Mac vs PC

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SanDiablo
SanDiablo's picture
Mac vs PC

My husband and I are having an argument about the virtues of PC vs Mac in the world of scientific research. I'd like to know what platforms y'all use and what you think are the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.

Thanks for helping me win this fight!

Fraser Moss
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It definitely depends on your

It definitely depends on your field. I'd say macs are more stable and powerful for your money ( and no one seems to write many viruses for mac). But because I do a lot of electrophysiology, I am chained to PC's because all the good software for data acquisition and analysis is written for PC's. So I add a disclaimer to my vote for PC's because I HAVE to use them.

Come on Molecular Devices....now you've taken over Axon, it's time to make the sofware in Mac versions too!

Maybe the question should be MAC OS 10 vs Windows XP, vs Linux, Vs Unix?

marcus muench
marcus muench's picture
What, your prenuptial

What, your prenuptial agreement didn't cover Mac vs. PC? What were you thinking?

I'm a rabid Mac fan but agree with frasermoss that the most important thing is that you can get your work done.

Generally, most software you'll ever need is available for the Mac, but there are exceptions. Virtual PC is an option if it comes down to a single piece of software that you only need occasionally. I would ask the software firm if they have used the software with virtual PC before. An issue that comes to mind is the move by the NIH towards electronic submissions of grants. Appartently the NIH picked software that only works on PC, and the company's solution for us Mac users is to use virtual PC (somebody hold me back...).

Cost of the computers I think only slightly favors the PC, the difference is not that great and can be argued based on many subjective criteria. I have to spend many hours a day working on my computer and the beauty of the Mac and its OS makes that easier for more. That is worth a little extra money to me. However, there are PC users that never take the stickers off of their computer and couldn't care less about how the thing looks. They just don't get the whole aesthetic arguement and never will.

One issue with cost that can tip things in favor of one plateform or the other is how much software yo may already own. A couple of hundred dollars more or less for the computer is nothing if you have to shell out $2-3,000 for new software to migrate platforms.

On the virus side, Mac wins hands down. There are no - zero - nada viruses that are in the wild that affect OSX at this time. The UNIX base that it is built on is also beleived to be much more robust with fewer security issues than windows. So even if the Mac gains enough market share to become a tempting target, it is less likely to as badly affected as Windows. Alas, you still get those darn e-mails from Nigeria and from that bank account you have never had on the Mac.

I stick with the Mac mostly because I know it so well and feel like a complete idiot when sitting in front of a Windows machine. Any windows users will likley say the same thing the other way around. For me the strength of the Mac has always been in elagance and ease of use. Sure windows has made great leaps forward from 15 years ago when we were having these same discussions. However, use software like Keynote for presentations and you will never go back to Powerpoint again.

If you can give us a more detailed account of the applications that you need, then I might be able to at least tell you what is availabe on the Mac side.

ryan_m
ryan_m's picture
How is it that in a

How is it that in a bioinformatics forum nobody has mentioned Linux in this discussion? I know OS X is based on a *nix platform but it really is not a fully functional unix-OS. Waiving all the nice animations and other functions that OSX has packaged into it to make the GUI friendly, Linux on a home-built PC seems a better solution for me. Yes, I still personally have to resort to Windows when I encounter something I need that has not been built (or rewritten) for Linux, but these situations are becoming less frequent as time progresses. For those of you who are spending 90% of your time in the X terminal anyway, why not use the free open source solution?

bgood
bgood's picture
Ahem.. perhaps you could

Ahem.. perhaps you could elaborate on why you say that OSX is not a fully functional unix-OS ??

I basically agree though. If as you say, you spend most of your time in the terminal there isn't really any reason to buy the Mac hardware. (though some hardcore types would argue even that..). However, I personally find that I have no choice but to interact frequently with the outside (PC/MS Office) world and Mac Office still interacts MUCH better with PC Office documents then Open Office does.

(And I love all of the cool animations - once you use Expose for a week you can never go back!)

ryan_m
ryan_m's picture
bgood wrote:Ahem.. perhaps

bgood wrote:

Ahem.. perhaps you could elaborate on why you say that OSX is not a fully functional unix-OS ??

I basically agree though. If as you say, you spend most of your time in the terminal there isn't really any reason to buy the Mac hardware. (though some hardcore types would argue even that..). However, I personally find that I have no choice but to interact frequently with the outside (PC/MS Office) world and Mac Office still interacts MUCH better with PC Office documents then Open Office does.

(And I love all of the cool animations - once you use Expose for a week you can never go back!)

