Soon-to-be College Student, PC->MAC switch

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Devarien, May 12, 2005.

  1. Devarien macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2005
    I've been a PC user my entire life (minus DOS, which doesn't count because DOS bites) and have never really had a lot of exposure to Macs. However, since I'm going to college soon, I looked into my computing options and started considering Macs. Having seen a lot of things that seem to make Macs far superior to PCs, I have only a few questions I'd like answered.

    1) PC's slow down within a year (as we speak, I'm on a 3.4GHz/1Gb RAM HP Laptop, just bought it last August, that chugs along like it was 2.0GHz or worse). Do Macs slow down like this?

    2) PC's tend to crash - A LOT - and then everything runs slower until a reboot, and nothing ever quite works the same. Macs are legendary for crashing less. Any comments?

    3) Compatibility issues:
    a) Just to make sure, I can still connect to my college (MIT) network without any problem, and share files with everyone without them getting some compatibility issue on transferring Mac files -> PC.
    b) A Mac/PC owning friend told me that Mac file system (HFS+) can read anything Windows puts out (NTFS/FAT32), but sometimes Windows can't read HFS+ files. Exactly WHAT kind of files can't Windows read, and how common is this problem?
    c) How many IMPORTANT programs won't be available to me on Mac? (I consider important programs to be MS Office, Mathematica, DivX players, etc. I know Macs have all these, but just to give you an idea of what I consider important)

    4) I'm a casual gamer, but I already posted in the gamer section of macrumors forums. Any gamers in here that want to comment, please do!

    That's pretty much it. I need a good, stable computer that I can work on reliably, that will be compatible with 95% of the world without me being shoved to the wayside because of problems connecting, and that I can game on when the workload is small.

  2. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    I haven't had that kind of slowdown in the 1.25+ years I've had my iMac. It pretty much runs at the same speed no matter what I throw at it.

    There are two reasons why Macs crash less:
    1. Mac OS X's UNIX foundation makes Mac OS X inherently stable, since UNIX has been tested and used for several decades.
    2. Macs generally have less third-party hardware to deal with that the Mac OS doesn't like for whatever reason. This is true not only of the stuff inside a Mac, but also of external accessories.

    HFS (and its successor, HFS+) support multiple forks - something not found in any other file system. The most well known of these forks that causes problems is the resource fork. Basically, any Mac file that has both a resource fork and a data fork will fail to work correctly if it isn't flattened before sending to a non-Mac. Flattening is nothing more than merging the resource fork into the data fork - this can be done by creating a disk image of the file(s) (among other ways).

    I'm not much of a gamer - someone else will have to step in.
  3. sammyman macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2005
    What about registry issues. My PC registry gets screwed up pretty quickly because of all of the annoying programs. Is there a registry clean-up program for the mac? Do macs even use registries?
  4. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    Macs don't have any concept of a registry like what Windows has. Instead, each program has one or more preference files stored in a well-defined location (meant for all preference files). If one gets corrupt, all you need to do is delete it, then try running the affected application again.

    Mac OS X has a built-in tool to check the validity of .plist (Apple's preferred preference format) files. It must be used at the command prompt, however (called Terminal). There aren't very many cleanup tools for the Mac because, by and large, they simply aren't needed.
  5. gamestriker macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2004
    I'm also a soon to be college student and I got my Mac relatively recently for college. Let me hit each of your questions first, and I'll give you my recommendation.

    1) Mac do not slow down like Windows does. The only sort of "slow down" that I have encountered are those due just not having enough RAM (Tiger is a bit of a memory hog), which is readily available online for good prices. I plan to max my RAM out as soon as possible.

    2) Macs are not crashproof, but they don't crash very often. No where near as often as Windows PCs.

    a) Macs run on the latest Internet and Networking standards so it should connect fine at the MIT.
    b) The only files that I have seen that don't work on windows are the Mac executable files (.bin and .hqx). Macs can't run .exe and windows can't run .bin and .hqx. Thats all that I know of.
    c) I have found all important programs have a mac version. Otherwise, there is usually a mac equivalent that is usually better, and sometimes free.

    4) They should run ok with games, but it depends on what computer your using.

    My recommendation is that you should get a PowerBook. They are excellent, and should run games just fine, much better than an iBook. You want a laptop in college because you'll want to be able to take your laptop to class.
  6. JzzTrump22 macrumors 65816

    Apr 13, 2004
    New York
    1) Macs do not really slow down unless you run out of room on your hard drive, or you have a hidden program running somewhere in the background and you don't know about it. But it either way it can be fixed.

    2) Never had a mac crash on me. If they do it's not a big deal, you don't hear too many stories of people's macs crashing on them. It's kinda hard to do.

    3) You should be able to connect to your network/share files/etc, etc...

