Tuesday, May 15, 2007

PC vs. Mac

I am a graphic designer and videographer who plays about an average of 4 or five hours a week of computer games. I have built about five or six computers and made many repairs. I am not a networking genius but know how to set up a basic home or office network. I could call myself pretty computer savvy.

In my experience using computers for creative purposes, since the 90's, I have either had to use a Mac or a PC. Technically a Mac is a "Personal Computer," which is what "PC" stands for, but I will continue to call a Windows-based personal computer a PC in the post.

Growing up my, my family first had an old Apple 2GS. Later on I got a Compaq PC with Windows 95 on it. After that came an HP, then a Sony, and then I decided to start building my own. At my home office I have two PC desktops, two PC laptops, and one Mac desktop.

In my professional usage, freelancing and working in-house, many of my clients and employers have used the Mac platform for their creative departments. I am proficient on the Mac platform, as well as the PC, but have found many things wrong with using a Mac vs. a PC as the platform of choice for creative use.

A Mac computer is the best choice for the average home user who will just check emails, surf the internet, and view a few videos and photos here and there. It is the ideal platform for the user who is not all that computer literate or savvy. It will not break as easily due to the user not knowing what he is doing and is not as complex as the PC.

The PC is more complex and easier to break and this is why my Mother has inadvertently corrupted her home PC multiple times. This complexity is all because you have a variety of upgradeable components that you can use as well as a drastically larger library of software, including games, that can all be used on the PC where as on a Mac, you have a lot less software to choose from and upgrading anything usually is very limited. When it does come time to buy an upgraded component, you usually have to buy Mac branded parts and have them charge you way more for it than a PC.

At one of my old jobs, where we used a (new at the time) Mac G5, we had the "Superdrive" break on us. The only place we could find a Superdrive for this machine was through Mac and they wanted to charge $800+ for the part (before shipping). That was rediculous so I hopped online and searched through many blogs and forums and found that all I needed to do was swap it out with an ordinary PC optical drive and it would work. We ordered it online from NewEgg.com and it costed eight times less. We were not able to simply fix other components that broke later down the road and had to bite the bullet, shelling out a lot of cash to pay Mac to ship us out a part eight times overpriced.

Aside from the lack of choices in upgrade parts and compatibility issues with software, price is another major thing that brings me to favor the PC. For creative professionals, like myself, we need machines much more powerful than those the average home and office user would ever need. What we need now is what the average home or office user will upgrade to four or five years down the road. Graphics and video take fast processing, lots of RAM, fast graphics processing, very large hard drive storage space (in many cases multiple hard drives and servers to back things up), large and multiple displays (big LCD monitors), and many other things that are completely unnecessary for the average user.

If you set a PC and a Mac next to each other with the same amount of computing power, the PC would cost you a whole lot less. That is with a standard PC you would buy at CompUSA, BestBuy, etc... but if that PC was one you built yourself, it could be even a lot cheaper than that, in some cases cost you a third or a quarter of what that shiny new Mac costed you.

I can not stand all those people saying how great the Mac is and how they never break or have problems. Over half of the places I have worked (and all of my schooling and training for my degree) used the Mac platform. As I stated, creative computer work takes a hefty computer that can handle abuse and abuse is what I throw at computers I use. No, I do not physically abuse the computers (no body slamming or chucking across the room) but I do like to push them as hard as I can and be as efficient as possible. Lack of power in your computing machine can only drag you down and even cost because time is money, in some cases. Anyways... in my usage I have had more problems on the Mac platform than any PC. I have had more creative software crash on me on a Mac than on a PC and have had many issues with files. Hardware, such as hard drives and optical drives, also stopped working which are things that many uninformed hard-core Mac users think will never happen to them. It does happen... you just have to push your machine and use it to its full potential. Any machine (computer or even car) with moving parts (yes, inside that shiny computer case are a ton of moving parts) will at some point stop working and the Mac has broken down on me just as much, if not more, as any PC I have used. I have busted this myth many times of how the Mac is indestructible.

It seems that there are a lot of creative professionals and artistic people out there who pay all this money and to to school for 4 to 6 years and have their instructors drill in them that the Mac is the superior machine to use for creative work. A lot of these students learn how to use the software and a little hardware but other than that lack any other knowledge that could consider then a geek when it comes to computers. The same goes for some of these instructors. Some of these people are better off on the Mac platform because they, like my mother, just know how to use some of the software but other than that do not know a lot about their computers and break them easily. Throw a Mac in front of them but if you really want to excel in your ability and efficiency creatively on the computer, the PC is the way to go... the opposite of what the media (thanks Mac) is telling you. Once you have been where I have been and pushed your top of the line machines as far for as long as I have, you will find that you are better off on the PC.

We have all seen those Mac commercials with the nerdy looking PC and that skinny slick Mac (represented by people). They have some truth to them but completely cut off the whole truth and are one sided, of course. The facts are that a PC is less expensive, allows for more upgrades and modifications, and has more software that will work on it (and games). I am not completely against the Mac and everything it does. I just use what works best and what is most efficient and cost effective and right now a PC is that. If Mac started coming out with machines that allowed you to do what the PC currently did, I would buy one in a heartbeat but until that day I will stay with my PC.


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