Stop the Noiz

Too Many Options When Choosing a PC, Too Few When Buying a Mac

Frank Fox - 2009.05.05 - Tip Jar

The problem with Macs isn't that they are pricey or that they aren't as fast as PCs or that they are not as expandable. For most of these problems, there are solutions.

As for price, the Mac mini is cheap, and you can always buy a used machine for even less. Macs and PCs both use Intel processors, which means that most of the claims that one or the other is faster are short-lived. Expandability is mostly a factor of the model you choose - or the ability to trade up for better features.

Even the great divide over what software you can use is gone. With a Mac and either Parallels Desktop or VMWare there are few programs that you can't run. Sure, a few software programs, like a video game, don't work well with virtualization, but there is always Boot Camp if you really have to run a Windows-only program.


The problem, for me and for many others, is wanting what you can't have. Call this consumerism, greed, envy, desire, etc.

The broad range of PC choices panders to these emotions. If you want a $3,000 gaming PC, there is a model for that. If you want to spend $500 on a new super graphics card, there is a model for that. I you have to connect your computer to a Dolby surround sound system, there are expansion cards and specialty gear to do it.

The PC business wasn't just built on getting a computer for cheap. There is a whole industry built around graphics upgrades and sound cards, faster processors and/or motherboards, and hundreds of ways to trick out your system.

As a Mac user, I barely understand the need for a case fan. If you go to a PC website you can find pages of case fans. What the heck is so great about case fans that you need to shop through dozens of choices? I don't know, but if I owned a PC, I could be doing that.

I see all the different choices and price ranges, and I want in on the deal, but without loosing anything.

Fit Matters

To make a new analogy, buying a Mac is like buying a nice pair of pants. The fit, wear, and look are top notch with a Mac, but sometimes I just want a pair of blue jeans or maybe just a plain boring pair of work pants. With the blue jeans or work pants, I'm not concerned about wear or look, but how they fit is still important.

I like the fit of Mac OS X over Vista. So if the computer doesn't come with OS X, it doesn't fit my preference. How can I pick from the hundreds of different brands and models of PCs when none of them fit right? I won't be satisfied with the purchase, so why buy something that isn't a good fit?

It is like going to the candy store if you are diabetic. There are tons of choices, but you can only pick from the sugar-free bins. You want more choices, even if you know it is not good for you. I'm not complaining about being limited to sugar-free, but I don't just want sugar-free licorice. I want every choice to come in both sugar and sugar-free.

I understand that Apple is just one company and can't sell 20 different models and still be as profitable. My logical side understands, but my emotional side wants to be able to pick whatever I like - to heck with whether or not Apple makes money. Why should I suffer just because Apple's business model limits my options?

A Gaping Hole

Case in point, when the new Mac mini and Mac Pros came out, I was completely disappointed. I'm not complaining that the improvements aren't nice, but that they didn't take it far enough. Intel has a line of chips, the Core 2 Quad, that doesn't show up in any Mac. The Mac mini doesn't go up high enough to use it, and the Mac Pro doesn't start low enough. The Core 2 Quad is a good middle-of-the-road choice, and the only way to get it is in a PC.

I want the same choice, but in a Mac.

As I see it, what makes PCs fun has almost nothing to do with Windows, except that it is a necessary evil to get the darn things to work. Macs have come a long way to bring some of these choices over by adopting industry standards. Still, there is a lot that isn't compatible.

Am I going to leave Macs just so I can start choosing which brand of case fan I want? Probably not. My logical side keeps reminding me how much simpler it is to stay with Macs.

I'll just have to ignore that awesome case fan with the cool blue light for a while longer. LEM

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