Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Why I Went Mac But Still Keep My PC

Why I Went Mac But Still Keep My PC
By

I’ll be honest, I’ve been a PC user for the longest time, since the 286 days. Those were great ! I even had a yellow monochrome monitor. My favorite years with the PC however, is no doubt the "Windows XP" years. This version of Windows was one of the best, if not the best — so far — of any consumer operating system from Microsoft.

When Windows Vista launched, I hesitated to upgrade because there were really very few new drivers available. That and I customized my XP setup so much that it was just daunting to think about wiping my computer and restarting from scratch. After getting to use several Windows Vista-based PCs, I just couldn’t see the need to go through the trouble. There wasn’t anything in Vista that I couldn’t do faster on my XP box.

I built my machine nearly two years ago and it’s still going pretty strong today. Here’s my current Windows XP PC.

ProcessorAMD Dual Core Opteron @ 2.93 GHz
MotherboardMSI K8N Neo nForce 4
MemoryCorsair XMS DDR 2GBx2
StorageWD Raptor 36 GB x 2 and Seagate Barracuda 320 GB
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX x 2
SoundM-Audio Revolution 7.1
Resolution2560x1600
OSMicrosoft Windows XP SP2

Now this PC runs pretty much everything I want — except... I haven’t touched it in nearly six months. I’ve gone Mac.

Just in case some believe that I’m not really a hardcore PC guy, here’s my system before the one listed above :

ProcessorDual AMD Athlon MPs 1.5GHz
MotherboardTyan Thunder 2462NG
MemoryCorsair Registered ECC PC2100 1 GB x 4
StorageSeagate Cheetah FC X15 18 GB x 5 and a DPT SmartRAID FC-AL 2 Gbit RAID controller with 162 MB cache
GraphicsTyan Tachyon 9700 Pro
SoundCreative Labs SB Audigy
Resolution1920x1200
OSMicrosoft Windows 2000 Professional

15,000 RPM of goodness15,000 RPM of goodness

It was an extensive RAID setup, with hardware usually not found in a consumer-level system. FC-AL, or fibre-channel arbitrated loop, was something I thoroughly enjoyed using. Prior to it, my desktop used hardware RAID Ultra-320 SCSI. Everything ran on SCSI, even my optical drives. I used Plextor drives exclusively since it was the best makers of CD drives and its drives were well known for being reliable and top performers.

In fact, I was so into extreme hardware, I even had a Sun StorEdge A1000 array. With drives runninng attached to an Adaptec SPEC 2 quad-channel SCSI RAID controller, we are talking about some serious performance. Excessive ? Yeah, pretty excessive, but hey this is Tom’s Hardware we’re talking about here.

Sun's StorEdge A1000 ArraySun's StorEdge A1000 Array

The above computer is now roughly six years old, but it was a screamer at the time. But as time went by I ended up simplifying everything. All the upkeep was a chore. I had two Linux servers running 24/7 backed up by twin APC Smart-UPS 1500. Yeah — I definitely miss those days.

Display 242 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 25 Hide
    theLaminator , July 28, 2008 1:53 PM
    A good friend of mine said it best, a Mac is like a good prostitute. You pay good money to crazy things that your wife won't do but at the end of the day the prostitute isn't nearly as useful as your wife. You're wife can do alot more than in your life than a prostitute. Yeah its fun and sexy but is the price reallly worth it? I'll stick to my PC(wife)
  • 22 Hide
    russki , July 28, 2008 12:56 PM
    The article should be titled "why I like OSX." And then there must be compelling reasons - which there are none other than "it is streamlined and does everything I need better."

    Just what exactly is it? Why is it better? (besides the expose, but can you at least compare it to the modern Vista technology, and not the crappy XP; even with XP, there's a power toy which is much better than the default solution).

