A study conducted by market research firm NPD found that 79 percent of all computers bought at U.S. retail stores in October 2010 were Windows PCs. However, of those that sold for $1,000 or more, 88 percent were Macs [source: McCracken].
One of the most frequently cited differences between Macs and PCs is price. Few Mac products sell for less than $1,000, while there are dozens of PC models that fall within that price range. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that Macs are more expensive than PCs with similar specifications. Rather, in general, Apple has chosen to build its Mac line around higher-end computers with better -- and more costly -- components.
The problem with comparing prices between Macs and PCs is that the computers are rarely comparable. Even if you did find two computers with the same processor speed, RAM, hard drive capacity, graphics, memory, number of USB ports, and so on, each of them would be preinstalled with vastly different software packages. The user may have to purchase additional software for whatever computer he or she chooses, like a virus program for a PC or Microsoft Office for a Mac. The bottom line is this: The relative value of a Mac or PC really depends on the consumer's needs.
If you just need a computer to perform basic functions like Web surfing or word processing, it might be hard to justify buying a Mac. There are plenty of PC choices out there that are less expensive. And this is where Linux fans can chime in -- even someone unfamiliar with the Linux operating system can buy a cheap computer, install a simple Linux distribution and access basic computer functions.