Macs vs. PCs for graphic design

I’m a graphic designer, and have been working on Macs for as long as they’ve been around. Every place I’ve worked has always used Macs, and I’ve never used a PC. I’ve always heard that you need a Mac for graphic design, and I’m wondering why. And I’ve noticed that some places have switched to PCs. If I sat down at a PC and started using, say, Photoshop or Illustrator or Quark, what differences would I encounter? Have PCs evolved over the years, so that now there’s little difference?

You don’t need a Mac, but it’s useful. Thingsn like Photoshop and Illustrator run a LOT faster, as they can take advantage of the G4’s highly advancved vector processing units, which are ideal for graphical number crunching. Macs also have much better support for multiple monitors.

Oh, and Apple makes those badass 20" LCD screens. Only $4,000!

The Microsoft operating systems (and therefore the software that runs under them) have traditionally not played as happily with PostScript. Some service bureaus will even charge you extra if you bring in PS documents that were set up with PC graphics software. Also, color matching between input devices, display devices, and printing devices is still much more sophisticated on the Mac.

However, I think the big one is the reverse of the situation with business computer deployment: the Mac is and has been the standard in publications and graphics, so lots of routines have been set up in such a way that Mac is required; to change to PC would mean revamping or rewriting those routines. These range from AppleScript routines (especially for Adobe and Quark products) to ancient Hypercard stacks, and also include such things as Mac file naming conventions, Mac file path conventions, the ability to assign file type separately from file creator (i.e., TIFF images that haven’t been fully processed in Photoshop retain their Photoshop designation; then, after processing, are assigned to Quark so that a File:Open instruction in AppleScript will open them in Quark), Mac-only hardware devices like ADB tablets, and so forth. If the PC had gotten there first, as it did in the world of business accounting systems (for instance), you would have a world controlled by libraries of DOS batch commands and parallel-port devices and whatnot instead.

My girlfriend worked as an editor for a magazine (Log Homes Illustrated) and they used Macs with Quark to do the whole magazine. Apparently the entire graphics design and magazine industry use the Macs for their speed and reliability for these types of graphics intense applications. Even the high school newspaper used to use those portable Macs way back then.

Mac! I’ve worked for newspapers, press companies, and now design forms and other things for an insurance company. Up until now, I’ve always had macs, but unless you’re in the advertising department, you have to use a PC. Ack! I want my Mac back!

Although I hate Macs, I have heard they are better for graphic design, layout, etc…Though I believe this isn;t the PC’s fault, but more of Microsoft’s fault. Damn them.

Speaking from many years of experience working in graphics service bureaus, yes, you DO need to use a Mac for graphic design. Microsoft has spent much effort to make their systems incompatible with graphic design standards. MS has no color matching system, incompatible font systems, etc etc. I have worked with thousands of designers and I’ve never met one yet who used a wintel box (not counting the office droids and amateurs who produce, well, amateurish products).
If you want to produce a polished, professional product, you will have to use a Mac.

As far as Photoshop and Illustrator are concerned, however, there is no difference. If anything, the PC version is easier to work with. Since the G4s are STILL at 500MHz, they’re lagging right now. Sorry, a superior chip can only go so far, and it doesn’t make up the 700MHz the Athlon has on it…but the PC doesn’t have the color matching stuff that Macs do. Interestingly, for the first time ever, I think, Adobe has Windows screenshots for PS 6. Hmmmmm…


Clock speed is entirely irrelivent accross processor architectures. You’re comparing Apples (heh) and Oranges. A 500MHz G4 running software written with AltiVec will do vector processing up to three times as fast as your best 1GHz Athlon.

I have been checking in periodically for the last 15 years to see if the service bureaux and printers are ready to accept files from Windows platforms with the same comfort as they accept Mac files. So far they have expressed no such enthusiasm.

I can’t answer your question directly about the efficiency of using the Win versions of Photoshop and Illustrator, but regardless, you’d probably still have to provide the service bureau a Mac-compatible version of the file.

