If it’s time to buy a new desktop or laptop personal computer (PC), one of the most basic decisions you will have to make is whether to choose a Mac or a computer with a Windows-based operating system. Each of these systems has advantages and disadvantages; neither is objectively “better,” but one might fit your needs better than the other. You should take a look at some of the differences between them to decide which seems more compatible and then head to a trusted vendor to let you “test drive” your choice before you buy.
Advantages of Choosing a Mac
Apple makes Mac-brand desktops, laptops, displays, wireless routers, keyboards, mice, and more. Some advantages are:
- All computers sold by Apple are premium-grade machines. You don't have to wonder if you are choosing a good quality computer, because Apple just doesn't sell junk computers.
- In many ways, Macs are simpler to learn and understand. They generally have one way of doing things and software pre-loaded for that purpose. For instance, when you want to edit photos, iPhoto opens automatically; for music, open up iTunes; for chat functionality, choose Messages for text or FaceTime for video.
- All Apple computers and accessories are built specifically to work together. Apple designs both the hardware and the software in its products. This generally leads to less hassle with getting things to work properly, as most things "just work" rather than requiring an IT professional to configure and troubleshoot.
- While Mac computers are NOT immune, they are certainly less susceptible to viruses and other security hazards.
- Apple provides free software updates as new versions of its Operating System (currently called “OS X”) come out so you'll always have access to the latest and greatest features. (There is a cut off of generally about 7 years after which your Mac would not be compatible with the newest OS X version, but after that age it's really time to consider purchasing an upgraded model anyway.)
Mac also offers a comprehensive support network, including Apple Care warranties and access to the “Genius Bar” for in-person appointments or mail-in service.
Disadvantages of Choosing a Mac
Macs have a lot of great features, but they also have some drawbacks:
- Macs cost more. They are premium computers that carry a premium price tag. Expect to pay 25% to 40% more than a Windows PC with similar hardware specifications. The difference in cost between Macs and PCs is not as huge as it used to be, so those with a smaller budget can still consider going Mac such as the $499 retail Mac Mini.
- Macs have limited model choices. At any given time, Apple offers a very limited variety of desktop and laptop choices, which are not easily customizable.
- It's difficult to upgrade Macs piecemeal by replacing or upgrading individual parts.
- Software has to be specifically made for Macs, and Windows/PC software is not compatible with Macs. This can result in some limited software availability. While many popular programs such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) have Mac-specific versions, if you're a Windows PC user considering going Mac, you will need to check if there are Mac versions of the software you use. If they are not available, you may have to make the switch to a different program and learn how to use it.
Apple is very restrictive on who can sell their computers. Historically, Apple computers were only available by ordering directly from the company or buying through the Apple Stores found in malls. Recently Apple has allowed several mass-retail chains such as Best Buy and Staples to sell a limited selection of their products, but in general you'll need to track down a physical Apple Store to have access to the full Apple line-up.
Advantages of Choosing a Windows-Based PC
Computers that run on the Windows-based operating system are made by a wide variety of manufacturers at all price points. Some advantages of buying a Windows-based PC are:
- Windows is ubiquitous. Virtually everywhere you go in the world there are Windows PCs. Virtually all software is compatible with Windows.
- There are literally thousands of different kind of accessories for Windows computers, which allows you to easily customize your system to best fit your needs by adding storage, media capabilities, hardware, and more.
- There are more choices with Windows-based machines. With many different brands such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo, competition and innovation are rampant. There is no shortage of different styles and designs of computers so you can find one that fits you perfectly.
- Windows PCs can do just about anything with the right software, and there's no shortage of different Windows programs. This makes them more versatile overall for a wide range of applications. Want to edit and touch up photos? You'll find literally hundreds of programs to choose from.
- Windows PCs are generally more easily maintained and repaired. They can also be upgraded as time goes on, allowing you to economically switch out and upgrade component parts rather than upgrading your entire system.
Windows-based computers are widely available both in new and refurbished models from a variety of retailers. A trusted computer professional can help you customize a Windows-based system to perfectly meets your needs and budget.
Disadvantages of Windows-Based Computers
Just like Macs, Windows-based computers have disadvantages, too:
- Sometimes too many choices makes it hard to know what to buy! How do you know what brand to choose, hardware specifications you need, or particular software to use? You may have to consult a computer expert to help.
- Since Windows is so ubiquitous, the operating system is more of a target for viruses than the Mac-based OS X. Although Windows PCs are not inherently less secure by design, the creators of viruses put much more effort into exploiting Windows PCs because Windows is used on over 90% of all devices worldwide.
- Windows PCs vary greatly in quality. Some brands produce models to be as inexpensive as possible, which requires them to cut corners on manufacturing quality. It can be hard to know which Windows PCs are the best quality.
- With so many different brands and configurations of Windows PCs, compatibility issues come up far more often. It's much harder to ensure a software program or accessory works under all scenarios when there are millions of different potential hardware and software configurations. This can lead to frustration when you are trying to connect new hardware or configure your computers into a network.
Dymin Systems in Urbandale, Iowa can help you figure out whether a Mac or a Windows-based PC is best for your business or personal computing needs. We also perform service on machines running both kinds of operating systems, including helping to troubleshoot your networking and configuration needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or come by our store to check out our computer hardware and software showroom (selling both new and refurbished machines and parts).