iPC

Alright so I thought it would be fun to impartially compare my iMac running Snow Leopard with my PC running Windows 7. I thought it would be even more fun if I did this without any fanboy bias interfering with my comparison.

So I went out and bought a $1500 iMac.

Okay, well, that’s not true. I did buy one, but I didn’t buy it for this silly comparative review. That would be ridiculous. I don’t care about these blogs that much. But I did buy an iMac and I do have an iMac so thought, hey – why not compare it with my PC to see which is better?

Now, I’m going into this with a huge preference for Windows 7. I’m also going into this with my PC being the machine that I use most, while having a Laptop that also runs Windows 7. But despite all of this I do not dislike OS X. I’m not one to look down at a person for preferring Macs or for being Apple fanboys (not anymore than I would someone for being a Windows fanboy, anyway) and so I’m hoping to consider and judge both objectively. And so we begin.

The Machines.

First I think we need to talk about my PC. My PC was $1500 including the screen two Junes ago. A little less, in fact. But this was a top tier keyboard/mouse, nifty speakers, a 22 inch screen and a tablet on top of a computer. The computer itself was about a grand, including Windows Vista Home. Since then I’ve upgraded to Windows 7, and had a much better experience for it. I should point out that the PC is clone: I built it. It was not a Dell or anything like that.

The guts of the PC are pretty standard: 500GB hdd with 4GB of RAM. The Video Card is below top standard, but more than enough to pump out Aero. It’s not a Gaming PC so I don’t care very much for the graphics card. It’s there (edit: I checked and it’s an NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT) so whatever. There’s a Gigabyte Motherboard in there sporting an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz/2.67GHz processor. I’m basically telling you what the Windows Control Panel tells me, because I may have built the bugger but my memory and understanding of the specs can be hazy at times.

The iMac sits on a 500GB harddrive, with 4GB of RAM and a whatever video card. I think they might be sporting different NVidia cards. The iMac set me back $1500~ish and runs an Intel Core 2 Duo 3.01 GHz processor. The screen is half an inch smaller than the Asus I bought for the PC.

The specs don’t look all too different. I’m pretty sure the Mac hits a better a video card (edit: I checked and it’s a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M), but otherwise it doesn’t look necessarily better – considering I paid much the same price for it a year and a half later, I don’t like that my PC can compete with the Mac for specs. It strikes me as disproportionate. Macs have a reputation for being overpriced and I’m doing nothing to deny that in this comparison.

I also want to mention that my PC has a TV Capture Card inside, another $80 included in its price tag that the iMac doesn’t mirror. It gives the PC more to do (as it becomes my TV and screen for the Ps3/360/Wii) and boosts its value a little. When building a Media Center, this is something very important to keep in mind.

In terms of aesthetic and space. the Mac only has itself – the screen – and one cable. Plus the mouse and keyboard and plus the potential for an ethernet cable in the even such that a wireless access point is lacking. The PC is disparate from its screen, and speakers and everything else so basically has treble the amount of power cords and just a lot more cords in general. The iMac, as a machine, is very, very, pretty to the eye.

Points go as follows: One to PC for Value; One to Mac for being a very pretty machine and One to Mac for taking up less room and making less of a mess.

The Video Portion of this Review.

This video shows my PC and my iMac racing to boot up. I feel confident that Windows 7 booted in faster. It’s also worth pointing out that Windows 7 had apps running before Snow Leopard was even on screen. The video also briefly compares the face of the OS. Both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard are absolutely gorgeous, and both deserve points for that. Snow Leopard would have kicked Windows Vista’s arse, hard, but Windows 7 gets the point for Aero Peek.

Ironically, Snow Leopard gets a point for shutting down so much quicker. But I think that Windows 7 gets that point back for having the most fantastic sleep mode that any OS has ever had ever.

Actually using the Operating Systems.

You’ll see below a couple screen caps. Easy enough on a windows: just hit Print Screen and paste the information into MSPaint. On a mac, though? Well, that wasn’t so straight forward and I had to go into Google. It ended up being CMD+Shift+3. It made a .jpg rather than a copy of the information; but still. That’s three key strokes versus one, and it’s a shortcut that I had to go looking for.

I find that a lot of things aren’t so straight forward in OS X. Alt+tab switches between apps – not windows – and the show desktop function is practically hidden in the settings. Cmd+shortcut also feels slightly less natural than ctrl+shortcut; but that might be because Windows machines are more prevalent and much more accessible to the layman. Either way: point to Windows 7.

Windows 7 is very good at sharing. They can share on a network any information with any other Windows 7 machine as you see fit. They’re very good for networking. I only have one Mac, though, so I can’t justly give away a point for that. The Mac connects to my network easily enough, it just doesn’t share with the Windows machines and, well, that makes sense to some degree.

