It’s time to buy a new computer, but you’ve got a tough choice ahead of you: do you buy or build a Windows PC or go for a Mac instead? Here are some of the reasons you might want to go for a Windows PC instead of a Mac.
You Want Freedom of Choice
Windows is a hardware-agnostic operating system. It’s a platform that’s designed to run on as many systems as possible, from a wide range of manufacturers. It’s the mainstream operating system of choice for the vast majority of end users, hardware OEMs, and system integrators so it enjoys excellent support across the board.
This gives you the ultimate choice in choosing what sort of computing experience you want. You could choose to build your own PC from the ground-up, choosing everything from the case and fans to the CPU, GPU, and RAM that makes it tick. Or you could pay someone else to build your system for you, to a specification of your choice, at a slight premium.
You also have way more choices when it comes to other form factors, like notebooks. There are Windows laptops that give Apple a run for its money in terms of overall power and polish like the Dell XPS range, and those that target an altogether less pricey end of the market for those who need something on a budget to get the job done.
Dell XPS 13 (Core i7 11th Gen, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD)
The Dell XPS 13 is ideal for those who need the power of an 11th generation Core I7 processor in a small package. It features a gorgeous OLED display, 16GB of RAM and Intel Iris Xe graphics, plus Windows 11 Home.
Laptops and desktops are far from your only choices. You could build a small form factor PC in a Mini-ITX case, or push your building skills to the max with a sleeper PC. If space is a concern an old Intel NUC could be a bargain or you could opt for a Windows all-in-one if you want a Windows alternative to Apple’s iMac. Microsoft is even testing the waters for tiny ARM-based Windows machines that rival the Mac mini.
Be aware that Windows 11 walks back some of this choice with its TPM 2.0 requirements, but most modern PCs make the cut if you’re buying new in 2022 or beyond.
Remember that choosing an Apple computer will limit you to Apple’s current models, with Apple’s choice of upgrades, running an Apple Silicon ARM-based processor. There’s no option to build your own or go for a modular design, so you’re way more limited in terms of how your machine turns out.
Gaming Is a Top Priority for You
PC gaming thrives because of a range of factors, and one of them is a constant desire to push the envelope in terms of hardware. The latest and greatest GPUs like the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 won’t be found in a Mac. This lets PC users experience cutting-edge techniques like ray tracing in a way that even next-gen consoles cannot.
ZOTAC GeForce RTX 4080 16GB
The NVIDIA 40-Series is here and the 4080 offers a slightly more affordable entry point to high-end PC gaming in a smaller, cooler, and more efficient form factor than the 4090.
This helps make Windows the platform of choice for gamers, a space where macOS cannot compete. Apple has made some headway in terms of GPU performance and software support in recent years, but it’s nothing compared to what is possible on Windows. This largely comes down to how ubiquitous the Windows platform is among gamers.
Microsoft’s operating system is the default platform for all but the big console exclusives (and even that’s usually only a matter of time). Financially, it makes a lot of sense to develop games for Windows. Digital storefronts like Steam, the Epic Games Store, GOG, and publisher-exclusive storefronts make it easy to reach a huge number of people. Choice is a huge part of it, with great support for gamepads, mice, keyboards, high-refresh rate monitors, and more.
For smaller developers, Windows presents new opportunities. Early access games allow keen gamers to jump in at the pre-release stage, funding projects at a cut price and being able to sample the goods early. And then there’s Game Pass, Microsoft’s all-you-can-eat gaming subscription that lets you play what you want for a flat rate per month (with most new first-party titles coming to both Windows and Xbox in unison).
There was once a good argument for buying a gaming PC and your favorite console to play exclusive titles, but the times are changing. Microsoft now brings many of its first-party titles like Halo: Infinite and the Forza series to Windows on day one. While Sony isn’t quite as generous, you only have to wait a few years for PlayStation system-sellers like God of War, Horizon, and Spider-Man to get PC versions. Much of the time, these games look better on the PC if you have the hardware to push things to the limit.
That’s to say nothing of the VR space, a platform that thrives among the enthusiast following of the PC audience. The best VR headsets like the Valve Index and HTC Vive Pro 2 depend on a high-end Windows PC to deliver the best VR experience (at least until the PSVR 2 arrives).
You Want to Avoid the Apple Tax
When it comes to building or buying a Windows computer, the sky is the limit in terms of how much you want to spend. You could play it safe and build a barebones system in a modest case, adding the components you need as your budget allows. Or you could throw caution to the wind and spend thousands on an RGB nightmare that will double your power bill.
Generally speaking, if you place a Windows PC and a Mac with equivalent performance side-by-side, you’ll end up paying a lot more for the Apple option. This is particularly true when it comes to Apple’s high-end machines like the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio. Though the MacBook Air is competitively priced, many Windows OEMs will throw in double the RAM and more storage for what Apple charges.
This makes the Windows platform a more attractive choice for those on a tight budget who are looking purely at a price-to-performance comparison. That’s not to say anything of the arguments the Mac users make for build quality, overall user experience, and “access” to a platform like macOS on the Apple side.
You Prefer to Use (or Rely on) Windows
Some people simply prefer to use Windows, and that’s OK. It’s hard to place a price on productivity so if using Windows means you get more done then why stand in the way of progress? Maybe you prefer the UI, the ability to use a touchscreen, or the vast array of free apps the platform has to offer, or you hate the idea of learning how to do things the Apple way.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 (Core i5, 2022)
It doesn't get more Windows than a Microsoft-designed Surface Laptop with a 13.5" touch screen, Intel Evo Core i5 processor, and Windows 11 preinstalled.
Since Apple moved away from Intel-based x86 processors, you can no longer use Boot Camp to install Windows natively. You can’t boot Windows on ARM natively on a Mac, so you’re “stuck” with macOS. Apple’s desktop OS is powerful but not to everyone’s tastes, especially if you’re a seasoned Windows veteran.
Installing Windows on a modern Mac would require using a virtual machine like Parallels or a free solution like VirtualBox. You’d need to use the ARM-based version of Windows 11 which works well but lacks the full compatibility of its x86 counterpart. You can get away with running most Windows apps, but macOS is always running in the background.
If you’d prefer to just deal with Windows directly, buy a PC. If macOS isn’t to your tastes, avoid it altogether and don’t buy a Mac. The ARM-based version of Windows may never run natively on a Mac (unlike Linux, which is nearly there). Software that you rely on for work, school, or play might not work in a VM environment either.
Gaming in particular takes a hit. Not only are you dependent on Apple Silicon hardware, most modern titles simply won’t work in a VM. There’s also additional overhead introduced when running two operating systems, particularly when it comes to power and battery life.
You Want a Machine You Can Upgrade
Building a PC comes with some big benefits, like having a machine that you can upgrade at a later date. You’ll learn how the hardware slots together, how to select components that complement one another, and hopefully how to fix it when things go wrong.
This doesn’t just apply to PCs you’ve built yourself, but many prebuilt PCs with a bit of hassle. Even Windows laptops are more upgradeable than their Apple counterparts. This might just be a stick of RAM or larger NVMe drive that you drop in a few years after buying your laptop, or it could be much more if modular notebook platforms like Framework take off in a big way.
If being able to upgrade is important to you, make sure you build your own machine (or choose a machine from a system integrator that doesn’t use proprietary parts) so that you have a path forward in the future.
Windows Provides More Choice
There are some good reasons to pick a Windows PC over a Mac, including cost, flexibility, and upgradeability. Of course, there are also some good reasons why many people should buy a Mac instead. It’s a good idea to understand both arguments before you make a decision.
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