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The After Mac

MacWorld Tests Psystar’s Open Computer

by Juan on May 8th, 2008

The folks over at MacWorld got themselves Psystar’s Open Computer to test. The Open Computer is the ‘Mac Clone’ Psystar built. They say that for a fraction of the cost, you can have a decent spec’d computer running the Mac OS.

However according to what I’ve read so far, It’s not that simple. For one thing, it’s not that easy to install OS X on it. MacWorld actually paid $155 dollars to have OS X installed. So you’ll have to add that to your cost of ownership. Plus in the event that you need to reformat your computer, you’ll either have to ship it back or pray that you’re technically gifted and be able to install it yourself.

Software updates is another problem. Apparently the OS X version that Psystar ships the Open Computer with can’t use the Apple Software Update Utility. You need to go to Psystar’s web site in order to download the updates and install it yourself.

All-in-all here’s the breakdown of what MacWorld spent for their Open Computer.

System - $399
FireWire Card - $50
Graphics Card - $100 (optional)
OS Installation - $155

Total Cost of their Machine is $714.99 ($751.47 w/ shipping)

Machine Specs
2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
2GB of 667MHz RAM
250GB Hard Drive

It’s a decent machine. You can opt not to get the Graphics card and just rely on the built-in graphics chip. That will be $100 less.

Now let’s compare that to a Mac Mini.

Machine Specs
2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
1GB memory
120GB hard drive

Cost $799

Now the Mac Mini has pales in comparison to the Open Computer specs wise. At about twice the price you get 1/2 of the specs. That might seem bad but then again there’s the intangible things that are good with the Mac Mini.

One, it comes with everything pre-installed already. OS X plus iLife 08 is included that’s additional value right there. You won’t have trouble with software updates since the Apple Software Update Utility works flawlessly with it.

The Mac Mini is also small and takes up less space.

Of course there are pluses to the Open Computer. It has better specs, you can upgrade it easier. However it’s not as elegantly put together as the Mini and you’ll probably need a lot more technical knowledge to maintain this computer over the course of its life.

Personally I’m still not sure whether a clone is the way to go. I love Apple products because it works and it makes it easier for the consumer. I think this is the way to go for most people. So until Apple officially supports clones, it’s going to be a very tricky thing maintaining one.

POSTED IN: Hardware, Juan's Posts, Mac Mini, Mac OS X

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