The question of Macintosh (Mac) versus Windows PCs has been present practically since the dawn of computers, but with modern technology progressing rapidly, it is becoming more difficult to make a decision.
There is no denying that both types have good and bad aspects to them, so for most college students, it will come down to personal preference.
When it comes to picking out your next computer, a big factor to keep in mind is cost. Computers are expensive, but Macs are generally more expensive than Windows computers. A Macbook or Macbook Pro could cost from $1,299 to $1,799, and a desktop iMac could cost as much as $2,299. On the other hand, you could buy the Microsoft Surface laptop, the Acer Swift 3 or the 2017 Dell XPS13 for less than $1,000 from the Microsoft store, and these can be even cheaper if bought from the Amazon Marketplace. If you feel so inclined, you can also build your own Windows computer by buying individual parts online for fairly low prices, and you will be able to personalize almost every aspect of your computer while also spending less money.
Personalization can be very important to many computer users, especially those who spend a lot of time in front of their screen, whether it be for work or play. According to Business Insider, computer gamers generally use Windows PCs because of their ability to be customized. Serious gamers frequently update the hardware on their computers to make them faster, hold more memory or make graphics look cleaner. On a Windows PC, it is relatively easy to buy extra memory or a better graphics card and add to or replace the existing hardware in the computer. On a Mac, changes like that are almost impossible. Another aspect of this is being able to replace parts of an old computer that start slowing down or breaking, rather than being forced to buy a whole new computer.
Another important factor to keep in mind is what you plan on doing with your computer. Macs may look cool and trendy, but it may be best not to judge a computer by its shell. Macs have traditionally been used for artistic projects like graphic design and photo or video editing, but according to Roberto Blake of Creative Pro, a website that provides information and resources to creative professionals, Mac use may be just that: a tradition.
In his article “Is Mac or PC Better for Graphic Designers?” he states, “The reason many designers gravitate to buying a Mac and are looked down on in the industry if they don’t is mostly a matter of tradition, not substance. Most people who have been in the industry with 20 years or more of experience have a preference for Mac, because for a very long time it was the only option, and in their minds it still is.”
It is important to remember that Mac is no longer the only option for graphic designers and visual editors. The tradition of using Macs started because digital typography and the first version of Photoshop were designed on a Mac Computer in the 1980s. However, computer processing and display have come a long way since the ‘80s and Blake points out in his article that Adobe products, such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, were not made to perform better on certain operating systems; rather, they require certain computer specifications such as processing power and memory size. Blake himself uses both Mac and Windows computers for his graphic design work and has said that as long as both computers have similar specifications, there is little to no difference in his ability to complete his work. Blake also adds that sometimes Macs are needed in his field, especially when it comes to managing workflow across multiple devices.
Apple products are great at communicating with other Apple products. However, many people run into issues when a Mac needs to communicate or share information with a Windows PC or vice versa.
When choosing your next computer, pay attention to what kind of computers your peers and professors use. Here at Keene State College, our Information Technology Group has the ability to work with and support both Macs and Windows PCs, but it is important to note that the Smartcarts in most classrooms come with a permanently installed Windows PC and laptop hookups that may not be compatible with Mac ports without an adapter. TechCrunch, a website dedicated to informing users about Tech News and reviewing new products, released an article last year by Lucas Matney titled “Apple’s new MacBook Pro kills off most of the ports you probably need.” One of those ports that was removed from their laptop design was the USB port, the one practically everyone uses for a variety of things such as plugging in a flash drive, transferring videos, music or pictures to or from their phones or other devices, or using an external keyboard or mouse. Many Mac users may need to purchase extra adapters or cables to use the existing ports with other devices. This is not the first time that Apple products have been missing staple pieces of hardware, such as the iPhone 7, which has no headphone jack, thus requiring consumers to purchase bluetooth earbuds. Matney said in his article that “losing the headphone jack on the new iPhone 7 or ditching the old USB on the new MacBook have created a bit more of an uproar among users that aren’t psyched about needing a dongle on-hand at all times to connect their device to things they need.”
When choosing your next computer, you may find it useful to do your own research before you break out the credit card. There are a number of websites that regularly review new technology and offer advice to those searching for their next computer. Although there may only be a few Mac products to choose from, there are hundreds of options for Windows PCs based on your main interests and activities. Windows computers range greatly in price to accommodate the college student budget and are compatible with most of the permanently installed computers on campus. I personally use a Windows desktop PC and laptop for all of my photo and video editing, writing, research and video games and I have yet to experience any major issues. When my computers do occasionally break or malfunction, rather than having to bring it to a specialist like with most Mac products, I can simply call one of my more tech-savvy friends to give a diagnosis and teach me how to fix it. Most accessories or extra parts I might want are relatively affordable too. Whether you are a computer genius or just starting out, your dream computer is just a click away.
Abbygail Vasas can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org