I haven't used a Mac enough to have that experience yet. However, I have experienced annoyances such as certain standard unix binaries not existing in "Darwin" when they are available in basically every other *nix release I have used. I think one of them was "scp" or "ftp" or something pretty common like that. But for the most part, they're unixy enough to get the job done.

samm
samm's picture
Though I "grew up" on PCs, I

Though I "grew up" on PCs, I've been using Macs for the last 9+yrs now - and i agree - Macs are fab!
Thats not to say that the machine/OS combo is without its foibles and irritations - i'm sure you've all experienced the spinning beachball of death! The difference is: Macs recover - almost all the time - with no effect on other applications, and minimal effect on the app that caused the hang-up. With pcs, the blue screen of death is literally that - goodbye to *everything* you were doing! Linux (some 5 flavors I've tasted) is somewhat better, and of course, XP has improved dramatically over its predecessors, but nothing tops X.4.
Also, my Apple 17 Intel iMac runs all three kinds of OS - and incidentally, runs XP faster than a pc of the same vintage (~2 months, with a similar chip) - so i guess Apple machines are just built in a more optimized manner - for BOTH OS X and Windows.

neuromama
neuromama's picture
SanDiablo wrote:My husband

SanDiablo wrote:

My husband and I are having an argument about the virtues of PC vs Mac in the world of scientific research. I'd like to know what platforms y'all use and what you think are the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.

Thanks for helping me win this fight!

How can we help you win if we don't know which platform you prefer? ;)

P.S. I hope this isn't going to turn out to be too obnoxious, but I had to know what the burlywood color looked like.
[i]

mahi
mahi's picture
what is MAC vs PC

what is MAC vs PC
i think you are talking about mac operating system and windows operating system
if this is the mean than i would like to say that The Mac operating systam is good than windows operating.
Mac is virus free operating systam and it is goog for research purposes.

g a
g a's picture
But most of the softwares

But most of the softwares that we use are written in languages that MAC doesn't support...... so one always looks back to the wndows......... I personally dont know many of the bioinformatic softwares that operate on MAC...... If there exists a list then please post
Regards
Gaganjot Singh

Ivan Delgado
Ivan Delgado's picture
 

 
The argument that most software is written for Windows is almost as old as computers themselves and to a great extent it is no longer valid. Ever since Macs started shipping with Intel chips, and the OS transitioned to X (i.e. Unix) you can run both Windows and Mac software in a Mac.
But don't take my word for it. Here is an article comparing PC and Mac hardware prices (i.e. pretty much no difference). It also talks about the software issue (providing a link to another article on the subject) and how for most Windows software out there, there is a Mac equivalent that is either free or very inexpensive.
Lastly, here is an analysis of one of the latest TV ads claiming the PCs are better than Macs. Enjoy :).

ryan_m
ryan_m's picture
Thanks Ivan for noting that. 

Thanks Ivan for noting that.  I would also like to note that there is almost no question that there is actually more bioinformatics software available for the Mac platform (not Windows).  This is also because Macs are built on Unix and more bioinformatics software runs on Unix-alikes than in Windows.  I work at a moderate-sized genomics facility and all of our servers and our entire cluster runs Linux for this reason.  Most things that compile on linux can be ported to a Mac but getting them to run on Windows is something else entirely.
Ryan

cambio
cambio's picture
My first computer was a MAC

My first computer was a MAC and I believe that in terms of user friendliness (especially in graphics programs like photoshop, imageJ, and dreamweaver) they are superior. But, I believe MACs are for people who really don't know how to use computers and can't tinker around with the interface.
I personally like having the DOS back up if something goes wrong and I need to reformat. MACs are way more difficult to fix and I find that their programs crash way more frequently since most of their programs are PC based and all the bugs haven't been worked out.
Lastly, configuring one's network is much more tedious with a MAC.
So I am a PC guy and always will be but, If I want to do a powerpoint or use graphics then MACs are the way to go.

heehawmcduff
heehawmcduff's picture
Hi

Hi
When you say that 'configuring one's network is much more tedious with a mac' do you mean your own personal wireless network because I'd have to disagree.  I've just bought an airport extreme and it could not have been any easier to set up the network along with printer and external hard drive sharing.
I think that Macs are generally better overall.  I interchange between my mac and my pc at work and the mac is much more user friendly.  If I had to recommend either one to a friend who was making a purchase decision, the Mac would definitely win every time.

marcus muench
marcus muench's picture
 I'm at a conference/retreat

 I'm at a conference/retreat today and I have to note that nearly every single speaker is using a mac portable with keynote software to present their work.  

anshuarora
anshuarora's picture
Mac rules now and they are

Mac rules now and they are better because its virus free.