Should I Buy a Psystar Macintosh Clone?

  • Comments: 107
  • Written on: January 24th, 2009

I am seriously thinking about buying a Psystar Mac clone.  I am a little nervous about what might happen if they lose their case with Apple, but its still hard to justify spending $5,048 on a true Power Mac when I can get the same thing from PsyStar for $1,903.

The hardware is nearly identical, the software IS identical, so my experience should be almost the same as well, right?  Here are some of the PsyStar positives and negatives that are weighing on my decision.


  1. Price, Price, Price.  Take a look at these two similarly equipped systems.  This is a comparison of a nicely equipped Power Macintosh Running OSX Leopard and a Psystar OpenPro.

    Psystar System: – $1,902.99

    • Mac OS X Leopard v10.5
    • 2.83GHz Core2Quad Q9550 Processor
    • Fast! 300GB 10,000RPM SATA2 Hard Drive
    • 20x DVD±RW DL Burner
    • GeForce 9500GT 512MB Graphics Card
    • Multimedia Keyboard and Optical Mouse
    • 3 Port Firewire 400 (Onboard)
    • 19″ Widescreen Monitor (DVI)

    Apple Macintosh System – $5,048.00

    • Mac OS X Leopard v10.5
    • One 2.8GHZ Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    • 8GB (4x2GB)
    • 300GB 15,000-rpm SAS
    • NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB
    • One 16x SuperDrive
    • Apple Mighty Mouse
    • Apple Keyboard + User’s Guide
    • Apple Cinema Display (20″ flat panel)

    As you can see, the components are nearly identical.  Apple has a slight edge on the hard drive speed and the monitor size, and Psystar has an edge in the graphics card.  No matter how you slice this one, I don’t see $3,000 difference between these computers.

  2. I believe in What PsyStar is Doing.  I think it is hypocritical to cheer for the Department of Justice busting up a Microsoft monopoly while decrying PsyStar for doing the same thing to apple.Think about it for a second.I am no lawyer, but Microsoft was basically telling hardware manufacturers if they want to sell Windows they would do certain things that created barriers for their competition.  How is Apple not doing the same thing now that they are on an Intel platform?
  3. Psystar has shown constant improvement.  When Psystar started shipping clones they were using cases that were far cheaper than the ones they are using now (the Asus TA-210 versus the Antec P182).In addition, they have enabled the software update feature to pull software updates through their servers rather than directly through Apple’s servers.  This means you get important security updates without the famous Apple brick that iPhone users have become very familiar with.Psystar systems now also ship with OSX Leopard restore media.  When Psystar started they did not ship the Leopard disks with the system, and required users to return ship their computers in the event of a hard drive crash or other problem that would require a complete reinstall.  Those days are now over.

    The improvements over time have all but invalidated Gizmodo’s 7 Reasons Not to Buy a Psystar OSX Clone.

    It is interesting to note that I can’t find a review or an “unboxing” online of a Psystar system that is not in a TA-210 Asus case.  No one has reviewed the newer models???


  1. No matter what you believe, Psystar is in an uphill battle.  They have scored great representation against Apple (a firm that has beaten Apple before) but there is the possibility that this company may not be in business in a few years.

    Court cases move VERY slowly, and I have no doubt that if I bought a Psystar OpenPro system with OSX today, my warranty would be expired before they were shut down.

    Honestly, if I only used the Psystar for a couple years that would justify the purchase, but that is something you have to think about.

  2. Psystar is relatively untested.  While the company has been showing continuous improvement, they are a regional firm trying to migrate to a national company.

    Given the resources they are going to have to put toward legal defense, you have to wonder if they are going to be able to maintain quality support in the long term.

  3. No Apple Flair.  You have to hand it to Apple.  They design awesome looking computers and devices.  Psystar is using PC hardware to replicate the functionality of an Apple Macintosh.  It doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t look as smooth either.

    I wouldn’t expect that to change until Psystar can shift some of its revenue from the legal department to the R&D department.

So Should I buy One?

I have to admit I am leaning toward buying the Psystar OpenPro Macintosh clone.  Its a great value, it is a functional equivalent, and I think I would get my money’s worth.

With the new Schrock Innovations service center going up in Lincoln in the next few weeks it seems like I am signing one $7,000 check after another right now.  Once that pace slows a bit, I could use some additional video editing power under my hood 🙂

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