As I wrote about before, I have always been the biggest Apple fan anyone’s ever seen. Especially with my background in graphic design, it only made sense to use an Apple computer. Naturally, as I transitioned into being a photographer, I continued to use nothing but Apple computers, and I do still maintain that they make an excellent, high-quality product. That said, it does come at a price, a rather hefty price that made me question things.
With the introduction of the iMac Pro and the lack of claimed production of any new Mac Pros at the time, I began to really lose my excitement for the Apple computers, as the entry-level price point is very high, and I have never liked iMac anyway since I like to be able to choose what display I use. This led me down the path of investigating whether or not it was actually feasible to use a Windows machine for my production computer.
Before you say “of course it was possible, duh” I should clarify that what I mean is I am over-the-top picky with every little fine nuance of any platform: how well do all the little shortcuts work, how can I shave off seconds off of each image’s retouching, etc. And the Mac OS is very good at all those fine little details and efficiency; the Mac finder is an incredibly powerful organizational tool itself. Combining that with the stability and security of the base platform that Mac OS is built on, it was a very large pill to swallow to consider using Windows and all the hassles that come along with it. But the price point made it where I didn't have a whole lot of choice, so I purchased a new PC that was designed for gaming, since the specs also align well with graphic design, photography, and video editing.
Differences Between the Platforms
The hardware isn't really that much different between the Mac and PC, both using Intel processors, same hard drives, etc. The PC actually offered significantly more options in the GPU department, and I was excited by that and went with a balance of the good GPU versus not spending a ton (GTX 1070). So, I knew that as far as performance goes, there shouldn't be much difference between a well-equipped Mac and a similarly equipped PC except for the price. What concerned me was the stability, reliability, and overall hassles that Windows has been plagued with for years. The last Windows platform I had used was Windows 7, and needless to say, it had many problems and was quite clunky compared to Mac. I am pleased to say that Windows 10 is an unbelievable leap forward for Windows and the user experience and general overall feel of it is vastly improved over the old Windows versions. Windows 10 also is reported to be and so far has proven to be much more stable than prior versions as well.
Some Small Irritations So Far
The transition from Mac hasn't been entirely without issues; there have definitely been some Windows-like things that are mildly annoying. For example, when I plugged in my CAD USB microphone, it worked perfectly and Windows automatically found a suitable driver and used it; however, after a couple of days, it quit working, and after digging around a little bit in the device manager, Windows had decided to make my microphone an output device simultaneously with being an input device and caused it to not work. This is the type of thing I rarely if ever experienced while using Mac OS. But we can't be too overly frustrated, because we must understand one fundamental difference between the two platforms; since Apple only allows their operating system to be installed on their own computers, the software is optimized for the different hardware configurations. On Windows, since there are so many different possibilities and configurations of PCs, ranging from companies that build custom computers to a do-it-yourself build, the software cannot possibly be optimized for any different hardware configuration, and it is up to you to make sure that everything is compatible and works well. If you truly want a computer you can just turn on and use without any issues, the Mac will almost certainly be better, as every one I have had has worked perfectly from day one.
A Major Drawback
Windows Explorer is vastly inferior to Mac Finder, without the column view and easy drag/drop shortcuts into things like save dialog boxes and browser upload windows. The workflow from within Windows is definitely a little more clunky there, and that is a huge deal since no matter what type of file you are working on, you are using this interface to save, open, etc. However, with some time, it’s working ok. I did lose a lot of my efficiency and shortcut capability.
Some Excellent Positives
I hated the basic Windows keyboard, so I purchased a new Logitech G910 gaming keyboard and G502 mouse, and wow, it’s awesome. Even though these are intended for gaming, the ability to customize these are exceptionally useful for photographers. The first thing I did was use the extra keys that the gaming keyboard offers and program them to specific actions and tasks within Photoshop, Lightroom, and Capture One. Then another nice bonus is that on the keyboard, you can change the LED backlight for individual keys to individual colors and have that change per application. So for example, if I'm using Adobe Premiere, I can highlight certain keys on the keyboard that are frequently used shortcuts and tools, and if I switch to Adobe Photoshop, I can have the keyboard highlight different keys that I use more frequently there. For an even deeper level of customization, the keyboard can store different profiles for different users or purposes, so for example if I were to play a game, I could switch the keyboard's properties such as custom key colors and shortcuts to a profile that is set up for that and then effortlessly switch back to my photography workflow — very slick for someone who is all about all the little customizations and efficiency enhancements.
Summary So Far
The customizations combined with the modern feel of the operating system have meant I am enjoying using the computer. My workflow overall even with the small hiccups with the Windows Explorer has tremendously improved, and with a gaming PC for under $1,500, I'm running circles around my old quad core Mac Pro, which cost triple the price. Even though Apple has dominated the graphics and photography market, I feel they are losing ground since Windows 10 is much more stable than prior Windows, and the price point is so vastly different. If the Mac were a few hundred more than Windows, I’d stick with it, but when my sub-$1,500 PC can run circles around a $4,000 Mac, the cost wins out for me.
As I jokingly told a fellow photographer who is a PC user, I am really liking Windows 10. I'm still a little skeptical, but we’ll see if the typical Windows slowdown still happens or if we can stay on this so far great course.
Have you considered switching?