March 1st, 2020
In life, there are many age-old questions that have yet to be answered. Some may be as simple as Red v.s. Blue or Vanilla v.s. Chocolate (vanilla is superior to chocolate; I’m looking at you, Sarah), or some might be even more complex and life-changing like Toilet Paper Over v.s. Toilet Paper Under (totally life changing am I right!?). But perhaps the most famous (or infamous?) age-old question in the entire tech industry comes down to whether you’d like to take a byte into the Apple or stick with good ol’ Clippy. Oh wait — we don’t speak of Clippy. Sorry.
What prompted me to write this blog post now was a mutual argument I entered with someone at robotics about Mac v.s. PC. We weren’t actually fighting about it or anything; it was just some friendly argument from two people interested in tech. We both brought up some good points for our respective sides (mine being Apple, of course) and I’d like to discuss some of them here.
In the effort of full disclosure, I am most certainly an Apple fanboy who owns and uses many Apple products on a daily basis. Yet at the same time I have a PC that I also use on a daily basis. So while I may be slightly biased towards Apple, I will try to offer fair discussion on both sides.
So what are we waiting for? Let the battle begin!
I think functionality is a good place to start since this is probably one of the most important things in this debate. Does your computer do what you want it to do? Does it go above and beyond? Or are there annoying limitations that hinder your ability to do certain things? These are the essential questions that I will be exploring in this section.
Ask anyone the following question, “What can do more? A Mac or a PC?” and they will most likely side with the PC on this one. And, in many ways, I think that answer has a lot of merit. Not only can you pretty much build whatever PC you want with whatever components you want, but you can also do many, many, many things with Windows. I built my PC that I use on a daily basis, and not only was it a really fun experience, but it was also a super practical one. Since the initial build about 3.5 years ago, I have swapped out the hard drive, case fans, and CPU cooler, and I plan on upgrading the CPU soon. It is a really nice benefit to be able to upgrade everything so easily — and not to mention it being backed up by a strong community like Linus Tech Tips and many, many others. This level of customizability is simply not present on any of Apple’s Macs (except the 2019 Mac Pro but it is still very new). Now, of course you can upgrade your Mac when buying it, but then upgrading/replacing parts down the road is a huge, if not impossible, pain in the neck. So when it comes to hardware upgradeability, the PC definitely scores a point.
Now let’s shift gears from hardware to software. Both macOS and Windows have come a long, long way over the years, and both have gotten much better than their original versions. Both OS’s offer much of the same core functionality but definitely do have major functionality differences. Windows can run much more software than macOS can, and many professional software suites (such as my robotics CAD program Autodesk Inventor) as well as games can only be run on Windows. Now why is this the case? While some of it does come down to the fact that Windows is much more popular than macOS, much of it comes down to the development side. Simply put, Windows is just much easier to develop for. And while you can certainly make the case that Apple has been making macOS development easier recently with advances to Xcode and Catalyst, Windows simply has much less restrictions than Apple and meets developer’s needs in an easier way. However, this does not always lead to better apps. There are a good handful of beloved Apple exclusives — Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, Keynote, and even simple apps like iMessage and FaceTime — but if you try to think of any beloved Windows exclusive, nothing comes to mind besides maybe Minesweeper and 3D Pinball. And besides Mac exclusives, many cross-platform apps (besides games) just run much better on macOS than they do on Windows due to special optimizations developers can take advantage of on the Mac. Not only that, but macOS has some really powerful tools that come right out of the box that you simply can’t get on Windows. Take Preview for example. Not only can it view pretty much any type of image or PDF in existence, but it can also edit them with remarkable functionality such as instant alpha, color correction, resize, rotate, reorder, edit GIF, add shapes/text, and so much more. You can’t get that on a PC without paying for Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat. So while many may say that Windows has more functionality than macOS, and while that is certainly true in some ways, Apple literally makes and pre-installs their own application called Bootcamp which allows you to run Windows natively on your Mac. Apple provides drivers which make the computer feel like a real PC (and frankly, better than some real PCs). So if there’s something you can’t run on macOS, you still got Windows on the same machine if you so choose. But good luck Hackintoshing. So when it comes down to functionality within the OS, I’m giving a point to both. I think they both have their own place when it comes to this.
CADding our 2020 FRC robot on my PC using Autodesk Inventor — a Windows exclusive
Oh boy. I bet you see where this is going given that I am an Apple fanboy...
I’ll say it right off the bat: user experience on PC’s and Windows absolutely SUCK!!!! For someone like me who one might call “tech savvy,” I know how to use both platforms at an equally advanced level. However, for new users to computers, Windows can be a hell of a nightmare. Just imagine someone who has never used a computer attempting to buy/set up/use a PC. There are literally thousands of options across probably 50 different manufacturers. They will get so overwhelmed. Meanwhile buying a Mac and setting it up and using it is a piece of cake.
