Why are Apple computers so expensive ?

In comparison to the Microsoft machines, The Apple products seem overpriced? Are they that good? What technology do the use that the other makers don’t ?

Why are BMW cars so expensive? In comparison to GM cars, the BMW products seem overpriced? Are they that good? What technology do they use that the other makers don’t ?

Pretty much any question “Why is X so expensive” can be answered “Because that’s what people are willing to pay.” There may be certain objective costs that have to be recovered, but the vast majority of the higher cost of a “premium” product is simply what they can talk people into.

They are expensive because that it is a very controlled market and many people will pay a price premium for them. Unlike other companies in the PC market, Apple controls their entire computing environment from hardware to software as a bundled product. That has some advantages when it comes to both simplicity, central control, design and stability but price is not one of those.

Apple computers are made from the same types of parts as any other computer (with more of an emphasis on design) so the cost of the components is generally not a factor in why they are priced much higher than competing products. Apple is still just a rather minor player in the desktop and laptop market however. They only have a 13% market share in the U.S.

Still, if you want an Apple computer, you have to get it from Apple unless you want to engage in a not-so-trivial DIY project so they can charge whatever they want within reason as long as some small percentage of people will buy them.

There are lots of reasons, but here are a few:

  • They are in fact premium machines compared to a lot of PCs. PCs with similar build quality exist but the prices are closer to Macs. Apple just doesn’t sell really cheaply made units and so there’s nothing to compare in certain price brackets.
  • They cultivate a certain fashionable brand cachet.
  • Vendor lock-in combined with a single source for hardware. Fans of OSX must buy an Apple at whatever prices they demand. Fans of Windows have many competitive options.

In terms of actual technology, they don’t have anything significant compared to PCs. The innards are virtually identical to PCs: Intel processors, NVIDIA or AMD graphics, SSDs by Samsung or some other commodity supplier, etc. The differences are in the software and mechanical design.

Apple computers are high-end. Some are so unique that you can’t find a similar Windows PC to compare to. For a long time, Macbook Air was in a class by itself because it was lighter than any comparably powerful Windows notebook. And the new Retina 5K iMac literally has higher resolution than any Windows PC. You can’t even buy a stand-alone monitor with that resolution.

Others, like the Macbook Pro, have direct competition in the Windows world. But even for those, the prices are not very different. For example, the 15-inch Macbook Pro has a Core i7 quad-core CPU and 2880x1800 display, and weighs 4.5 lb. There are only a few Windows notebooks that has these specs, and their prices are similar to the Macbook Pro. (For example, the Dell XPS-15 with the quad-core i7 chip starts at $1999, same as the Macbook Pro.)

They’re not.
When you compare Apple’s machines with similarly configured computers from other tier-1 manufacturers, they are about the same price.

You can’t compare them to no-name Asian computers- they are just a different market.

To the OP: are you comparing completely-built units from Apple to completely-built name-brand PC makers? I think you may find the price differential quite small nowadays.

OTOH, let’s compare a completely-built Apple (they all are, no?) with the same functionality if you put together the equivalent PC parts yourself. Now you’re talking a lower price, but that’s due to the Do-It-Yourself discount, not the design.

Which is one reason I have never bought an Apple anything. I take one look at the price, and think,“Shit, I can build the same thing for half of that.” That attitude doesn’t work for the general public.

I have found the Mac hardware top rate.

I have also found the Mac OS frustrating and difficult compared to MS.

And that is the dilemma, buying a cheaply made laptop that runs Windows, or buy a expensive ‘top of the line’ that is really really nice and high quality that one wishes runs Windows.

At least Mac offers a alternative so we can see what may be possible.


You realise you can run Windows on Mac hardware? Check out Bootcamp.

Just have my personal experience to ad:

When I was heavy into doing television work I had a $1200 PC that did the job, but got bogged down easy. In 2008 I went all out and got a $5500 Mac that was custom built to be better with editing videos.

2 television series (about 88 episodes in total), 49 commercials, 2 infomercials, and various other products. As of Dec. 2014 that thing can still take anything I throw at

Could a PC do that? Probably. Could it stay my go to
Computer without any modifications? Probably not.

Plus no viruses!

Dell have one now, but it looks like the stand-alone monitor costs about the same as the iMac. I guess the screen comes from the same manufacturer?

According to a tear down report at iFixit, LG makes the 27" 5K panels for Apple, and it’s a good bet they make the Dell displays as well.

