Which is better – Mac or PC?

The Mac vs PC debate has endured for decades, but in 2023, it’s a more nuanced decision than before

Wednesday, 3 May, 2023

We’re so reliant on smartphones nowadays that it’s easy to forget the value – and importance – of traditional computers.

If you’ve ever tried to perform spreadsheet functions on n iPhone, or play an RPG on a tablet, you’ll understand the merits of a full-size keyboard and monitor.

However, while the choice between smartphone operating systems effectively comes down to Android or iOS, things are more complex in the world of computing…

The fantastic four

There’s a common misapprehension that computers mirror smartphones in having just two operating systems. In reality, there are four.

ChromeOS is Google’s desktop version of the Android smartphone operating system, while Linux has splintered into numerous incompatible variants, known as distros.

Impressive as these operating systems are, Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s macOS have maintained their historic rivalry even though the latter is now outsold by Chromebooks.

As with its iOS smartphones, macOS is only available on Apple-branded devices, which is great if you’re already embedded in the iOS ecosystem and want cross-device compatibility.

By contrast, a plethora of companies produce Windows-powered desktop or laptop devices, just as Android is available on smartphones from manufacturers around the world.

The first factor affecting the Mac vs PC debate is therefore the amount of choice you want in terms of system hardware.

Apple design gorgeous machines, but their range of computers is limited to the MacBook laptop, a 24-inch all-in-one iMac, the compact Mac mini and two high-performance towers.

PC buyers have fewer aesthetic joys but vastly more choice, from pricey ROG and Origin gaming rigs through to low-cost Asus and Acer laptops. There’s a PC for almost any budget.

There’s also a thriving market in bespoke/self-build PCs, where you get to select every component and add as many hard drives, cooling fans and widescreen monitors as you wish.

It’s relatively easy to upgrade key components in a PC, prolonging its lifespan and reducing the amount of landfill or electronic waste your household generates.

Macs tend to be sealed units; even if you’re able and willing to open them up, you’re often limited to adding more memory or storage.

It’s time to operate

While the ability to output to a 10240×2880 display will matter to some people (steering them firmly in the direction of a PC), many Mac vs PC debates come down to OS preferences.

Some people find the lovingly engineered macOS interface far more intuitive to use, while others resent its limitations compared to the endlessly customisable PC experience.

There’s no doubt that Macs lack the breadth of software available on PCs, and compatibility with essential programs or utilities will be a greater issue for Apple customers.

However, Macs excel at media tasks, such as video editing or graphic design. They’ve historically enjoyed strong support among the creative industries.

By contrast, PCs hold a cherished reputation as the keen gamer’s vehicle of choice. High-end PC CPUs and GPUs far outstrip games consoles or anything Apple manufacture.

Macs tend to be simpler to set up and use, with limited ports stifling connectivity.

This is also true of modern laptops, whereas desktop PCs support numerous inputs and legacy peripherals.

Simplicity means Apple devices are generally easier to troubleshoot, lacking the endless compatibility issues which can plague PCs, while Apple’s customer service is legendary.

Macs are also less susceptible to viruses (though not entirely immune, as some people mistakenly believe), with less bloatware installed than most PCs.

Ultimately, the choice between Mac vs PC is a personal one, with both platforms offering compelling benefits – and some notable drawbacks.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!