Just open up your Mac for the first time. Much of what you need is already there. Need to surf the web? Safari will do. Need to text someone? iMessage is already preloaded. Need to open a PDF? Preview’s got you covered. Want to take notes, view your iCloud photos, find your iPhone, write a diary entry, make a presentation, create a spreadsheet, listen to music, watch live TV, or even edit a 4K video? It’s all there, and as Steve Jobs would put it — it’s magical. Hands down you simply couldn’t do all of that right out of the box in Windows. On a PC, everything I just mentioned (besides web browsing on Edge) you have to download a third-party app for, if one is even available. You can’t even view a freakin PDF without downloading Adobe Acrobat or view any slightly uncommon video format without VLC. It sucks. Oh, and if you don’t believe me on any of this, then watch Apple’s iconic “Get a Mac” ad campaign. Those ads speak for themselves.
But let me dive deeper into the user experience aspect. I am someone who knows the ins and outs of both operating systems and uses them on a daily basis from things ranging from homework to watching YouTube to editing videos to creating neural networks. Trust me, I know how to use my stuff and I know what I’m doing. And with that I can firmly say that the user experience on a Mac is so much infinitely better than that of a PC. I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that Apple owns and controls both the hardware and software of everything they put out, and this leads to a beautiful experience. I know a lot of people say that, but as a professional Mac user, is has some real practical benefits. When creating a presentation in Keynote (or PowerPoint) on a Mac, for example, you can really nicely zoom in and scroll around with your trackpad to quickly and seamlessly adjust things. In Final Cut Pro X, as another example, not only is the entire piece of software fully optimized for Mac (it has insane render times) but the experience editing is top-notch with a trackpad or Magic Mouse. I’ve learned to develop crazy hand gestures combined with keyboard shortcuts that significantly increase my productivity. Even just the basic mechanics of macOS just work really well, something you don’t see on Windows.
And where Macs really shine is with the Apple ecosystem. Ohhh boy, do I LOVE this so much!!!! Let’s just say that I am editing a video and want to insert a few pictures that I took on my iPhone. All I have to do is AirDrop them to my Mac and then drag them into the timeline. Done in all of about 10 seconds. On a PC, that would require me to transfer the files to the computer with something like email or Google Drive on my iPhone, then open that up on my PC, download them, unZIP them, and then finally import it into the timeline. Done in all of about 2 minutes. Or what if someone texted me a description to put into that video? On a Mac I would just open iMessage and copy-paste away in all of about 5 seconds. On a PC...well...you’d have to email the text to yourself and then open it up on the PC and then the person sends you an updated one and you have to do all that again and it’s just a yucky extra 2 minutes you have to waste. When Steve Jobs once said that Apple products just “work,” he really did mean that. Like really. They really just work how you want them to. It’s why I use them everyday.
And let’s not forget the design of the Mac. It is just gorgeous and no one can deny that. Even designs dating back to the early 2010’s still look better than top-of-the-line PCs that come out in 2020. There’s a certain special feeling you get when using a Mac that you don’t get when using a PC. Maybe it’s just me, idk. But what I can safely say is that the User Experience point clearly goes to the Mac.
Editing a video on my iMac using Final Cut Pro X — a simple, seamless, and powerful Mac exclusive
Now this one’s tricky. I will say right off the bat that there is no argument against the fact that most Macs are significantly more expensive than their PC counterparts with similar specs. It’s just plain math that supports that. But when you are buying a Mac, you are not buying for the specs — you are buying for the Apple experience. And people really have to understand that. So many people criticize Macs (and Apple in general) for charging too much for “inferior” products. But if you say that, here’s what I will say back: a) clearly you have never spent much time using a Mac and b) IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD ONE, THEN DON’T BUY ONE!!!! It’s that simple. There’s a reason why both the Tesla and Toyota Camry exist — people are in different financial positions and can only afford certain things. So if you can’t afford a Mac, then don’t get one and buy a PC instead! I don’t understand why so many people fail to understand this. OK now this is turning into a rant (I did warn you guys in my first blog post that I have no rules with my writing style and I can get crazy here) so I will stop now and move onto something else. Actually wait one more thing: some Macs are actually pretty cheap if you think about it, especially the 5K base model. You get pretty nice specs plus a gorgeous 5K screen for only $1799, a price that you can approach with a similarly specced PC plus an external 5K screen. Anyway enough with that. Let’s move on.
When it comes to value, this one’s even tricker. Macs last a really really really long time. Certainly longer than most PCs. However, in terms of specs Macs can get outdated pretty quickly, leaving you with a large, heavy alooomineum paperweight. And while you can get a decent price by trading it into Apple, it’s not really worth it. However, with PCs, all you do is just swap out your CPU, GPU, RAM stick, hard drive, and pretty much anything else once it gets old without buying a whole new machine.
Some people will hate me for this, but I am going to award a point to both since I feel that they each have their own place in the market.
So, according to my calculations, the Mac and PC are tied in terms of the point system I made for this blog post. And, to be honest, I wasn’t even really trying to make it that way. Yet I think this really is representative of what I believe regarding both the Mac and the PC. I don’t think that one is necessarily “superior” or “better” than the other as a whole; I think it truly comes down to each user’s specific wants, needs, and use cases.
Now here’s where I offer some advice to y’all. Next time you’re watching a YouTube video and see a nasty comment about Apple or Microsoft, or next time you argue over this topic with your very opinionated friend, try to stay out of it by not adding another nasty comment to the YouTube video or by not getting into the argument with your friend. Ultimately, we should all learn to love both Macs and PC’s for what they are and embrace rather than trash their differences. After all, tech is tech, and it’s all pretty damn cool if you ask me.