Mac Vs PC-Which is Better For Design?

Mac Vs PC-Which is Better For Design?

This has been an age-old debate for the longest time. What platform should designers use for their work? Why do we care? Can the equipment you choose make a difference in your work? There are many questions to ask and plenty of definite answers. The age old debate over Mac Vs PC will be solved by the end of this article.


How did the Mac Vs. PC debate even start?

I have been in the design field for a few years. The reason I know the answer to this is due to the fact that I was around when print was still dominant. Just a few years ago, web designers and developers and print designers were divided. When you graduated from college, you could look for a design job without any knowledge of the web. Now, that just isn’t the case. Back in the days when print and web professionals were divided, publishing software was mainly created for the mac platform. There really wasn’t a Mac vs PC debate. You could still get it for a PC, but is was considered and taught in school that the industry standard was to use a Mac for your design work. The institutions trained us to work on Mac as opposed to PC, because they were supposedly built with more robust hardware than most PCs.

Mac Vs PC: Is There a Difference in Hardware?

It really depends on your point of view. A few years ago Apple produced their own processors, which in my honest opinion, were much more powerful than the PCs of their time. Don’t get me wrong, I have owned the best of PC and the best of Mac. Back then there was a real difference between the two. I could work all day and my Mac wouldn’t slow down or become bogged down. I could work on a PC and experience lag, bugs, and slower processing.

Now, however, Macs and PCs are both made with Intel processors, so there really is no difference in terms of hardware. I am a die hard Apple fan, and I will tell you that hardware-wise, Apple and PCs are built similarly. Apple boosts its hardware with add-ons, such as Thunderbolt ports, Retina displays, and other bells and whistles, but you could always make the same additions to your PC. The only difference between the two is the operating system.

The operating systems for mac and PC are vastly different. You can still perform the same actions, you simply use Ctrl on a PC instead of Command or the Apple key. They both are basically the same operationally, just Apple has beefed their operating system up with extra functions add-on software. Mountain Lion is supposed to make things easy for the user, but there really isn’t anything you can do with a Mac that you can’t do with a PC.

Personally I like Apple, because I have a set workflow that I use. I have a backup procedure in place, and I am just comfortable and confident with how things are set up. I have a 1.5TB Seagate Portable Hare Drive set up for automatic backup via Time Machine. I have enough to keep up with. Not having to remember to back everything up is a plus. It helps me keep my focus on work, and not so much on maintenance.

Someone else might have their own automatic backup setup on a PC. I am not so dense that I think that Apple has the only automatic backup program. If it isn’t built in natively, I’m sure that software comes with most hard drives. I just told you what I do to illustrate what works for me.

So why such a passionate debate over Mac Vs PC?

People are just passionate about their brands. I know a few of my father’s friends that are die hard motor heads, and they’ve almost gotten in fist fights over which is better, Chevy or Ford. One reason that we take it so personally is because it is a personal matter. That’s why I don’t talk politics with people. People consider it an insult when you don’t see their point of view. This is especially the case when they are passionate about their products. Mac vs PC is no different. People have used them for years, they have come to depend on them, and they trust them. They have also probably been burned by the competition in some manner. Personally, I have had PCs stop working inexplicably, and I have even had one completely die. After having to fix my wife’s PC over and over again, I use Apple, because for me, things run much smoother. The next person might hate Apple, because a logic board went out and they had to pay $900 to replace it because their computer was out of warranty. Brand loyalty is subjective.

I Hate to Burst Your Bubble on Mac Vs PC

So what is the answer to the Mac Vs PC debate? Which one should you use if you want to be the best designer out there? Well, here’s your answer: Either one you damn well please. There, I said it. I guess they’d call this a pipe bomb (not really). I love Apple and think they are the best. I am entitled to my opinion. Do I think Apple makes me a better designer? No, it actually has nothing to do with anything. No piece of equipment on Earth is going to make you a better designer. You do that through experience and having a knack for problem solving. No matter how much you cradle your $2500 Macbook Pro or your 6GB Alienware Laptop in your arms and sleep with it under your pillow at night, it will never make you any better at design.

Your computer is a tool. You manipulate it. It doesn’t manipulate you. Whatever you use, you make sure that it works for you. If you like PCs and you work better on a PC, great! Let’s see what you can do with it. If you work better on a Mac Pro with Dual 30″ Monitors, have at it. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is a solid work horse computer that is stable and won’t hinder you from getting the job done.

