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Although there are some compelling reasons to go either way, I wanted to approach this article from strictly a cost perspective. Specifically, I wanted to draw your attention to the ridiculous pricing of Mac hardware. Although you are likely already aware of this, you may not have ever seen an actual comparison of similar machines. In any case, Apple is able to have such high prices since they do not allow other companies to produce Macs and consequently there is no competition in the Mac arena like there is in the PC arena. Consequently, their markups are exponentially higher than that of a typical PC that has essentially all the same hardware components.
Below are links to 3 comparable laptops for sale in early March 2011. The files include 3 specs and prices of 3 similar laptops: an Apple Macbook Pro 15″ (see basic specs on the right side), a Dell XPS 15″, and a Lenovo IdeaPad 15″. All 4 have comparable hardware (e.g., Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB RAM, 500 GB Hard Drive, etc.), yet the prices are very different.
Admittedly, the Dell & Lenovo machines may come with a bit more bloatware that would need to be removed and may need some more initial refining of configurations in order to perform optimally, but I just wanted to shine some more light on the topic as you make future purchasing decisions.