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Apple vs. PC - What's the Difference?

Updated on January 17, 2017
CreeViking profile image

Robin Olsen holds a B.Sc In Computer Systems and has over 20 years of IT Experience.

Computers of today are streamlined and slick space savers compared to the old days
Computers of today are streamlined and slick space savers compared to the old days

Does the marketing confuse you? Apple or PC? We hear a lot from the TV commercials about the differences between a Mac and a PC but how much of it is real? I would like to take this time to point out the 'differences' between a Mac and a PC. In the end what type of computer you purchase is up to you, but knowing what each machine has to offer is always a bonus.

As far as hardware goes, there is no difference between a PC and a MAC anymore. Macs and PCs both use Intel processors, Seagate hard drives, etc and (I have actually done this myself) I can wipe a mac hard drive and reformat as a Microsoft machine and voila. MAC = PC.

Even so there are differences between how the hardware performs between Macs and PCs but despite the marketing hype, these are not positive differences from the MAC perspective.Let me give you some of my experiences as a PC repair technician.

Yup, they never get along do they?
Yup, they never get along do they?

Did you know that Computer hardware is virtually the same regardless of what platform you run on it?

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The Hardware

MAC Laptops: I fixed these for a year - constantly over heat - severe in some cases - this is due to the exact same technology as you find in Dells and Toshiba's being crammed into a laptop case half the appropriate size for it so that apple can claim to have the thinnest notebook around. The problem is cooling is lacking in the MAC laptops due to reduced space - this leads to overheating. I once had a report of an escape key at 198 degrees. The technology simply isn't made to be crammed into that thin laptop case. We did warranty work for Futureshop so we got technology of all makes and types in for repairs. PC laptops were by far more robust and have far less technical issues, they are usually thicker and slightly heavier than MAC laptops.

MAC and PC Desktops - Actually pretty good to be honest, never had to fix many of these at all, either MAC or PC, they just seem to be more robust than laptops are as a rule.

The constant battle for supremacy
The constant battle for supremacy

The Software

So, if the hardware is relatively the same, except in how it is used, then it must be the software right? Not so much anymore.

MAC is built on a Unix back end since OS 10 so don't be fooled by the 'cannot be hacked' and 'has no viruses' claim. Norton actually produces an anti-virus software package for MAC machines. Kinda strange that symantec, a company known for it's smart business decisions, would divert development resources to build an anti-virus program for a platform with no viruses isn't it? And unix machines are hackable and have been hacked many times in the past and MAC is built on a unix back end so ...

Don't be fooled by the marketing types either, the unix MAC is built on is not some super unix that only apple has that can never be hacked, that's just apple nonsense. It is regular Unix same as anyone else who uses unix has.

Macs also tend to exagerate the abilities of the operating system. Here is a listing of some of the illusions regarding Mac software.

1) No patching - I turned on a MAC laptop fresh out of the box and it spent the first hour and 45 minutes of it's life with me updating itself over the net ... PATCHING! so much for no patching this is a COMPLETELY false claim.

2) Plug and play - one of the commercials I have seen for Apple states that you can just plug any hardware in and it will work, you do not need to download drivers or anything, just plug and play. It portrays a PC user as someone who must spend hours and hours updating the software so his new hardware works right. In my experience there is no difference between the plug and play capabilities of a MAC vs a PC machine. This stated difference is a marketing gimic and it is false.

3) No viruses - and yet you can buy anti-virus software for a machine with no viruses. Think about it. MAC is built on a unix back end - is unix immune to viruses? - no they are not and neither is a MAC. The reason why MAC machines have less viruses is because they have way less of the market share of computer users.

Consider: When a malicous software developer makes a damaging piece of software he is not going to target a system used by virtually no business anywhere (as MACS cannot run database software like Oracle and MS SQL Server) and used by very few individuals (due mostly to outrageous price tags) when they can write one that targets business and will cause a real ruckus when it gets lose and potentially impact a billion computer users.

4) MACS don't crash - yes they do and just as often as PCs do, I find this claim to be a funny one

And since Windows 7 I would have to say that the interface capabilities of both platforms have drawn about equal now.

Are Support options after purchase important enough to pay a higher price for?

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Support maybe?

So, then, if the hardware is virtually the same and the software operates no better than a Windows machine does then the difference must be in the service right? Perhaps Macs have better warranties?

Not really, I can go to a Acer website and download whatever driver I need for whatever ACER machine I happen to own, even old ones. I can review service manuals, join technical chat forums and ask questions and get answers directly relating to my machine and it's inner workings. I can do this also at Toshiba and HP and even at Dell to a limited extent.

Not at an apple site - In order to get detailed technical information about the computer I paid for and own I must be a certified apple technician and must have a log in name and password to access even the most basic of technical information about my piece of hardware that was purchased and is MINE!

During the process of becoming a certified apple technician you are warned over and over again to NOT reveal any information relating to past problems any particular unit may have had or any defects that may have been detected after design and construction of the unit (such as the laptop cases being too thin to allow for proper heat circulation)

I was not supposed to inform the customer of the exact specifics of the repair work I was doing. For instance I could not say 'I replaced the LCD panel in your display screen as it was defective' - instead I had to state simply that I repaired your display screen.

