Why most people should buy a Macintosh rather than a Windows PC
Written and compiled April 2000
Updated February 2006

Why this site....?
( introduction)



Ease of use

Installation and troubleshooting

Extending your computer

Reliability and Security

Laptops and Working across platforms

What schools should do

Where Windows is better than the Mac

Price watch



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Broken Links...
It is very hard to guarantee the currency of links on the Internet. If you get an error that a link could not be found (often a 404 error) please go to The Internet Archive
where you may be able to find it. Please report all broken links.







Is Windows really that fast?

Transferring a file form the D to the C drive of a PC

Transferring a file from a CD-ROM to the HD of a Mac

File size 478MB. Using same disk. No other programs running

Under Windows XP = 4 min 20 sec
52 times CD-ROM

XP Home 2002
1.7 Ghz
224Mb RAM



Under MacOSX 10.2.2 = 4min 15 sec
32 times CD-ROM
Specs: eMac
Mac OSX 10.2.2
256Mb RAM


Under MacOS9.1 = 3 min 25 sec
24 times CD-ROM

Specs: iMac
Mac OS9.1
128Mb RAM


Under MacOS8.6 = 6min 40sec
12 times CD-ROM

Specs: Powermac 7220
Mac OS8.6
32Mb RAM
source: personal testing - March 2003
Mac vs. PC 5: Power Mac G5 Dual 2.7GHz (digitalvideoediting tests dual 2.7 Mac and a dual 3.6 Xeon - May 2005)
" ...the performance of both computers is just about the same. And, if you look at the prices, you get much more for your money with the dual-processor Mac these days than you do with a dual-processor Xeon PC. Even more significant is the fact that the price of this test Mac is unusually high, because Apple chose to include 4 GB of RAM, and added numerous other extras to the mix. With a comparable 2GB of RAM and without any extras, this machine would cost $1300 less than the current price of our Dell dual Xeon 3.6GHz PC that we used for comparison. As configured, for forty bucks less you get speed that’s statistically just about the same as a PC, Bluetooth connectivity, FireWire 800 on the motherboard , and then there’s that striking industrial design and cachet that only goes with owning a Mac" (emphasis added)


(ie. total cost of purchase and maintenance)

Study finds Apple Macs 36% cheaper to run than PCs (link on this page)

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Looking for a cheap supercomputer?

Get a few hundred G5s

The University of Texas has just completed a Dell/Linux cluster that will achieve over 3 Teraflops or 3 trillion calculations per second. According to the Austin Business Journal it is not yet at full capacity but will cost $US38million.
Also in the US, at Virginia Tech's $US5.2M Apple/Mac OS X cluster of 1,100 new G5s, which achieves 17.6 Teraflops, has just been put into operation putting it about second in the list of supercomputers. Each individual G5 is a dual processor, 2GHZ machine with 4GB of memory.

see Terascale Computing Facility Press Links for current press about the Virginia Tech supercomputer

The Earth Simulator, the big gun in supercomputers cost about $US350 million

Cost per Teraflop:
Dell at UT- $US10.3 million.
Apple at VT- $US295,000.
Earth Simulator in Japan - $US9.75 million

A grain of salt with your c|net, Apple still shines. Alan Graham Jan. 15, 2004

Check the latest on the supercomputers here.

Macs include many features that cost extra on PCs. It's a widely-held, but false, belief that PCs cost much less than Macs. While some PCs offer a lower "base price" than Macs, a feature-by-feature comparison, including cost of maintenance, indicates that Macintosh computers are often cheaper to buy and maintain. Macs include many key features that either cost extra, aren't needed or simply aren't available on most PCs, such as virus software, bluetooth , Firewire3 expansion and sound cards. All Macs have sound cards; some PCs still don't. All Macs have had Firewire standard since 2000; some PCs still don't.

A survey of press advertisements was begun in August 2000 and it showed that in fact the entry-level (and sometimes even high end) Macs were sometimes cheaper than roughly equivalent PCs (and this is before maintenance costs are considered)!

The Reliability and Security section of this site cites many many studies from non-Apple sources indicating that Macs are more reliable and more secure (read "cheaper to support").

