Should I (even) consider getting a Mac?

I hope this is the right place to put this question.

I’m a simple guy who just wants to run his computer smoothly. My Dell computer of two years died. It was actually a gift from my parents. The sales rep was requested by my mother, (who’s more in the dark about computers than I am), to specifically keep gaming in mind. She got a good deal on a good gaming computer, but after mentioning her occupation, was swayed to go for another computer. The computer she ended up getting me wasn’t at all like the first one was, but my mother didn’t know this. It was actually not fit for gaming at all.

It wasn’t so bad, and I think I’ve decided that PC gaming never really interested me all THAT much, (I do like simple downloadable’s like World of Goo). However I’m still thinking about asking about the specifics and prices of PC laptops that are capable of gaming in the Gaming forum. I just hate dealing with my PC. I know Windows 7’s out, and I’m still leaning towards PCs. I want to give Mac a ‘fair shake’. I called a sales rep, that claims not to work on commission, and she gave me a broad overview. It was a lot easier to talk to her than the Dell and Gateway reps. I’m thinking a ‘capable’ laptop BTW.

She said there’s a fair amount of independent games offered, is this true and is it of the same quality as something on the PC? What else can the Mac offer that a PC doesn’t application wise?

Sure you should consider one. They’re fine computers.

Look. A Mac will do almost anything you do on your PC. It’ll take some adjusting, but if you’re just sick of Windows, why the hell not pick up a slick Mac Book? Killer piece of hardware, and if you really want to, you can install Windows on it too.

That’s cool. Can it do anything the other computers wont do?

Running OS X is about the only unique feature Apple computers have, aside from a (generally) inflated price tag. Otherwise, Macs have absolutely no advantage from a software perspective.

Run Final Cut Pro? The iLife Suite?

I’m sure there are some UNIX tricks it can do that Windows boxes can’t.

But really, the devil’s in the details. I’m not familiar with Windows7, but Mac OSX has a whole bunch of really nice system level features like Exposé, QuickLook, and Time Machine. Even the really small things like right clicking on a word to look it up in the dictionary. The definition pops up around the word, inline, without going somewhere else.

In short, I’m not sure if there’s really anything it can do that other PC’s can’t (pragmatically speaking), but it makes a lot of everyday things easier, seamless and more transparent… IMHO.

Maybe if you’re an IT guy. For an average user, they have a better OS and are generally smooth running. I want my computer to work like a hammer - no thinking, no screwing around, just do what I want. Macs do this, they just work. I use PCs at work, and am constantly doing dumb things to make the PC happy.

I’ve used both for years now. I find Macs a lot better. My home computer is a Mac, and PCs are used at work. I have also run Windows on my Mac for certain applications (via bootcamp) but it makes me feel dirty.

Well, the OS you mentioned comes with some nifty programs. And the OS makes a heck of lot more sense from a design perspective. (contrast the ribbon that is only used on some apps and is inconsistent) Things seem to work more closely to the way you’d expect if you weren’t raised on Windows. (Like my dad, who can’t get it through his head that deleting an icon doesn’t uninstall a program in Windows. It does on a Mac, though.)

But I agree that the main advantage is hardware. Since one company completely controls the build and refuses to skimp on parts, everything will just work together better and last longer.

The disadvantages are price, as, although it is a lot better than it was, you still pay a bit of a “coolness tax”. And the fact that the software library is smaller (unless you want to get into Boot Camp, Parallels, or, for the more adventurous, WINE.) Sure, you’ll find an app that will do what you want, but on the Windows side you’d be able to pick from a bunch of others.

The only reason I don’t have a Mac is the price. My current computer cost me $100, and that was difficult to afford.

There’s a few indie companies that make PC & Mac games both but no one who makes Mac games only. The market just isn’t there to support Mac-only game developers. Most indie devs at the moment are either working on a PC environment or on XBox, hoping to port to PC. Most indie games are PC only.

