MacBooks forum

General discussion

Macbook or PC whats the pros and cons

by traviscjernigan / May 11, 2011 7:22 AM PDT

I will be heading to college in just a few short months. I know i will need a laptop for school. I have been looking really hard at macbooks. I am not sure which to choose.
I have used microsoft my whole life but i like the fact that macs are a long lasting system. I have been researching and researching but i cant make up my mind. I need some help deciding to know the best way to go. What im looking for in a laptop is durable, long lasting, some gaming, paper writing, powerpoints, video editing, fast processing, plenty of space, and a good battery life.

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Macbook or PC whats the pros and cons
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Macbook or PC whats the pros and cons
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
I have to disagree.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 11, 2011 10:56 AM PDT

Why they make a nice system I have seen failures in the machines too. We have machines that are over 10 years old (Thinkpads) but no one wants to use them.

The moment you hit gaming the life span of this laptop was cut in half.
Bob

Collapse -
Won't matter
by Jimmy Greystone / May 11, 2011 1:24 PM PDT

Won't matter because a lot of those things are mutually exclusive. What you want is a desktop given what you describe for uses. A laptop is horrible for things like gaming, and video editing, and storage is considerably more expensive per GB on a laptop.

Get a desktop, and forget about using a laptop in class. It sounds great in theory, almost never works out very well in practice. You'll spend more time on Facebook than listening to the lecture, or generally just screwing around instead of working. Get yourself a nice desktop, maybe a game console or two, and you can do all your game playing, etc on that. I'd suggest doing all your homework related things on a lab computer. It helps create a very clear delineation in your mind between school and play. When you're on campus, you're thinking about school, and then when you get home, you can think about recreational activities. There's also a lot of research that backs up the idea that hand writing notes will help study. To hand write the notes you have to think about what you're writing, then actually write it, all of which forces your mind to go over the material a second and third time. The same could be said of typing, but if you're hand writing notes, there's less chance of being distracted by something on your computer like an email, IM, whatever. I'm all for technology, but sometimes the old ways really are better.

Someone in your group, and trust me, you'll have groups in EVERY class, will have a laptop if you need to do a presentation. Or odds are that the classroom will have a computer you can use. Let someone ELSE rack up debt in student loans because they're screwing around in class and fail.

Collapse -
Money
by msgale / May 22, 2011 2:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Won't matter

MACs cost at least fifty percent more than a simular WINTEL laptop. Because of technological advances most four year old machines are useless for anything more taxing the email or surfing.

Collapse -
Actually they don't
by Jimmy Greystone / May 22, 2011 3:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Money

Actually they don't if you compare like specs. It's becoming more common now, but for a long time Apple was one of the only laptop makers out there using DDR3 RAM. If you compared a PC laptop only on the quantity of RAM, then of course it would seem less expensive, but it would be an incomplete comparison.

And I don't know where you're getting this 50% figure, because at best it's maybe 10-15%, most of which is completely justified by the higher end components being used. Like DDR3 RAM, the Core 2 Duo as opposed to Atom in the Air.

You can certainly argue that in your particular case you don't need those higher end components, which is fine for you, but what about people who ARE interested in those kinds of things?

I always have to wonder about people who feel compelled to come along and post these rather hastily (at best) researched posts which have holes in the reasoning large enough to sail a small navy through, and are so completely biased towards one side it's not even really a comparison. You have to wonder who it is they're trying to convince more, the person asking the question, or themselves.

Collapse -
How I do it
by msgale / May 22, 2011 5:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Actually they don't

$1700.00 - Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch MC372LL/A v $1000.00 - Dell XPS 15 Dell used an i7 v Apples i5 processor. Apple uses 5400 rpm disk v Dell's 7200 rpm disks. A far as components go, neither Dell nor Apple manufactures their machines. They are assembled in the Far East with the same commodity components, the same Intel processors, same disks, same displays, and the same batteries and same optical drives. I forgot the memory are made by the same companies.

Collapse -
You are also failing to take into account
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / May 22, 2011 7:24 AM PDT
In reply to: How I do it

the software that is included with the Mac.

Collapse -
Yes - right
by msgale / May 22, 2011 9:29 AM PDT

iTunes is also cross platform. No Mac viruses, that train has left the station. Sixteen bit windows was bad, but they are the past. 32/64 bit Windows is the current state of technology, and I challenge to prove that Windows 7 is less robust than Snow Leopard. Exactly how big is the Macintosh market share?