MacOSX 10.2 (Jaguar - $AU229) is half the cost of Windows XP Home ($AU 460)
source Apple Store online and Harvey Norman catalogue April 2003
Education prices: OSX - $175; WinXP $240.
OSX FREE for teachers
(May - June 2003)

For current retail pricing of computers in Australia go to Mac -PC PriceWatch (part of this site).

Apple's new Mac mini is cheaper than the cheapest desktop on the Dell Australia website (January 2005). And competively priced in August 2005. See Mac -PC PriceWatch

The cost of ongoing support adds to the total cost of using Windows

At least one ISP reports significantly longer help desk calls from Windows users (from Whirlpool Australia)
"No worries. The answers you received from other providers regarding Mac support have surprised me somewhat. OS9/OSX are far easier to support in my opinion than the multitude of Windows versions. I rarely have a long Mac call, but may spend an hour solving browsing issues on the Windows platform." Craig (Support) AAPT Internet

Tiger Server Roars, Too by Sean Gallagher April 29, 2005
... Apple box running Tiger Server could do the same job as a Windows 2003 system for hundreds or thousands of dollars less.

Apple's Xserve could make inroads in the data center
Its dirt-cheap dual-processor server competes favorably with rival offerings
"Most Mac technical support personnel argue that the machines are far simpler to manage than Windows boxes. For example, when Genentech went through a recent upgrade on both its Mac and Windows systems, one technician could completely upgrade six OS X machines per day, while on the Windows side, one person could complete only two or sometimes three PCs each day. And for the entire company, seven technicians handle nearly 2,500 Macintoshes."

Macs Are More Expensive, Right? by Paul Murphy LinuxInsider 26th 2004 August
At the low end, therefore, the PC desktops are marginally less expensive than the Macs -- if you can do without their connectivity and multimedia capabilities -- and considerably more expensive if you can't. At the very high end, however, all of the design focus is on multimedia processing and the PCs simply aren't competitive from either hardware or cost

Opinion: Macintosh OS X Platform To Extend TCO Advantage in Near Future (Jan 2004)

See this US survey Least Expensive Laptops? Hint: It Ain't Dell
http://www.oscast.com/stories/storyReader$340 (April 2003)

Macs also have a longer life span. PC Magazine found that the average age of Macs in a reliability survey (August 2001), was much higher than the average PC. This suggests that people have to - or feel the need to - replace their Macs less often than their PCs. See table right.

Even though Dell PCs scored very well in the service and reliability area they were relatively new. The Macs, despite being on average twice as old as the Dells, still received a satisfactory result in service and reliability (relatively small sample).

Apple's server and storage offerings are helping the company overcome its reputation as the high-priced computing

Apple 3.9
IBM 3.0
Micron 2.7
Gateway 2.7
Compaq 2.4
HP 2.2
Dell 2.0
eMachines 1.9

From Apple Should Stay the Mac Course: (by Sean Gallagher May 2004)
"I'm typing this column on a G4 Cube that I bought four years ago with my own money—and it's survived three operating-system upgrades without any noticeable drop in performance. If anything, it's gotten faster.
On the other hand, one of my PC file servers was literally rebooted to death by Windows Updates. As for the desktop PC I purchased around the same time as the Cube, the best I can say about this machine is that it runs Linux well.

I can say without hesitation that I'd rather support an office full of Mac OS X machines than an office full of PCs running whatever combination of Windows they might have loaded."

Uni slashes desktop support demands Feb 2004

Brookfields chooses Apple Mac upgrade over move to PCs 20 January 2004

2002 AEC CAD IT Study Indicates Macintosh Advantages for IT Management Costs for AEC Firms Worldwide
There were five key findings in the report:
1)  Mac firms spend on average 12 percent more on hardware costs than Windows or Mac/Windows mixed platform firms,
2) Mac firms have workstation replacement cycles of six (6) months longer than Windows firms, gaining a full year of additional productive use every two replacement (upgrade) cycles,
3) Cross-platform firms spend approximately the same amount on IT costs as Windows-only firms,
4)  FileMaker Pro is the dominant database application used by AEC firms in the study, especially in cross-platform firms, 
5) Macintosh-only firms spent 15 to 50 percent less on IT management costs (including staff type, staff hours, etc.) than both Windows-only firms and mixed platform firms.

