Are Macs preferable to PCs for handling graphics software?

Excuse me for being totally uninformed, but it usually seems like creative types of people i.e. graphics designers prefer Macs over PCs for accomplishing their tasks. I was wondering, why is this? Is it because the software is designed specifically for Macs only?


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Method 1

There’s also the aesthetic side to it. I am and have always been a PC user. However, I still have to admit that OS X and Mac hardware have always been better designed from an aesthetic standpoint than Windows/PC.

Designers naturally gravitate towards beautiful designs. And since we all draw inspiration from our environment and absorb influences from the designs we come across, being surrounded by beautiful typography and stylish interfaces all the time can also make you a better designer.

The Mac culture and Apple brand are also very attractive to creative types (musicians, artists, writers, etc.) because of the way Apple has marketed themselves (e.g. the Think Different. campaign). Not all of this is marketing of course. Macs have deliberately catered to designers and artists, producing high-end DCC workstations and developing strategic partnerships in the multimedia production industries to make sure that leading tools were designed specifically for Macs.

In addition to preinstalled (high quality) creative software, Macs have also historically come standard with a better spread of fonts than PCs. It also didn’t hurt that Macs came with high quality S-PVA or S-IPS displays instead of the common TN displays that most PCs come with (this is starting to change as Apple tries to cater more to the general public).

When you see Guitar Center selling Pro Tools + Macbook Pro bundles and your university media center is equipped entirely with Apple workstations and 30″ Apple Cinema displays, what are you liable to buy as a musician/graphic designer/animator/etc. when you decide to buy a workstation?

Between the aesthetics, their strategic positioning in digital media industries, their brand appeal, their momentum, and their ease of use, it’s no wonder that most designers choose to just drop a couple of grand on a Mac instead of building their own PC for 20-30% less.

Edit: Littlemad’s answer reminded me of a few things:

  • For cross-browser/platform testing, you probably should get a Mac since Macs can run Windows, OS X, and Linux easily & legally, whereas the same cannot be said about PCs.
  • It should be noted that not all Apple LCD displays are S-IPS or S-PVA anymore. Though the high end Cinema displays still use S-IPS AFAIK, and as do the larger MBPs.
  • They have the same BS policy as most other LCD sellers—a display has to have more than X dead/stuck pixels/subpixels to be considered defective. So you still need to buy an ISO 13406-2 Class 1 display to be sure your LCD isn’t defective.

Method 2

graphics designers prefer Macs over PCs for accomplishing their tasks. I was wondering, why is this?

I think it’s dangerous to make this generalization, but it seems to ring true to a lot of people. I think there are a lot of nuances and history behind this but it all sort of boils down to the obvious. Graphic designers appreciate good design.

Macintosh computers are designed from the ground up to be elegant, easy to use, and an integrated experience. Compared to other computers, they tend to just “get out of your way” and require less technical fiddling. This appeals to creative types who just want to use the computer as a tool.

Historically, Macintosh computers have been at the core of many design industries, practically inventing Desktop Publishing, so a lot of this is also simply design “culture” and industry inertia.

Be aware that this is all generalization, and it’s dangerous to pass judgement on any specific person’s preferences. There are plenty of graphic designers who use other tools and are just as creative, just as there are plenty of hacks pounding away on Macs.

Method 3

I do not think that nowadays it is particularly true any more about Mac better than PC for graphic design. You do not have to have a Mac to be a Graphic Designer. PC & MAC have same potential in software and hardware. I love and hate both, and use both for various things.

In past where 2 factors to make you choose the mac:

  • There were software
    dedicated to design were better
    handled on the Apple machine.
    Especially in the printing sector.
    We are talking about the era pre OSX
  • Mac aesthetic was and is always the primary factor in delivering, from software to hardware. As well they always trying to play on the “coolness” of the design thinking that something useful can be as well beautifull, and had many things as software, like better UI respect to Windows.

Nowadays for me there are just 2 factors that it will make you choose a Mac

  • Better quality screen (even if sometimes this could be an issue for the reflection effect or because colors in mac are slightly whiter).
  • Better font rendering (on the web pages).

Random personal considartions

I still think that for web design it is better to use PC (because otherwise you cannot test the bad font rendering, or IE unless you install an emulator on Mac) and if you can buy a Mac as well because it is good to see the difference between OS.

PC are cheaper and software is cheaper too. But you might find more incompatibility between parts in hardware that with Mac. Mac instead wants you to buy every single accessories from them, and it cost you twice as much.

Virus are on both OS, just on PC are much more than on Mac.

I love on Mac the “finder”, I hate that you cannot cut and paste, but only drag to cut something.

Windows is easier to put your hand on the OS system and hack it, Mac has a more close and restrictive software.

I personally prefer to have a PC Tower (where I can open and change the hardware easily, and mess up with software), and a Mac laptop (that normally you do not open and it has a better durability in battery and lighter than PC version).

Method 4

Probably a Mac user would have a better opinion, but from the ‘outside’ its seems like Macs more consistently deliver high quality experience. The hardware is damn attractive and the OS (from limited experience) is more consistent at giving you information you need and hiding information you don’t (though Windows 7 was a huge improvement Microsoft). Hardware and software feel integrated in a way that is extremely rare in the Windows world.

These things especially give Macs a style that is almost drug-like for art types.

As far as practically performing better; there are too many variables that it is bound to be extremely subjective. You can definitely get the raw computing components more cheaply on the Windows side of the fence. But that doesn’t tell the full story in how they are put together, how they work with the software, and how the entire package enables your work flow.

What is beyond dispute is that you can produce good design from a Windows machine or from a Mac, and not feel at a significant disadvantage either way.

Method 5

The Macintosh project creator Jef Raskin had great experience in interface design and usability. IMHO, usability and productivity are the main reasons to use Mac. You just create, without having to think about how to make your creative environment work. Its easy to make up-and-running.

Method 6

Mac has better support, and better initial funtionallity. You do pay more for this, but if you are willing to pay for all the extras, you can get a PC close to the standard of a Mac but the argument that PC is so much cheaper and can do as well… that’s a bad joke. To get close you have to purchase a lot of extras. A base PC will not compare to a base Mac in function. Now I’m the first to admit, you pay for that functionality, more than I feel is proper, but actual comparison (yes I use both platforms as a professional graphic designer) the PC cannot function nearly as well. My ‘high end’ windows XP chokes routinely, whereas my older G-4 hums right along. The newer G-5 blows the PC out of the water every time. I can’t wait to get them to upgrade to the newer mac system.
Save your pennies and buy a PC, I have yet to find a seasoned Graphic Design or Video professional worth his salt that doesn’t prefer a Mac. Everytime I hear someone claim to be a ‘professional’ graphic designer who swears by PC, I ask about their work history…
‘professional’ always ends up seeming a little optemistic description for what I hear.

Method 7

If you don’t know your way around computers, mac might be easier to get into. PC offers more customisation at much lower price. Generally I think Apple reaps the benefits of superstition in this area of comparison. Ofcourse, if you just had put your money into getting brand new Mac, you do want to believe that it’s better. In no way I can imagine Mac handling my graphical errands better than my PC. I have used them at school few years ago, but I highly doubt that anything has changed.

From Mac users I often hear them only praise how little work they have to put up with while installing stuff like drivers. And how little they have compatibility issues. For me, it doesn’t change a thing, because I know my way around my windows. I like not having to pay Microsoft a dime when I get hardware upgrades, but I guess you could install OS X on a regular PC as well(?not true?).

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