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coding_monkey

Macs - what makes them different?

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Hello,

My girlfriend wants a new computer. I offered to build her a PC, she said 'no, I want a Mac'. I asked her why and she said 'because I want to do publishing, movies and picture editing and stuff, not games'. Now, I couldn't really care either way and in fact, was slightly attracted to the idea of getting a Mac purely from the point of view of learning a new system. Then I saw the price.... !

So my question is: what makes a Mac so special? You can surely get the same or similar software for the PC these days, can't you? The PC hardware is cheaper and from what I can see, easier to upgrade? Why would it matter what OS you're running? Mac fans, lets have some sensible fact-based cases for please, (but not Apple propaganda- because I've no time for that).

I know this is potential flame-bait... lets see if we can avoid that though, mkay?

:flamethrow:

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Hello,

My girlfriend wants a new computer. I offered to build her a PC, she said 'no, I want a Mac'. I asked her why and she said 'because I want to do publishing, movies and picture editing and stuff, not games'. Now, I couldn't really care either way and in fact, was slightly attracted to the idea of getting a Mac purely from the point of view of learning a new system. Then I saw the price.... !

So my question is: what makes a Mac so special? You can surely get the same or similar software for the PC these days, can't you? The PC hardware is cheaper and from what I can see, easier to upgrade? Why would it matter what OS you're running? Mac fans, lets have some sensible fact-based cases for please, (but not Apple propaganda- because I've no time for that).

I know this is potential flame-bait... lets see if we can avoid that though, mkay?

:flamethrow:

build a hackintosh.

then you can just dual boot whatever flavors of OS you want alongside MAC OS :)

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Never owned or even used a mac so maybe i'm not the best person to be offering an opinion but i cant imagine anything that a mac will do that a pc wont. In this day and age the argument that macs are better for video editing etc is kinda outdated. Back in the day it was certainly the case, but certainly not now. I have a friend studying media (film production and stuff) who is desperate for a mac and the only advantage i can see is the fact that (according to him) some of the software that is mac only seems to be the industry standard. Unless your gf wants to become a professional in that field you'd (IMO) be better off spending the cash on a top of the line PC. Any PC that can play some modern games will be more than adequate for video/photo editing.

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Macs and PCs aren't much different as far as what you can run third party app wise. All of the (as far as I'm aware) publishing apps that can run on Macs can run on PCs as well. Some Mac fans will say that it runs faster on a Mac, but this isn't really the case anymore since they're no longer using PPC processors.

That being said, there are a few differences and reasons to go Mac over a PC:

1. OSX: I'm a linux user. I have been for almost 10 years now. I work with Mac laptops daily and I have to say that OSX is easily my second favorite OS. OSX is very well designed and the internals are familiar for me as a linux user. While there are still some quirks and lack of control in some areas, OSX is a solid overall operating system. While you can run OSX on a very specific set of PC hardware, I don't have any real experience with that so I can't tell you if the user experience is the same.

2. stability: OSX running on apple hardware is very stable. Apple doesn't have to write thousands of drivers to cover different hardware platforms, so the hardware that they do support, they have it supported very well. While you may see some applications crashes every now and then, I don't think I've ever seen a Mac hard lock from a problem that wasn't related to a dead hard drive or bad memory. Also, while I don't buy the whole "Mac's don't need antivirus" bull, I will say that the are generally more secure for now simply because few malware writers are targeting them.

3. Ease of use: This is the tricky one. I divide computer users into three categories. Beginners, power users, and uber users (over simplified I know :P) I would say that for beginners and uber users, using OSX is extremely easy. The reasoning behind this is it's intuitive enough for beginners to figure out what to do, and uber users are savvy enough to recognize what's going on and approach things differently. A quick example: Ask a beginner to uninstall an application. In OSX, he finds the application and hits delete. The power user searches through the system trying to find the "add\remove programs" application to remove software. The uber user does the same search, but quickly realizes that the machine is BSD based and therefore applications are just binaries on the disk, he can just remove the directory without worrying about links back to a registry or anything. While this example isn't perfect, it is something that I've run into while helping users adjust to using a Mac.