Apple windfall from Licensing
6 Kelly Mills November25, 2003 The Australian
' Cost was another factor in Apple's favour. "Surprisingly, it came out at about half the price of a Windows server and these days you just can't ignore that," '

The 20th Annual Awards for Technical Excellence PC Magazine November 18, 2003
Winner : Apple Power Mac G5

The G5 performed significantly better than any previous Mac—and equaled or bettered the performance of Intel-platform machines—on our all-important graphics and content creation tests.

Apple Power Mac G5: Neck-and-Neck with Intel PCs by Troy Dreier of PC Magazine September 19, 2003
" ...the G5 is generally as fast as the best Intel-based workstations currently available "

Analysis: x86 Vs PPC

Table of contents
1. History, Architectural differences, RISC Vs CISC, Current state of these CPUs
2. Law of Diminishing , Performance, Vector Processing and Power Consumption differences
3. Low Power x86s, Why The Difference?, To RISC Or Not To RISC, PPC and x86 get more Bits
4. Benchmarks, the Future
5. Conclusion, References

Analysis: x86 Vs PPC (OS News July 2003)
" Things are changing, Linux and other Operating Systems are becoming increasingly popular and these are not locked into x86 or any other platform. x86 is running into problems and PowerPC looks like it is going to increasingly become a real, valid alternative to x86 CPUs both matching and exceeding the performance without the increasingly important power consumption or heat issues."

Power Mac G4 and G5 versus Pentium 4, Dual Xeon, and Dual Athlon
updated September 2003, includes G4s, G5s, Athlon, Xeon and Pentium.

Ordinary buyers of PCs are often deceived into thinking that PCs are much faster than Macs - they are faster but not so much that differences in processor speed would be noticeable to most users. It is only when processor intensive applications like Photoshop and 3D animation programs are used that differences in processing times will be really noticeable. Sometimes processors can be too fast for ordinary users. Yes too fast. For example, mouse scrolling in Word on the latest Mac or Intel processor can sometimes be impossible to control.

For a rational and virtually flame-free discussion see In pro digital photography, megahertz matters ( If Raw photo and Photoshop batch processing are important in your workflow, then speed is what you need by Rob Galbraith Tuesday, January 7, 2003).

There have been claims that Macs can "toast" Intel and AMD PCs processor-wise. They are exaggerated. The speed of a computer is dependent on the bus speed (the System Bus is like a "pathway" between the processor and main memory), the speed of the hard disk and the speed of the memory and the amount of memory installed. Apple's claims of superior processor performance are narrowly-based.

Here are some references regarding the "Megahertz Myth". Note that most of them are not "pro-Mac" sites (pro-Mac sites are bolded)

  • Henrico County (VA, USA) has one support person for 838 Macs
    see page 242 of this PDF (600k) then note that the Superintendent's recommendation that "the move to one predominant platform will result in lower costs (both in direct outlays and in opportunity costs to enhanced services) and to more effective and efficient technical support services." does not reconcile with the evidence regarding cost found in the report itself. Here are some samples of their poor reasoning and poor research:

    • "the discovery that new Apple hardware no longer supported earlier
    Macintosh operating systems currently in use in Arlington Public Schools." This is not true. Current Macs using OSX support OS9.

    •"Because Mac’s are generally found in high budget business environments, qualified Mac technicians generally demand higher than average salaries...." This may of may not be true in Virginia but how often ar they required? Has Arlington done a TCO? Otherwise this statement is meaningless. If Mac technicians do cost twice as much but only have to be called half as often what is the net effect on TCO?

    •"Microsoft no longer supports Internet Explorer on OS X which is the APS supported browser. ..." So?? Safari is a better browser! When have web browsers required "support"? Why aren't they using Firefox and / or Mozilla?

    •"Apple hardware repair requests were significantly higher than PC hardware requests. Software repair requests were only slightly higher for Mac’s for the same period." Yes but what was the cost involved? What was the length of downtime? Why did the report not quote identical parts for Macs and PCs?

    •Page VII-9 indicates that Arlington Schools do not realise that most components for Macs and PCs are the same or that iMacs do not have floppy drives.

"respondents suggested..." "Many felt that more software was available" "participants felt that there would be cost savings and support efficiencies associated with a single platform,"   Notice the subjective terms and lack of quantitative research. And why did they price relatively expensive iMac with LCD screens and not eMacs which are designed for schools?