Collapse -
Not even close
by Jimmy Greystone / May 22, 2011 10:10 AM PDT
In reply to: How I do it

Not even close. You're missing the forest for the trees again.

I'm not saying that Apple doesn't have a higher markup on their stuff, because they do, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Probably one of the worst things that ever happened to the computing world was the sub-$2000 computer. There's just no profit margin in it anymore for companies like Dell and HP. They make virtually nothing selling the computers themselves, might even lose money on some of the lower end models, which they hope to make up for by preloading all kind of garbage like AV software trial versions, links to sign up for this or that service, trying to sell you on extended warranties, etc.

But think about it. Say you are going to make maybe 1-3% profit on every system sold. So you sell something for $1,000 you get $10 to $30 in profit. You're pretty much selling at cost. So if you only make $10-30/system, how much of that do you suppose you're going to want to invest into quality control? Probably none, because even having a single person who's job is quality control is probably going to eat the profits from the first 1,000 units sold, in just base salary, then there's the added costs of having to scrap systems before they're even sold because they fail QA testing.

And then we can even talk about the fact that Foxconn is the company that actually assembles both Apple and Dell systems. However, Apple actually requires Foxconn pay its employees more if they assemble Apple stuff, and Apple actually routinely checks up on its suppliers to make sure they adhere to some rather stringent guidelines. AFAIK, no other company does that. So if you want to bring up the fact of the sweatshop like conditions of the Foxconn factories in China (it's a Taiwanese company for the record) then all the more reason to pay a little extra for the Apple over the Dell. The Apple workers are compensated better, and has someone actually checking up on them.

This is the whole Walmartization effect. Everyone's so focused on price, they never stop to consider secondary factors. How do they get that low price? Well, in a lot of cases they use near slave labor from China, taking away American manufacturing jobs, because we were too cheap to pay an extra 50 cents.

Any other argument you want to have me destroy for you?

And there are a number of very fundamental differences between Windows and Mac OS X, but unless you have a good foundation in OS design theory, it probably would go over your head. I could talk about the new process scheduler for 10.6 which is a rather elegant solution to the first half of the parallel processing issue that is plaguing software developers. The Windows process scheduler is considerably less effective since they just tried to retrofit and tweak something designed for SMP setups. The two seem similar at first blush, but there's a number of subtle differences which have a large impact.

The number of viruses on Windows may be on the wane, but let's just do a simple count. How many unique instances of malware are there that attack Internet Explorer alone on Windows? Now how many instances of malware are there that attack any web browser on Mac OS X? I don't think anyone has an accurate count for the former, and the latter can probably be counted on one hand. And please do spare us the argument that the number of attacks depends on market share, because that one has been exploded numerous times and in numerous ways. If that argument were true, then we should be seeing an explosion of attacks for the Android platform, and we should also be seeing a noticeable uptick in the number of attacks leveled against Linux. We don't see either, so there goes that argument up in flames. There are certain design tradeoffs Apple made with Mac OS X which make it somewhat more vulnerable than the average Linux distribution, but those generally come down to just how stupid and gullible the user of the system is.

Again, any other half-baked and poorly thought through arguments you need picked apart, or are you good?

You can buy and use whatever you want, it's nothing to me. I just get tired of people who make obvious one sided and heavily biased arguments. I consider it to be intellectually lazy and as much a disservice to the person making the argument as the people who may read it. There are plenty of solid arguments to be made against buying a Mac, none of which you've even been in the ballpark of. Again, I'm trying to figure out if you're trying to convince yourself or the rest of us, and I'm leaning more towards the former. All I'm seeing is someone who lacks any real original ideas and just parrots the ideas of others. Whichever ideas seem to have the most people believing them, because clearly that MUST be the correct one! If the Flat Earth Society saw a sudden surge in membership tomorrow, you'd probably be champing at the bit to sign up too, and then denounce it just as quickly when a bunch of people left the group.

Collapse -
No
by msgale / May 22, 2011 1:04 PM PDT
In reply to: Not even close

What Foxconn pays its employees is irrelevant, what components that are assembled is important. I DO have a good foundation in OS design since I was on the development that that developed two. I also took graduate courses in Real Time OS design. By the way Multi-Processor design significantly pre dates both Windows and UNIX based Apple OSs. The UNIVAC 1108 (EXEC 8 OS) (1967) had up to theee processors and two IOCs. CDCs 6500 (SCOPE or KRONOS OS) had two CPU and ten PPUs (1965). Some currently available other SMP systems that predate Apple's Darwin based OS are OS: HP-UX, Solaris, AIX, IRIX (UNIX SV5R4 based), FreeBSD and OpenBSD (UNIX BSD base) Open VMS, i5/OS for the IBM AS 400, and z/OS or z/VM for IBM mainframes.

