Mac vs. PC… Does my sister have a point?

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

It was the end of the week, my class was winding down, and my friend Peter Wolchak was baiting me into another ‘PC versus Mac’ debate on Facebook.  All in all, nothing all that unusual about it… until one of the most unexpected things happened.  My sister chimed in on the Mac side.

Oh brother of mine, who I do love dearly, Mitch Garvis, shall I remind you that I can get an extra 2-3 years out of my macs for every PC I replace for Ron or work or Mom? More expensive? I don’t think so…

Jennifer has been a Mac person for as long as I can remember… and while she and I do not subscribe to the same school of thought I do respect her right to that opinion.  However to hear her chime in on the side of ‘Macs are less expensive than PCs’ surprised me… I thought she was smarter than that!

Of course, she does make an interesting point.  Mac users do seem to keep their Macs longer than PC users keep their PCs.  I started to think about some of the reasons for that.

Here is a list I came up with.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this but remember: ‘Because they are better’ is not a legitimate argument.  I want to know why you think they are better!

  1. First and foremost let’s be honest: Apple makes a great machine.  I would be lying if I said otherwise.  Is their hardware better than all PCs? No.  Is it better than the vast majority? Yes! PC makers have to step up to the plate if they are going to compete, and models like the HP Envy and the Samsung Slate 7 are incredible, but they are a small minority in the field.
  2. Apply OS X requires less maintenance than Windows does, but with the majority of PCs (or close to them) still running Windows XP and Windows Vista, there is no doubt that OS X is easier.  Windows 8 will be even easier than Windows 7, but the legacy OSes… yeah, they were tougher.
  3. Apple wants people to fall in love with their macs (and iPads, and iPods, and iPhones…).  Microsoft and PC makers want you to use theirs.
  4. Apple controls the gamut, from the OS to the hardware and, in the case of iDevices, the applications as well.  There are fewer cooks in the kitchen as it were – fewer sets of hardware enabling drivers to worry about.  Microsoft (until the Surface devices come out) work on a different model, and anyone can make a compatible device, then program the drivers badly.  Hence they are quicker to crash, no doubt.  Does this mean that Macs don’t crash? HELL NO.  They just, as the great video by Hunter Cressall (sp?) states, they just Crash Different.
  5. You get what you pay for, even in the PC world.  You can buy a cheap, consumer-grade PC laptop for $399 (or less).  They will probably not last as long as the higher-end consumer or corporate ones.  My mother’s HP Pavillion is very nice, but it is indeed her third PC in five years (For the record her previous laptops worked just fine, she just wanted new PCs).  While I do go through a new higher-end laptops every few months, I also have many of the older ones – dating back to the Dell XPS M1530 which I got in 2007, and despite some physical issues (cracked case, etc…) that are easily fixed is still going strong.  Frankly I wish I still had my Acer Ferrari laptop which I got in 2005, and I am sure would still be working perfectly today!  All of this to say that if you buy a Mac for $1300 versus a PC for $500 you can replace the PC halfway through the life of the Mac, and still get a better ROI.  When you buy a pricier laptop (my HP Envy (base model without all of the fancy upgrades) would have cost the same as the Mac, and would last just as long.

I have gotten off track a little, but I do not want to sound defensive.  I am glad though that PC makers are starting to make ‘sexier’ machines.  The two that stand out in my mind are the Samsung Series 7 (I got to play with the newest model in Redmond last month and it was SWEET… slimmer than a MacBook Air and less expensive) and the Dell XPS 13 (which I have seen but not played with).  I have it on good authority that PC makers will be releasing a truly new line of laptops when Windows 8 releases, unlike the unimpressive refresh from the Windows 7 launch.

Also Microsoft has put the PC makers on notice with the announcement of the Microsoft Surface Tablets.  As a lot of writers and bloggers have pointed out, Microsoft is telling OEMs ‘Hey, if you want us to compete with Apple then you have to wow them… and THIS is how you do it!’  These next-generation tablets will have something going for them that the iPad and MacBook do not: they will run the same operating system and same applications on the tablet as they do on the desktop and laptop.  Hopefully the PC makers like HP, Dell, Lenovo, and the rest will take their cue and step up to the plate, just like Samsung did recently with the Slate Series 9.