    4) Gaming is actually pretty good. Don't expect it to be as fast as gaming on a pc, but Macs can definately handle a fair share of games. I run very heavy FPS games like Doom 3 on the system in my sig.
  7. ITASOR macrumors 601


    Mar 20, 2005
    Oneida, NY
    I've witnessed the PC slow down many times and I hate it. I've had an iBook for 5 years straight with none of these slow downs. I would get a Mac just for that reason. Who wants to reformat every year?
  8. kainjow Moderator emeritus


    Jun 15, 2000
    Mac's can run most of the big games out there, just check out MacSoft Games, Aspyr, or the If you're not a hard core gamer, but you like to occasionally play some of the modern games out there, a Mac will do fine. However, games powered by Steam, such as Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike, and Day of Defeat aren't and most likely never will be available for the Mac, mostly because Valve Software doesn't want to port them over. It's perfectly possible for them to run on the Mac, it's just a business decision that's all that's needed, but I doubt it'll happen anytime soon.

    For all the basics, web browsing, email, instant messaging, word processing, etc, Mac's are 10x better. Why? Because no need for virus and spam protection. Those apps (i.e. Norton Internet Security) take up lots of RAM and CPU usage. They end up slowing down your computer, and cause more problems generally. But on the Mac you don't need that stuff. You can be free to download attachments (well mostly) and view web sites without having to worry about it (except you will still get pop ups, obviously).

    Mac's weak points are in business software, and other job-specific software. My school uses some pretty complex software I know isn't available for Mac in any way.

    If you're going into a degree that you know will require some specific software, you might be better of with a PC. If you know you won't need anything specific, the Mac will do fine. It's got everything you need.
  9. kainjow Moderator emeritus


    Jun 15, 2000
    Exactly :) Or how about every few months. All my PC friends who don't know a lot about their computers just end up reinstalling Windows everytime they can't fix their computer's problems.

    Only time this ever happens on the Mac is when people mix and match software from different OS versions (i.e. upgrade to 10.3.9 then upgrade to 10.4 and then downgrade without a full reformat). Never do that. Either upgrade and don't downgrade, or upgrade and completely wipe your drive before you downgrade. Saves everyone time and frustration :)
  10. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    If anything, Tiger made my 3-year-old iMac G4 faster. I'd call that pretty damn good.

    Restarting is good to do once in a while, but then again, my iMac has run for 54 days straight without a restart before... and my PowerBook often passes 7 days without a restart. Thank you Apple for Sleep mode that works!

    IMO it is easier to go between Mac and PC than Windows XP/2000 and 98/95. :D And yeah, its friggin simple to connect to networks with a Mac.

    Macs can read anything, but cannot write to NTFS. FAT32 is a bit more compatible however, in terms of USB flash drives, etc. Windows can only read/write NTFS, FAT32, FAT16, and FAT12. Macs can read all of those (and write to them all but NTFS) as well as HFS (Mac format), HFS+ (Mac format extended), UFS (UNIX format), and new in Tiger, HFSX which is case-sensitive HFS+. There are also Journaled versions of HFS+ and HFSX.

    VLC will play a lot of things, ffmpegX will convert them, Quicktime does a lot of stuff too... MS Office is also for that Mac... there is always an app to do what you want. Free/share ware is better on the Mac than the PC, too. :D

    With 64MB of VRAM, most things run decently. Not the greatest, but not crap either.

    What are you waiting for!? And if you are a programmer, you will love Xcode! :D

    No registry. To install, drag n' drop. To uninstall, repeat.. but to the trash can. :)
  11. ifjake macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2004
    1. you won't experience any slowdown. my 1 Ghz Powerbook actually runs smoother than my 2.4 P4 Dell. a lot of this is due to software. keeping the OS up to date really gives my computer a nice lift. jaguar to panther to tiger has seen my mac running in tip top shape.

    2. macs very extremely seldom ever crash entirely. you'll experience the occational "this application has suddenly quit" but this only really happens with safari. but system crashes never happen to me anymore.

    3. i've had issues with file systems before with my thumbdrive. one time i decided to reformat it for some stupid reason and it no longer worked in windows. i'm guessing i could just reformat it in windows or reload it from the CD or something to make it work again but i haven't really needed to. the labs at my school always have at least a pair of macs on hand. i can't imagine there be any important programs that wouldn't have some kind of counterpart on the mac.

    4. gaming for me suck but only because my mac is so old. (unreal 2003 is about as good as it gets). i guess it's not that bad. it'll be better for you since your computer will be new. games are the one thing that my P4 Dell can do better than my mac.

    one warning to you: get AppleCare. it's what they call their extended warrantee program that you have to purchase. if you get a laptop it is a must. i have nothing but good things to say about Apple software, but from my personal experiences, their hardware is no where near on par with their software. it's really just my particular machine that has had kronic hardware problems, but i can't conciously recommend Apple machines to anyone without saying that if you have any problems, and that's a substantially large if, it's probably going to be hardware related and you will probably have to send your machine away. their services is great and it takes like 3 days (it's amazing really), but hopefully your machine won't behave as badly as mine has. you really should be alright. don't mean to scare you away.

Share This Page