What is "the parallel processing issue that is plaguing software developers?"

Please explain and contrast:
1. The Apple Scheduler.
2. The Windows Scheduler.
PS. The world is flat.

I really take exception to your tone, I am moderately intelligent, have both a BS and MS in Computer Science and almost forty years (I started in 1967) experience.

Collapse -
Could have fooled me
by Jimmy Greystone / May 23, 2011 11:19 AM PDT
In reply to: No

Could have fooled me with all the various intellectual shortcuts you're taking. Though I do have to say, I had a girlfriend once with a MS in Computer Science, and she could barely handle the basics of computers. She might have been great at programming an AI algorithm in Java, but when it came to basic computer maintenance... Seems to be a pretty common thing with CS types. They are great little code monkeys, but are horrible with everything else.

And I said that multi-core CPUs are subtly different, but important, from SMP. I never said it was a new thing. Also, up until recently, SMP was largely relegated to servers and high end workstations, and very few apps supported it. Usually made by large companies like Adobe which could afford to hire people who knew the ins and outs of parallel processing. But multi-core CPUs lack the second set of interrupts and data pathways SMP systems have, so the game has changed in some rather important ways.

The Windows process scheduler is a holdover from it's NT roots which are based in SMP systems. Each CPU being single core, operating largely independent of the other. Microsoft has tried to tweak it, to varying degrees of success, but it's basically a whole series of kludges because they have this really strong aversion to just doing what's necessary, and rewriting Windows from scratch.

Apple, with 10.6, created what's known as Grand Central Dispatch. It's a deamon process that is constantly monitoring CPU/core resources, and creates a dynamic pool of threads, the number being based on the number of cores detected by the kernel, that it then assigns to apps when they request a new thread. It then does its best to spread out the workload as evenly as possible across all the cores on the system. Which is a pretty elegant solution to the easy half of the whole parallel processing issue. It's a good stopgap measure while the researchers figure out a way to come up with a system so that parallel processing is rather simple for the average programmer. It takes a lot of skill to be able to coordinate the activities of multiple threads of a single program, and not everyone will be able to master that. Just having a single threaded program and trying to ram it through the CPU as fast as possible isn't really going to work, because for the most part, we've hit the wall as far as what we can do with current technology. But maybe I'm one of the few who's ever stopped to ponder why suddenly the shift has been to how many cores can be added to a CPU die rather than the clock speed race of yore.

Microsoft is rather loathe to rewrite Windows, the need for which is rather obvious when you stop to look at it. The current incarnations of Windows are built upon the NT codebase, which was created back in the mid-90s before there was an Internet for all intents and purposes. While NT had more in the way of a security model than the DOS based versions of Windows, it was still largely intended for use in an environment where it was managed by a professional and you didn't really have to contend with outside threats. At least not in the same way you do today.

Things have changed since then, and Windows has failed pretty miserably to keep up. Microsoft has always made its money by cramming loads of features into new products, and like Windows, most of their products pre-date the era of the Internet. Some of them, like Internet Explorer, still come from the "age of innocence" before someone hit on the idea of malware. Security has always taken a back seat to usability with Microsoft, for decades, and while they may have been starting to take it more seriously as a company in the last couple of years, they still have 20-30 years worth of legacy code like a giant stone weight around their neck.

On the other side, you have Apple. After Apple decided that it needed to replace its own aging bundle of security (among plenty of other issues) joy, we ultimately end up with what is Mac OS X. They started with a FreeBSD base, converted the kernel over to a mach design, which turned out to not work quite as well as they hoped, and so it's gradually become more monolithic as the years have gone by, basically adopting the Linux kernel extension idea. When they set out to make Darwin (the core OS) they had a 20 year design plan in place for it. They took the time to really kind of map out where they wanted to go with the OS, and to make sure it was flexible enough to get them there. We're already about 10 years into that 20 year life expectancy, and by most accounts, it's surpassed what they could have possibly imagined at the outset. There's no way they could have anticipated products like the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and AppleTV all using offshoots of the same OS. They also managed to migrate CPU architectures with considerably less pain than the m68K to PPC transition back in the day, where basically users and developers both got a swift kick in the teeth. It was next to seamless this go around, and basically Apple was able to have parallel builds of Mac OS X running internally since the very beginning.

