A study carried out by market analyst Gartner has thrown up a surprising result. Contrary to popular opinion it indicates that Apple Macs are actually cheaper to own and run than their PC rivals.

To come up with these findings Gartner used its total cost of ownership methodology, which looks at the direct and indirect costs of owning IT equipment. It found Apple computers are up to 36 percent more cost-effective than competing PC products.

According to Gartner's figures Apple systems cost £758 to support per year, while PC-based systems cost over £200 more at £979. The reasons for these savings were that Apple systems needed less technical support and hardware and software costs were lower.

The study was conducted at Melbourne University's Faculty of the Arts, which uses 4,676 Apple computers and 5,338 Windows-based machines. It compared direct costs such as hardware and software for desktops and mobile computers, servers and peripherals, upgrades, service and support and depreciation. It also looked at the indirect costs of supporting end users, training time and non-productive downtime.