Entry-level Mac Pro priced similar to PC workstations, but DIY is still less

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Earlier this week we reported that a high-end Mac Pro with all the options isn’t more expensive than a similar Windows workstation – but what about the more affordable models most people actually buy?

To find out, Anand Shimpi from AnandTech has pit the latest Mac against an HP Z420 workstation and a Lenovo ThinkStation S30. Both Windows systems can be had with identical processors, identical RAM and nearly identical solid state drives. Only the graphics hardware can’t be exactly matched because of Apple’s use of custom AMD silicon, but AnandTech matched the systems as closely as possible.

While both the Windows workstations sticker at over $1,000 more than the Mac Pro, they also provide significantly higher graphics bandwidth, which could result in better performance in certain applications. AnandTech also noted that “there are typically some hefty discounts associated with workstation orders,” so the actual price paid would likely be less than MSRP – particularly if multiple workstations are ordered. Still, the comparison makes it clear the new Mac Pro isn’t overpriced.

The comparison also considered the cost of the do-it-yourself option which, in a best-case scenario, was priced at $2730. However, this assumes a home-brew workstation is built with a less expensive Core i7-4930K rather than a Xeon processor, and also assumes the use of a slower SATA solid state drive rather than a PCIe SSD. Adjusting for these differences narrows the price advantage.

There are also disadvantages to DIY, the most notable being warranty support. All the pre-built workstations in the comparison ship with a 3-year limited warranty, while a DIY builder will have to rely on individual component warranties. That’s an important detail for anyone who relies on their workstation to make a living.