And along the way, Apple hasn't been afraid to rip chunks of the OS out and rewrite them. They wrote their own version of at and cron a long ways back, almost no one even remembers that anymore, and then they ripped out the process scheduler and replaced it with GCD. As I already mentioned, they've made some tradeoffs with the original Mach kernel design for performance reasons.

Anyway, you can't have it both ways. If you're going to say exploiting Chinese workers is bad, which is a perfectly valid stance to take, you can't then turn around and say that we should exploit them MORE by buying Dell or HP or whomever because they're cheaper... Ergo, they don't pay those Chinese workers as much, don't enforce better working conditions compared to the norm, etc. It just doesn't work that way. If exploiting these workers is bad, then the fact that Apple pays better, etc, should be seen as at least LESS bad compared to the others. Like the choice between a swift kick to the teeth or a swift kick to the teeth with a steel toed boot. Neither option is exactly desirable, but if those are your only options, wouldn't you take the plain swift kick to the teeth? I know I would.

So you've pretty much shot your own price argument in the foot, unless you want to change your stance and claim to be a heartless b@stard who thinks himself better than all those Chinese workers, because YOU would never work for about $50 a week, work 12-16 hours a day, and then basically LIVE at the factory. No, those Chinese workers are there to be worked until they drop, then replaced, all so that YOU can have cheap electronic goods. Unless that's the stance you want to take, you're going to have to rethink your price argument. And for the record, while I wouldn't agree with that particular neo-conservative view of the world, it is at least consistent.

I'm not really sure what it is you have left for arguments at this point. You're either destroying them yourself or missing the forest for the trees. Actually, trees would probably be a bit generous, more like tree, or branch on a particular tree. You're not quite making straw men arguments, but you're not that far off the mark.

Collapse -
Reply
by msgale / May 23, 2011 2:36 PM PDT
In reply to: Could have fooled me

"Could have fooled me with all the various intellectual shortcuts you're taking. Though I do have to say, I had a girlfriend once with a MS in Computer Science, and she could barely handle the basics of computers. She might have been great at programming an AI algorithm in Java, but when it came to basic computer maintenance... Seems to be a pretty common thing with CS types. They are great little code monkeys, but are horrible with everything else."

Whether you ex-girlfriend was or was not able to reach your standards is immaterial. I don't really care. Let's talk facts: 1. If you haven't seen Windows source code, how can you comment about what it contains? 2. You do realize Mac OS incorporates both UNIX BSD and SRVR4 code? Which dates back to the late 1970? Open a terminal window and check the copyrights on some of the files. 3. You are undoubtedly aware that the Mac OSX's foundation is NextSTEP acquired when Apple bought NeXT in December 1996. NextSTEP was developed in the late 1980s. Windows NT was first released in 1993. That makes the Windows code base newer not older than MAC OS. Sorry 'bout that.

Collapse -
And I see
by Jimmy Greystone / May 24, 2011 11:14 AM PDT
In reply to: Reply

And I see you've decided to take it all the way to straw man territory now. Also apparently hoping that I will not notice the fact that you've apparently abandoned all your previous arguments in the process.

What a nice little straw man argument it is too! Trying to say that indirect observations, and those based on knowledge of the Win32 API cannot give one some insights into the Windows code base. Then you go for broke saying that because of certain copyright obligations, which require things be mentioned, that Darwin contains code going back to the late 80s.

Actually, most of that is just the fact that Darwin implements the POSIX API, which has been around for a very long time. And Darwin is based on FreeBSD, which traces its roots to 386BSD and from there back to the original BSD Unix. I'll have to admit to not knowing what NeXTStep was based on, but it really doesn't matter, because aside from a few design elements like The Dock, it was only the OpenStep API that carried over into Mac OS X which made for the foundation of the Cocoa API. To this day, you can port GNUStep apps, GNUStep being an effort to create a GPL'd implementation of the full OpenStep API, with a great deal of ease to Mac OS X. But the Aqua GUI, which most people associate with being the actual OS, is just a new GUI built around a continuation of the OpenStep API.

You also conveniently ignore the part where I say Apple has been willing to rip out big chunks of the OS and rewrite them, all so you can create a nice tidy little man of straw. For someone who claims to have been involved in the development of a couple of operating systems, and has a masters in computer science, you seem woefully unimpressed by the magnitude of a new process scheduler. That is no small feat. We're talking about rewriting a core part of the kernel which impacts EVERY SINGLE PROCESS run on that system. That is a pretty major undertaking. You don't just rewrite something like that because you're bored one afternoon.