    JESUS. Horrible editorial. Seriously, it's articles like this that reinforce Tom's bad rep as of late.
  • 19 Hide
    VTOLfreak , July 28, 2008 1:13 PM
    After reading this article I went to the Apple site and configured a Mac Pro with 2 Xeon's, 8GB memory and 4TB storage. Cost: about €6000 ($8000) Then I went to a local webshop and put together a machine with thesame specs as the one on the Apple site except I put in a GTX 280. Total cost: less then €3000.

    OS X may be nice, but do you really want to pay a 100% premium on a machine just for the OS? For a €3000 price difference I'll stick with Vista x64 or Ubuntu 8.04 x64. (Wich is free btw)
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    jaragon13 , July 28, 2008 11:42 AM
    Obviously,with two 8800 GTX's,I don't see why you wouldn't want to play Crysis,Battlefield 2,Call of Duty 4,etc.,all day long....
  • 5 Hide
    kidswithguns , July 28, 2008 11:50 AM
    Can I play PC games on an Mac system? I never used a Mac before. I couldn't find a main point in your post. Who should move to Mac? A casual user? Entertainment purpose? Servers?
    What Mac can do, that Windows can't?
    What Windows can, that Mac can't?
    You are getting really excited with this, and wrote a really long article, but I couldn't see a big point, that could move me from Windows to a Mac.
    Maybe Mac is really something. But I don't think it's some breaking news, that make me have to say WOW!
    I noticed your hardwares, most of them for server purposes, so, Is that mean Mac is a good way for servers? I thought i would learn the different between Mac and Windows from this article, but I mistaked....
    Maybe I did, mostly about the interface? (The way how it looks).
    Someone knows more about Mac please explain?
  • -3 Hide
    tuannguyen , July 28, 2008 12:05 PM
    kidswithgunsCan I play PC games http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_computer_game on an Mac system? I never used a Mac before. I couldn't find a main point in your post. Who should move to Mac? A casual user? Entertainment purpose? Servers?What Mac can do, that Windows can't?What Windows can, that Mac can't?You are getting really excited with this, and wrote a really long article, but I couldn't see a big point, that could move me from Windows to a Mac.Maybe Mac is really something. But I don't think it's some breaking news, that make me have to say WOW!I noticed your hardwares, most of them for server purposes, so, Is that mean Mac is a good way for servers? I thought i would learn the different between Mac and Windows from this article, but I mistaked....Maybe I did, mostly about the interface? (The way how it looks).Someone knows more about Mac please explain?


    Well, essentially what I wanted to get at was that I just found myself getting a lot more done on a Mac, everything is well unified, and Apple does a great job of integrating hardware, software and services. I mentioned about the Remote app on the iPhone allowing you to use your phone as a remote control for iTunes, which is pretty darn cool. As well, the apps that ship with iLife has a great synergy too.

    I'll cover more about how it all ties in together in a follow up article. This article was for me to set the ground work really. I didn't want to publish an article that was insanely long and had too many pages to click. :) 

    You'll see me go through some of the magic that makes all these apps work well together on a Mac in an article coming soon.

    / Tuan
  • 2 Hide
    randomizer , July 28, 2008 12:20 PM
    Expose always seemed messy to me, but I rarely have enough windows open to need it anyway. It's definitely simpler and faster to use than Vista's scrolling... thing... whatever it is called again. Flip 3D, that's it.

    Looking forward to the Ubuntu setup guide. I can never get my NVIDIA drivers working because my chair to keyboard interface is constantly malfunctioning.

    @jaragon13: Some people actually have a job :kaola: 
  • 7 Hide
    warezme , July 28, 2008 12:22 PM
    judging by the title, you didn't really go Mac..., you just added a Mac. If Mac was all that you wouldn't need to keep a PC.
  • 2 Hide
    apache_lives , July 28, 2008 12:27 PM
    Wow this article felt like a total ego trip

    heres what hardware i was using two years ago:
    Intel Idontgiveacrap-eron 4 with HT
    16 giveacraps of ram
    bla bla bla

    on a totally different note, the computer i use the most in my house is a ~8 year old windows 98 based pc - Tutalain Celeron 1100a @ 1.46, 512 SDR, Voodoo2 SLI, SB AWE32 etc - more fun in old classic games then the newer modern games i think, CARAMAGEDDON NUT!!!!!!

