Deep thoughts about Macs and PCs

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by dwd3885, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. dwd3885 macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    Bare with me through this post if you can, your comments will mean a lot.

    I have posted here before asking about iBooks, PowerBooks, etc. But alas, I got a laptop for Christmas--it was a widescreen Gateway 3520GZ from Best Buy. That's great and all, I have an HP desktop that's a year old. So my Mac switch will have to wait until another 2-3 years probably, unless I feel the need to buy another desktop or laptop before my current ones are done with.

    Let me give you some background: I've been thinking about switching to a Mac for about 2-3 months. I'm a computer nerd, been building a few Windows desktops before. I'm a pc gamer who has the latest graphics card and all that jazz. I'm a college student who is majoring in Communication and Political Science but am wanting to get a Digital Media Certificate. That probably doesn't matter because by the time I get my next computer I'll be out of college (hopefully!)

    So I'm back and forth on switching. Let me give you some concerns on each side:

    1. Gaming- I game on my pc, mostly sports games (NBA Live, Madden, MVP Baseball) with the occasional Vice City. I don't think those games are offered on the Mac. I know I could go ahead and suck it up and get an Xbox or Playstation, we'll see. Another thing is what the heck am I supposed to do with a good graphics card on the Mac if I can't game??
    2. Price- I can build my own computer with great specs and have it cost less than $1000. I'm thinking a comparable Mac would be the Single Proc. G5, but even that's more expensive and comes with lousy RAM installed. And upgrading RAM imediately would add more money to the purchase.
    3. Upgrades- I love upgrading my PC. My concern is if I could do that on a Mac. I think I can on the PowerMacs. iMacs are out of the question for this and just the fact that I don't want an all-in-one machine.

    1. I've used Macs at work and love the OS. I can skin my Windows machine pretty nice (like I have now), but it's just not the way it's supposed to look, hogs some system resources, etc. And the Mac OS isn't just about look, but it seems to run a heck of a lot smoother than Windows XP.
    2. Though I have Ad-Aware, Symantec Anti-Virus, which are both free for me since I'm a student, it would be nice not having to worry about any of that at all.

    So there you have it. I'm not a HARDCORE gamer, I'm not a Digital Media NUT, I would probably classify myself as a lover of Computer hardware. I've read about as many Mac vs PC stuff as can be, I'm still as stuck as ever. It's been weighing on my mind everyday! I know, I need to get a life. I think my main concern is price above all else, maybe by the time I get my next comp, I could get a PowerMac for around $1100.

    Thanks for reading my post, I have always appreciated everyone on here's fast and knowledgeable responses to everything.

  2. lordmac macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2004
    Santa Cruz, CA

    Hmm well I think that your best option here is (if you want to get a mac that is) to either return the gateway you got or wait tell your done with it and ready to replace it and buy an apple laptop and then build a pc desktop. I say this because you can't nearly upgrade the amount of stuff on macs that you can on pc's (except the powermacs for the most part). If you were to get an apple laptop which or more or less similar in price and what you can upgrade on them to there pc counter parts. This way you still have a pc for gaming and a mac to do a bit of video/picture/music editing sort of thing and just to experience having a mac. So what you could do is buy an ibook for $900 with edu I think upgrade the ram a little bit for another 100-200$ right. Then with another 800-1000$ build a nice pc. Also I would highly recommend a kvm switch and a nice monitor to go with that potential set-up. Grand total for all of that would be around $2000- $2200 im thinking which is about the price of a mid range powermac. I really do hope you get a mac , Mac OS X just being on computer doing what ever seem so much nicer and you never really have to think about what you need to do to do the what ever on the computer you just think about whatever it is you want to do on the computer. (I hope that made sense) :)
    Hope this helps. :)
  3. morkintosh macrumors regular

    Nov 25, 2003
    Switching isn't an easy thing, I finally did it when I was allowed to choose my own laptop at a new job and figured that I'd try a mac on someone elses dime. That was 2 years ago and I won't ever own another PC. It works for me because I am a programmer and the OS combined with hardware speed is the most important. (Frankly I can sacrifice some speed for an efficient environment in which to work ala the OS). I could care less about swapping out the hardware and doing major upgrades beyond RAM. It sounds to me like you, on the other hand, really enjoy the hardware side. I'll be frank, playing with hardware isn't the same on a Mac. Before I switched I'd built my last 4 PCs and hated it (I did it because I was cheap), I don't consider doing any upgrading beyond adding more RAM or maybe a new HD. The problem with anything more on the mac is that you are pretty limited. There are some, but not nearly the variety, video cards that you could throw in. But that is about it, so even if you get a Power Mac that can be upgraded you don't have the plethora of hardware options that you would on a PC (i.e. making it fun to do the upgrade). From what I understand, most macs are really built to last for 3 - 5 years rather than a 1 - 2 year PC, and so upgrading isn't as much of a concern, just replacing the computer is what ends up happening. I have read of many different mods that you can do (like all of the cube nuts do to make the old G4 cube mac more up-to-date) I don't know anything about that so can't really speak to the possibility of non-apple approved updates.

    My advice to you would be keep the PC and consider buying an older mac (or the rumored headless mac if it comes out next week) to use as a media computer / file server. It will give you an Mac OS box to mess around with at a more affordable price and leave you a PC for your work / upgrading.

    Just my two cents.
  4. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Well, you certainly raise some valid concerns. I'd say the PowerMac is the only option for you, but you have to understand that sheer economies of scale define the pricing structure of Macs. Apple sells far fewer Macs than the overall Wintel PC industriy sells x86 hardware, and though a lot of their internal components are standard (SATA, Firewire, USB, DDR SDRAM, etc.), their logic boards are custom, their processors are produced in fewer number, and their machines' cases are all custom designed (for lots of R&D money I might add). Therefore, for Apple to make a profit, they must price their boxes higher than what you can build from commodity PC parts. It's just a reality of the situation, so the only thing I can recommend is "wait longer to save more money."

