iMac vs. the ‘Top 10’ PCs

August 1998: Every month PC World lists the 20 best selling computer systems – and USA Today publishes the 10 best sellers. The USA Today list from 8 July 1998 includes:

  1. Gateway G6-300b, P II/300, $1,995
  2. CyberMax PowerMax H1, P II/266, $1,599
  3. Quantex QP6/333 SM-3x, P II/333, $1,999
  4. Quantex QP6/300 SM-4x, P II/300, $2,149
  5. Gateway E-3110 300, P II/300, $2,089
  6. Micro Express MicroFlex-C866, P II/266, $1,599
  7. Quantex QP6/266 M-2x, P II/266, $1,499 “sluggish”
  8. CyberMax PowerMax 7, P II/300, $1,858
  9. Unicent Avanta L333, P II/333, $1,999
  10. NEC Direction 333L, P II/333, $1,999

I don’t know sales volume, or whether PC World will list the iMac when it outsells all of these, but some interesting factors emerge.

  1. All of these are at least $200 more expensive than the iMac. One is $950 more.
  2. Features are comparable to the iMac. A 15″ screen, 56k modem, 4 GB hard drive, and 32 MB RAM are common features.
  3. All of these have faster sounding CPUs, ranging from 266 MHz Pentium II all the way to 333 MHz.
  4. Some of these brands are not exactly household words: Unicent? Quantex? CyberMax?

Bondi iMacApple lovers can repeat the mantra, “up to twice as fast,” so we know that in the real world the 233 MHz PowerPC 750 processor in the iMac can outperform any of these more expensive systems.

What continues to astound me is the fascination some industry pundits have with nice round numbers, especially the $1,000 PC. They fault the forward-looking iMac for not achieving that price point when the evidence shows that consumers want more than entry-level computers (see iMac a True Bargain). They’re willing to pay well over the iMac’s $1,299 price to get the features and performance they want.

Month after month, it’s not the $1,000 PCs that make the Top Ten list of best sellers – it’s the $1,400 and up systems.

Which, of course, bodes well for iMac sales.

You can get the best of both worlds with the iMac. Boost RAM to 64 MB, add a copy of Virtual PC, and you’ve got a hot Macintosh and a decent Windows machine in one compact, attractive box.

Expect the Wintel world to try to copy the design, but never the finesse, of the iMac.

This week’s PC Magazine is scheduled to have a run-down of sub-$1,000 PCs. I hope to write a sequel to this article comparing the iMac to the cheaper Wintel machines.

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