Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mac or PC Part 2: The Operating Systems - Requirments

Welcome to Part 2 of the Mac or PC mini-series. Today's topic for discussion is the differences between the operating systems utilized by the Mac and PC respectively. As we all know, PC's are based on the Windows operating systems while Mac is based upon the OS X operating systems. Popular versions of Windows include 95, 98, 2000, XP, and most currently Vista. Recent popular versions of the Mac OS include Tiger and Leopard. Today's discussion will focus mainly on the performance characteristics of each of the operating system’s most current platforms, Vista and Leopard. We will focus on the requirements of each OS and talk a bit about performance: Here are the minimum requirements for each system:

Windows Vista:
* 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
* 1 GB of system memory
* 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
* Support for DirectX 9 graphics with:
o WDDM Driver
o 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)
o Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware
o 32 bits per pixel

* Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor
* 512MB of memory
* DVD drive for installation
* 9GB of available disk space
* Some features require a compatible Internet service provider; fees may apply.
* Some features require Apple's .Mac service; fees apply.

Now, let's compare and contrast the two OS's in a factual manner. I will try to keep my opinions out (although a couple might seep out). The factors we will focus on here are processors, memory, appearance, and battery usage for laptop owners:

Processors: As you can tell, the processor requirements are basically the same. Mac still uses the PowerPC processor although it only manufactures its new computers using Intel chips. Really, both need to be run on dual core chips. You won't be able to run Mac on an Intel chip designed before a certain date that aren't core based (which is only really applicable if you want to run Leopard on a PC). Additionally, PC supports AMD processors while Mac does not. AMD are supposively better at running games and stuff. As far as processors are concerned, no huge differences unless you really want to play games on an AMD.

Memory usage: There are significant differences between the machines on this front. I have run Vista on 1gb of memory and I have to say, it sucked. Personally, I think Vista is a bogged down version of XP (oops, an opinion). That is to say, they added some features pinnacled by the Aero GUI (said gooey, Graphics User Interface) that gives Vista that sleek, smooth look. The only drawback is that it consumes a lot of memory (unless your machine has a video card with autonomous memory - which is to say, it does not share memory with the machine. Most computers don't come with video cards like that). Try this, if you run Vista and are using the desktop sidebar, it should come with a system performance monitor (if it isn’t there, click the little plus sign on top of the sidebar and select CPU performance or whatever). It looks like a speedometer. Now, with all applications closed, look at the monitor. It will tell you how much memory your system is using just sitting there. Right now, mine says 40% of 1gb... with nothing running (besides the sidebar). Mac, on the other hand, is another story. To give you an idea, I am currently using 1 gb (of 2) with the following open: 6 pages of Firefox, a sticky note program, a 4gb download, Word, Powerpoint, iChat, Microsoft Messenger, Divx Player, iMail, iCal, and iTunes (playing the Killers). I am only using half of what I have. So, hopefully that illustrates the differences of system usage for you.

Appearance: Vista is a very sleek looking OS. The lines are much smoother than XP (which was huge for XP when it came out because its lines were really smooth too). The Aero graphics enhancement feature is really quite neat. I have turned Aero on and off to see the difference and it’s big. Leopard is also a very sleek looking OS. Its GUI is a bit different in terms of memory taxation (discussed above). Leopard doesn't need a super-duper video card which excludes it from being able to play a lot of the new computer games because it does not typically use acceleration and such, but then again, PC's don't usually come standard with graphics acceleration. This can be a pretty serious disadvantage to the gaming inclined. However, if you don't really play computer games (because you hate them or play PS3, Xbox360, or Wii) then who cares if the computer plays games. A lot of people do, however, watch movies on their computer and both Vista and Leopard playback movies in similar quality. The LCD screens on both are relative equivalents although PC's can really vary in quality as manufacturers differ.

Battery: For Laptop users: The battery usage between the two OS's vary substantially. Vista is quite draining on a battery. It can drain a battery about 50% faster than XP. A typical computer running windows Vista gets about 1-2 hours of charge on average. I went ahead and tested this by running Vista on my machine and asking some family and friends that use Vista to see what kind of charge they were getting. Most computers reported about 1.5 hours of charge. So what of the Mac? Leopard is FAR LESS DRAINING on the battery. If I am running typical programs like a web browser, word processor, or what have you, I get around 5 hours of charge. If I watch a movie that number drops to 4 hours. This is true of all MacBooks, however, I cannot personally vouch for the Pro. So, I asked some guy and some other guy (on separate occasions) that I found in the hall at school and they reported 4 hours per charge. The pro has better hardware so no big stretch of the imagination there.

My Take: Now I will let my opinions flow forth. As far as system performance is related to the operating systems run by Mac and PC respectively, I would conclude that the Mac outperforms the PC. There is really only one area where PC is typically better than the average Mac and that is in the video cards they use on average. However, I must say that this difference is trivial considering there aren’t many computer gamers left in the world and why would you really need all that video power without any use for it? Waste of money really. Memory and Battery usage are two areas where Leopard really outperforms Vista.

I won’t say much more than that. Please feel free to comment on what has been written. I would love to respond to any concerns or questions you have about today’s subject.


Rutter Family said...

Beautiful post. We migrated to the Mac in 2004 and have never looked back. Having used a PC before, I was scared and confused at the fact that I knew there was more out there. Our iMac has been great. We started out with 512 mb of RAM and have since upgraded to 1.5 gb and to ilife 08. It has been wonderful. Like a brand new computer.

One thing that you failed to mention about the mac, is the ease of use coupled with the nature of basic programs that offer so much. I believe in economics this is called, utils. Lots of UTILS!!!!!!

My family uses the iphoto/iweb/imovie programs like it's nobodies business. We make useful DVD's of home video, full size calendars and books. And have a great web page which easily rivals blogspot. Ok blows blogspot out of the water.

We just gotta get Ty and Derek to see the light like you Robby. HEY HO!!!!


rblaz said...

Thanks for the testimonial. The next post in the mini-series, coming Monday July 7, will explain the differences in features (what I call perks) between Vista and Leopard.

As far as iLife is concerned, it costs money to use the service which is why it is better. Blogger is free and so that why I like it.

Ty & Masha said...

Ok, so this is Masha. I am REALLY frustrated with our HP laptop right now and two other HP products that we bought in the past. For 4 years (may be it’s been 5, I can’t really remember) that Ty and I have been married we purchased 3 HP products (2 lap tops and 1 PC). Our first lap top was pretty expensive and broke after a 1.5. Then we purchased a PC, within 1.5 it started to work pretty slow and something else broke in it (sorry I am not as good as Robby), so then we bought another HP laptop, it’s been exactly 1.5 and it’s now BROKEN. I am 75% converted into buying a MAC (not that I really can afford one yet, it’s on my list after buying diapers). I am not really particular about what kind of computer or a lap top I have, but I am really angry about losing info and having to buy a new machine every year. If MAC is the one, I will go for it, GOOD BYE, HP!

Angry Russian

rblaz said...

Dear Angry Russian,

I understand completely when certain machines don't perform. The troubling thing is that you never know what computer is going to be a lemon. I am not sure if a Mac is necessarily going to solve all of your problems although I know they have a good track record. The hardest thing with PC is never knowing which manufacturer is making you a good product and which one isn't. With the Mac, you pretty much know you are getting a good machine because Apple is the only manufacturer. Good luck and maybe we can still resurrect your HP.