For established game devs, only a few of the really big houses make Mac native games. The good news is Blizzard games alone would probably keep you happily in game material.

If you’re interested in PC gaming, you want a computer with an actual graphics card. Don’t settle for one with an integrated chip. Don’t settle for less than 2gb of RAM either. You could probably scrape by without it but the whole point of this thread is that you’re tired of scraping by.

So for Macs, the best graphics card in the iMac line is an ATI Radeon 4850 in the 27" iMacs. It’s a really nice card (it’s whats in my PC atm.) But it’s a few years old and it’s not top of the line these days. A solid choice but not the best.

OTOH, The Mac Pro is using either the 4870 or the Nvidia 120. You’re better off with the 4870 there. Again, nice but not top of the line choices. OF the laptops, the Macbook comes with an Nvida9400. Better than nothing I guess. The Macbook Pro can do a Nvidia 9600GT with 518mb of memory. Honestly, I wouldn’t pay actual money for either of those cards these days.

So if you want a Mac for gaming, your best bet is either the 27" iMac or the Mac Pro with the 4870 card. They’ll do but you’ll still be stuck with the limited Mac gaming selection.

OTOH, before you put down your money, you should call Falcon Northwest. Their Talon system right now includes an Nvidia 250gt card and 4gb RAM for $1475. It’ll play any game you can think of.

Their website sucks (it’s all flash and music) but their phone customer service is second to none. You’ll be amazed when you talk to them. They understand hardware and gaming and will definitely treat you right.

You’ll love Win7 too. It’s a beautiful piece of software.

Get a mac if you want, but do call the Falcon people just to see. If you go with a Falcon, you won’t regret it.

On the contrary, one of their biggest advantages is all the software they don’t run, namely the the entire miserable world of Windows malware.

Oh, right, I forgot about the viruses I don’t have to think about.

If you want to develop officially-approved iPhone apps, you need a Mac. The XCode suite of developer tools, which is interwoven with the Mac and the iPhone, only runs on OS X. And you use iTunes in the process as well; it connects to an actual iPhone for testing purposes.

I don’t know whether it’s possible to develop officially-approved apps outside of XCode.

a) Mac malware is real. Macs don’t get targeted often but it happens. And of course, Mac users are just as vulnerable to phishing type attacks where they give their passwords to people as anyone is.

Apple is starting to take it seriously too. They included some new anti-malware tools in Snow Leopard, for example.

b) There’s windows tools out there for iphone app development. I was just reading the other day about one from Novell based on .Net.

This is not quite true. Ambrosia Software comes to mind immediately. They have several Mac-only games and are certainly indie. There are others out there too. I wouldn’t say these are a reason in and of themselves to consider a Mac, but they do exist.

I use a Windows PC all day at work as an engineer. I use my Macs at home (including developing a Mac-only shareware application that I sell) and I must say that while Macs aren’t perfect, Apple seems to have a lot more attention to detail and seems more concerned about making things work really smoothly for the average user than Microsoft. I also think the Mac does a really good job of being simple to use for someone who wants their computer to be more like an appliance while still allowing those who want to to do deeper/more technical things with their computer. It is after all a UNIX variant, complete with a terminal and even an open source kernel.

For what it’s worth, my grandmother recently switched to a Mac and seems to being having a much easier time of it than she ever did on her PC.

On the contrary, computers made by Apple are perfectly capable of running Windows. Just as they—and PCs as well—are capable of running operating systems like a wide variety of Unix flavors, none of which run Windows programs—malware or otherwise—without significant fiddling about with Wine.

Those games on the list aren’t Mac only. I don’t think they’re even developed by Ambrosia. Ambrosia probably only has a distribution agreement. Aquaria was developed by Bit Blot & the Darwinia/Multiwinia & Defcon were developed by Introversion Software. At any rate, there are certainly Windows versions of all those the games.

It’s possible that there are some Mac-only game studios, I guess. I’m not aware of any. It’s a teeny market but it probably exists. The iphone game popularity will likely expand the possibility of Mac-only games but it won’t happen soon.

