Switching from Mac/Unix To PC/Windows

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Switching from Mac/Unix To PC/Windows

Xah Lee, 2009-05-26, 2009-06-20

I bought a PC with Windows today, and am switching to Windows from my 19 years of Mac experience with 10 years of professional unix computing. This page tells the story. This document is partly a blog documenting why i switch from Mac to PC.

Why I Switched

I have a aging Mac. It is a IMac G5 (iSight; MA063L/A) bought in late 2005. It is the last iMac using the PowerPC chip.

The machine is great, but is 3.5 years old. I needed a new machine. I went to local shop Fry's Electronics and was just gonna get the new Mac Mini that Apple just released this month. The cheapest Mac Mini is $600. Looking in the store, you find that a PCs for the same price has about 3 times the hardware power. Or, for the same hardware muscle, the PC is about half the price.

Mac vs PC
Mac mini (MB463LL/A)
PC (Campaq Persario SR5710F)
PC (HP Pavilion A6750F)
CPU2.0 GHz
Intel Core 2 Duo
(64 bits, dual-core)
2.3 GHz
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4450e+
(64 bits, dual-core)
2.3 GHz
AMD Phenom X4 9650
(64 bits, quad-core)
Hard Disk120 GB250 GB750 GB

By the above comparison, you can see that the Mac is shit, and they've been in that state in the past about 6 years. The Mac OS X was beginning to save Mac since 2002, together with the pretty and robust and inexpensive first IMac (“Bondi Blue”) that debuted in 1999. The Mac had a good time from about 1999 to 2003. But since the PowerPC slowness fiasco and hence the Intel "SWITCH". The gap of price/raw-power between Mac and PCs is getting wider and wider. Apple is too busy becoming a fashion and multimedia company with its iPod and iTune successes.

Software quality have always been a major part of Mac's selling point, especially in the early 1990s. The whole desktop publishing revolution. The classic Mac OS with its revolutionary graphical user interface, Photoshop, Freehand and Illustrator, PageMaker, laser printer, Hypercard, Mathematica, etc. However, these days Microsoft's software tech, in scale and quality, is quite ahead of Apple, witness the .NET, F# lang, PowerShell, Direct3D, Silverlight, etc, and the operating system itself is no worse than Mac's, starting with Windows NT in the late 1990s and its descendants 2000, XP, Vista. And, almost all of the best so-called Desktop Publishing software that started life on the Mac in the early 1990s have moved to Windows as their main platform in the past decade (e.g. Mathematica, Photoshop, Macromedia stuff, Bryce, several 3D modelers, DenebaDraw, FrameMaker, QuarkXpress ...). In fact, many no longer even produce Mac versions.

I'm tired of Mac being the second rate citizen for everything. Latest Java version comes 0.5 or 1 year later than Windows, similar for Google Chrome, Google Earth, Adobe Flash, Second Life ... often come in crippled version and late. All IM chat clients on Windows such as MSN, AOL, Yahoo, support voice or video chat, while most of these company's Mac versions still don't. This applies to just about any software. You are lucky if there is a Mac version. (For example, when i need to research virtual world technologies such as Entropia Universe, IMVU, There (internet service), Active Worlds, none have Mac versions. When i want to try some software synths, juggling simulation software, go board game networks... Mac user's options are severely limited.)

In general, not only Mac buys you less hardware muscle, but the Mac version of software is usually slower than Windows version running on similarly powered hardware, because the software gets less development time and less optimization. (e.g. Javascript, Java, Flash, etc.) Commercial websites often have problems when accessed with Mac browsers, since many of them only test it with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. (not Apple's fault, but fact of life.)

I have owned Macs since 1991, and was a DEDICATED fan all thru the 1990s. I started to use Windows at work for 8 hours a day from 1999 to 2002. I also own a fancy Windows labtop from about 2003 to 2005, besides owning more than 1 Apple computers. I'm pretty familiar with Windows as a user, but not as a programer or sys admin. However, since about 2006, i haven't touched Windows. I'm a unix sys admin professional and programer in web app and scientific computing fields. Even having used Windows for years in the past, but never did sys admin on Windows nor done any programing with Windows's technologies. I never cared to learn any Microsoft techs. (See: On Microsoft Hatred) With this switch today, i'm committed to dig into Microsoft Windows's technologies.

Graphics Card

Also bought: “BFG Tech NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT 512 MB”, for about $120. amazon.

This is for playing Second Life, and my geometry 3D visualization needs. On the Mac, adding a graphics card is impossible unless you buy a Mac Pro, which starts at $2500. For the same hardware power and quality, a PC costs about $1000 less.


For display, i got “LG L227WTG 22-Inch Widescreen LCD Monitor”. amazonIt has pixel dimention of 1680x1050. Actually bought it in 2008-12-01.

Manufacturer home page: Source. Spec: L227WTG_spec_sheet.pdf.

My PC Specification

HP Pavilion a6750f Desktop PC spec: hp.com spec. Plain text: HP_Pavilion_A6750F_spec.txt, motherboard_Aspen-GL8E.txt.

BFG NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT OC 512MB PCIe 2.0: bfgtech.com spec. Plain text: BFG_NVIDIA_GeForce_9800_GT.txt.

NVIDIA page of GeForce 9800 GT: nvidia geforce_9800gt.

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