Let’s end this BS once and for all! MAC’s are twice the price with half the capability of a “PC”. Also, the concept that only “MAC’s” can do cetain things (grpahics, page making, etc. ) better is HS, the software is the kernel of a computer … really, why do we continue to even talk about a product that has less than 10% of the market share and is only a niche for off the beaten path, wannabe different users ? … please, I rather pick my … well, let’s move on …

This thread at the forum covered a simular issue a while back. Of course it is a Mac-based message board, but the many testimonials from graphics professionals who are currently active in the field are pretty compelling.

DeutschFox - are you a graphics professional?

As for myself - I have a 450 MHz PC, and a 266 MHz iMac. Same amount of RAM alloted to Photoshop. The iMac runs Photoshop faster. 'nuff said.

Happily standardized and stable printer drivers vs Microsoft messing around with how the things must be written to take full advantage of “advanced OS features” (MS doublespeak for “we’ve found a NEW way to screw the competition”). It’s little wonder that the Macs are preferred by people who actually need to get some work done.
PC’s may rule for games and whatever it was that DeutschFox was refering to his enjoyment at picking, but if you want to send a file to someone else and have them get it to print properly Macs are still vastly superior.

Yes … and your full of HS, if you really believe that a 266 MHz iMAC is processing anything faster than the 450 MHz PC. Why do MAC user’s, who only consist of less than 10% of the PC computer population in the US, less outside the US, get so much attention in the US and believe the MAC party line that their “PC’s” really run faster at a lower processing speeds? In different times we would use MACs for boat anchors (sorry), but we are afraid to say it. Any computer’s speed is based on its capability to process bits … I’m sure you know, but bits are 0’s and 1’s, on/off. If the “same” software, whatever compiler, C++, Basic, Assembler, Fortran, APL, Cobol, etc., is put on a MAC at 266 MHz vs a 450 MHz PC … the MAC would get buried … where it belongs (again sorry)! If you want to be tied to the propaganda promoted by Apple … who says that MAC’s runs faster with their high priced software and “computers” … so be it. Let’s face the real fact. MAC users are niche users, and they will always wonder off the beaten path, no matter what the price is, and try to justify whatever PC, MAC or not, just to be different. I am really sorry about this, but this continual MAC crap has to finally be put to rest…

Ah, why is it that people like DeutschFox, with no experience in the graphic design field whatsoever, and probably has never operated a mac, are such anti-Mac bigots? Even if what he says is true, that the Mac is a niche product, this is its niche. And it is a huge niche.
I saw a report from the AIGA, they did a survey of print production, and they discovered, to their astonishment, that 98% of ALL digitally created mass-printed documents (offset printing or some such, not laser printed) were created on a Mac. They came up with another statistic that surprised me, they said that 100% of these documents were processed at some time on a Mac. This is primarily due to the Service Bureaus which are almost 100% Mac. I used to print PC documents to the Linotronics from Macs all the time. And they all sucked, they were either difficult to print or just plain badly designed. I was usually forced to edit the raw postscript code just to get the documents to print at all. Even my one Amiga user had better looking and easier to print documents than any PC luser.
So you say the Mac is a niche. The Mac is in the most important niche in the world. Recent surveys indicate that while Mac market share is only around 18%, over 50% of all web pages were created completely on Macs. A much larger proportion (impossible to determine) had at least some of the graphics produced on a Mac.
Now what really puzzles me is the PeeCee-bigots like deutchfox. Do they feel threatened by the Mac? Steve Wozniak said “Apple won the PC wars. Now every computer is a Mac.” And it’s true. All windows machines are really just a copy of the Mac GUI. You might as well get the real thing. You lose nothing. Right now, on my Mac, I run MacOS 9, Windows98SE, Windows2000, and Linux. Try doing that on a wintel box.

What is your professional position? What is the size of the company that you work for? Could you provide the home page of your company, so we can admire the fabulous graphics work that this PC-driven company produces? A few details would be more compelling.

