DISCLAIMER!!! This is not intended as a buying guide or to convince you to change what you buy! It's simply a look at how well the Mac stacks up to its competition for prebuilts! Yes building it yourself will save you money and probably get a better machine! That is neither here nor there. I might do comparisons on that later. In my free time, I like to occasionally pretend build different computers or select different computers that compare to the various Macintosh models. I'll post a couple here since I'm bored. This isn't concrete proof or anything, but I'm trying to get a better comparison, both prebuilt and selfbuilt to the Macs. _____________________________________ First up is my personal favorite for comparisons: The iMac 27". First off I'll go with the higher spec model with the following specs: 3.4ghz Quad-Core Sandy Bridge i7 2600 4gb DDR3 1333 RAM (2x2gb) Radeon 6970m 1gb 1tb 7200rpm HDD Apple Mouse Apple Extended USB Keyboard with 10key Price non-shipped, not counting tax from Apple: USD $2,199 Adding on to that, we give it a couple upgrades, namely RAM Mushkin Enhanced 4gb DDR3 1333: $22.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226166 Total Price: $2221.99 Alternately, for evenness Kingston 2gb DDR3 1333 x2: $33.98 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820139893 Total Price: $2232.98 _________________________________________ Up for contention is the Dell XPS 8300 (seemed to be the most comparable I could find on Dell's awful site. No All-in-Ones have 27" monitors there, so immediately you loose the form factor of the iMac. Specs included: i7 2600 Radeon HD 6870 (a bit better than the iMac's 6970m, about the difference between a 6870 and the 6850) 8gb DDR3 1333 RAM (4x2gb) 1tb 7200 rpm HDD Laser Mouse Media Keyboard Total Price from Dell: $1,049.99 Next we need to add a few bits. Apple LED Cinema Display/Dell U2711 Monitor: $999 Logitech LS11 3 watt 2-piece speaker set: $20.99 Total Price: 2069.98. Saved a bundle, didn't we? Could put that extra $200 to all manner of upgrades. However, you now have a huge noisy tower sitting next to you, speaker pods sitting next to you. It's up to you if you think the $200 is worth it. However, if you choose the LED Cinema Display over the U2711, you do get a much better speaker system that is inside the display. Also of note is the Dell has a noticeably more powerful GPU. If there was a 6850 option I would have taken it. Of note: If you don't buy from Dell, add $325 or so to your price. Suddenly your savings have disappeared, and you're playing $100 more for a $50 better graphics card and a hugely larger volume of space consumed. __________________________________ Next up, I'm going to try Lenovo, my preferred non-Apple computer manufacturer. They don't have any AIO's of 27" either, unfortunately, so I chose a big loud noisy Ideacenter K330. At best I could get GTX 460 and i7 2600 in it, for more than the Dell, so obviously it wasn't going to beat the iMac or Dell at all. Moving on. __________________________________ I recalled hearing something about an Asus 27" AIO so I checked it out. Unfortunately it only had a 1080p display. Seriously, 1080p on a 27" monitor would SUCK if you've ever seen 1440p. We'll try one of their desktops, since Asus makes good machines. Checked out the essential section, and they all seemed to come with at most an HD 5450. Not going to cut it. Checked out the Essentio CG 1330, Phenom II x6, 5450, pass. Both of these were around the Dell's discounted price. Asus is out of the running. __________________________________ Asus always makes me think of Acer so I looked over there. There's the Predator G3 and the Predator G7 that caught my eye. The G7 because it looks like something Optimus Prime might crap out after some bad sushi, and the G3 because it might fit. G3 comes with at most a GT 530. Fine, let's try the G7. Incredibly hideous, and the website was broken so it didn't list any models. It was probably overkill and too expensive anyways. _________________________________ Lastly I'll look at HP. Their 27" AIO is far too underpowered and again with the 1080p 27" screen. To the desktops I go! Picked the H8xt and went to customization. Ended up with the following: i7 2600 HD 6850 1gb 8gb DDR3 1333 RAM 2tb 7200rpm HDD (stock option) 600w PSU (OEM, chose the highest one to be safe, and it's slightly closer to the efficiency of the iMac than a pile of bricks.) Wireless N + Bluetooth card(something the Dell is lacking that would add to the cost of it) HP Wireless keyboard HP Wireless Mouse (closer to the iMac) HP 2.1 speakers Total Price pre HP Discount: $1,438.98 After HP Discount: $1,282.98 Adding on a 27" monitor(U2711 or Cinema Display), $999 Total price: $2282.98 As we can see, the HP is not as good a value as the Dell, but it does come with more things available with it (speakers, wifi+bluetooth card) so it reduces the amount of shopping you have to do. Overall, I'd pass on it for the Dell. _________________________________ In the end it comes down to you if you want the Dell or the iMac. The Dell is far more likely to be on sale, in that it has a chance to be on sale at all. If you get the Dell for full price, it is a somewhat worse value. If you get it for sale, depending on how much you value the tidiness of an All-In-One. I'd spend the extra $200 personally if I could get my current desktop in an AIO. ONE MAJOR POINT THAT I KNOW YOU WILL BRING UP IF I DON'T IS THAT THE iMAC CANNOT HAVE ITS GPU UPGRADED! I know this. This comparison isn't for power users. I know we would build our desktops first and foremost. If you're considering a prebuilt, you probably don't have the time/knowledge/skill/space/resources/whatever to build a desktop yourself. Especially if you're considering AIO's, in which case the 27" iMac is simply unmached due to there being apparently no 2560x1440 27" AIO's. If I missed one, or a manufacturer of desktops, or something else I can compare to the iMac, feel free to point it out. If you like it I'll do more. If you hate it, I'll definitely do more!