Henrico County indicated that it had a ratio of 1 support person for every 838 Macs. No other counties gave figures for the level of required tech support. How many technicians do they need? Why aren't they saying?

To the outsider it appears that Arlington Schools decided on a course of action and then cobbled together a "justification" for it.



More Mac vs. Windows comparisons from macspeedzone
/central/other/Links.html#Windows vs Mac

for non-technical discussions go to

Issues with Benchmarking

Some Thoughts Regarding Processor "Speed," Megahertz Ratings, and Benchmark Tests.

and for a technical discussion go to
RISC vs. CISC: the Post-RISC Era: a historical approach to the debate (http://www.arstechnica.com/cpu/4q99/risc-cisc/rvc-1.html)

There is also some concern about the alleged speed of the new Pentium 4 chip (being slower than a Pentium 3). See the PC World report (http://www.pcworld.com/news/article.asp?aid=35083)

Macs also require less maintenance (see also under Reliability) making them less expensive.

Backward compatibility.
The Mac has always provided backward software compatibility, ensuring that users can run their older software on new Macs or on new versions of the Mac OS. Every new version of Windows has included features that make backward compatibility of existing applications an issue. What ran on DOS or Windows 3.1 didn't necessarily run on Windows 95; and DOS, Windows 3.1, and Windows 95 software didn't necessarily run on Windows NT. When combined with changes in Windows, PC users need to be very careful when upgrading. (This is apparently also true of Win2000 and XP).

It has to be said, however, that MacOSX (“ten”) released in March 2001 will only run on a G3/4 processor and only applications specifically made for it will be able to take advantage of its features.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Study finds Apple Macs 36% cheaper to run than PCs   
(The Australian) March 2003 BROKEN LINK

Australian study finds Macs are 36 percent cheaper to run than Windows PCs
(Mac Unlimited) March 2003 BROKEN LINK

PC World Report (Live April 2003)

Melbourne University counts the savings with Apple from David Frith's article in "The Australian"

SYDNEY 12 June 2002.

A study from technology research company, Gartner has found Apple Macintosh computers to be up to 36 percent cheaper to own and run than competing PC products. The study utilised Gartner's Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) methodology, which takes into account the direct and indirect costs of owning IT infrastructure. Direct costs include all hardware and software costs for desktop and mobile computers, servers and peripherals as well as upgrades, technical support and annual depreciation. Indirect costs cover the costs of end-users supporting themselves and each other, end-user training time and non-productive downtime.

The report compares the TCO for the University's Mac environment with its PC environment. It also compared the University's Mac environment with similar sized PC installations around the world. The research was conducted at Melbourne University in the Faculty of Arts which included 4676 Apple computers and 5338 Windows based machines. The relevant cost comparisons were $ 14.1 million and $ 18.9 million respectively. Apple systems cost just $ 1953 per year to support, Gartner found, compared with annual costs for Windows based machines of $ 2522.

Apple Computer Marketing Director, Arno Lenior, said the findings illustrated how medium to large sized organisations like Melbourne University could save time and money by investing in Macs over PCs. There is a perception that Macs are more expensive than PCs but this report proves what we've long believed - Macintosh is the most cost effective and efficient platform available, said Marketing Director, Apple Computer, Arno Lenior.

In examining direct costs, Gartner found that Macs required less technical support and the hardware and software costs were lower. Gartner found that this translated into direct savings of 25 percent over similar sized organisations using personal computers. University of Melbourne IT staff were able to manage more Macintosh systems per person servicing 30 Apple computers for every 23.2 Windows based computer. Macs are designed to be easy to use. The report highlighted this, proving that Mac users at the University required less formal training and didn't rely as heavily on technical staff as PC users. When something did go wrong, the technical staff solved the problem faster on Macs than PCs, said Lenior.

The Gartner report found that the Mac's efficiency and ease of use resulted in additional indirect savings of 43 percent. When combined, the Total Cost of Ownership for Melbourne University's Macs was 36 percent lower than similar PC environments elsewhere. Perhaps even more importantly, when questioned on how they felt about their networks Mac users at the University were happier than their PC counterparts.

see also

University confirms Gartner findings: Macs are cheaper - and less trouble
posted on July 2, 2002 2 July 2002, Alex Summersby    March 2003 BROKEN LINK

Gartner won't endorse "contentious" Apple report
by James Pearce, ZDNet Australia 17 June 2002

Note that Gartner has not denied the existence of the report, or its accuracy.

