Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt

The new iMac

My first thoughts: This is exactly what a Windows XP Media Center Edition PC should look like. You know: widescreen LCD display, small, fits into a dorm room. I've seen H-P prototype PCs on display for a couple of years now that look almost exactly like the new iMac; sadly, they've never shipped them, choosing instead to stick with the tried-and-true huge boxes you try to hide under the desk.

Looking through the tech specs, it's roughly equivalent to the slowest, cheapest Dell PC on the market today: the Dimension 3000. If you were to build out a Dell with equivalent specs, it'd cost you less than $800 - a savings of about $600 compared to the iMac. Part of the reason for the price discrepancy is simple: the Mac OS requires a fairly high end graphics card in order to work well, due to their snazzy look and feel. Windows won't have an equivalent until Longhorn, which should require equally capable graphics hardware.

So, to keep things relatively fair, here's a comparison against Dell's high end offering...

  Dell Dimension 8400 Apple 1.6 GHz 17" iMac
Processor Pentium 4 530 [3.0 GHz] 1.6 GHz PowerPC G5
Cache 1 MB level 2 cache 512K SRAM level 2 cache
System bus speed 800 MHz 533 MHz
Memory 512 MB expandable to 4 GB 256 MB expandable to 2 GB
Type of memory PC3200 (400 MHz) SDRAM PC3200 (400 MHz) SDRAM
Video card ATI Radeon X300 SE GeForce 5200 Ultra
Video memory 128 MB 64 MB
Display 17" 1280x1024 flat panel

250 cd/m brightness, 400:1 contrast
17" widescreen
1440x900 flat panel

200 cd/m brightness, 350:1 contrast
Video bus PCI Express AGP 8x
Hard drive 80 GB [add $40 for 160 GB] 80 GB [add $100 for 160 GB]
Hard drive bus Serial ATA Serial ATA
DVD read 16x 8x
DVD-R 16x

2.4x [double layer]
DVD-RW 8x -
CD read 40x 24x
CD-R 32x 24x
CD-RW 24x 16x
FireWire - 2 FireWire 400
USB 8 USB 2.0 3 USB 2.0
Modem 56 Kbps 56 Kbps
Networking 100BaseT [add $49 for 802.11g] 100BaseT [add $79 for 802.11g]
Speakers Stereo with subwoofer Stereo
Software Windows XP Home, WordPerfect
suite, McAfee antivirus, 6 months EarthLink, some other stuff
Mac OS X 10.3, iLife, AppleWorks, 30 days EarthLink, some other stuff
Other USB inkjet printer [add $25 for
scanner/copier/fax combo printer]
Warranty 1 year parts and labor,
mail-in service; 1 year phone
1 year parts and labor,
mail-in service; 90 days phone support
Price (inc. tax and shipping to
King County, Washington)
$1118 $1413

One thing interesting to note is the 16x DVD-RW drive on the PC... it's dual layer capable and 4 times faster than Apple's SuperDrive [which this particular iMac doesn't even have - it's only a combo DVD/CD-RW drive].

The iMac isn't a good deal, even when you factor in the cost of the antivirus subscription you'll need on the PC. However, you have to admit it looks good.

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