A war is raging within the confines of the Internet and coffee shops: Mac versus PC—which is better? The vitriol spews from both sides like Apple spews upgrades, but once you get past the rhetoric, you’re still left with the question of “Which one do I buy? Is one even better than the other? I NEED A COMPUTER, HELP!” What you really need to ask is “Which one is the best fit for me?” and to answer that question, there are several key differences you need to consider before making your purchase.
Apple has put an enormous amount of time and effort into creating technology that is functional and, well, gorgeous. Their products are sleek and slim, with clean lines and modern appeal—they are the supermodel of the computer world. This is great if you like the design. This is absolutely horrible if you do not, because all Apple products look alike. They may be different sizes or shapes, but they all follow the aforementioned format.
PCs, on the other hand, come in a wide array of styles because they are manufactured by more than one company and there is no set design standard or style. When you consider that the different models each brand produces may have its own individual look, the possibilities are endless. They come in all forms, from the most utilitarian, no frills, all business style to products that look like alien technology. Unless you’re very picky, you can eventually find a model with an appearance you find pleasing.
Apple takes a “less is more” approach to their product lines, manufacturing only five different models—the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro, the Mac mini, the iMac, and the Mac Pro. Even if the different configurations are counted separately, the total is only 18 unique computers, and if none of those fit your desired specifications, then you’re just out of luck.
PCs, because they originate from a plethora of manufacturers, offer a much larger selection of makes, models, specifications, and features. Does Toshiba not offer a computer that fits your needs? Who cares? Go on to Asus, Dell, Gateway, Sony, Lenovo, Samsung, HP, or MSI. If you can’t find a computer that has everything you need for the price you want, then you’re looking for features that haven’t yet been invented, like a laptop with a teleportation pad.
Macs run on the OS X operating system by default, although you can install and use Windows and Linux if you like. PCs are generally known for running on the Windows operating system, but they can use alternatives like Linux as well. However, legally, you cannot put Mac’s OS X on anything other than a Mac computer.
For most people, the operating system they prefer depends on two factors. The first is rather subjective as it depends on which system an individual user finds easiest to use and understand. The second is a bit more objective, because it takes into account how well the OS actually runs on the computer. Is it constantly crashing or is it stable? Does it freeze up or act like it’s been possessed by Satan? If you’re not sure of what OS you would prefer, try them out in the store, or on a friend’s computer to find out which interface you like best, and check reviews online to research any possible issues that they may have.
When comparing Macs to lower-end computers, Mac outperforms PC every time. Typically, Apple uses more expensive and higher-quality parts and this shows in the speed and capacity of their products. Now, when comparing Mac to a top-of-the-line PC, for example, an Alienware, the results are not as glaringly obvious; at this point, the comparison needs to be made using a specific brand, make, and model of PC and the most comparable Mac. While Macs have faster processors and will typically outperform PCs in speed and capacity, they also offer less RAM, hard disk space, and USB ports than your average PC.
Both Mac and PC can read and write CDs and DVDs, have audio in and audio out, USB ports (although, as noted above, PC usually has more of them), video output, data transfer capabilities, and Ethernet. Mac models come with a magnetized power port, which is not a standard feature on many PC models, but PCs can offer other features like Blu-ray players, TV tuners, touch screens, and HDMI ports.
PCs absolutely stomp Mac when it comes to customization capabilities. With every model except the Mac Pro, Apple will only let you upgrade the RAM memory and hard drive capacity. The Mac Pro allows for RAM, hard drive, and graphics card customization along with the ability to add CD/DVD drives.
On the flip-side, you can do almost anything to a PC, even building your own from scratch, choosing the components you like best. Even if you buy from a manufacturer, you can customize all kinds of options.
This is perhaps the most important question to ask when shopping for a new computer: “What do I want to be able to do with my computer?” because the answer can tell you a lot about what you need and don’t need—there’s no use paying more for features you will never use.
Are you a creative type who does a lot of design or music work, perhaps as a full-time job? Congratulations, you’re getting a Mac, just deal with it.
Alright, it’s not that extreme, but if you work in creative field, the majority of your coworkers and probably the computers at your job will be Macs, because they are the best platform for design and creative pursuits due to the strength of the programs available for them. Macs are (usually) more stable, don’t crash as easily or as often, and are more virus-resistant, which means there is a smaller chance of losing work because of a computer malfunction. There’s also the image projected by Mac ownership: Apple has done a lot to make their product seem like the creative, hip, alternative choice for those who consider themselves individuals outside corporate culture (aka artists).
The problem with Mac is that a lot of necessary software is not written for OS X. For instance, in business computing most programs were written for the Windows platform years ago and it would take a lot of time and money to make the switch to Mac. The lack of specialized software is something that needs to be considered when choosing between a Mac and PC.
Gamers, especially hard-core gamers, virtually all agree that PC offers a better platform for gaming. Now, there are Mac versions of well-known games, and Macs have the capability to run demanding games. You can also access Steam from a Mac, so it’s not the video game desert it once was. However, there are WAY more games offered for the PC and when you compare the price and gaming capabilities of both Mac and PC, Mac crashes and burns. The Mac Mini starts at $599 and can only run the most simple of games while you can get a decent PC capable of playing much more demanding games for the same price.
If you don’t fall into the three categories above—creative types, people who need specialized software, or gamers—then you’re likely a user who needs a computer for word processing, email and internet surfing, and maybe some casual games. Both a Mac and a PC would fulfill your needs, so you need to consider affordability.
PRICE & VALUE
Macs are, without a doubt, the more expensive option. Their cheapest option starts at $599 and the next cheapest is the MacBook Air at $899. The rest start at over $1000. Mac products are usually very high quality and their customer service is topnotch. It is also true that they are more resistant to viruses, but if you put a virus protection program on your PC and aren’t stupid about what you download, a PC does just as well in this area.
When it comes to the price and quality of a PC, the results vary greatly depending on the brand and model. Some computers will cost under $400, some may cost over $1000. The selection is just too large and varied to make valid general statements about PCs as a whole in regards to price. The same applies to questions of quality—some companies produce amazing machines that will last years, others sell products that last six months. To find out which brands are best, you have to put in a little bit of research time.
There is no real answer to the question of which is better, Mac or PC. They both have their strong points and weaknesses, and depending on your preference and needs, those can be deal-breakers or deal-sealers. Are you on a budget? It’s a PC for you! Are you a graphic designer? Say “Hi!” to your new Mac. Deciding which is best for you means considering what qualities you want in your machine, prioritizing those features you find most important, then researching different brands and models until you find the right one for you, be it Mac or PC.