Notice how almost all of these statements are comparing operating systems? Yeah, that's on purpose. Mac hardware presentation is nice, but it's no longer a deciding factor as the internal components are the same as its PC counterparts. I'm getting my wife a new PC soon, and it's going to be a Mac. My main reason for this is that she recently got her machine infected with a key logger, and since then she has been scared while surfing the web. Some of the malicious sites out there are getting harder for even savvy computer users to recognize, and while it's not a perfect solution a Mac will give her a bit more protection while she's surfing the web. For now at least :)

Edited by mecca_
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It's insanely easy to use! My girlfriend has a MacBook Pro and its very stable and has amazing graphics. The only downside is the fans break real easily and Apple is too much of a monopoly for me.

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From a strictly architectural standpoint the only difference between a Mac and PC hardware is that Macs user EFI rather than normal BIOS. I read about some newer PCs coming out of Asia a while ago that replaced BIOS with EFI, but haven't heard anything since. The groups who make the hackintosh distros patch the kernel to add support for BIOS so that it will run on a normal machine as well as add driver support for hardware that Apple's Macs run.

When you buy a Mac, unless you are paying for upgrades from Apple, the price difference really isn't that different from what you would pay for a good PC. The problem is that a lot of PCs out there use shit hardware and that is why they are able to sell them for so cheap. All macs now have dedicated video cards now rather than integrated, use Intel processors rather than Celeron or the lower end AMDs, etc. You are buying good hardware when you buy a Mac which is one of the reasons they are generally expensive.

The other thing you get is an operating system that has been designed for the specific hardware that you are going to use. There will generally be less hardware related issues, because the software has been thoroughly tested on the hardware that you are using.

I'd stay away from the hackintosh stuff simply because you don't know what's been done to the OS and it's really more of a pain than anything else. I don't know what's been changed since the last time I looked at it, but you couldn't do system updates through the updater and had to wait for the updates to be posted somewhere so you could manually do it. You could however do updates to software that isn't tied into the kernel and that generally worked fine.

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The only real differences is software. The OS is different, and the software available for that OS is different. If what she wants is final cut, photoshop, etc, a mac is a good choice. They're good machines and, besides the price, have no real down sides if she doesn't want to play games.

I know, as a geek, it's easy to try to force other people into what you see as being better. The problem is, what we see as better and what normal people see as what they want are two completely different things. I know some people who foolishly try to force Linux on their loved ones, even thought it's really not what they want. So be aware of this before you go off and build her a PC she's not really going to want.

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Only difference now is Operating System (and the industry standard software for video editing is better supported on OSX), and better quality parts and support vs the base lineup for any pc vendor.

If she wanted to play games, she could have dual booted a mac with windows.

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Thanks, some good answers there.

Still quite undecided though. Seems like there isn't much to it. Sounds like Macs might have slightly better quality hardware, slightly more software compatibility, be slightly easier to use, etc...

:unsure:

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Everyone I know who has a Mac, and is also a techie, swears by them. They say the price is worth it.

Come to think of it, every little girly girl I know has one too... sometimes there is a fine line between streamlined and dainty.

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They're also very trendy. If she just wants one because they're trendy, that's no reason to spend the extra money. That's like saying you have to have an iPod, when an MP3 player of any other brand will be cheaper for the same amount of storage.

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What makes a Mac different is pretty much only the software. They're nice looking and trendy, so they are attractive to many people. Ok, it's probably a good choice for video editing and stuff like that, and may content an average user, but all that you're really buying is the Operating System and very expensive hardware that has a shiny Apple on it. The hardware is very similar to ordinary PCs.

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macs hardware is better than BASE, CHEAPO, pc hardware if you spend 2000 for desktop on pc it will be way better than the mac will in my opinion as i dont want to have like 8 choices of computers, you want 2133mhz ram imo am3 probably pc only, netboox, server, pc/linux, there isnt any customization for mac's. there is more in windows mobile devices from htc. your basically buying an expensive way to prove your a hipster. if you/she really wants it, go for it idc. if she's not going to be "professional" just inform her on 3rd part software, i mean you can do some pretty wicked stuff in blender. and photoshop cant touch 3d. osx may be like windows ce (windows mobile) in that there are hundreds/thousands of different versions of the same os they just have custom kernel with the drivers for only that specific device. i would only get a mac if it already has everything you want on it for hardwareas you cant just go pickout any pci card you see.

