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Here’s a Gaming PC You Can Build for the Price of a Mac Pro Stand

$999 can buy all the computing power most people need.

by Ian Birnbaum
Jun 4 2019, 4:11pm

Image: Apple

Apple power users cheered when the company announced a new, upgradable Mac Pro at its WWDC event Monday. The new Mac Pro is a powerful computer for "creative professionals" and priced starting at $6,000. No one in that room was expecting a budget-friendly presentation: the Mac Pro is all about spending more to get more, but even in that context, there were audible gasps of shock from the audience when Apple announced a $999 stand for its $5,000 monitor.

$5,000 is a lot of money for a monitor. But if we expect anything from Apple, it's that it will make an overengineered, incredibly powerful piece of tech and charge a lot of money for it. The Pro Display XDR follows this model: amazing specs, brag-worthy details, and a huge price. This is the deal we make with Apple. But $999 for a monitor stand?

The Pro Stand is sexy as hell. Sleek, metal, and smoothly articulated. It's also a monitor stand. It holds up your screen. For as beautiful as the Pro Stand is, it still feels like Apple is once again dramatically overcharging for something basic based on the strength of their brand name. With that in mind, I set out to find out how much of a PC I could build for the same price as the Pro Stand.

My first stop was PC Part Picker, an excellent site I personally rely on whenever I build a new PC. One powerful build list caught my eye. Cheap, relatively powerful, and with plenty of juice to run and stream demanding PC games. Price: $990. For the price of the Pro Stand alone, you could build yourself a new gaming PC that can run all the latest games and easily handle the vast majority of your computing needs. It has the following specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 9600K 3.7 GHz 6-Core Processor
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition
  • Motherboard: ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 4 ATX
  • RAM: 16GB G.Skill DDR4-2666
  • Solid State Disk: 480GB ADATA
  • Hard Drive: 2TB Hitachi Ultrastar
  • Video Card: GeForce RTX 2060
  • Case: Phanteks P300 ATX Mid Tower
  • Power Supply: Corsair TXM Gold 550W

To be clear, this PC isn't nearly as powerful as the new Mac Pro. I'm not trying to claim that an entry-level PC can compete with Apple's $6,000 high-end computer. The Mac Pro is powerful enough that it can chew through 4K video projects and render 3D animation with one arm tied behind its back. That's what you're paying for.

But what exactly are you paying for with the $999 Pro Stand? To compare, this monitor stand on Amazon sells for $30 and also, according to the reviews, does a good job of keeping a screen from falling over. Sure, the Pro Stand is fully adjustable and can easily rotate from landscape to portrait orientation. The $30 option also adjusts and rotates—the same performance at only 3% of the price. In college, I spent too much money on a new flatscreen monitor and spent a few months propping it up against a stack of old paperback books. That pile of rumpled sci-fi novels was almost as functional as the new Pro Stand.