Pcs Are Better Than Macs For Home Users


For years, Macs and PCs have been competing for home users. Apple has recently released the new iMac, and the notebook version of the iMac – the iBook. Even though several years ago, Macs were better than PCs, now, PCs are better than Macs for home users in terms of performance and expansion options.
To some consumers, performance is often the most important factor in buying a computer. Performance doesn’t necessarily mean how well the computer performs potentially, but only on specific tasks. Both iBook and iMac are designed for home users, most of whom neither care about number of floating-point operations per second, nor know what it means. Very few home users will pay $500 for Photoshop 5.0 to edit photos on their PC. The more likely uses for home computers are: word processing, browsing the Internet, and 3-D gaming. Since the most popular word processor is developed by Microsoft and allegedly optimized for Windows, it would be unfair to compare the Mac version of MS Word with the Windows version. However, comparing the performance in 3-D games and the Internet is fair.
Even though PC Magazine specializes in PCs, it reviewed the iBook as soon as it came out. The article focused on performance of the iBook and compared it to a similar IBM-compatible notebook. Since there are no new IBM-compatible notebooks that match iBook’s specifications, PC Magazine decided to use the notebook they believed to be closest to iBook – the IBM ThinkPad iSeries 1480. They have very few similarities: the both notebooks are available in different colors, and neither notebook has the fastest processor from its platform.
Apple claims that its notebooks are “up to twice as fast as comparable Microsoft Windows-based portables” (qtd. in Hill 53). This statement is very vague – it doesn’t say how they compared the portables, and what Apple meant by “comparable”. Since similar statements have been made about iMac, speed will be discussed in the next section; for now, let’s make sure that PC Magazine selected an appropriate notebook. The G3 processor from the iBook is one generation behind Mac desktops, whereas the ThinkPad’s Celeron is two generations behind other IBM-compatible notebooks. Even though Celeron is somewhat obsolete, it runs at 466 MHz versus G3’s 300 MHz. Since neither processor is top-of-the-line, and both notebooks are in the same price range, it is safe to conclude that the two notebooks are comparable.
Apple declares that “fast, easy access to the Internet” is among the “features [that] made the world fall in love with the iMac” (Apple). As mentioned earlier, the Internet performance is one of the uses for home computers and should be thoroughly tested. In their review, PC Magazine uses i_Bench to test the Internet performance.
According to i_Bench tests, ThinkPad outperforms the iBook on almost every test (Hill 53). The only exception is the test of QuickTime Transition Effects – the iBook is faster than the ThinkPad (Hill 53). Apple’s QuickTime is one of many formats for viewing compressed video on the Internet and is rarely used because of poor compression quality. QuickTime should not be used to test the computer’s performance for several reasons: it is rarely used, and is most likely optimized for Macs. On the other hand, The Java Virtual Machine test should be looked at more carefully. Java is a platform-independent programming language originally designed by Sun Corporation for another operating system, and is currently used for writing programs for the Internet. This test runs several Java programs within a browser, which simulates ordinary Internet browsing better than QuickTime. The ThinkPad impressively outperformed the iBook with the a score of 43,766 versus just 23,872 (Hill 53).
Comparing the iMacs with IBM-compatible desktops creates the same problem – finding the PC that is comparable to the iMac. Dave Glue, a programming student, sums up this problem in one sentence: “If you\'re going to downgrade the PC to exactly match the iMac\'s MHz rating and hard disk, you\'ll have a significantly cheaper PC than the iMac.” Even when comparing computers of equal price, another problem appears – they run two completely different operating systems. Apple uses BYTEmark (Apple), which tests the processor’s integer and floating point capabilities (Byte) to compare Macs with PCs on both