Do you like the look of your MacBook but aren’t sure if this is the right move for you? Slip into the iMac or Mac mini slot in your home office, but aren’t sure you’ll be able to commit? Let’s take a look at some of the arguments for choosing a Mac over a Windows PC.
There is a “Mac for You” for you
Since you can’t build your own Mac, you’ll need to be compatible with your existing hardware setup. This means that there should be a Mac model that fits your requirements, budget, and expectations. This could be a lightweight MacBook Air for college, a high-end MacBook Pro for your portable workstation needs, or something hot like the Mac Studio (the most powerful Mac Apple has released yet).
The budget is also important. Arguably the best Mac is the Mac mini, which should suit those who want to go the barebones route and who already own a monitor and accessories. The iMac isn’t the cheapest desktop all-in-one, but when you budget for the cost of an equivalent monitor, it starts to look a lot more competitive.
Best value mac
Apple Mac mini (M1, 2020)
If you already have a bunch of peripherals and a monitor, the Mac mini is the cheapest way to get your hands on a Mac.
Apple once used PowerPC chips, then Intel chips, and now Apple uses ARM-based Silicon. The latest chipset is desirable on many fronts, but switching away from x86 architecture leaves you with less freedom to install Windows or Linux with Boot Camp, so the Mac isn’t ideal if you’re hoping to dual boot Windows with Boot Camp.
Fortunately, Apple Silicon offers pound-for-pound improvements over outgoing Intel chips. It features amazing multi-threaded performance, improved power efficiency for extended battery life and lower power consumption, and dedicated video encoding and decoding engines. They run much cooler, and some models don’t even use a fan (although beware of thermal throttling under load).
Apple has always designed hardware in unison with software, and switching to Apple Silicon has given the company more control over that. Although this removes the freedom to build your Mac or choose hardware components, it also means you don’t have to worry about driver issues or macOS updates causing hardware incompatibilities.
Unfortunately, you can’t upgrade your Mac either. New hardware uses unified memory, providing significant performance gains over the traditional upgrade paths you’d find on a PC. If you bought a Mac, your idea of an “upgrade” better means buying a new Mac (although there are plenty of good uses for your old model).
You’re already using an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple product
Apple takes a “whole ecosystem” approach to product design. If you’re already using an iPhone, you’ll find familiarity with many of the software and design principles you’re already used to when you first pick up macOS. The main difference is that macOS is not as restrictive as iOS because it is a proper “desktop” operating system.
iOS and macOS perfectly accompany each other. You can do things like set focus modes on your iPhone and have them automate on your Mac. You can reply to text messages on your iPhone using the Messages app on your Mac. You can use Handoff to answer or send calls to your Mac, and features like Continuity let you copy on one platform and then paste on the other.
Many of the apps you use on your iPhone like Mail, Messages, Calendar, Notes, and Reminders have instantly recognizable Mac counterparts. iCloud is the gel that holds much of this ecosystem together, syncing everything from your photos and videos to your Safari tab groups, invisibly in the background.
Apple’s wireless technologies like AirPlay and AirDrop allow you to use your Mac as a wireless display or send files to your iPhone using the right-click context menu. Connect your iPhone to your Mac and use Apple’s File Explorer app to create local backups and transfer files.
Many of Apple’s iOS design principles have made their way to Macs over the past decade. This includes simple tweaks like Night Shift to reduce blue light, not to mention much greater privacy controls with a permission system that requires your consent for apps to access folders, microphone or webcam, location data, and more.
Even things like Wi-Fi passwords will sync between your Mac and iPhone, provided the two are associated with the same Apple ID. Storing passwords in iCloud Keychain makes it easy to sign in on any Apple device. If you have AirPods, they’ll follow you from device to device, and even your Apple Watch can unlock your Mac when you activate it. Do you have an iPad? Use it as a wireless touch screen display. It’s clear what Apple is going for here.
You are comfortable with (or prefer) macOS
You can’t install Windows locally on a recent Apple Silicon Mac (yet). Asahi Linux is racing towards a smooth native Apple Silicon experience, but the project is far from polished with things like GPU acceleration, Bluetooth, Thunderbolt, and HDMI still not working properly. You could easily run both of these operating systems in a virtual machine, but you’ll still ultimately rely on macOS to get there.
Like it or not, macOS is central to the Mac experience. Some would argue that a good reason to choose Apple is Because for macOS, but that’s down to personal preference. It certainly helps if you’re more used to it, more prepared for it, or happier Because Apple desktop operating system before you go in.