WHAT?!? I am sorry, my dear. But I actually own said Mac and PC, and use them side-by-side. I did actually do a test to see which one ran faster. The iMac ran faster. I SAW it. Now, does it run faster with other applications? I have no way to know. Does it run faster in every action in Photoshop? I don’t know, but from my experience, it runs just fine.

Also, I might add, I work with Photoshop 5.5 on my Mac and my PC. While I admit I use the Mac more, I notice that Photoshop on my PC crashes more often. I just had a fresh reformat and reinstall of Windows on my PC, so it’s running clean and stable (if such a term can be applied to Windows.) But still, Photoshop will crash for no understandable reason. The times Photoshop has crashed on my iMac? Ummmm…never. (And I use it on my iMac more often!)

My iMac “buries” my PC in Photoshop. I see it. (Sorry.) I don’t care what you claim, I see the evidence with my own eyes. (Once again, sorry.)

And, if you’ll notice, the OP is about *graphic design. Which means we are focusing our discussion of GRAPHICS software. I personally don’t care if a PC runs non-graphics software faster than a Mac. Since I don’t use a lot of non-graphics software.

And, by the way, I am “cross platform”. I use BOTH systems. I am as much a “Mac user” as a “PC user”. Though I do prefer my Mac for graphics.

Wow, graphic design, a real biggie in the world of the internet and private industry!!! Probably less than 1% of the internet investment expense. Never wanted to and wouldn’t want to operate a MAC, pleassseeeee. Why do I need experience on a MAC? Does that mean I need experience using a honey dipper to be an enlightened person that comprehends crap? This is typical of MACism’s. No, first, MACs are still essentially zero in the realm of the known world, as it should be, and believe me, always will be. No, we PC’rs are not threatened by freaking MACs, only you MAC’ers and the French would worry if you had a 9 to 1 margin upperhand, because you would still probably lose based on historical precedence!

And by the way … it seems I’m the only PC’er even reading this crap about MACs vs PC’s … do you MAC persons get the picture yet?

Deutsch… calm down, please.
I have tons of experience with both platforms. I used PCs from when I was a little kid until now, totaling about 12 years. I’ve used Macs intensely in the past 3 years for work and fun. I can troubleshoot a lot of everyday problems on both.
I work at a college newspaper and we use Macs for everything, from writing to design to pagination (for those of you who know what that means). I came into my newspaper as a devout PC-follower.
But now I’m converted. Macs crash FAR less than PCs and in general are less subject to fits of weirdness (freezing, etc.).
As for design, one of our graphic designers said it best. “Photoshop on the PC is poopy. It’s just that simple.”
Deutsch, your arguments are mostly just trying to minimize the importance of Macs and relying solely on clock speed to determine ACTUAL speed.
You make references to the Macs small market share without mentioning it’s growing very fast. Right before the iMac was introduced, market share was an abysmal 3 percent. Then it was 10. Now it’s 18.
Even my friends who work for the university’s network services all the time say Macs are more reliable. Why don’t they like them? Cause they don’t know how to use them. That’s all.
And the prices aren’t that unreasonable. A 500 mHz iMac costs the same as a 1 gHz PC and is just as fast, if not faster. With OS X coming out and Apple putting out sexy products like the G4 Cube (Apple is the only company to realize a computer can actually look cool), the future looks bright.

And, by coincidence, THE TOPIC OF THE OP.

By the way, why have you not amazed us with your professional graphics work? Remember, since you claim to be a graphics professional, I asked you to impress us with your company’s work, so we could see some examples of the fabulous artistry done on a PC! So, wanna put your money where your mouth is? Wanna show us some of your professional graphics work, done on the PC?

Because if you actually had experience with a Mac, you would be able to criticize it with some level of credibility. The same way a person would have more credibility about bashing, say, France, if they had actually been to France, rather than, say, seeing a postcard of France. Big difference, see?

No, there is at least one other PC person here, and I am sure there will be more contributing soon. But, there may be more Mac people on this thread because this topic is about (once again) GRAPHICS, and, by coincidence, a lot of graphics people use Macs. Kapeesh?