A number of places have been doing a Mac Pro vs. Dell comparison. Digg summarizes:
Despite an earlier (and possibly biased) report proving the Mac Pro’s price advantage, both Macworld and The Inquirer have also agreed that the Mac Pro is unquestionably cheaper than a similarly-configured Dell. Jeez, when was the last time this happened?
Well The Inquirer’s review bias depends on who is writing, but people have been making this comparison for years and since Apple outsourced their manufacturing, Mac’s have always compared favorably when you spec a Dell this way. Don’t believe me? bookmark this site then.
The problem with this comparison is that the average user doesn’t see where they are different and, if they are different, which one is better. That’s why if you want to perform this sort of specification masturbation, you should look this table instead of those articles.
IMO, the biggest cause of the cost difference is the wildly overpriced, but underperforming nVidia Quadro NVS 285/Quadro FX 3450. For instance, Apple Store offers an upgrade to the NVidia Quadro FX 4500 for $1650! That’s the problem with workstation cards. (My personal view is to agree with Bare Feats and recommend you configure your Mac Pro with an ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB for $350 extra.)
This leads back to my previous blog entry. When you spec a Dell to be like a Mac, the Mac beats it, and has beat it for quite a while. There are no supply chain advantages that Dell has anmore. The problem is nobody buying a Dell (besides companies) would do that. Instead they’d rationalize things like: “screw the precision workstation, I’ll just build a game machine and rip everything out and add some stackable coupons.” Even if they buy a the Precision 690, they’ll probably never include the GigE, DVD+-RW, etc.
An interesting development
One of the most interesting developments is that you can’t get a 2.7TB internal RAID working on the Mac Pro because of strange problems if you go above 2TB.
Normally you’d go an blame Apple, but this time… who knows?
The interesting thing is that the Mac Pro does not have an Apple-designed chipset in it, but the Intel 5000 Chipset needed to drive the FB-DIMMs and the memory bandwidth demands of the Core 2 Xeon (Woodcrest) chips.
(The obscure geek thing to understand here, is that Intel’s competitor, AMD, puts the memory controller on the CPU so the number of memory slots (and memory bandwidth) increases linearly with the number of CPUs but Intel uses a chipset to manage memory so needed a new standard (not DDR) to reach higher bandwidth.)
In any case, there is some major cost savings due to commoditization going on now that Apple is no longer designing their own chipsets.
Their conversion to the dark side is now complete.