On the plus side, macOS is arguably the most refined desktop operating system out there. It blends the ease of use of something like Windows with the reliability of the UNIX platform on which it was built. Many advocates cite the system’s reliability, Apple’s approach to security (you don’t need a good antivirus), and features like trackpad gestures, Mission Control, Spotlight, and Time Machine.
macOS is a more open system than iOS or iPadOS, but it still lacks the freedom that Windows or Linux offers. It works best if you go with the flow and use Apple’s solutions for just about everything. For example, Safari offers the best browsing experience from an energy efficiency standpoint, Time Machine is a powerful install-and-forget backup tool, and iCloud support is built into most first- and third-party apps.
You are happy to pay Apple tax
A Mac will cost you more than a Windows PC. With this in mind, it’s hard to make direct comparisons in terms of overall user experience since they are separate platforms that take different approaches to desktop computing.
If you’re comparing performance like with performance, it can be hard to justify Apple’s tax especially when it comes to high-end devices like the MacBook Pro or Mac Studio. Take a look at your RAM and storage upgrade costs when you’re signed out when you’ve configured your device and are ready to roam. Don’t forget that upgrading these components yourself is pretty much out of the question, especially if you value your warranty.
When it comes to the more affordable end of the market, things aren’t quite so clear-cut. The MacBook Air is pricey, but a comparable lightweight Windows ultrabook can cost around the same time (though it could have more RAM and storage for a similar price). The Mac mini is the best-value piece of Apple Silicon on the market, but you’ll need to bring your own display and the suite of peripherals can drive up the price.
The MacBook is lightweight and affordable
There’s no denying that Apple computers exude a quality that many Windows OEMs lack. Some Mac users feel this justifies the expense, especially given the quality of Apple’s built-in displays, trackpads, laptop speakers, and solid unibody designs. This isn’t to say that Apple never makes mistakes (let’s not forget the butterfly keyboard fiasco), but there are good reasons why some people are happy to spend that much on a MacBook.
Powerful mobile workstation
MacBook Pro (16-inch, M1 Pro, 2021)
If you need something powerful on the go or appreciate a larger screen and keyboard, consider the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The M1 Pro chip features a superior GPU, more RAM, and a larger SSD compared to the M1 and M2 models.
A lot of that comes down to the overall user experience. Third-party bloatware isn’t installed when you get your Mac (although Apple does collect things you might want to delete, like GarageBand and Pages). Apple tax is necessary if you want the powerful macOS experience. If you’re happy to pay more money to use an operating system that you find interesting and productive, the premium might be worth it.
This can be overlooked if you’re making a comparison on paper because it’s hard to place a value on the productivity you gain from using something that looks this good.
Gaming is not your top priority
You can play games on your Mac, and the Mac as a gaming platform might actually be in better shape than ever before. There are plenty of games on Steam, GOG, the Mac App Store, and itch.io that work locally or via Rosetta 2. Even Apple Arcade games work just fine on a Mac.
Most of the best wireless gamepads work great on your Mac. macOS 13 Ventura also has a dedicated panel in the system settings for game controller configuration, which speaks to Apple’s renewed focus on Mac gaming.
But a Mac isn’t what you want to buy if your top priority is gaming. New games don’t come to the Mac first, and many titles never see a port. Windows is well supported by everything from the biggest releases to the latest releases, Early Access titles still in development, VR titles for devices not supported on macOS, and subscription services like Game Pass for PC.
While Apple’s hardware is capable, the PC is where you’ll want to go if you want the latest and greatest gaming hardware. You can upgrade your components piecemeal, swap out your GPU, add more RAM, upgrade your processor, and take full control of your system’s direction. Customization like this does not exist in the Apple platform, let alone in the visual design of your system.
The closest you’ll get to RGB anything on a Mac is putting fairy lights around your MacBook screen.
You want to develop iPhone, iPad or Mac apps
Finally, the Apple Xcode development environment is still required if you want to develop an app for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS. You’ll also need an Apple Developer account for $99 per year to publish your app to the App Store, Mac App Store, or any other Apple storefront.
There is no getting around these requirements. The most cost-effective way to do this is to buy a Mac mini or MacBook Air.
Apple and orange
It’s a good idea to do your homework so you know what to expect if you buy a Mac over a PC. There are some great reasons to use an Apple computer if you prefer a streamlined experience and a desktop operating system that works well with your mobile devices and accessories.
Of course, there are plenty of good reasons to choose a Windows PC over a Mac, too.
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