Apple has always been able to steer their price point towards some magic middle ground between taking full advantage of people like me (who would pay 10x the price of a comparable PC in order to get something that will run MacOS) and luring in enough new users to not go extinct.

Their OS is not the proverbial bee’s knees for everybody but a considerable percent of the folks who like the MacOS really like it. That remains true for each generation of newbie Mac users: some don’t care what OS they use, some take a dislike to it, but a good-sized chunk glomm onto MacOS and don’t ever want to use Windows again as their mainstay OS.

As others have pointed out, it isn’t much of a surcharge: a comparable PC, with genuinely comparable specs, is barely any cheaper. (If it truly isn’t cheaper at all, you can ignore my theory about the magic middle-ground price point!) There’s also the argument that total cost of ownership is actually lower on a Mac because they remain viable as daily-use machines longer.

In the old days, Macs were more expensive in part because they had quite a bit of different hardware, which meant r & d work that PC manufacturers were not each shouldering on their side of the divide. Not just CPU (which used to be other than the Intel CPU family: PowerPC for awhile and back even before that, the Motorola 680x0 family of chips) — in addition to the CPU, Macs had different peripheral buses, expansion slot architecture, floppy disk controller, different RAM, and so on. The two platforms converged (with the PC platform adopting some hardware that was originally Mac as well as vice versa).

actually yes if you dropped $5500 on a machine running windows it would still kick 8 flavors of ass.

Because it’s the biggest cult in America, by far.

Linux users are sort of a cult , but there are not that many of them compared to Mac users.

Apple doesn’t make processors. They get the same ones Intel sells PC makers. They don’t make memory. They don’t make disk. You should be able to buy a high end machine just as fast.

The only reason I’d imagine a Mac would be faster if the video editing software was Mac only, since lots of people who do this seem to be into Apple.

As an example, I took a look at an Apple 13" Macbook Pro (baseline model). I picked it because I think most people are going with laptops these days and I figured there would be pretty comparable Windows-based laptops and I wouldn’t have to get into comparing something to the Air. It has the following specs:

  • 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz) with 3MB shared L3 cache

  • 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L onboard memory

  • 128GB PCIe-based flash storage

  • Weight: 3.46 pounds (1.57 kg)

  • Intel Iris Graphics

  • Front-facing camera

Which costs $1299.

Looking at Dell’s site, the closest thing they have looks like the XPS 13 Ultrabook, which is $1199.

The two aren’t exactly comparable. The Dell laptop is slightly lighter and has a touch screen. The Mac has a better graphics card and a longer-lasting battery, and includes OS upgrades. But they’re reasonably close.

So, the Dell is cheaper, but it’s not way cheaper. Certainly nothing like the difference between a BMW and a Ford. And Dell isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, so whatever it is that you’re paying for the “Apple Brand”, it’s not much.

As a side note (could be relevant in the future for Macs but isn’t now), Apple does design their mobile procs and gpus.

I would point out that with 13% of the market Apple are now one of the dominant players. Apple make few models, and these models sell in very high quantities. If you were to compare any given Apple computer model with its peers from the other manufacturers you would find most models outsell the any of the others by a very large margin.

These very high volumes give Apple the ability to leverage many things. Laptops are nc machined from a billet of aluminium. You don’t see nasty flimsy plastic Apple laptops. In general they last a lot longer, and are hard to kill. Whilst some people disdain the “designer” bling of the design, much of the design goes into very valuable thoughtfulness that improves the product. Moving to most PC laptops and you wonder “why the hell did they do this” to so many annoying and stupid (and cheap) design decisions.

Apple do occasionally drop the ball. And they have a reputation for an imperious attitude to customer service on some issues - but also a reputation for very good service on most things. Macs have a very high residual value, so if you trade up constantly the cost of ownership can be remarkably low.

Mac OSX is a much nicer environment if you are a serious power user. Being built with a Unix underpinning it is the only platform where I can run almost all the open source software packages, run MS Office, use the full Unix development environments and system admin, and use its own very powerful environment. Amongst my computer science and high performance scientific computing fraternity Macs are the default platform. Older Windows programs work perfectly under Wine, and you can (if you must) run a Windows instance in a virtual machine. (Which is the best place for one).

Years ago I well remember attending a national high performance computing workshop for all the technical leads. Every person in the room had a Mac bar one - the public service manager running the workshop. He noted that he felt outnumbered.