PC versus Mac: The Debate Rages On

The debate of PCs versus Macs (or Macs versus PCs, for you Apple fans) has raged on for decades, with nary an end in sight. Think of it as a longer, more rabid version of the console wars, except the participants are somewhat older folk folk with less hair! Since we believe we’re of age to recognise what a keyboard looks like, we’ve decided to weigh in on the matter, not that it would matter.

Whatever the case, these are the issues that we think deserve highlighting when discussing the age old question: Which is better—the PC or Mac?

Issue #1: Cost

The common view when it comes to cost is that Windows PCs are generally cheaper than Macs. This is probably perceived because a large number of Windows machines have an average price of around AUD1,500 and below, while majority of Apple’s on the other hand are usually worth around AUD1,700 to as much as over AUD4,000.

This however can be misleading because the cost of Macs is actually in line with comparable Windows PCs. Apple’s computers, particularly its laptops, usually have higher-end CPUs, elegant aluminum cases, longer battery power and are usually lighter and thinner than Windows laptops. In fact, Sony’s high-end Vaio Z series are typically more expensive than Apple’s competing MacBook Air.

Then again, there are two extreme scenarios where Windows PCs and Macs live up to the cost stereotype: First, assembling your own monster Windows PC is dirt cheap—it’s even way cheaper than other packaged Windows machines. Second, Apple will obliterate your budget when you upgrade your Mac. Have a look how much Apple’s 1TB SATA drive costs.

Issue #2: Variety of choices

Here’s a category that Windows machines utterly dominate: Sheer number of choices. Want a pink CPU case? Piece of cake. How about a Blu-ray drive to watch 1080p movies? No problem. You can buy PC packages that come with these add-ons or buy them separately in different brands.

Apple, however, doesn’t make pink desktops or place Blu-ray drives or touchscreens in their Macs. When you buy a Mac, you get a computer with parts that Apple thinks is necessary. And you can only choose from the following products: the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops; the iMac all-in-one desktops; the Mac Mini teensy weensy desktops; and the Mac Pro desktop. Sure, they come in several sizes, but it’s not that the option would make much of a difference.

Issue #3: Operating system

The gulf between OS X and Windows used to be much larger. With Windows 7, however, the gap is relatively small as it’s ever been—but it’s still there nonetheless. What can we say? The Mac’s OS has always been mind-bogglingly incredible, while Windows isn’t.

Issue #4: Security

Since most computers use Windows, hackers spend more time making malware for these machines to steal sensitive information. And since hackers spend more time tormenting Windows users, there are hardly any viruses made for Macs. This, however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any security problems with Macs because they’re still computers and Mac users are equally susceptible to social engineering, just like everyone else.

And yet, a regular Mac user with no antivirus is still less likely to be affected by a security issue than a Windows power user loaded with all the antiviruses that money can buy.

Issue #5: Reliability

Since we’re dealing with technology, you should know that there aren’t any perfect computers with absolutely no defects, nor will there ever be one. That said, Apple products are known to be more reliable than its Windows rivals. Just ask PC World and PC Magazine.

Issue #6: Compatibility

A PC runs Windows (and Linux, but that’s beside the point), while a Mac can run OS X and Windows. But while a Mac can run both systems, a Windows PC, out of the box, can run a broader range of programs while a Mac can’t. A Mac still needs to have Windows before it can do so. This is because Windows has always been made to run a variety of hardware, while the Mac OS is designed to run specifically with Apple’s own hardware.