I want to hear your thoughts though… do you prefer Mac or PC, and why? Let me know in the comments section, and I will give out prizes for insightful answers.  Yes, I will even try to dig up a couple of Mac prizes!


9 responses to “Mac vs. PC… Does my sister have a point?”

  1. I see the issue in the same light. Although having serviced mostly Intel based business, I also have had my share of Mac shops along the way. As for myself, I build my own box, i7-990X, 24G ram, 1G PCIe, so as to get the performance, quality and lifecycle I desire. Laptop, I use a Toshiba Qosmio X500 for mobile but semi permanent jobs and Dell XPS L502X for portability. Both are i7’s w/8G ram and expect years of good service. You get what you pay for no matter what, life can only get easier when working and living from one eco-system.

  2. Very early in my PC computer career, I learned that it is better to spend the extra money and to buy top of the line. I am currently using a Dell Latitude D600 with Windows 7 Ultimate installed on it. Yes, response time is slower because it just has 1 GB RAM.

    Whenever I buy a new computer, I always get the maximum amount of RAM, which is more important than getting the maximum Mhz in terms of speed. I just built a new AMD desktop with 16 GB RAM.

    I was having a lot of problems with not being able to power on until my tech support guy discovered that my cracked case was the problem. He replaced the case, and it is back to running like a champ.

    This laptop is twelve years old. Why is this laptop still performing? I believe that reliability is the result of Dell’s superior engineering at the time and it used top of the line computer components. To date, I have not had to replace a single component other than the battery.

    However, I do not think that Dell still delivers top of the line engineering, so if I were to purchase a new laptop, then I would look at Lenovo’s top of the line laptops or at a MacPro.

  3. But in all likelihood, I would purchase a top of the line Lenovo laptop with all the latest bells and whistles.

  4. You’re right, Mitch!

    But, remember PCs come in two flavours – consumer-grade and business-class. In my experience, business PCs and laptops from tier-one vendors tend to be constructed more robustly and go through more rigourous pre-distribution testing than their consumer counterparts (the ones you purchase at BestBuy, Future Shop, etc.).

    That’s why business PCs and laptops usually include standard 3-year warranties. In a secure, well-managed infrastucture environment ;-), these devices will withstand a lot of use and abuse and can endure for 5 years or longer.

    On the other hand, Macs are really “high end consumer devices” that are “set pieces”. I know one individual whose attempts to soup up his MacBook Pro with maxed-out memory, capability to dual-boot into Windows Server OS and solid-state drives cost him multiple trips to the repair shop and well-north of mid-4 figure dollars. My HP EliteBook 8760w with an identical feature set, cost me less than half the amount he has forked out.

    Macs are fine for those who are willing to pay the Apple “Brand Tax” and who are content to use them within the constraints defined by the Apple eco-system. I prefer the flexibilty offered by being able to customize a business-class PC device to order, manage it on a network and know it will last me just as long as the equivalent Mac – at a much lower cost.

    My thoughts for what it’s worth!

  5. One of the biggest things for me is peace of mind and easiness… I love the fact that if I wanted to upgrade my computer to a new operating system, I don’t lose a thing! It automatically applies the update and I don’t lose any of my settings or things. Soooo easy! Very user friendly. I also love the fact that I have a time capsule, and it automatically backs everything up. I don’t ever worry about virus’s either. I have had my imac a year and a half and it works just as well as the day I took it out of the box. I’d never go back to PC after this!!!

    1. Almost all of those are very valid points! Replies though:
      1) You DO have to worry about viruses, and the fact that Mac users think that they don’t makes them much more vulnerable.
      2) PC has SkyDrive (the equivalent of Time Capsule) which is new, and does have to be set up, but will do the same.
      3) For migration to a new OS there is a tool called Windows Easy Transfer that does the same thing…
      Having said all of that, if you are happy with your Mac stay there… unless you find a really good reason why you NEED to switch.

  6. … [Trackback]…

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  7. For those looking at a very in depth and objective view on this, check out my lens at –

    1. Alex I have read your lens and commented on it. I would love to read a similar piece on the Windows 8 comparison! -MDG

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