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I have nothing against Macs, the OS is very stable and all but I more think people buy them because of their extremely easy to use interface. I mean to install something you drag and drop it, computers don't get any simpler than that lol. Not everyone want to be tech-savvy so if she has the extra bucks to spend and she wants a Macintosh then go for it.

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Hey,

Well my GF asked me to give her a price for a PC that will run photoshop well and including the OS and software, it came to around £1200, that's easily £800 cheaper than just the cost of the apple she was looking at. Ok, I'm using AMD rather than Intel but honestly... so what?

I've nothing against Macs either, except for the price and the fact it's a closed platform... which is enough to put me off. I think as long as you stick to the main brands (AMD, intel), you're safe.

Thanks for all the opinions though. Shame apples aren't a little cheaper...

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Even that seems high. I recently built this machine, which is a Core 2 Duo @2.8GHz, 4GB RAM and a 9600GT, for $600. This machine would run photoshop quite well. Add a monitor for $200 to $300, and you're not even at $1,000 yet. Are parts more expensive there, or did you overbuild the machine?

Overbuilding is easy. It's so easy to say "well, let's go quad core with 8 gigs of RAM and 2TB RAID array!" It doesn't really make sense to do this though. Buy what's fast enough for now and cheap. Keep upgrades in mind, because that quad core is going to be cheap in about a year, so it's an easy upgrade if you get the right motherboard.

Also, AMD loses out on the mid- to high-end. AMD is cheaper and faster for budget machines, but the Core 2 machines (and especially i7) are faster for the same amount of money for mid-range and high-end machines.

And photoshop likes memory. Get lots of memory and a 64-bit OS.

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Hey,

Well my GF asked me to give her a price for a PC that will run photoshop well and including the OS and software, it came to around £1200, that's easily £800 cheaper than just the cost of the apple she was looking at. Ok, I'm using AMD rather than Intel but honestly... so what?

I've nothing against Macs either, except for the price and the fact it's a closed platform... which is enough to put me off. I think as long as you stick to the main brands (AMD, intel), you're safe.

Thanks for all the opinions though. Shame apples aren't a little cheaper...

Does that price include the software and everything? Seems kinda high, my quadcore cost less than that. AND i bought a new monitor, keyboard and mouse with it.

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I agree with Mecca's second point; IMO the beauty of the Mac is an O/S designed for particular hardware. Though that does have its downfalls, I believe the reliability can overcome that. Just depends on what you want to do.. Also, as stated Mac hardware is much better than the average PC. Not to mention (of course this is strictly my opinion) OS X > than XP, Vista or any other consumer OS MS has to date. With the Mac you can also run Vista or XP Pro with full hardware access, as drivers are included for Bootcamp that run all Mac hardware.

To date I think the only big advantages for Windows is games and MS Domain Membership in the business... Soon as the latest nVidia and ATI high performance drivers support Mac gaming will be nice on the Mac, if there is enough of a market for game-makers to better support OpenGL or Core Animation... A Mac Pro (though pricey) would make a f'ck'n sweet gaming rig..

EDIT: I'd highly advise not running a hacked version of OSX on a PC. There are numerous reasons for this, the top being:

- once a security hole is found updates will break the install

- OSX runs much much better and is optimized for particalar hardware

- all versions are "hacked" the maintainer could put anything in the installer and Mac AV's are not known as the best in the world..

EDIT: forgot about price: huge advantage for the Windows PC

Anyway +1 for the Mac.

Edited by tekio
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The argument of "the OS is designed for the hardware" doesn't stand when you realize that Apple started using Intel chips quite a while ago.

Also, there is nothing you can do on a Mac that you can't do on a PC, and you'll pay less for it. If you like spending money for the sake of spending it to feel better, then go on.

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The argument of "the OS is designed for the hardware" doesn't stand when you realize that Apple started using Intel chips quite a while ago.

