You can debate PC vs. Mac till the cows come home and you’ll never find a right or wrong answer, so I’m going to give you some facts and let you make your own decisions. To give you a bit of a background, I am both a Mac and a PC user and will give you an honest opinion on the pros and cons of both.
Macs were designed with one thing in mind – design work. They excel at graphic design, video production, and even audio work. This was 30 years ago. Today they are still just as good as they were for all of the above purposes. However, that’s the extent of what they can do. Until the switch from the IBM Power PC processors to the new Intel based Macs, at least. Now they can do more – if you take advantage of the Boot Camp feature and dual boot Mac OSX with Windows XP. That opens up a whole new realm of possibilities as the line between Mac and PC becomes less clear.
PCs were designed with one thing in mind as well – business apps. PCs were terrible at editing graphics, producing video, and editing audio. That was also 30 years ago. With the video gaming industry constantly pushing the limits of what PCs can do, PC engineers had to constantly reinvent the wheel in order to keep up. The result is a machine that can do everything the Mac can do and more. Not only is it possible to run any program the Mac can run (they make Windows versions of all the popular Mac software), but a PC also has the processing power to run all of the most number-crunching intensive business applications as well.
Function versus design is really the question you should be asking yourself when trying to decide on a Mac versus a PC. What are you going to be using the computer for? Is it just going to be used for photo editing, or are you going to use it to play games, surf the internet, balance your checkbook, and email your clients?
If your only concern is in the artistic line of work, then you may be better off with a Mac. Keep in mind that specialization comes with a premium, and you will not be able to get yourself anything decent for under $2,000.
On the other hand, if you want a machine that can do everything, then you are best off with a PC. They are cheap, they easy to repair, and they have an install base of over ten times that of a Mac and you’ll find much more support for a PC. You can pick up a comparable PC for around $800, that even if it lasts for 2 years versus the average 5 years to a Mac (note these numbers are skewed, but I’ll use them for simplicity’s sake), you can buy another PC to replace an old one and still have spent less than buying a single Mac.
Support is also another issue. There is no shortage of support for PCs, be it software issues or hardware issues. Every major retail outlet has their own in-house tech support team that can fix any issue you have. Macs on the other hand require the help of an Apple “Genius” who, though specialized in Apple products, are more expensive and less in quantity than a PC specialist.
On a side note, I wanted to mention something about viruses. If you are not connecting to the internet at all, and you are not using “warez” or pirated software, then you have NO chance of getting viruses. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are on a PC or a Mac, because those are the only points of entry for viruses.
There are a number of Mac viruses as of this date, albeit not ones that are life-threatening. The reason for this is the install base of the Mac versus the PC. There is over ten times the amount of users of a PC over a Mac and therefore they are targeted appropriately. As I said, though, if you don’t connect to the internet or use illegal software then your threat of viruses is reduced to none.
Another point that I would like to mention is that Apple is currently being sued for false advertising on their notebooks and their purported screen resolutions. Contrary to the PC, they are not capable of displaying true 32-bit 16.7 million colors. Apple’s claims to the amount of colors their notebooks are possible of displaying is due to a software technique known as dithering. This gives the illusion of more colors by causing adjacent pixels to display different shades of a color and fools the eye into seeing something that is not there. This is done by Apple because their notebooks use a 6-bit display as opposed to the 8-bit display that PC based notebooks use. Although this lawsuit is new, the issue is not. Macs have been using 6-bit displays in their notebooks for years now, but it’s only come to light recently. And Apple is no stranger to lawsuits as well. They have consistently made statements about the performance of their computers being much more than they are actually capable of and have had to remove those statements from their website and different advertising campaigns on a consistent basis. The point I’m making here is that you should not listen to Apple when it comes to them telling you what their machines can do because they have been caught lying quite a few times. Instead you should talk to someone who uses the product and get the facts.
Lastly I want to compare prices. Briefly I mentioned numbers earlier, but that was for the average desktop. Laptops/Notebooks are markedly more expensive. Still, the PC wins out as far as best bang for your buck. You can purchase an HP laptop that will have more power than you need for photo editing for around $1200 at any major retail chain – not to mention how much cheaper if you go through online outlets. A MacBook Pro, on the other hand, sells for $2,000 for the low-end 15″ version.
As I have said before, I am both a Mac user and a PC user and although it may seem that I have a PC slant to my opinions, it is only because I sift through the nonsense and know all my facts. The Mac is great for what it’s designed for – artistic design work. The PC is great for what it’s (currently) designed for – everything. The debate will continue to go on, but my advice is this – see what you can afford, assess what you want to use the machine for, try both out at a store and see which you are more comfortable with and then purchase whichever machine fits your needs best.