Because Macintosh hardware and software are both tightly controlled by Apple they tend to work together more efficiently than the hardware/software combination on Wintel PCs where there are numerous hardware manufacturers designing for a single OS. The Mac OS and the hardware it runs on are made by the same company and because of this they are more reliable than PCs. They need less maintenance which reduces their total cost of ownership4 . Thus while the Mac’s initial cost is sometimes higher for professional level computers (Apple is very strict about its reseller pricing and it withdrew clone licensing agreements some years ago) it is cheaper to maintain, one study putting them at 25% cheaper to maintain than Windows-based systems5. See the references below and under "Reliability and Security" and in the references for "What schools should do".

Many people don't realise that parts for PCs, which as a general rule are cheaper than those specifically made for the Mac, can often be used in Macs: hard drives, floppy drives, CD-RWs as well as memory modules.

On a Mac, there is a number of programs which use less RAM and require less HD space than their equivalent Windows versions. For example: Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Internet Explorer. The multimedia CD-ROM "StageStruck" developed on Macs at the University of Wollongong (in conjunction with NIDA) requires 16Mb of RAM to run on a Mac. On a PC 32Mb of RAM are needed.

Software / applications.

With an emulator like SoftWindows or Virtual PC you can run applications written not only for the Mac OS, but also for Windows. Thus a single program running on a Mac (with sufficient memory) can give you the ability to run any PC or Mac applications and allow you to switch from one OS to another with a single keystroke(Cmd+M). You can also run other operating systems on a Mac as you can with a PC, and it is even possible to run a MacOS on a PC if you have the right software. It must be pointed out that emulators work quite slowly.

ADSL requirements for PC are often much higher than for Mac: two to three times as much RAM and twice as much more hard disk space.

The PowerPC Mac uses much less power and runs much "cooler" than a Pentium processor of a similar speed. Apple’s slot-loading iMac runs quieter than just about all other computers because it has no fan.

Virus protection software also increases the cost of PCs, a cost "input" often not considered by computer buyers (see below for a more complete discussion of viruses).

Viruses are almost unheard of in the Macintosh community.

Apple offers a free Operating System (7.5.3). No Windows operating system is free. Indeed some would say that most Windows software is overpriced especially given the level of its sales. Read what consumer advocate Ralph Nader has to say about this issue: Consumer Harm in the Microsoft Case by Ralph Nader (Address to The Bazaar - An Open Source Software Event New York, December 15, 1999 - http://www.cptech.org/ms)

See also Nader's (and James Love of Consumer Project on Technology) letter to US Office of Management and Budget June 2002

3 SCSI and Firewire are methods of adding peripherals to computers. SCSI has been phased out with the arrival of USB and Firewire.

4 Personal experience: this author has used Macs since about 1990 and PCs since 1995 (he tried Win 3.1 a few times). He has worked in a PC only environment on a WinNT 4 (service pack 4) machine. Between April 1999 and February 2000 he recorded over 140 software and hardware crashes/hangs/freezes; he had the computer looked at by three separate technicians and eventually it was reimaged He lost approximately three working days when the PC was out of action, including the time it took to be reimaged. In addition to that the PC's speakers and mouse had to be replaced (IBM brand). During the same period his two Macs at home(6 and 3 years old) - in an unsupported environment - needed no outside maintenance beyond periodic low level attention: clean reinstalls and routine defragmentation.(back to text)

5 Technical Support Costs In Dual Platform Computing Environment, Gartner Group, October 1995.

6 PCI (peripheral component interconnect) is a type of expansion slot. The circuitry connecting the slot to the main circuit board is also known as a “bus”.

7 PC Magazine, "The Big Business Upgrade," by Jim Seymour, September 10, 1996.

8 RISC: reduced instruction set computing (on MacintoshPower PC chips, made by Motorola)
CISC: complex instruction set computing (on PC chips made by Intel, AMD and others)

Why this site....? | Design | Cost | Ease of use | Installation and troubleshooting | Extending your computer | Reliability and Security | Laptops and Working across platforms | What schools should do | Where Windows is better than the Mac | Price watch | References