This is a delicate subject and team windows and team mac will go head to head on forums and facebook posts from morning to night. Within this article we’re interested in what’s important and the positives and negatives that surround each operating system. As a company that own both a mac and PC, we’re not biased in any way but do have a valid opinion and reasons behind why we use what we use.
1 – Cost. Now it’s no secret that when you buy a mac you are buying into the brand and subsequently must pay more than other brands. Mac / Apple corner the whole market for mac computers whereas windows computers are spread across a wide range of different companies. This results in Apple setting the price of how much a mac will cost and windows being a competitive market that have competitive prices. A mac is going to cost you anywhere between £1200 to £5000 depending on how powerful a computer want to own. Whereas a PC with the same or similar or even more power will cost you anywhere between £500 and £2000. A custom built windows PC is a far better option if you are on a budget or like me want to get the most for your money.
2 – Performance. Both mac and windows perform well in a music production environment. You buy a cheap PC it will not perform as well as an expensive PC, this is just common sense. Performance in a music production environment on a mac is great. But this performance all comes down to whether you have a mac that is up to the spec your project requires. A windows PC built to the same spec will perform in the same way. If you exceed your CPU you are going to run into problems. Performance depends on the task in hand and your computers ability to perform that task at it’s given spec.
3 – Updates. Windows updates are far less frequent and far less destructive also. As a business that relies on our computers staying 100% in full working order we will always let the update be tested by other users for a good month or 2 before updating ourselves. I have witnessed on so many occasions mac users complain that after the update their interface no longer works. From what I heard was due to an update in mac security. My most memorable case it left many UAD users a few years back without an interface for a few months while they waited for UAD to release an update which fixed the issue. For me this would be crippling for a business that relies on our computers to work every day without fail. So just be aware that on any computer mac or windows an update can have a negative effect. If you have iTunes installed on your computer you’ll know how frequent updates occur.
4 – Build Quality. Build quality with regards to looking good for me isn’t something I look for in my computers. Most music producers or engineers will have their computer positioned somewhere and it never move. If you have the funds to buy a dedicated music production PC then it’s highly recommended. All of our computers are hidden away and never moved, so look isn’t important. Of course the actual build of the computer needs to be of a good quality. Mac laptops or macbooks have exceptional build quality. They look great, feel great and fit in with the sleek Apple model. There are many windows PC that equally look and feel just as good. There are also some cheaper laptops that look like they have come from the 90’s in their design. Drop any computer mac or windows it’s potentially going to break.
5 – Repairs. A windows PC breaks or gets damaged it’s a relatively simple fix. Lots of parts to choose from and easy to get hold of. If you aren’t able to do it yourself there are hundreds of tech guys out there on high streets across the world that will be able to fix it. With mac you are encourage to take it into the Apple store which can cost a fair bit. Apple do offer Apple Care and you do have warranty, just pray you are within your warranty.
6 – Connections. Custom build a windows PC to the exact spec you want with the amount of USB ports you require. If you have a tower and need more ports simply buy a pcie card with 4 USB ports on it. A hub can also be connected via a single USB slot. With older macbooks you have USB slots that you can expand your connections with using a USB hub. The newer macbooks have done away with most of the connections and now require you to use hubs or dongles. This is fine but for me I’m using upwards of 15 USB ports in my computer and realistically this kind of connection option isn’t viable. With windows PC’s you aren’t limited, for instance in my current setup in my mixing studio I have a Solid State Logic Madi interface. This interface requires a madi extreme pcie card installed to connect the interface with the computer.
7 – Software. More often than not software is built for windows and not for mac. There is a great deal more software that is built for windows. Especially music production software. For instance if you are getting into music and own very little software, the amount of free software available for windows platforms is far more than on mac platforms. Mac do however have Logic which is mac only. Logic is an excellent DAW that most mac user will use. If you like Logic you will have to buy a mac.
8 – Storage. Internally you can get a new macbook pro with 4TB of storage space. Then expand on that with a USB caddie that you can slot your additional hard drives in. A windows PC tower can however slot in most cases up to 3 or 4 hard drives, removing the need for a caddie.
9 – Syncing – Macs are great for syncing all Apple devices together. This is Apples business model. You buy one you buy them all. You essentially become an Apple fanboy and end up with an iPhone, iPad, iWatch and macbook. Windows 10 can do all this but it’s not as forward thinking as Apple and macs approach.
In Conclusion – After reading back through this article it does seem biased towards windows and that was not my intention. But when it comes down to it my personal thoughts on the matter is when you buy a mac you are paying for the brand. If that’s your thing and looking cool having the new must have gadget is for you, then fair play, pay the price and get a mac. For us studio guys who are locked away in a studio for 12 hours plus a day and nobody ever sees the computer we work on it all comes down to performance and what we can get out of it. A windows PC can be custom built to the same spec as a mac for half the price and perform exactly the same if not better. I can honestly say I see a day were Apple will totally disregard the studio guy and his or her needs. It’s already going that way with the dongle approach. It’s becoming more and more increasingly difficult to connect a complete professional studio unless you go back to a G5 tower. I would honestly recommend switching to windows as you’ll be future proofed for the rest of your life. Build a decent computer and you’ll achieve everything a mac does and some. I can tell this article is going to ruffle some feathers with the mac fanboys and girls but hey it’s the truth.
Additional Points Made By Other Facebook Users
Nimesh Patel – Few more points – Windows 10 is now forcing the yearly upgrade that can make or break – puts OSX and Windows 10 in the same boat now. The solution is having Windows 10 Pro where you can have a setting that postpones the major update for as long as poss (think several months). For OSX you simply don’t upgrade until you know your software will be stable via online feedback.
Another point is with performance (although don’t think it affects audio production). I’ve found the NTFS file system to be far quicker than Apple’s HFS+ and APFS in an SSD environment. Design professionals notably prefer to use Adobe’s CC software on a PC environment with an SSD (notably M.2 PCI-E NVMe).
And of course the SSD topic itself – having a PC allows you to have the latest and greatest SSDs at a lower cost – upgrade whenever you want, add more than one, pay the going rate. With Apple, if you want to upgrade your SSD for storage and speed, you’re stuck to using special proprietary SSDs from Transcend or OWC (paying almost double the cost over the traditional PC form factors), and they’re not even as quick as the fastest M.2 SSDs available for the PC (notably the Samsung 970 Evo/Pro). With this possible, you’ll always have quicker performance (and better reliability) than an Apple under any circumstances.