I think it’s not so much that Apple takes more care as that they have such a controlled and limited playing field. The strength of Microsoft is that it works with every random bits of hardware and legacy apps from
the last twelve years. That’s why they have 90% of the marketshare. But the downside is that user performance across so much legacy material can be pretty iffy.

Apple’s strength otoh is that they precisely control the hardware so they can build for a specific known quantity. On the downside though, they can’t reach as many people using non-apple hardware.

It’ll be interesting to see what the new Microsoft store machines look like. Microsoft has done a terrific job managing user experience through their xbox line where they build the box specifically to their own specification.

But this is a thread about gaming computers. In which case, I still say - call Falcon.

This is what I had in mind when I called.

You don’t work for Falcon do you? Those laptops may be nice, but they’re kind of ugly. What does Falcon bring to the table that Dell or Gatway wouldn’t?

This isn’t a thread about gaming computers. btw

You just don’t buy a computer everyday, and I don’t want a repeat of the last failed attempt. But I’m going to need to make up my mind soon. Gaming is good, but certainty not the only factor, or else I wouldn’t even be considering a Mac. I need to keep it at about 1,500. I’m currently typing from borrowed laptop and my minds now been open to not being grounded, alone, in my apartment for hours reading Straight Dope. I’m really conflicted and frustrated right now.

(Not at you guys though… you guys are cool. Trying to help me and all.)

I don’t want to get into that whole “No there is not as of yet a SINGLE SOLITARY Mac virus” / “Yes there is too” / “That’s not a virus and proof of concept trojans & exploits don’t count” / “See this link then and hey I did say malware not viruses” thing. Instead, let’s just say there are definitely less than 25 Mac viruses + trojans + spyware + other malware exploits. Vanishingly rare. Not a feature of Mac users’ experiences, to the point that their existence is considered debatable. That is the argument we will be making when the [del]first[/del] umm “next” Mac virus does eventually come along, and I’m fine with starting to make that argument now.

Totally true.

As well they should. Heck, there were anti-malware provisions in Cheetah, in some sense of the word. It would be stupid to assume that the Mac has a magic Clean Bill of Health card.

But for “a simple guy who just wants to run his computer smoothly” … legitimate worries about Mac malware is to equivalent worries about Windows malware as the likelihood of buggies in newly made refrigerated chicken salad is to that of buggies in week-old chicken salad that may been left out in the sun for many hours. It’s still a reasonable conclusion to state that the first is safe and the second is not safe.

I have a MacBook that cost just under $1000. We don’t do much with it other than surf, download photos, and e-mail (we are simple folk) but compared to the monstrous old PC clunker we lived with for years (the thing took 5 minutes to fire up, it stalled, it froze, it needed anti-virus programs, it took 5 minutes just to turn off) - the difference is like trading in a 15 year old cart horse for a 2 year old thoroughbred. We have Roadrunner. I can’t think of any downside other than I have to plug it back in to charge up after 2-3 hours…That’s all I got. It was expensive, but so simple to use, so problem free (so far), serves our purposes just fine. (some people used to play the Sims on the old PC which screwed it up royally even more than it was, and the thing would have to be strapped into the front seat of the car with a seat belt and taken to Computer Outlet to be un-screwed 3-4 times a year. Don’t miss those little outings at all!)

FWIW, I say take the plunge. It’ll be refreshing and new, something to explore and learn, and in the end, you can always put Windows on if you really want. Games don’t sound like a huge issue for you, and regardless, there’s plenty of Mac titles out there. Otherwise, a Mac can do anything you need to throw at it.

You can get the plastic MacBook for around a grand, and they’re nice, but I’d really go for the Mac Book Pro (All aluminum unibody). The 13" is $1200 but if you can, get the 15" for $1700. I really don’t think you’ll regret it. Arguably the best laptop on the market. Go down to the store and check one out if you haven’t.