Could the best PC be an iMac?

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Well, with this news about the Intel Core Duo out, Peter mentioned to me that he had just bought not one, but two of new iMacs. In looking at these bad boys, I can see why. For about $1600, you get a 20″ LCD, the very fast Intel Core Duo, 512MB DDR2 memory, DVD read/write, built-in camera and a 250GB hard drive. “Pricegrabber”:http://techreport.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=16026813/sort_type=bottomline has these for just $1676.

The main drawbacks are the relatively slow graphics card. It is a X1600, so you won’t use it for gaming and the relatively (in this world small 250GB hard drive). You can fix the later with the 500GB model and you can add another 512MB of DDR2 as well for about $50 more or about $1750. Of course, the big thing you get is a very nifty computer in a screen, the Mac OSX as well as soon Basecamp so you can run Windows applications.

So what would a do-it-yourself machine get you? What’s the real tradeoff now. Well, here is the dream machine do-it-yourselfer:

| Component | Cost | Comment |
| Intel Core Duo T2500 2.0GHz | $416 | Same as Apple |
| ASUS N4L-VM DH | “$150”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__Asus_N4L_VM_DH_Motherboard,__19087602/sort_type=bottomline |
| Corsair XMS2 1GB PC2-5400 DDR2 | “$101”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=3660355/sort_type=bottomline | Way faster and 2x more |
| Western Digital Caviar SE16 400GB | “$182”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__Western_Digital_Caviar_SE16_400GB_Hard_Drive,__10027461/sort_type=bottomline | Fastest drive ever |
| BenQ DW1655 DVD RW w LightScribe | “$48″:http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__BenQ_DW1655_Dual_Layer_DVD_RW_Writer_Black_w_LightScribe,__15386962/sort_type=bottomline | 2x faster and Lightscribe |
| Samsung 204B 20.1” LCD Monitor | “$400”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__Samsung_204B_Black_20_1_LCD_Monitor,__16158388/sort_type=bottomline | Same size |
| Cooler Master CAC-T05UW | “$56”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__Cooler_Master_CAC_T05UW_Centurion_5_Black_Silver_Mid_Tower,__7251845/sort_type=bottomline | cheap but ugly |
| Antec TruePower 2.0 TP-11 550W | “$83”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__Antec_Antec_TruePower_2_0_TP_II_550_550W_Power_Supply,__7730826/sort_type=bottomline | Super stable |
| XFX GeForce 7900 GT 256MB | “$319”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__XFX_GeForce_7900_GT_Video_Card,__17662935/sort_type=bottomline | 4x the gaming perf |

This gives a total cost of the dream machine of $1436 and would leave you plenty to buy the lower power X1600/256MB at $147, Or another hard drive and 2GB of memory if you don’t need gaming.

Net, net, right now for the average user, the Apple iMac looks quite competitive hardware wise. It still won’t compare to a tweaked homebrew system, but that’s kind of like comparing a stock Honda Civic with a customized open wheel racer. They aren’t for the same people even if they cost the same.

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