back to article PC or not PC? Ten desktops on test

The desktop PC is a truly versatile animal, capable of running both our business and personal lives as well as entertaining us like nothing else since the television entered our world. Whether you want an all-encompassing budget marvel or a high-end gaming beast, there's a system out there to suit you. It's just a question of …


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  1. Alastair Dodd

    practiaclly ignore the mac pro

    seriously if you priced up the equivalent PC spec to the Mac Pro reviewed here it would be around 800-1000 quid, plus could actually handle decent 3d with a much better graphics card and would play more than 2 games, plus do video editing, graphics, music and ANYTHING you can throw it it.

    and thats 600 quid cheaper than the Mac Pro.

    Unless your wallet it bigger than your head you can NOT say that the mac is reasonably priced performance and flexibility for pound.

    Quite obvious the writer has the usual Mac bias and lives in cloud cookoo land as far as Macs being reasonably priced (apart from the Mini, which for what it is is a great deal).

  2. Peter Kay

    Mac Pro? Reasonably priced? Give me a break!

    Yes, it's pretty, and adding new hard drives is easy but reasonably priced? I think not..

    The inclusion of a 7300GT is an absolute joke. The price premium if only running quad core is large - it only comes into its own when running 8 cores, and finally takes advantage of the Xeon architecture (and with the 3GHz chips, the fastest x86 chips out there). 250GB disk and 1GB memory is stingy. The price doesn't even include a display.

    *If* you're running 8 cores, and *if* you're taking full advantage of the expandability and *if* you take advantage of the attractive OS X licensing that comes standard with it, then it's good value. If, on the other hand, what's wanted is something more expandable than an iMac/Mac Mini but limited to 2/4 cores then it's overpriced.

    If you're happy to pay for convenience and the OS X advantage then fair enough, but don't kid yourself that it's competitive against an equivalently specced PC.

  3. elder norm

    cheap is as cheap does

    Please, we keep getting these, "but mine is cheaper" shots. Yep, my econo-box is cheaper than your new mini. Course it does not come with tires, has a super small engine, and the back seats are optional. Hey no one sits back there anyway.

    Apple does not make "cheap" computers. Sorry. But you do get a great operating system, iLife software, Boot Camp and run all windows software native, run Linux, run just anything. ( Hmmm, why can't I run iLife on my PC???).

    But I an not one to quibble. I know this guy down the street and he sells CHEAP pcs. The parts may be used or new, the cd drive shakes so bad a cup of coffee will bounce off the machine, and the software is pirated, but hey you will not got Microsoft support anyway so who cares. LOL

    PS,. Just sold an 8 year old iMac. It runs great and is pretty fast but its only problem is that some of the new internet software for flash advertising is not supported on the older browsers so I miss seeing all those new flash flicker and boast adverts. Oh well, you have to expect some losses for an older machine. LOL

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe I'm the only lazy reader <snorts>...

    ...but reviews like this are useless without a summary. I always skip straight to the last page. If there's a summary, I read it and then go back to look at anything interesting.

  5. Clay Garland

    Let's do a comparison shall we?

    Mac Pro:

    Dual Quad Core 3.0 GHz XEON

    2 GB Ram

    2 500 GB HD

    Dual Port Ethernet NIC

    nVidia 7300 Graphics

    Mac OS X Server 10.4 Unlimited Users

    Price: $5253

    Dell Power Edge 1900

    Dual Quad Core 2.66 GHz XEON (slower)

    2 GB Ram

    2 500 GB HD

    Dual Port Ethernet NIC

    Integraded Intel Graphics

    Windows Server 2003 With 5 User CALs

    Price: $5680

    Yup, those macs are WAY overpriced. Not to mention that if you get a Mac, you won't have to hid it in the back room because it's so bleedin' ugly. Microsoft Fanboys should really do some side by side comparison instead of merely spouting too oft said platitudes that are no longer viable.

  6. S

    Dell C521

    I'm sceptical that there exists a Dell with a 6800+ 64 bit processor - in fact their website suggests that it's more like a 4400+ X2...

    Shame it's a Dell though!

  7. Owen Williams

    Mac art...pah.

    Macs are the Stella Artois of computing. Reassuringly (bloody) expensive. Beautiful cases with, besides one or two buzz word components, cheap tat inside. You shouldn't be looking at the case anyway. You should be wondering why someone using Firefox on Linux is more productive than someone using Safari on the slower, infinitely more expensive, Mac OS X. And wondering how Apple got a away with those truly atrocious one button mice for so long.

  8. Jonathan Tate

    I don't play with my food, nor will I tolerate working with it.

    Wait, wait, you're suggesting people actually use OSX as a server operating system? That seems... awkward. Given their long running ad campaign I would have thought that it was utilized solely by the hip and youthful intent on doing nothing productive except making photo albums, flower arrangements and home videos.

    And I agree -- mice with a minimal number of buttons are idiotic for the simple fact that I don't have a minimal number of fingers.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The MacPro debate

    I for one would pay for a MacPro. Admittedly the 2.6Ghz version because of budget constraints. I think the price is reasonable for a Xeon based machine. The motherboard itself is worth around £400, plus two processes at £350 a pop, now your getting close to the budget of the machine. I think it's worth the money, Mac OS X is worth it? I would feel cheated if I spent £1k on a machine and had to run Windows! Who in their right mind you want to do that? My personal take. I'd run Ubuntu on this machine, but Linux would really take advantage of this machine.