    Or, you could do what I've done—Apple portable (15" PowerBook in my case) for pretty much everything, PC tower for games/XviD-encoding/weird video stuff that the Mac doesn't do due to lack of obscure tools. Then again, that's a pretty expensive proposition, but iBooks are pretty good deals. If you really want a "powerful" Mac you can upgrade, you'll have to get a PowerMac. Then again, if you like gaming, what are you doing with PC laptops instead of desktops?

    Anyway, good luck and remember that the reward is worth the work necessary to save up for Apple kit—MacOS X is definitely worth the price of entry.
  5. jesuscandle macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2003
    Boston, MA
    My 2 cents:

    I was a computer support technician all through high school and college. Many a pizza was afforded with the reasonably high wage it brought in. I was never at the very highest levels, but I could help folks with their networking and moderate hardware issues.

    I used to be an expert at Windows (this was mostly 98 and 98SE) and eventually rose to be the top Mac expert on our team, although that was more due to lack of mac-people than anything else.

    I got an iBook last year mostly because I loved the way OS X worked and I thought they looked cool. I was surprised to learn that I've basically forgotten everything I knew about "fixing" computers.

    Why? Because my mac never breaks.

    To me, that's their biggest selling point. You won't wake up one day to find your mac displaying an indecipherable error message or your favorite programs suddenly needed to be reinstalled. I'm not saying that never happens, but it hasn't happened to me.

    All of the sudden, using my computer became more about USING MY COMPUTER instead of trying to constantly fiddle with it. I got an ipod and tripped out an a dizzying array of music. I started a blog that is now a great project for me. I got into RSS and now read things I never would have before. I always have like 9 tabs open on safari. Just tonight, I made my first ever song on GarageBand.

    Now, my "computer" hobby is about trying new software and being confident that it won't junk up my system or carry unwanted programs. Deleting it is as simple as...well...deleting it. If the new software does something I like, I keep it. And don't worry about conflicts. I just worry about doing something fun, interesting, productive or cool. It's a brave new world.

    That's why I use a Mac.
  6. cb911 macrumors 601


    Mar 12, 2002
    BrisVegas, Australia
    i would have to say... that if you really enjoy tweaking PC's etc - then maybe you should just keep one? there's no rule that says you can only have one or the other. in fact in my house my PB is outnumbered to PC's 1 to 5.

    if it's mostly price you're worried about, just remember - you get what you pay for. ;) i'm sure you'd be happy with the PowerMac. hey if you haven't seen one in person yet, get into an Apple store and have a look. :) sure you can upgrade the video card but from what i've seen the tendancy is just to upgrade the whole system.
  7. dwd3885 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    I guess I've never really thought about using both. My thinking is that I don't need more than 1 desktop and laptop at a time, I don't have the money for that either, yet. What about the new headless iMacs that might be coming out? But when I'm on a Mac at work, it's great, even though it's just an 800mhz, 256RAM iMac.
  8. jim. macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2004
    C-ville, VA
    It looks to me that you would be giving up most of what you consider valuable to your computing experience if you bought a Mac. You have to ask yourself if it is worth it. Of course what you consider valuable could drastically change once you own a Mac, so it is a two-edged sword :D .

    It seems to me that you are a PC person, and, despite what the tone may be sometimes on this site, that isn't a bad thing. Besides with a Mac at work, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds, right?

    Personally, I say keep what works for you and gives you the value you want.

    Just my .02 (rapidly losing value in the rest of the world)

  9. MacAztec macrumors 68040


    Oct 28, 2001
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    Heres the best thing, its what I did:

    Have a nice little cheap PC at home for games. Use it for only games, no email or anything like that.

    Buy a nice mac laptop. I believe the true mac experience is on a laptop. Long battery lifes, great design, no bugs, no problems, etc.

    That combo is the way to go.
  10. cmvsm macrumors 6502a


    Nov 12, 2004
    I was in your same boat..i.e. enjoying building PC's from the ground, upgrading, and all that jazz. I am even an avid gamer from time to time when I'm not busy. However, I did make the switch and am glad that I did as my computing experience is much easier and relaxing with OS X. Gone are the days of viruses and that damn adware that seem to be lurking around every internet corner. OS X is much nicer to look at as well. And the G5...well, its completely awesome.

    Why don't you just invest in an Apple and buy an XBox or PS2 for your gaming needs. In reality, PC's aren't suited as well to games as the game boxes are, and you can hook it up to your big screen tv! :D
  11. eclipse525 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 5, 2003
    USA, New York
    Ummm... there's no such thing as a "Cheap Little PC" for gaming. At least if you want a good gaming experience. Especially with games, you either want a kick ass system or don't bother.

    I agree with a previous post, do what works for you. By the sound of it, the PC is what works best for you. Trust me, that's not a bad thing. Especially, if you like tinkering and gaming. You do get the most for your money. In YOUR case, having a Mac is more of a Luxury than a practical need.

  12. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    Well, I could build a PC that costs $700, that can agruably be called a "kick ass gaming system". And that's pretty damn cheap. Maybe it won't be playing Doom 3 at the absolute maximum settings at a sustained 60 fps, but you don't NEED that kind of "maximum-ness" to enjoy PC gaming. So a "cheap little PC" is definitely a viable gaming system if 1) you built it, and 2) you know what you're doing.

    Now, if you think $700 is worth it for what is essentially a glorified game console, is a whole other discussion.
  13. dwd3885 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    it seems like the best option would be to buy a gaming console, have a pc desktop and a mac laptop?

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