Friday, February 19, 2010

PCs versus Apple Mac - for artists (Part 2)

PC versus Apple Mac - what you recommend
(right click chart and open in new tab to see bigger image)

Many thanks for all the really helpful comments many of you provided yesterday to my request for information and advice about WHICH COMPUTING SET UP IS BEST FOR ARTISTS and people using graphics and video files (in PC vs Mac for artists).

I'm a great believer in making lists when it comes to making a big decision and spending a lot of money.

This post summarises the points raised by your responses - and writing it will help me make up my mind. It might help you too..........

[ Note: I'm planning to update this post as more comments get added to the original post as it seems to have some potential to be a useful reference post for others. I might even create another 'resources for artists site'! ]

The PC versus the Mac

Personal recommendations

What's interesting about the comments is the extent to which people recommended buying a Mac. You can see this reflected in the chart at the top of this post and the table below.

Mac user recommends PC user / ex PC user recommends TOTAL NO. OF RESPONDENTS % of respondents
Buy a Mac 17 9 26 78.79%
Buy a PC 0 3 3 9.09%
Build a PC 0 2 2 6.06%
Unsure 0 2 2 6.06%

17 16 33 100.00%

Of the 32 people who have responded to date (19th February 2010), where there were clear recommendations this is how it works in terms of numbers.
  • Nearly 80% of all respondents recommend buying a Mac
  • 100% of Mac users recommend a Mac
  • 56% of former PC users recommend buying a Mac
Here's what surprised me
  • the very high percentage of people who are former PC users recommending a Mac
  • the lack of support for any particular PC brand
  • PC users recommending 'build your own' as a solution - in the absence of an adequate market solution (which frankly although it has some attractions, is a lot of hassle and also has some definite downsides if you are not a techie type)
What people like about Macs
  • intuitive
  • works well for techies and non-techies
  • good at handling images for art and graphics
  • better reliability
  • fast boot
  • no problems with viruses (which is largely a function of market share AND the vulerabilities of Windows)
  • Apple Care - which provides techie help and repair for a specific period for a fee
  • you can walk into a store and talk to somebody about a Mac
  • no worries
All of the above leads to people becoming repeat purchasers and advocates for the brand

Other things to think about
  • the hardware is the same between PCs and Macs. Basically components - such as processors, hard drives and graphic cards are the same.
  • the main difference between PCs and Macs lies in the software
  • the other major difference is that the people who configure the hardware for each product also produce the operating system which runs it.
  • overheating is an issue which can potentially affect both systems but seems to be more of a problem with PCs. Possibly because Macs put more thought into design (eg separation of heat producing components and/or inclusion of extra fans)
  • Potential to address PC problems with overheating through purchase of chill pads and extra fans (my view on this is that machines should not need people to do this!)
  • the expense of purchasing a Mac versus the expense of buying a PC (and then another PC and fans and chill pads and forking out for repairs etc). It would be interesting to work out lifetime cost equivalents.
  • If you'd need to buy new software for a new PC anyway is buying new software for a Mac really an additional cost?
  • We all have to learn new things all the time - so maybe learning to use a Mac is no different from learning to use Vista or Windows 7?
Tomorrow I'm going to summarise the pros and cons from my perspective of different options for buying my next computer

I'm always interested to hear your views. Do say if there's anything else which it would be useful to know - or add a comment to yesterday's post.

The Art of the Landscape


Caroline Roberts said...

That was fascinating, thank you for sharing! I'm a mac but am still surprised at how many PC users said "Buy a mac!".

On lifetime costs, we have spent little beyond a memory upgrade and a new battery (so maybe $300) on maintenance. That's over 6 years and 3 macs (a laptop, a G5 and and iMac), all of which are still running. I couldn't be happier.

Ruth said...

Just wanted to give this word of caution: According to my son-in-law who works in this field, don't buy MAC for another month. Apple is introducing and installing a new heavy-duty CPU at that time. Supposed to work even faster and do more. So look for this in their advertising.

Making A Mark said...

Intriguing - does he have a link he can point me too?

Sophie said...

