By: Annie Rose Stathes, July 2014
To Mac or PC: That is the Question
The great debate between Macintosh computers (Macs) and personal computers (PCs) is one that spans cultures and generations and fills the world-wide-web with amateurs and computer-professionals’ passionate debates and claims about which is best. Yet no one is ultimately able to settle the great debate between Macs and PCs, and many consumers are left lost and uncertain about which to buy.
In the case of purchasing one or the other for school, the decision ultimately boils down to personal preference. Each type of computer has its boons and shortcomings, and either can help students succeed in undergraduate or graduate-level coursework. However, there are some things to consider that might make the decision more clear:
First, cost. Apple computers are generally more expensive than PCs of any brand. Consumers pay more for a different look and components, a different operating system, and according to some, a higher quality computer overall. However, not everyone agrees that Apple produces a higher quality computer; many believe that most less-expensive PCs are just as well-made and durable as pricier Apples. What then accounts for the difference in cost? It is ultimately difficult to know, but Apples and PCs do indeed feel different. “Try-on” each computer to get a sense of its feel and compare both computers’ looks and specifics. Then, determine how much money you’re willing to spend and what computer feels like the right one for you.
Second, compatibility. Apples and PCs are different, and their systems don’t always link up. It is not necessarily easy to switch back and forth between the two. Networks, thumb drives, and devices are all examples of entities that might make it difficult for you to use one or the other in multiple locations or to share information between devices. Prior to choosing which computer to buy, consider this: does your school’s computer labs offer access to both Apples and PCs? Do teachers at your school demand the use of a particular type of computer? Does your school have an IT department that works with both Apples and PCs? Are you tech-savvy enough to negotiate between systems? Today, the majority of schools and instructors are set up to be compatible with both types of computers, and other compatibility issues are easily navigated. However, it is wise to research these issues and determine whether or not they’ll actually be issues for you.
Third, hardware, software, and technical support. In some cases, schools offer more of each to Windows (PC) users. Talk to the IT department and bookstore at your school to determine whether or not the hardware, software, and technical support you’ll need for your preferred computer is available.
Fourth, intended use. Different disciplines depend on different computers. Graphic design, for example, often requires the use of an Apple; business, on the other hand, often requires the use of a PC. Do some research into your industry by consulting the world-wide-web, talking to faculty in your discipline, and picking the brains of professional in your field. Determine whether or not you need to be adept at working with one system or the other by the time you graduate and weigh that information with the other factors mentioned in this article. Make a decision based on what makes the most sense given your current demands and future needs.
Ultimately, it’s important in graduate school that you own a computer that is easy to use and allows you to complete your many tasks with ease. It helps too to own a machine that you actually look forward to using. Graduate school is challenging enough without having to negotiate a computer that is ultimately incompatible with your needs. Prior to choosing between a Mac and PC, do some digging to determine which is really right for you.