Calculating UK Apple Tax On New Mac Pro & Minis

Following up on our "Apple Mac Pro Vs Windows PC : A 4-way Comparison", we've compiled an article on the amount of money Apple charges its customers extra after having considered the cost of hardware and software.

For the purpose of today's paper, we will not be factoring the price of the following 7 factors: assembly, after sale warrranty, operating system and software, casing, keyboard, mouse and cables. Any price difference between the two platforms will include the price of these items.

Unlike our previous 4-way comparison article, we will be looking at DIY PC only. We chose the Mac Pro and the Mac Mini because they are the only Macs without screens (excluding the Apple servers) and therefore make comparisons easier.

Apple Mac Mini

The Mac Mini uses a microATX motherboard, an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 1GB DDR3 SDRAM, a 120GB SATA hard disk drive and a slot in DVD Writer. It costs £499 delivered.

So let's carry on with the parts. Samsung sells the SN-T082 24x Slot in Slim DVD writer (with Lightscribe) for £34.93 at Special Tech. The Asus Motherboard comes at £39.08. It doesn't have an integrated Geforce 9400M video module. Crucial 1GB Memory module costs £8.99. A Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 2.5GHz costs £57.78. A PNY 9400GT 512MB will come in at £36.85. A 120GB Western Digital 2.5-inch drive costs £36.47.

A few comments before continuing. Apple's product is so integrated and cutting edge that it is very difficult to make direct apples-to-apples comparison. For example, there's no integrated microATX motherboard with Nvidia's 9400M, let alone one with DDR3 memory. It is equally difficult to get a Core 2 Duo T6400 processor since this is a OEM only laptop part.

The parts that we've put together costs only £214.10. They might not be as technologically advanced as the new Apple Mac Mini but they should, overall be faster. The difference - £284.90 - includes the 7 factors brought forward above. That figure would almost certainly be north of £300 as Apple would be paying a very discounted price.

Apple Mac Pro

To illustrate the Apple's sizable profit margins, we've upped the ante and taken a number of optional upgrades. So our Mac pro comes with a Quad Core Intel Xeon, 8GB RAM, four 1TB hard disk drive, 2 DVD writers and a Radeon HD 4870 video card as well as the necessary accessories. It costs a grand total of £3539.02 delivered.

As for the approximate price of the parts. Four 2GB DDR3 memory modules will cost you £112.47. We chose to go for a Core i7 940 CPU since we couldn't find any Xeon motherboard with DDR3 support. That's a cool £459.87. An i7 motherboard will set you back £200. £320 will get you four 1TB Drives while 2 DVD writers cost barely £30. An ATI HD4870 card will cost you £171 minimum.

That's a grand total of around £1300. That's an overall excess of £2239 which is likely to be less, probably around £1800. Still, that's a very nice mark up bearing in mind that some costs, compared to the Mac Mini remains fixed. We have been forced to use substitute parts to complete the comparison to stand.

It is no secret that Apple makes a significant profit out of the sale of its computers. There are a couple of things that one has to bear in mind. Firstly, Apple's buying power means that it can command even mighty Intel to deliver parts well before the likes of Dell. This gives Apple the upper edge.

However, Apple sticks to the same specifications for significantly longer than the rest of the competition, which means that over time, its superiority, performancewise, will be eroded. This is likely to be compensated by decreasing component prices.