Whether To Buy A Desktop Mac or PC

My aging work PC is ready to move on to its retirement phase, browsing the big Internet in the sky. As a result, I’ve recently been pondering whether to buy a Mac or PC. Now, Mac enthusiasts are probably shouting “Mac! Mac!” while the Windows/PC supporters are saying, “why spend more for a Mac when you can get a quality PC for less money”.

What’s the dilemma, you say?  See, I normally buy Apple for the thoughtfulness that goes into the hardware design. I have a curvaceous MacBook Air that’s a joy to use, and it is well designed even down to the tiniest detail (except for the sharp edge on the aluminum body facing me).  If I’m buying a laptop or an all-in-one computer, I’d get a Mac primarily because of the hardware. The design is great, and it can run Windows if the need arises.  The operating system is a wash for me — Mac’s OS X advantage (for me) is its BSD roots, but Windows has enough other tools where any utility I need from OS X is available. Stability in Windows has been addressed, and from a technical perspective, Windows 7 is as of this writing, more secure than OS X. Windows 7 now even has a dock like OS X. It’s also nice, as a technologist, to be well-versed in the popular operating systems, and there’s nothing that will get a person quite as familiar with a piece of software than using it daily.

Desktop computers are another issue entirely.  Sure, Apple’s Mac Pro is a decent looking desktop computer, but I think it’s somewhat bland in appearance.  Apple doesn’t currently offer SSD hard drives either.  The Mac Pro does offer the option of 8 core computing via two quad core CPUs, one big advantage the Mac Pro has over other desktops I’ve seen from places like Velocity Micro, Alienware,  and Cyberpower that max out at a single quad core CPU.

In other words, the best I’ve seen from Apple has 7,200 RPM spinning-platter hard drives, but has eight CPU cores. The best I’ve seen in desktop PCs have SSDs, but only four cores. I want SSDs and eight cores.

What do you think is a good desktop computer?

5 thoughts on “Whether To Buy A Desktop Mac or PC”

  1. As the lead developer responsible for customer satisfaction with a popular web app, I think you should find a box that runs Windows 98 with IE6 and force yourself to make it work. 😉

  2. I get the impression that you really want an 8-core Mac Pro :-)
    If that’s the case, your best option is probably to buy a Mac Pro and install your own SSD (or SSDs). The only issue is that the Mac has 3.5″ drive bays and SSDs tend to be 2.5″, but this thing should solve that problem:
    http://www.icydock.com/product/mb882sp-1s-1.html
    You can always boot from the SSD and use the disk that comes with the Mac to store your iTunes library or whatever is big and not performance critical.

  3. @Michael — that’s almost the PC I have now! 😉

    @Andrew — I’m more interested in 8 cores than the Mac Pro, but thanks for the drive tip. If I do buy a Mac, I might just build it myself. I am very surprised that the best hard drive Apple currently offers in the Mac Pro is 7,200 RPM. After all, my 4 year old PC has four 10,000 RPM drives.

    Someone else let me know this morning that HP builds 8 core workstations and have SSD drives as an option, so I’m going to look at that as well. The hunt continues!

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