the peripherals from the current build in the next one or two builds. You save a lot of money that way.
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