The Truth of it all is that Mac Vs PC all boils down to preference. I prefer Photoshop. I love Photoshop like one of my own children. I’m just glad I don’t have to feed it. On the other hand, some other people swear by Pixelmator. Fantastic! If you can create something amazing with Pixelmator, then do it and make a huge amount of money with it. That is what makes you unique as a designer. Use your Mac, use your PC, use your iPad and SketchBookPro, use your bricks and a stick. Whatever you use, if it works for you, use it and stop listening to everyone else about why you should use something else.

Mac Vs PC: Is Your mind Blown?

I hope not. The same could be applied to other arguments, such as Nikon vs Canon (Cameras), or Canon vs Epson(Printers). It really doesn’t matter. Each company has their strengths and weaknesses. All that matters is that you can work around them to make something great. All of this debating back and forth or Mac vs PC is a waste of time. This time is the same time that you could be spending to develop the next Instagram and make a billion dollars from it. Fighting arbitrary fights like Mac vs PC makes us lose focus on our careers and our clients. I don’t know about you, but I have enough stress in my life. There are more interesting things to debate other than hardware. Mac vs PC is essentially irrelevant.

So what do you think? Have I settled the Mac vs PC debate? Why don’t you add your two cents in the comments section below.



  1. Great article! I totally agree. I can use either — and, depending on where I’ve worked, have had to use one or the other based on compatibility within the overall firm. I don’t believe one platform makes you better than the other — actually, the ability to use both and to be flexible can be a real asset.

  2. This
    is an ongoing discussion…I personally haven’t experienced any
    shortcomings with PC nor Mac lately…I have used mac(Apple) since 1984
    and have been using Windows based systems(PC) since the early 90’s. In
    the early days of Mac, Adobe products were only available on Macs, but
    as time grew on Adobe made their products available on Windows based
    systems…After many years of software development and great operating
    system improvements in the Windows area, I have had great experiences
    with Windows(PC) systems for design and print production. I really don’t
    care what I use anymore as they both perform well. Mac is more
    expensive and looks nicer…But beware that Windows based systems are
    creeping up. Other companies are kicking things up more and more with their sleek
    look and performance parts. It’s a game of cat and mouse…one will be
    better tomorrow and then the other will improve and be better. end of discussion. Great Article by the way!

    • Thank you for the comments. You are right, it is a game of cat and mouse. A lot of people don’t realize that the platforms are very similar now. You have to keep up with maintenance a little more with a PC, such as Defragging the hard drive and things like that, but essentially they are very close.

      • Unless you are running way low on hard drive space, defragging is a waste of time.

  3. I think if you’re a good designer, you will unconsciously seek aesthetic perfection, from the hardware, to the user experience that works and appeals, to the design of every icon and typeface on the menu bar; you would surround yourself by inspiration to keep going.
    That’s why I use a mac.

    • It’s true, many designers choose macs because they are so aesthetically pleasing. Many designers use them as inspiration. They are so well put together. I mainly like them, just because they work, and work well.

    • I’m a designer taking a Graphic Communications course, and am scolded for only considering the aesthetics of things. However, I really, really do not like the look of macs, their keyboards and interfaces included. I have a very smooth little black laptop and have customised it to my hearts content. I can see macs are very well put together, but aesthetic perfection is still very much a matter of preference :p

  4. I agree somewhat. However for me the big plus of the PC is that I can easily upgrade it with a new graphics card, hard drives, mother board, etc., as needed to make an “old” machine basically new.

    And the initial price tag is considerably less for a top line PC than for an Apple machine.

    As for my graphics work, I use programs on a daily basis that aren’t available on the Mac platform; so while anything you can do on a Mac you can do on a PC is true, anything you can do on a PC can’t always be done on a Mac. Additionally I have a bigger selection of free software on the PC; this isn’t too much of a consideration perhaps, however when coupled with the lower initial cost of the PC, it can amount to quite a savings.

    • Duncan! It’s been a while and it is so good to hear from you! You may know that I am an avid mac user. One reason I like mac so much is the fact that mac has so much great software built right in. For example, I just started using Automator, which I talk about in my newest article, and it literally saved me hours of work time. I have had the best PCs, but they seemed slow compared to my mac.

