Should You Buy a Mac?


My esteemed colleague (and fellow Mac user) Simon Meek recently wrote a piece about why designers tend to use Macs. This got me thinking: Why did I buy a Mac? I’m more of a coder/”computer nerd” than a designer. And what sort of people (apart from designers) are Macs suited to?

Here are some handy guidelines to help you decide whether or not a Mac is right for you. First, some good reasons to buy a Mac…

You should buy a Mac if:
  • You’re a creative type. Macs are very well suited to designers (as already mentioned), musicians, artists, photographers, and folks in the film and TV industries. Pretty much all the best creative software is available for the Mac (some of it is Mac-only), and many creative studios run mainly Mac networks.
  • You want to edit your photos and movies. Macs come bundled with Apple’s iLife: a very nice, easy to use software suite that lets you edit photos and movies, and create slideshows and DVDs, right out of the box. No third party software to buy.
  • You want a computer for the living room. This is partly personal taste, but Macs simply look nicer in the living room than pretty much any PC. iMacs are also whisper quiet so there’s no annoying fan noise, and Apple makes an effort to reduce the amount of cables needed (and even makes the cables look relatively pleasant!). You can even wall-mount an iMac these days, and a 27-inch version has just come out. Front Row and the Apple Remote are also a great way to watch movies and view slideshows from the comfort of the sofa.
  • You want something that “just works”. Sure, Macs crash and burn just like any computer (sometimes quite spectacularly). On the whole, though, you’ll probably find a Mac to be easier to use and more trouble-free than the average Windows or Linux box. Apple pays a lot of attention to ease of use and stability; having control over both the hardware and the operating system really helps here too.
  • You’re used to Unix. If you’re a fan of Unix-derivatives such as Linux or FreeBSD (but are fed up with tinkering with your computer all the time) then you’ll be right at home with Mac OS X. You can mess about on the command line; compile stuff with gcc; get stuck into shell scripting, and so on.

Macs aren’t for everyone though. Here are some reasons to buy a PC instead…

Steer away from a Mac if:
  • You play a lot of computer games. There’s no getting away from the fact that, when it comes to the sheer variety and quality of games available, Windows is king. (Then again you might prefer to play games on a console in your living room anyway.)
  • You want the widest possible software range. Again, Windows has by far the biggest range of software, including some really niche stuff. If you need to run lots of obscure, Windows-only apps then Windows could be a better choice.
  • You like tinkering under the hood. Macs aren’t really designed to be tinkered with on either a software or hardware level (though Mac Pros are pretty expandable). This is partly why they’re as reliable as they are. If you want to reconfigure your operating system from the ground up, look to Linux. If you want to swap out graphics cards and hard drives, get a PC (or possibly a Mac Pro!).
  • You use Windows at work, and take a lot of work home with you. If you use a Windows PC in the office, a PC at home will probably make it easier to transfer stuff between work and home. There’s nothing like using the same brand for maximum compatibility.

That said, you can of course run Windows on a Mac these days, using either Boot Camp (better for gaming) or VMware/Parallels/VirtualBox. So if you’re drawn to that sleek, reliable Mac hardware, or you want to use Mac OS X as well as Windows, then this could be a good option. (You’ll need to buy a copy of Windows too, of course.)

Do you have any other reasons for buying – or not buying – a Mac? I’d love to hear them! Please post your suggestions below…

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3 Responses to “Should You Buy a Mac?”

  1. David Says:

    Viruses (viri?) are another issue, to be honest. There are viruses for Macs, but not nearly as prevalent as for the PC. And any spyware that I have seen has been designed with PCs in mind, so the different look between Mac and PC makes it so obvious that the program is bogus.

  2. Matt Says:

    @David: That’s a good point re the different look. I’d never thought of that! It’s so long since I’ve used Windows properly that those fake dialogs always stick out like a sore thumb. If I did use Windows then that probably wouldn’t have been the case!

  3. Lary Says:

    Reason NOT to buy one: they cost a HECK of a lot more.