Even with Intel Tiger, there was an Intel and Power PC version. There was a lot more than just recompiling chunks of the OS considering the old CPU was Power PC. It had to be optimized for Intel... Leopard even offers further optimization... Just because it is deigned for Intel doesn't mean it will perform good on all Intel machines. Though I've never bench marked it, I've read posts from others in this forum who have stated OSX runs better on Macs than a PC with superior hardware.

Edited by tekio
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The argument of "the OS is designed for the hardware" doesn't stand when you realize that Apple started using Intel chips quite a while ago.

Even with Intel Tiger, there was an Intel and Power PC version. There was a lot more than just recompiling chunks of the OS considering the old CPU was Power PC. It had to be optimized for Intel... Leopard even offers further optimization... Just because it is deigned for Intel doesn't mean it will perform good on all Intel machines. Though I've never bench marked it, I've read posts from others in this forum who have stated OSX runs better on Macs than a PC with superior hardware.

Do these people supply this with any reliable benchmarks? If the processor is the same in architecture and clock speed on both machines, there is no chance that the CPU execution time differs. What can differ is the memory-access time, but that's not a Mac/PC problem, it's the buss clock speed/hardware bandwidth problem.

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The argument of "the OS is designed for the hardware" doesn't stand when you realize that Apple started using Intel chips quite a while ago.

Even with Intel Tiger, there was an Intel and Power PC version. There was a lot more than just recompiling chunks of the OS considering the old CPU was Power PC. It had to be optimized for Intel... Leopard even offers further optimization... Just because it is deigned for Intel doesn't mean it will perform good on all Intel machines. Though I've never bench marked it, I've read posts from others in this forum who have stated OSX runs better on Macs than a PC with superior hardware.

Do these people supply this with any reliable benchmarks? If the processor is the same in architecture and clock speed on both machines, there is no chance that the CPU execution time differs. What can differ is the memory-access time, but that's not a Mac/PC problem, it's the buss clock speed/hardware bandwidth problem.

Mac vs HackintoshIt would have been nice if the tester would've disables one CPU on the Mac Pro (I think that is possible) and taken 2GB RAM out of the Hackintosh... Depending on how well the specific apps use two CPU's the results can mean nothing favoring the Pro. Also, the Macs were running Leopard vs Tiger on the Hackintosh.

I still think that having an Leopard running on a Mac is far more reliable than x86 Hackintosh and the O/S designed for specific hardware is still an advantage..

Exactly what were you referring to in your first post? Not trying to start a war over it, just curious about what you mean..

EDIT: posted wrong url

Edited by tekio
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The argument of "the OS is designed for the hardware" doesn't stand when you realize that Apple started using Intel chips quite a while ago.

Even with Intel Tiger, there was an Intel and Power PC version. There was a lot more than just recompiling chunks of the OS considering the old CPU was Power PC. It had to be optimized for Intel... Leopard even offers further optimization... Just because it is deigned for Intel doesn't mean it will perform good on all Intel machines. Though I've never bench marked it, I've read posts from others in this forum who have stated OSX runs better on Macs than a PC with superior hardware.

Do these people supply this with any reliable benchmarks? If the processor is the same in architecture and clock speed on both machines, there is no chance that the CPU execution time differs. What can differ is the memory-access time, but that's not a Mac/PC problem, it's the buss clock speed/hardware bandwidth problem.

Mac vs HackintoshIt would have been nice if the tester would've disables one CPU on the Mac Pro (I think that is possible) and taken 2GB RAM out of the Hackintosh... Depending on how well the specific apps use two CPU's the results can mean nothing favoring the Pro. Also, the Macs were running Leopard vs Tiger on the Hackintosh.

I still think that having an Leopard running on a Mac is far more reliable than x86 Hackintosh and the O/S designed for specific hardware is still an advantage..

Exactly what were you referring to in your first post? Not trying to start a war over it, just curious about what you mean..

EDIT: posted wrong url

A "Hackintosh" shouldn't really count, since it's a Mac vs. Mac benchmark, not including the price difference, but even then, the hack is overall better than the original.

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