Where it becomes an issue is in manual sharing. i.e: with my external harddrive. I have a 500GB partitioned for PC and Mac sharing, but neither partition will let me share with both. A PC wants a HDD in NTSF (MS-DOS) format. A Mac will read information from this drive, but it won’t write to it. At least not without an external app. The format that the Mac wants the other partition in, such that it can write on it, is Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Shock-horror: my PC won’t even recognise this drive.

The long and the short of it is: I can’t move files bigger than my 2GB USB drive from my Mac onto my PC and I blame the Mac. I look at this as I look at my needing to pay $30 for a Quicktime plug-in just to have my Mac read .mpg files that I recorded on the PC – I look at this as Mac playing it difficult; being different so that they’re different and so that they marginalize their audience. Point to Windows 7.

The file library in Windows 7 and the Finder Navigation in Snow Leopard both work really nice. I feel that I like dragging files from a Finder box onto the desktop better than I do the same from an explorer window on the desktop, but they’re basically the same system. Snow Leopard has some nice shortcuts in the wheel, to downloads and apps and documents, but Windows 7 has much the same now with having apps pinned to the task bar. I can’t give a point either way so plus one to both.

Snow Leopard gets a point for adding and removing devices (like a USB key) much better than Windows 7. It loads the drives onto the desktop and then it’s as simple as Right Click -> Eject device. It’s faster and smoother than Safely Remove Device down in the System Tray.

Apps.

OS X is very good for installing apps. You download the .dmg file, you load the disc and then you drag the app into your applications folder. That’s it. It’s very easy, it’s very neat and after that it’s a simple matter of unloading the .dmg file. On a Windows machine, installing an app can be very trying and involve various reboots. Nowadays, this has a lot to do with the quality of the app, but I still have issues with the way Windows go about it. I don’t feel as though the system likes to have apps removed, whereas a Mac can just see any app deleted without any adverse effects. The Windows Registry can risk to make this whole process even more awkward. Point to Snow Leopard.

I find that Windows is much better as a Media Center, or a Media Based Machine. I’m not a huge fan of iTunes, and I very much feel that Windows Media Player organizes my music in a neater way, a more logical order and with a prettier presentation. The only reason I even use iTunes is to have it sync with my iPhone. Windows Media Center is even better for handling media, being a fantastic PVR app built into the core Windows Operating System. Point to Windows 7.

As far as apps that the machines come with otherwise, Windows comes with Media Player, Media Center and Internet Explorer loaded on already. Microsoft Office must be bought separately; Security Apps must be bought/downloaded separately and even Windows Live (Messenger/Mail/Writer/etc.) must be loaded on after the fact. OS X, on the other hand, comes with iTunes to counter Media Player, Safari to counter IE plus iMovie, Garageband, iChat, Quicktime and mail already loaded on.

Both IE and Safari are moot points: they become replaced by Google Chrome or Firefox. Garageband and iMovie are things of note, and then things like Mail and iChat that are oddly missing counterparts in the Windows systems. Point to Snow Leopard.

Overall.

I haven’t been keeping count, in an attempt to remain objective, so I’m hoping that worked. But, counting, Windows 7 ends up with eight points while Snow Leopard ends up with seven. So it was either very close or, on some subconscious level, I ensured that it was close. Either way, the number means relatively little. What I was hoping to do was demonstrate the pluses of both machines, while dancing around the negatives. My biggest problem with either machine is that they don’t get along – I mentioned that above and it really frustrates me. I didn’t mention that iMovie basically sucks, but that’s because Garageband kicks so much arse that it makes up for that suckage.

Overall, I find that Snow Leopard can be really dumb at times. It seems to throw a steep learning curve at its users for even the most simple of things – like screen capture or switching to the desktop. I prefer Windows 7, personally, because it’s faster and it’s prettier. But Snow Leopard has its advantages, and I hope that I’ve highlighted those advantages.

I also hope that I attract a whole heap of fanboys to this post, such that they tell me how impartial I’m not being. Or such that they tell me that I wasn’t hard enough on the Mac, or something. ^>^

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2 Responses to iPC

  1. Resulka says:

    Well I’m glad that Windows 7 is as good as I’ve been hoping it was going to be. I really need to get out there and get it already rather then just being like “Man I reaaaaaalllly want that.”

    And I never liked Macs, Not because I’m a PC girl but just because the outlay of the function keys on the keyboard never made any sense and when I was using them the mice only had one button. It hardly seemed like some great “media” revolution when it was un-intuitive and evil.

  2. Matt Booker says:

    Very interesting and well done. Thanks! :)

    (I do pc repair and don’t know much about macs, but one of my very best friends works at Apple’s headquarters and he’s yet to sway me over to them.)

    ~Matt Booker

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