In any case, since I can see you've clearly given up even trying to make an intelligent argument, I'll just leave this at a final thought for others who may be interested.

Apple makes absolutely no bones about being a premium brand. No one will in any way dispute the fact that they are more expensive than your Dells or HPs, but you'd be a complete fool to look at the sticker price alone. You can say it's because Apple produces fewer units overall, or one of a number of other reasons, but in the end, what does it really matter? Apple's build quality and support is consistently ranked well above that of other companies.

Apple is a premium brand, and you buy it because you want a certain degree of luxury. It's the little things, like how the display hinges are counterbalanced so you don't need to hold the bottom of the laptop down to open the display lest you flip it over. Or the oversized trackpad with multitouch support. Or even just the more substantial feeling of an aluminum case over cheap plastic. Maybe it's the minimal hassle support, be it software or hardware related. Maybe you just prefer the more consistent and unified Aqua UI or the fact that you get a host of tools bundled with the system which would cost a small fortune on Windows. Maybe you're more pragmatic and enjoy the freedom of not having to constantly be looking over your shoulder, wary of a virus or malware infestation. There are a large number of reasons why someone might prefer a Mac over a PC. There are also a number of reasons for the opposite, price being but one.

What I can't quite figure out, is why you seem to get so distressed at the idea of someone potentially buying a Mac. I fail to see how that will impact you in the slightest. It is unlikely to make Dell or HP go out of business anymore than it is likely to make Microsoft decide to stop selling Windows. And even if both of those things came true, it would hardly cause your current laptop and copy of Windows to cease functioning the same day those companies close their doors. And you could still always build your own PC, put a copy of Linux or FreeBSD on there (BTW, you continually ignored NetBSD) if you don't want to buy a Mac. I think Oracle is still selling Solaris for x86, though I think they killed off the free distribution of it. GNU Hurd is still knocking about last I checked. I just don't see why it is so distressing to you that someone may decide to buy a Mac. It makes the line from Hamlet race through my mind: Methinks the lady doth protest too much. And based on some of the rather patently incorrect statements you've made, I have to wonder if you've ever even used an Apple product in the past 10 years, because they have improved significantly hardware wise, as well as software, in that time. It's a far cry from some of the garbage of the early PPC days.

Collapse -
reply to reply to +...+
by msgale / May 24, 2011 2:55 PM PDT
In reply to: And I see

Actually I do know what it takes to write a scheduler and yes it is a lot of work. What I don't see is exactly they did. One of Apple's code snippets appears to me to an anonymous function with modified syntax that makes it a dispatchable entity. They do not seem to have done away with synchronization or rendezvous. Critical sections are still necessary. In fact, from a user's perspective GCD appears to be similar to OpenMP.

In a SMP environment there are at least two uses for multiple processors, one where multiple processors simultaneously execute independent applications, and the other where several processors simultaneously work on a single application. I am not sure exactly what GCD does for the first case, since the liturate is very sparce.

I do have a copy of Open Solaris for x64 on a laptop. I got it before Oracle change the rules. As an old UNIX system Admin, I keep it around as part of my history, and because a CDC 6600 is a little large to keep at home. At school we have a mix of Macs and PCs. I generally use the Macs to increase my knowledge. I am retired and take courses at the community college to keep out of trouble.

Collapse -
OK, that just about covers it.
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / May 25, 2011 9:44 AM PDT

End of Discussion

Collapse -
Here they cost less after we factor in.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 22, 2011 5:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Money

I am on the verge of replacing a laptop with an nice Macbook Pro. It's within 10% of some HP Envy but HP won't talk about a failure in the bios that caused me loss of a laptop at their hands.

No savings there.
Bob

Collapse -
Go with Mac
by kennethchow / May 23, 2011 3:18 PM PDT

I would say go with Macs because they will definitely fit all your requirements but they may be a little more expensive than Windows.. Save up your money so then you can get one. The money is worth it trust me

Popular Forums
icon
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
icon
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
icon
Laptops 21,181 discussions
icon
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
icon
Phones 17,137 discussions
icon
Security 31,287 discussions
icon
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
icon
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
icon
Windows 10 2,657 discussions

GIVEAWAY

We are giving away 'Black Panther' swag!

Four lucky readers will be taking home *Marvel*ous "Black Panther" prizes, including magazines autographed by the King of Wakanda himself! Giveaway ends Feb. 25, 2018.