    I know for a fact that nether MAC's nor XP/Vista machines can play these games!
  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , July 28, 2008 12:28 PM
    This was a waist of my life, I need to bill tomshardware for this.
  • -1 Hide
    randomizer , July 28, 2008 12:33 PM
    warezmejudging by the title, you didn't really go Mac..., you just added a Mac. If Mac was all that you wouldn't need to keep a PC.
    If PC was all that you wouldn't need to get a Mac in the first place. In the end it comes down to preference and/or use. Buying a Mac would be a waste of money for me because I wouldn't know what to do with it, but that doesn't make it inherently useless. It's my fault :D 
    apache_livesI know for a fact that nether MAC's nor XP/Vista machines can play these games!
    I got a 1997 Star Trek game to work on Vista, I think you should give it a go. Admittedly I got occasional BSODs when trying 6xAA at 640x480 but dropping to 4xAA mostly fixed that up.
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , July 28, 2008 12:36 PM
    XP and Glide never really shared that love windows 9x did, and EA never really made a decent patch for Need for Speed 3 to work with XP properly even.

    Dos box gives some relief but in the end, the 9x machine is easier when its native etc.
  • -1 Hide
    hairycat101 , July 28, 2008 12:50 PM
    Macs will never game like Windows unless the gaming community gives up Direct X. You can game with a macintrash... you just have to do it from a windows boot.
  • 22 Hide
    russki , July 28, 2008 12:56 PM
    The article should be titled "why I like OSX." And then there must be compelling reasons - which there are none other than "it is streamlined and does everything I need better."

    Just what exactly is it? Why is it better? (besides the expose, but can you at least compare it to the modern Vista technology, and not the crappy XP; even with XP, there's a power toy which is much better than the default solution).

    JESUS. Horrible editorial. Seriously, it's articles like this that reinforce Tom's bad rep as of late.
  • 19 Hide
    VTOLfreak , July 28, 2008 1:13 PM
    After reading this article I went to the Apple site and configured a Mac Pro with 2 Xeon's, 8GB memory and 4TB storage. Cost: about €6000 ($8000) Then I went to a local webshop and put together a machine with thesame specs as the one on the Apple site except I put in a GTX 280. Total cost: less then €3000.

    OS X may be nice, but do you really want to pay a 100% premium on a machine just for the OS? For a €3000 price difference I'll stick with Vista x64 or Ubuntu 8.04 x64. (Wich is free btw)
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , July 28, 2008 1:15 PM
    I think macs are great toys. But this whole article is about using computers at home for music and game! the Mac is just that a "Home PC". in business the platform is still not usable without jumping through hoops of fire.
  • -2 Hide
    sublifer , July 28, 2008 1:17 PM
    @ randomizer

    lmao I haven't thought of Pebcak in years. (even though it applies more often these days)
  • -5 Hide
    mdillenbeck , July 28, 2008 1:29 PM
    I will admit that I am jealous of my coworkers Mac with VMWare Fusion. He has a dual boot system, but can load XP via Fusion and get DX9 support. Very Convenient. When using the PC version of VMWare there is no DX support or booting an OS from another partition (only the image files). :(  Unfortunately, I use a tablet PC, so only the ModBook would be available to me (at a premium over Apple's premium price)!

    From what I see, this article really touts Apple's integrated solution - from personal computer to digital multimedia to cellular phone platforms. There are three reasons why Apple can succeed at this rather than any company related to Windows computers: first, they are a single company controlling both hardware and software; second, their products' market image and design is 'hip' and 'sexy'; and third, their minor market share.