  5. One area that seems more complicated on the PC is font management. Granted the Mac is not perfect but at times getting a font loaded and working in Windows can be hellish at times.

  6. I have to say I agree with you!!! I’ve been using Macs since 1988 and then jumped onto PC’s when XP was around due to cost. It still got the job done and it was cheaper. Now A Days, Macs have been better with their cost so I am using a Mac Book Pro(Lion) and a Dell XPS (Vista) today. I still have to utilize the PC for database, instant multiple image reductions for websites and complex vector art.

    Unfortunately, Microsoft has not created Access for Macs, Lion has kicked off FreeHand (a vector base program) and not updated Illustrator to handle complex vector files with multiple compound paths. Also, I cannot find an easy way on the Mac to quickly reduce multiple large image files for websites. (I usually use Microsoft Outlook to reduce 30+ images with 1 tap of the button)

    I guess it just depends what you want when you want! there is no doubt, the Mac screams even when having 4-5 programs open!! I LOVE that!! So I adapt and utilize the 2 platforms to get my job done efficiently and on schedule!

    • Batch process with Photoshop. Outlook? Wow. I’ve never even heard of someone using that to reduce pictures for websites. I imagine you don’t have much control over anything but the size.

  7. Oh BTW, Did I tell you my mother ran over my Dell (long story) and it is a little bent in two, but I replaced the screen and it still kicks butt! lol

    • That is hilarious! Jools, thank you for sharing. I’ll tell you a quick funny story. In college, I was in a car accident and my 1st generation ipod that I’d had for years was in the car. I left it in there and the windows were broken out. The truck was towed to a lot where it sat in the rain for days. When I realized where my ipod was, I figured it was gone for good. I found it submerged in water in the floorboard, and I took it home, letting it dry out for a week. You won’t believe it, but it still booted up! I still used it for a year or two after that incident. Sometimes products can be extremely resilient!

  8. I teach graphic design in College and I’m the only teacher of my department on PC. Believe it or not, I had a colleague tell me once that if he didn’t already know me, he would probably not be speaking to me just because of that. Then again, we get along just fine now, which gives me hope for the future!

    I take it on myself to let me students know that both systems work because no one else will do it. Many of them feel obligated to buy a Mac when they sign up for the class even if they already have a PC that will do just fine, often spending money they don’t have without knowing if they will actually want to design for a living. I try to give objective advice but I do admit to them that I’m more of a PC user just because that’s what I’ve been used to since I was a kid.

  9. Wow thank you soooo much!!! This has helped me TREMENDOUSLY with my work in our pc vs Mac project I learned a lot from this mr.James George

  10. I’ve been using Macs and PCs since the early 90’s. I never could decide to fully commit to one and dump the other. Finally by the time Windows 7 came around, I made my decision. I would go with Windows (Windows 8 Metro nonsense is causing me to question that decision). Windows is better about the things that are most important to me. Software variety, hardware variety, and backwards compatibility. In these categories, Windows is absolutely a world ahead of OS X. Some of my favorite software is not available for OS X. Plain and simple. Mac artists like to say, “the important software is available for both”. Well, that’s just ignorance. For hardware variety, I’ve been using a tablet PC for graphic work for years. It’s an absolutely amazing tool that artists are only recently waking up to since Windows 8 tablet PCs with stylus are becoming popular. The humble tablet PC has been around for probably a dozen years. Where’s the equivalent hardware for a Mac? Ipads? Apple crippled those things on purpose to keep them from competing with Macbooks. People are trying to force them with styli the size of fingers. Software for ipads is toy stuff. Only good for web work. With a tablet PC, you work with the same software you use on your main workstation. There’s no comparison. For people who believe Macs are for graphic artists, wouldn’t you say that Mac should absolutely own this category?

    Finally, backwards compatibility. This one is should be the subject of class action lawsuits against Apple. It’s that bad.

    People like to say that Macs don’t get viruses but experienced PC users also don’t get viruses. I haven’t had one in many years but it’s easy enough to get an attack by visiting risky sites or downloading risky software. For inexperienced people looking to buy their first PC, I advise to get a Mac for that reason alone. For experienced people looking for maximum productivity, a PC is the answer.

