The best box that Apple makes is the Mac Pro.
The best box that Dell makes is the Precision Workstation, commonly abbreviated as PW. Both are business machines first and foremost.
It is very easy to configure either to run you $20,000 for final cost.
How to do it? Simple. Check off every single possible option you can throw in when configuring it.
First, the Mac Pro.
This is an 8-core system (two 2.93GHz Quad Core Intel Xeons) stuffed with 32GB of RAM, 3 1TB hard drives, two optical drives, two 30-inch flat-panel displays, wireless everything, fibre channel, a bunch of preinstalled software and of course the AppleCare Protection plan.
And now, the Big Dell, the Precision Workstation T7500.
The screen shot of this would have been too long, so here are the specs:
- Windows Vista 64-bit Business Edition
- Dual Quad Core Intel® Xeon® Processors W5580 3.20GHz, 8M L3, 6.4GT/s,turbo
- 48GB, DDR3 RDIMM Memory, 1333MHz, ECC (12 DIMMS). You read correctly. 48 gigs of RAM. This is an $8,000+ option.
- 4 Year ProSupport for End Users and 4 Year 4HR 7×24 Onsite Service
- 4.0GB NVIDIA® Quadro® FX 5800, DUAL MON, 1DP & 2DVI
- Microsoft™ Office® Professional 2007
- McAfee® Total Protection for Small Business,15 Month Subscription,Eng
- Drive 1 – 1.5TB SATA 3.0Gb/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 16MB DataBurst Cache™
- Drive 2 – 1.5TB SATA 3.0Gb/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 16MB DataBurst Cache™
- Drive 3 – 1.5TB SATA 3.0Gb/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 16MB DataBurst Cache™
- Drive 4 – 1.5TB SATA 3.0Gb/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 16MB DataBurst Cache™
- Drive 5 – 1.5TB SATA 3.0Gb/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 16MB DataBurst Cache™ Yes, this is 5 1.5TB drives for a total of 7.5 TB space.
- 16X DVD+/-RW w/ Cyberlink PowerDVD™ and Roxio Creator™
- Monitor 1 – Dell 24 inch UltraSharp™2408WFP Widescreen, Adjustable Stand, VGA/DVI
- Monitor 2 – Dell 24 inch UltraSharp™2408WFP Widescreen, Adjustable Stand, VGA/DVI
- Monitor 3 – Dell 24 inch UltraSharp™2408WFP Widescreen, Adjustable Stand, VGA/DVI
- Monitor 4 – Dell 24 inch UltraSharp™2408WFP Widescreen, Adjustable Stand, VGA/DVI
- Chassis Intrusion Switch
There are many, many different ways I could have priced out the Dell.
Instead of the four 24-inch monitors, I could have gone with three Dell 30-inchers (which I probably would). That would be a separate purchase albeit from the same company.
In addition, the Dell costs more mainly due to the extra 16GB of RAM, the four monitors and the extra two hard drives. Mac Pros at present cannot be configured from the OEM to go beyond 3 internal hard drives or 32GB RAM, and that’s by design.
What’s the Super Dell best suited for?
AutoCAD or high resolution medical imaging. With CAD in particular, this is still PC-only world.
And not gaming, you dope.
What’s the Super Mac best suited for?
HD/Film/Video editing suite. In a separate purchase I’d tack on either Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere or Media 100. Whatever had the most local (important) support. And when I say local I mean other shops in the area you live that support what you have. Some places favor Final Cut while others Media 100, etc.
Does anybody actually buy these things?
Yes, and routinely. Neither OEM would build them if there weren’t a market to buy them.
In medical, industrial design and research facilities you will see these Dells.
In pro video houses/animation studios, you will see these Macs.
Of course, neither looks any different from their lower-cost same-model boxes, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts obviously.
Could you build a PC with the above Dell specs for cheaper?
Yes. And in fact you can go higher than 64GB RAM.
How about 256GB RAM? Sound impossible? It isn’t. You have to use a server motherboard instead of desktop, like this one.
Ridiculous for a home PC? Very. And totally unnecessary. Sure, you’ll be the coolest nerd in town, but you’ll be paying a loan off for all that RAM for the next 10 years.
On the desktop side, the most RAM supported if you bought the motherboard thru NewEgg is 24GB. This is a bit crappy because there should be 32GB RAM support options for PC builders. Alas, there isn’t. Yet. Maybe there will be come 2010?
At present you’re best off using a board that supports 8 or 16GB. And you’ll obviously have to use 64-bit Windows (or Linux) to access all of that.
Is there any way to get the cost of the Mac Pro down?
Several ways, actually.
The first rule to buying Mac is to purchase as little as possible from the Apple Store concerning the box itself.
Instead of ordering your Mac with 32GB, order with 1GB. Fill it up with RAM from another vendor. Just remember to specifically order Mac Memory.
Instead of Apple 30-inch Cinema Displays, use 30-inch Dell UltraSharps. Even Mac people know that those are awesome monitors.
Instead of ordering 3 hard drives, take 1. Like with the RAM, buy the others from another vendor and install it yourself.
This is essentially no different than configuring the Dell. You put the money into the processors more than anything else. For the rest, you go with other vendors.
The only drawback to this is that the other-vendor stuff isn’t supported under OEM warranty. This can be said for either OEM.