    I'm holding out for the next MacPro revision. The 7300 graphics card is a little weak, although putting three or four in the machine would likely bring good performance. Though I need the ports PCI slots for cards from my old Power Mac.

  10. Richard Lloyd

    Highest rated, cheapest, but isn't the "winner"?

    Is it just me or is this article's conclusion (that the Mac Pro wins) just ridiculous? Firstly, it's quite a pricey machine and secondly it isn't even the highest rated!

    Why didn't the Acer win? It was rated 95% and costs a bargain 360 quid - it's clearly by far the best value for money, even if it just looks like any other desktop PC [and what's wrong with that - I look at the *screen* not the PC]. Is it just that the article's author thinks "shiny and pricey" = "the best"? What a shoddy effort all round here!

  11. Law

    To Elder Norm

    "Apple does not make "cheap" computers. Sorry. But you do get a great operating system, iLife software, Boot Camp and run all windows software native, run Linux, run just anything. ( Hmmm, why can't I run iLife on my PC???)."

    Well for one Apple are bound to sue anybody that tries!!! Secondly, there is no demand for it, if you want your life organised go to google, it's free, works on Windoze, Macs and Linux - and anything with a browser basically!! :)

    I can say hand on heart that my Ubuntu feisty, with Beryl and all my other open source tools beat mac!!

  12. Chris Reynolds

    If the Dell XPS were a Mac...

    I'm surprised that the Dell XPS M2010 gets only 80% in this review. I daresay that if Apple had released this genre-bending machine with those specs at that price then it'd get a few more percent.

    What's not been mentioned is the Wii-like motion sensitive remote control that can steer the mouse around the screen with just a flick of your wrist.

    Come on, Reg! It's better than 80%. It's not just a pretty case. Don't let the Dell badge get in the way of such an awesome bit of kit!!!

  13. Nave Notnilc

    Good greif.

    For me, I would choose the Mac Pro. I like it because it looks good, the bundled software is great, and I have no great urge to play the newest and greatest FPS. In my book an intuitive user interface comes first; when running OSX, I know I will get that.

    You don't buy a Mac just because the hardware looks good or the software is pretty much immune to viruses; you buy it to get OSX. I think it is worth the extra bucks.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "You don't buy a Mac just because the hardware looks good or the software is pretty much immune to viruses; you buy it to get OSX. I think it is worth the extra bucks."

    This is the typical closed platform thinking. You have to buy the hardware to get the software. This is why the pcs survived so long, even though they are the worst from a design point.... And now the only difference between a mac and a pc is the small tpm chip that checks the osx licence and this is what keeps apple's computer department alive. Dumping an osx image to a pc and replacing the kernel with its free open source version will result in a totally illegal but working mac clone. The problem is with all those good software and games running under windows xp, who really needs the macos?

    Personally for work I run a mix of windows and linux software under windows xp on a company standard asus box, because unfortunately currently xp is the only os that is compatible with almost everything and you can get the most performance for the lowest price mostly from the asian manufacturers who make the western brands too.

  15. Joe Cincotta

    Register schizophrenia issues...

    Ok, I have to admit I have high hopes from this publication (El Reg) but when it comes to reviews I am left feeling that the editor of Reg Hardware suffers from a serious case of schizophrenia.

    How is it that in the same publication there can be ten page in depth reviews of graphics cards that delve to the level of comparing shader operations performance and are so involved that the reader can come away with a feeling that they have an intimate knowlegde of the product and its comparative performance AND THEN THERE ARE ARTICLES LIKE THIS???

    This is not a review. This is not an article. This is not even an opinon column. It is a montage of opinion column pretending to be a review and that is deceitful.

    There is no structure to the 'review' criteria, or reason/motivation for ratings, or anything of substance. What happened? Did DELL, ACER, ALIENWARE, MESH and APPLE chip in together to get an 'Advertainment' spot on El Reg? Thats certainly what it looks like. I will tell you what this ISN'T: Journalism.

    Ed. Be ashamed, be very ashamed.

    Joe Cincotta

  16. Adam Goff

    You know what....

    If you have so much of a problem with the Macintosh then don't f-ing buy one. I am so sick and tired of you Microsoft fanboys bashing something simply because you are too lazy to dedicate the time it takes to really learn a new platform.

    Here's a hint people... all of the old stigmas regarding price are gone. Spec a comparable Dell against any Mac and you will see that the prices are close, and that (shocker!) the Mac even comes out cheaper sometimes!

    Just because Apple chooses not to compete in the ultra low end does not mean that they are ridiculously expensive. The base Mac comes with a Core Duo.... How come I'm still seeing PC manufacturers selling Pentium Ds or even Celerons even though the last time I checked Intel stopped manufacturing the Pentium.

    I may not like Windows but I don't go around to all sorts of online forums bashing Microsoft like you cowards do.

    Also, as for the productivity comment, since switching my organization over to the Macintosh we have seen overall productivity increase upwards of 35%. And the comment about OS X for a server... all I can say is it's awfully nice not having to connect remotely on the weekends as to restart the servers with the hope that it will run smoothly for the week to come. Oh and how I miss messing with conflicting services because three different programs like to use the SQL server.

    Give me a break already.

    The only way one can deliver an educated opinion on an operating system is to learn it, and to learn it you must immerse yourself in it. You can't just use something for a weekend and think you're enough of an expert to say it's horrible. And you can't download an illegal copy of it and run it on an unsupported machine and then blast it's author for having sub par performance.

    Bottom line - most of you are pathetic.

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