I got myself an early Christmas present last week. While shopping for a Wii for my kids (and yes I got one — thank you to all the folks who had their eyes out for one for us), I stumbled upon a special that Future Shop was running here in Canada. They had the Acer Aspire M5620 on sale for $999, or $1099 with a monitor. The Aspire is an Intel Q6600 Core2-quad machine, with 3G of memory, a dual-head DVI out ATI Radeon HD2600 Pro, and a 500G hard disk. The monitor that I picked up for an extra $100 is the Samsung Syncmaster 226BW, a beautiful 22" widescreen LCD with 3000:1 contrast ratio and 2ms response time.
I'd been looking at a build-your-own kit from Tiger Direct, because I want to edit high definition video. This prepackaged combo was both cheaper and better than anything I could buy there.
So, what's it like? In a word… fast. The snapshot below is some copying and web activity, with some background music playing. It's barely breaking a sweat. Two of the CPUs have a light load on them, and the other two are idling. The biggest thing I've noticed is that I don't wait for the PC anymore. Programs load nearly instantly. The hourglass is non-existant. Anything that has to do with graphics editing or video rendering has become a pleasure, rather than a pain.
Just for grins, I headed over to the Apple Canada web site and configured up a similar Mac Pro.
- 2 2Ghz Dual-Core Xeon's (they don't support the Core2 Quad Q6600)
- 2 G of memory (it was either that or 4G, so I went low)
- 1 500G hard drive
- nVidia GeForce 7300 GT 256M
- Apple 23" Cinema HD Display
The price? $4003. The big difference? Two dual core Xeon's cost about $700 vs $300 for the quad core Q6600. To balance that, these are 2Ghz processors rather than 2.4Ghz in the Q6600, and this configuration has 1G less memory as well, both of which should knock the price down. Oh, and my box came configured with Windows Vista Home Premium rather than Leopard.
When all is said and done, you're paying nearly $3000 for Apple's brand. There's a lesson in that, kiddies!