Even though on the inside of a MAC the hardware is exactly the same as the hardware on a PC laptop you are not allowed to order any apple parts from anyone other than apple. Apple assigns their own inventory numbers to these parts and so even having the original inventory number (such as the one Seagate would assign to a hard drive it constructed) would not help you find any part at apple.

So, in conclusion, there is no longer any real difference between MAC and PC except for the price tag which is massively outrageous as far as the MACs are concerned.

© 2012 Robin Olsen

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    • profile image

      Maximilian 3 years ago

      Sorry, but my MacBook Pro is NOT a cosmetic product, thank you very much. 

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 3 years ago from Rural Canada

      Actually, it is, but that's OK if you love your Mac then go ahead and pay more for it. Just remember there is not a single thing you can do on your Mac that a PC user could not do.

    • citywolf profile image

      Sarah Wolfe 3 years ago from Oregon

      I understand what you're getting at. I think a lot of it comes down to what interface you prefer and what you use your Mac or PC for and what model (mac) model/brand PC. People get pretty personal about their tech products. I love using mac products, but I'm willing to admit that it's a personal preference. In ten years the Mac vs PC debate is going to see hilarious. We will all be using computers that have yet to be developed.

    • CreeViking profile image
      Author

      Robin Olsen 3 years ago from Rural Canada

      Very true citywolf - thanks for the read! As a full blown techie type person I get pretty personal too with my tech. I actually do not run Microsoft or Macs that much. I own a couple of PCs and 1 mac. I have some servers in my house (2 of them - older machines) but both of them are running a product called 'Trisquel' - A product advertised by the 'Free Software Foundation'.

    • profile image

      Ernest Dean Harris 3 years ago

      Great article and informative about Mac's and PC running the Microsoft System.

      However as far as I am concerned Apple Mac for me is the greatest computer ever made. How you ask? Well for many years I have worked with the PC running different versions of Windows. At the same time I sometimes fix computers up for friends. Most are PC with Microsoft Windows.

      Sometimes someone will call to tell me his or her Apple Mac computer has a problem. So it is my great pleasure to tell them I know nothing about Mac computers.

      That way I do not have to put up with some freeloader who only wants a free ride whose computer usually reeks of stale tobacco smoke and has either corrupted system or hardware problems. So yes I hope people buy an Apple Mac that way less work for me.

      Long live apple Mac computers. One less pain for me!

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 3 years ago from Rural Canada

      Interesting approach to discouraging freeloaders. I know what you are referring to there for sure, I get that all the time. It is pretty easy to spot too as the only time these types phone you is when they need repairs.

      My approach is to charge double what the store they bought their computer from would charge. So 'Staples' (for example) charges 80/hour to do maintenance and anti-virus stuff, I can do it for 160/hour - this usually sends the correct message as well.

      thanks for the read!

    • profile image

      Hole 3 years ago

      I used to use PC and for the last 8 years been using Mac and now I have a mac and a PC , a PC that's only about 300 euros less than the mac and I can guarantee that there a massive difference when using them. The hardware might not be so different but the operating system and usability definitely is, and so are the graphics. My mAc is 5 years only, the PC is 1 year old and the PC is way slower than my mac, the mac is much easier to use, much more intuitive, movies on the mac have much better definition and colour. I also happen to have other 2 PCs in the house that don't belong to me and when I use them I straight away notice a massive difference on the time is takes to load the softwares and perform the tasks. I'm pretty sure you can find awesome PC computers but whilst the cheapest mac, which you can get for less than 1000 euros performs very well other PCs around the same price or more expensive don't. When you are getting a mac you know what you are getting whilst with pcs there are so many brands that built them that is hard to know which one will be the best and if you are getting a cheap one will actually be worthy it. Plus for someone like me that uses the mac for video and audio editing there is such a massive difference in the graphic cards even the cheapest mac beats a much more expensive pc. Having said that there are awesome pcs around but you would have to know which ones and look really careful if you don't know much about computers. So when people say that there is no much difference about mac and computer find that hard to believe. Mac really wins on usability and design comparing to most pcs, I think that is why they thrive in comparison to pcs.

    • CreeViking profile image
      Author

      Robin Olsen 3 years ago from Rural Canada

      The 'cheapest' mac here is almost 3000 dollars. the cheapest PC is 400 or so.

      Also, to not confuse other readers. Macs and PCs have to be equivalent machines in order for the test to make sense. Testing a new Mac running Mavericks vs a PC running Vista is like comparing Apples to Oranges (no pun intended). Also, testing a high end Mac vs. a bottom of the line PC is also invalid.

      Are you video editing with built in Mac tools? Probably not, I imagine you have a third party tool for this. The most popular here is Adobe Creative Studio. This product ships on both platforms and actually performs better on a PC due to the nature of Mac Operating systems and the business relationship between Adobe and Apple.

      Regardless of which platform you are talking about, Video and audio editing with only the tools that ship with the respective OS is quite tedious.

      Thanks for the comment

    • newbizmau profile image

      Guided Abundance 20 months ago from Mobile, AL

      I read this! Still a Mac Fan.

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