    The only company that could hope to do what Apple is doing would be Microsoft. However, what would consumer reactions be to such an attempt? First, they would have to partner with multiple hardware vendors to present a unified line of products. Second, their products would not have the same market image - think of iPod competitors and how these devices are often characterized as "ugly". Third, "M$" (as they are often unlovingly called) is immediately labeled as an evil monopolistic corporation motivated solely by greed.

    Thus, when Apple does they are called "innovative" and "visionary" - but when Microsoft does there are implications of coercion of others and attempts to monopolize your digital life. Microsoft is not trying to present an integrated solution to make your life easier (such as standardizing windows layouts so users of a new program know where to find common features).

    The point? Image and perception is everything - and Apple knows how to build image.

    Of course, this image is shaped by strictly controlling hardware and software. This means less customization, longer cycles to bring innovative hardware to market, and less software available. When Apple says a product works, you pay a premium for the product. Compare this to the Vista Compatible/Capable fiasco that occurred.

    PC hardware is more prolific and lower cost, but the burden is on the end user or the branded system manufacturer to ensure that the components work nicely together. Even then, updated drivers from 3rd party manufacturers may cause issues.

    For example, I use the ECS A780GM-A with Vista Ultimate 64 bit as my home system. Since the integrated graphics had HD DVD playback issues with my LG HD DVD/Blu-ray drive, I put in my spare 8500GT nVidia card. It worked fine until a recent driver update from nVidia, which then conflicted with my integrated sound. It would cause my system to lock up after 3-15 minutes of use. Of course, there was an updated ATI driver, so I chose to go back to using the IGP (but have yet to test HD DVDs yet).

    Obviously Apple systems do not have quite the same issues currently. However, if they opened up their system to "after market" upgrades, they undoubtedly would. Thus it would be a big mistake for Apple to open up their system. As to getting more modern hardware choices immediately available, this would require rapid and thorough testing and possibly quick software coding - which would not only increase the cost of the components but increase the probability of coding errors. People wish for more hardware choices, but often they do not realize the risks and costs associated with them.

    Overall, I find the comparison of Mac and PC computers a bit questionable. Although both are computers for home and business use, the way they are designed and marketed are totally different. The perceptions of the companies (underdog Apple with only a tiny market share versus the big evil overlord Microsoft and their legion of PC hardware henchmen) also make comparisons impractical... its kinda like, well, comparing apples to oranges. They may be the in the same category, but they are not the same thing.

    Personally, I find that good - Apple should not let itself become just another PC styled market. Instead, lets keep giving consumers a choice between design philosophies. Heck, lets even let them choose to buy into and enjoy both ways of doing business!
  • 0 Hide
    kitsilencer , July 28, 2008 1:32 PM
    DavisI think macs are great toys. But this whole article is about using computers at home for music and game! the Mac is just that a "Home PC". in business the platform is still not usable without jumping through hoops of fire.


    You said it. If I wanted a *nix-based, tech-friendly, solid, mature (the article uses this word WAY too much) OS, I'll take Ubuntu. Snowball's chance in hell I'm paying extra because of a feature that makes it easier scrolling through open apps.
  • 25 Hide
    theLaminator , July 28, 2008 1:53 PM
    A good friend of mine said it best, a Mac is like a good prostitute. You pay good money to crazy things that your wife won't do but at the end of the day the prostitute isn't nearly as useful as your wife. You're wife can do alot more than in your life than a prostitute. Yeah its fun and sexy but is the price reallly worth it? I'll stick to my PC(wife)
  • 1 Hide
    Haiku214 , July 28, 2008 2:00 PM
    Apple may boast that they are the 3rd biggest computer builder in the U.S. but the gap between Apple and even just the 2nd placer is so huge! There's no way beating Dell and HP worldwide!
  • 1 Hide
    Haiku214 , July 28, 2008 2:03 PM
    To theLaminator:

    That is like the best analogy I've seen about Macs and PC - Prostitute and Wife. Lol!!!!! PC should make this as an ad!!!
  • -2 Hide
    qbnsuperman , July 28, 2008 2:08 PM
    Tuan Nguyen = hippie
Display more comments