    Another popular argument for Mac fans is that PCs crash. LOL Windows has been rock solid stable since XP. That’s why Microsoft is having a heck of a time getting people to upgrade from XP! People LOVE XP. I’m working as a graphic artist 8 hours a day at work, then I go home and work as many more hours as possible on my own business and freelance. The very last thing I would tolerate is a problematic computer. My PCs don’t crash. I would never tolerate it. I certainly wouldn’t fill up my home with them. I have a PC and a tablet PC. My son has a PC and a tablet PC. My wife has a PC. We are all artists. I’ve been working with Macs since about 1993 at work, and PCs at home. I’ve had decades to find where the Mac is better, but what I found was that the things that really matter for productivity, are in the PC category.

    Other Mac arguments tend to be nonsense or fanboy stuff. Some people like Macs purely because they are sheeple, following what others do. Macs are cools. PCs are nerdy. Etc. Some people like Macs because they are “beautiful”. I actually agree with that one. Heck, I know a beautiful thing when I see one. Cars, people, landscapes, machines too. And I think OS X is also beautiful. I would also say that getting around the desktop is smoother on a Mac if you’re using a very modern Mac vs a very modern PC. My favorite features of OS X is the Mail client, and Quicklook. Neither of these have a rival on the PC. There’s not even a 3rd party email client as nice as Apple’s mail client. I’m still struggling with crappy email clients on the PC. The thing I like about OS X is that Apple likes to make things very visual. There are always indicators that allow you to see images and to know what the computer is doing. With Windows, I use a 3rd party software called Mystic Thumbs to basically give me some quicklook functionality. It’s a wonderful plugin that works with some of the aspects of Windows that are already good. With Windows, you can hold control and roll the scroll wheel to dynamically change the size of thumbs in a window from tiny to very large. Without Mystic thumbs, you can’t view stuff like Illustrator and Photoshop files. With Mystic Thumbs, you will see those files nice and large. Not as large as Quick Look, but then Quick Look doesn’t allow you to so fluidly view them in a Window. You can change the view of thumbs, but not as nicely as Windows does it. Also, Windows naturally allows you to blow up the size of Folders, and the folders are slightly open. This allows you to peek into the folders without actually opening them! It’s pretty brilliant. So, roll the scroll wheel on a window full of folders to enlarge them and see the contents of the folders without opening them. That’s awesome. Quicklook, press spacebar to blow up a thumb to very big is likewise awesome. The winner is? It’s hard to say. For years, I longed for Quicklook on windows, but I’m really satisfied with Mystic Thumbs.

    Search is better on OS X and faster I think.
    Metro on Windows is a thing to be disabled as quickly as possible if you use your PC for work.
    All-In-One PCs would be a total win if they came with a real stylus and digitizer screen like tablet PCs. Imagine that. Unfortunately, they’re more like like finger painting on ipads.
    Macs used to boot faster. Now Windows boots faster.
    Windows destroys Macs if you install the newest OS on an older machine. Windows destroys OS X if you install it under boot camp on your Mac vs the newest OS on that same older Mac.

    Apple raised the bar.
    For computers, PC OEMs didn’t give a crap for years. Cheap was their advantage. People bought them. No point in caring about quality. You could get a quality PC if you spent Mac money. But as Apple began to win the opinion war, things had to change. iPhones raised the bar for phones. iPads raised the bar for tablets. iMacs makes (made) PC All-in-Ones look terrible. Gotta give credit to Apple for that.

    Apple became a consumer product company. No longer Apple Computer company. Just, Apple “consumer stuff” company now.

    Apple should have taken the initiative with tablet PCs but they didn’t. Wacom has now built it’s first tablet PC. The narrative will begin to change. The Wacom Cintiq Companion is will be on the radar of artists in a way that tablet PCs have never been. Microsoft might even wake up and begin to influences this change in the narrative. It would be a stunning coup.

    • AGREED!!!! Excellent points and completely accurate. I work on both, however, PC isn’t a gorgeous beast; It’s just a beast that gets the job done.

      I agree… Newbies get the Mac. If you have experience with both, the power of the PC far proceeds as well as the versatility is hands down.

      As a sidebar, can’t I just please use excel on my iPad without extras?

  11. Thunderbolt is not MAC tech. It’s intel technology and it’s available on newer Windows based system. Apple didn’t develop it.



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