I do think mac users are more keen to tell us they like their mac (as macs are often seen as the 'underdog') and pc users don't say much. So you might have gotten an unrealistic picture here. I am not sure.
Also, a quick look at the mac site showed me that macs are hugely more expensive. Perhaps 30% - 50 % more over a pc if you want a comparable spec. Most of my pc's lasted about 5 years.

Making A Mark said...

I think when referring to life of PCs it's important to look at the time period you're talking about.

My oldest computers lasted a long time. The problems have started to happen in the last 3-4 years.

My last two computers have both developed problems in an unacceptably short time.

I've been looking very carefully at specs and on 'like for like' I'm not finding a huge discrepancy. Sure you can now get PCs for relatively cheap price but their specs are a lot more basic.

My problem is not being able to find either a manufacturer or a model of a PC which I trust. Lots of stuff which looks OK to start with - until you start investigating further......... I've been reading a LOT of reviews!

Sarall said...

I was thinking exactly the same as Sophie.

I have been an active user of PCs and Macs, towers and laptops, and for me Macs have a worse price-quality relationship.

Anyway technology gets old fast, so instead of spending X amount of money hoping that the laptop works fast 5 years later, I prefer to spend the half in a more regular one adjusted to my needs for the next 2.5 years. And then buy a new one, with more advanced technology, for a similar price. So for the same X amount of money, in my opinion, I´m getting a better deal.

As for getting a chill pad it will increase the chances to prolongue the life of your laptop. And if you plan to have it turned on for 18h a day, I highly advice you to buy it no matter what brand you choose.

((Btw, I am surprised so few people mentioned the overheat on Mac laptops and the damages on the batteries))

Making A Mark said...

My last but two new computer was a very big Gateway tower which worked fine for two years or so and then blew its fan in our last hot summer (2006?) and was never the same again and has now got a fault which can't be identified.

Then switched to my old Tosh laptop from work which finally expired some 18 months later at five years old.

My last but one new one was a laptop (Sony Vaio VGN-FZ21Z) which cost nearly a £1k and was always sat on a raiser to help dissipate the heat (ie it didn't actually sit on anything apart from a couple of struts)

At 13 months, one month outside the warranty, it burned out the NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GS graphics card. You know when it's happened because you get one long and two short beeps when you start up plus a black screen. This indicates that Indicates a video error has occurred and the BIOS cannot initialize the video screen to display any additional information

Since the graphics card is burned on to the motherboard it requires a whole new motherboard - and this is not a cheap fix.

I'd think about replacing the motherboard (because my Vaio does have a great X-black LCD screen backlit with double lamp technology and a blue-ray player inside) but for the fact that I found more than one thread in computer forums explaining that this is a COMMON fault with Sony Vaios and dates back to 2004.

So Sony make their money by selling you expensive machines which you buy thinking they are good quality but they have an inherent design defect which Sony has failed to do anything to remedy - because they get to sell you a new motherboard and charge you for installing it.

I've recently found out that the Sony badge is now put on c**p turned out by various manufacturers because they've discovered that it actually pays to sell people machines which are NOT premium quality. In return I now tell everybody I talk to about computers to avoid Vaios at all costs and send a link to the huge long threads on computer forums where people lambast Sony for failing to fix this very long standing problem which is quite capable of being addressed. Personally I think it verges on fraud.

(Incidentally _ did a little bit of research while writing this and discovered the following on Wikipedia

"Some chips of the GeForce 8 series (concretely those from the G84 and G86 series) may suffer from an overheating problem. NVIDIA states this issue should not affect many chips,[43] whereas others assert that all of the chips in these series are potentially affected.[43] NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and CFO Marvin Burkett were involved in a lawsuit filed on September 9, 2008 alleging that their knowledge of the flaw, and their intent to hide it, resulted in NVIDIA losing 31% on the stock markets.[44]" Moral of the story don't buy an NVidia graphics card!

Current computer reflects your suggested strategy. I bought a decent medium price HP tower and that developed fan problems when it was about 4 months old. Except they won't take it back for fan problems. They want you to sort it!

I'm still convinced that the pace of technological change means that manifacturers have been building machines with great new processors and graphics cards and very old fans and/or skimping on the fans required relative to the increased processing power - and heat - generated by modern graphics cards and/or not doing fixes fast enough when they discovered problems.

