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High-End Consumer Class Desktop: Dell Dimension E510 vs. Apple G5 iMac (Updated)

Updated 10/13/05 with release of new "video" iMacs. Equivalent Dell also re-priced. 
Features Apple Dell Inequalities (any worth noting)
Processor 1.9 GHz G5 Pentium 4 3.0 GHz  
Operating System Mac OS X 10.4 Windows XP Media Center The Media Center lacks a number of "pro" features from Windows XP Professional that are included in Mac OS X (there's only one "edition" of Mac OS X).
RAM 512MB DDR2 400Mhz (1 DIMM) 1GB DDR2 400Mhz (4 DIMMS) At, you can buy 512MB RAM for the iMac for about $50, but you don't really need 1GB. The Dell had a free upgrade to 1GB as a special today.
Monitor Built-in 17" Digital Flat Panel Dell 17" Ultrasharp Digital Flat Panel Note: The Dell came by default with a noticeably inferior analog flat panel monitor. We upgraded to ensure accurate comparison.
Speakers Built-in stereo speakers Dell A215 stereo speakers  
Graphics ATI Radeon X600 Pro 128MB ATI Radeon X300 128MB  
Hard Drive 160GB Serial ATA, 7200 RPM 160GB Serial ATA, 7200 RPM Note: 160GB is the standard amount for new iMacs. The maximum available for a Dell is 250GB, whereas the new iMacs can have up to 500GB in one drive.
Mouse Apple Mighty Mouse with 360?É‚Äö?Ǭ? scrollball Logitech MX 518 Optical Mouse ¬†
Camera iSight video camera iChat AV (video chat) Photo Booth (still pictures) Nothing equivalent offered This is huge. Add at least $100 to the Dell if you want a video camera comparable to iSight, and it still won't be built in.
Remote control Built-in Apple remote Front Row software Dell optional remote Microsoft Media Center interface I haven't tried Apple's remote, but my guess is I'll finally have a remote that doesn't take a manual to figure out. And I strongly suspect that Apple's Front Row will prove to be easier to use than Microsoft's interface.
Printer None None Dell wasn't offering a free printer today.
Optical Drive 8X Superdrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) 16X Superdrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) Dell doesn't use the term "Superdrive." This was the only "Superdrive" in a 1-drive configuration offered by Dell.
Networking 802.11 b/g card Bluetooth 2.0+EDR Gigabit Ethernet 802.11 b/g USB adapter 10/100 Ethernet Note: Dell still doesn't offer Bluetooth as an option for short-range wireless, and to get 802.11 wireless, you need to use one of your USB ports. A Bluetooth USB adapter costs about $50 at Dell, plus it takes up another of your USB ports. Also, I searched and searched but could find no option to match Apple's standard Gigabit ethernet networking port.
Ports Optical audio in/out, 2 Firewire 400 ports 3 USB 2.0 ports 2 USB 1.1 ports VGA video out S-video and composite video Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS 1 Firewire 400 port 8 USB 2.0 ports DVI/VGA/S-video out The Dell has a few more ports, though to match the built-in wireless networking options on the G5, you have to use two of them.
Expansion options No internal expansion. However, with this model, customers can easily upgrade the following internal components themselves: 
  • Wireless card
  • RAM
  • Hard drive
  • Optical drive
  • LCD display
  • Mid-plane assembly (which includes the G5 processor among other items)
2 internal hard drive bays 2 optical drive bays 3 PCI slots Dell customers can add more hardware items to the inside of their computer than Apple customers can. However, except for the video card, Apple users can achieve the same upgrades by adding on external devices.
Support option 1-year limited warranty 1-year limited warranty  
Software options The iMac comes with the following free software that doesn't have equivalents in Windows XP: 
  • iLife ‚Äô05 (includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD and GarageBand)
  • Photo Booth
  • Appleworks suite
  • Quicken 2006 for Mac,
  • World Book 2006 Edition,
  • Nanosaur 2,
  • Marble Blast Gold,
  • Setup Assistant--Transfer data and settings,
  • Dashboard, Spotlight, Sherlock, iSync, iCal, Mail, Dictionary, FontBook
The following software options Dell provided during checkout were selected to achieve rough parity in software: 
  • McAfee Security Center 15-month subscription
  • Microsoft Works Suite
  • Musicmatch Jukebox Pro/Photo Album Plus bundle
  • QuickBooks Simple Start (Note: Quicken was not offered as an option)
  • Dell Great Games
  • Detto IntelliMover
  • Adobe Acrobat Elements*
Even with these add-ons, the Dell as configured still lacks the following software functionality that comes with the Apple system. The retail cost of this software is not huge, but it's probably $250 or so. Also, note that the software cost of the Dell increases because of the need to purchase antivirus subscription services. 
  • DVD design (equivalent to iDVD)
  • Music creation and editing (equivalent to GarageBand)
  • Desktop web services (like Dashboard (!) and Sherlock)
  • Integrated video chat
  • Snapshot photography (equivalent to Photo Booth)
Total Cost $1,299** $1,592**  
**In the previous shootout (after the May 2005 iMac update), the iMac was $1,499, and the Dell $1,762. In the original shootout, the IMac was $1,653, and the Dell $1,780.  The May 2005 iMac revision added to the previous model: Standard 512MB RAM, standard built-in wireless and bluetooth, standard gigabit ethernet, standard 160GB hard drive, and increase in processor to 2.0GHz G5... not to mention the upgrade to Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger). The Dell model was more or less unchanged, with the addition of a free cheapo color printer this time around. The October 2005 iMac revision upgraded the processor speeds to 1.9 and 2.1 GHz, but the 2.1 GHz is only available for the 20-inch display model. The new iMac is 3 pounds lighter, has faster RAM, a faster video card, PCI Express support, a standard Mighty Mouse, and the new "video" features--remote control with Front Row software, and built-in iSight video camera with Photo Booth software. The Dell had some different options, some better and some worse, but overall it's the same machine. Oh, except Dell changed its name just to keep you on your toes.
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