I became even more convinced of this when I saw a computer engineer's tower computer recently. He'd personally installed THREE EXTRA fans into his machine to help avoid it overheating!

Meanwhile I'm still trying to work out how the Vaio with the great screen and blu-ray player can be got to work without using a Sony motherboard etc.

Anonymous said...

I stay up to date with the tech world with videocasts from and Revision3. If you go to and search for "buy or wait pc" you'll see today's AppleByte video explaining all the details about why to wait to buy a Mac.

I was faced with the same decision a few months ago. I borrowed a Macbook Pro from work to try it out and found it annoying. I decided that I'd rather get more for my money (Macs seem to cost twice as much for basically the same hardware). But perhaps I'm a more advanced user than most so I appreciate the control and flexibility that also make PCs more complex.

I've owned HPs for years and have never had any problems with overheating. We keep our HPs at work running 24/7. And I LOVE Windows 7. My 5-year old PC is still running, now at my next door neighbor's house.

I've also heard on those tech shows that Apple's famous quality control has been dropping significantly (due to increase in quantity and being outsourced to China).

I agree with Sophie that mac users tend to be more vocal than PC users who own many different brands.

I've also had PCs built for me by a local shop with my specs for about the same price but I'm really happy with some of the built in features of my new HP, such as the automatic backup and imaging software that makes a daily backup and a weekly image for restoring my PC. It's a very quiet desktop model.

Unknown said...

Very interesting results.

I made a comment in the previous post and suggested a mac.
Another reason I would go for the mac is the apple care (insurance) you can purchase up to 2 years insurance plan after you buy your mac. If any problems occur you can take it in and they will fix it. At no extra cost (just dont drop it and break it and expect them to replace it. make sure to read the terms and conditions)But please do proper research on this part.

I just recently had a battery problem on my 1.5 yr old lap top. They replaced the battery with a 3 month guarentee. Yes the batteries on the mac books run too hot which is the one thing I do not like about my laptop.

We also have an imac the pros with this is that we use the imac for everything. as a computer of course, but as a TV,we plugged cable into it, as well as the playstation. We don't own a TV. the imac does it all!

Hope this helps some. good luck.

Making A Mark said...

Oh - even better - I now have more on the explanation of why my Vaio burned out due to the bum Nvidia graphics card

Anonymous said...

Two more thoughts for you re your broken PC.

1) If you bought it with a credit card rated gold or better, MC, Visa and AmEx all provide an extended warranty for free that usually doubles the warranty up to an additional year and all you have to do is contact them and provide the required evidence and they either pay for the repair or replacement of the unit.

2) I've had good luck contacting the President's office of the company whose product has failed just outside of warranty and gotten them to take care of the problem at no charge. It's worth a call. When an HP failed about 10 years ago I talked to the president's assistant and he sent me a brand new computer; when my air cleaner died they sent me a new one too, and both had just passed warranty.

Sophie said...

Just this afternoon I decided to go visit an apple store. The first time I have come close to an Apple. I let some guy show me how it all worked. And I am very impressed. I know the spec of an apple (I was shown the IMac) seems less than a pc, but it seems it all works differently so it is hard to compare. I thought the Imac was very fast, looked good and I quite liked Iphoto (although would need more like Photoshop or something). I am seriously considering making the swap to a mac! Would a mac not die after 5 years...?

Kimberly Kelly Santini said...

I had Windows machines, and invariably ended up replacing harddrives, upgrading RAM cards and doing something major to them each year in order to handle the demands of the more complex software (like Adobe Creative Suite) that I used in the studio. On top of this I dealt regularly with file corruption, system crashes, and viruses despite having virus protection. I bought a mac 18 months ago and I wish I had done so sooner. The machine does what it is supposed to, is not finicky, the operating system is stable, and the occasional problems encountered are intuitively solved. AppleCare is A+, as are the Apple store staff who genuinely want to know how I am using my Mac(s) - now I have two - and suggest ways in which I can improve my processes. Yes, a Mac costs more out of pocket - but the savings in lost time and frustration levels and increased productivity are enormous! I will never go back to Windows.

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