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If you’re looking to upgrade your computer this year, there’s a lot you’ll need to think about.
Not only do you have to set a budget and decide on a laptop or desktop, but you’ll also have to figure out whether a Mac or PC better fits your needs. And with both PC manufacturers and Apple releasing some of the most exciting products in recent memory this year, it can be hard to determine which is the best investment.
Thankfully, things aren’t as complex as they first appear. Mac and PC might have some big differences, but they share more in common than you’d think. Whether you’re an incoming college student or the owner of a small business, here’s what you need to know about Mac and PC before upgrading your rig.
Mac vs. PC
While most everyone has already chosen a side in the Mac vs. PC debate, there’s no denying both products have a lot to offer. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll likely end up with a product that meets all your needs and serves you well for years to come. If you’re unfamiliar with the two, here’s what you need to know:
Mac: Runs on macOS and is created exclusively by Apple.
Mac and PC are targeted at slightly different audiences, and your money might be better spent on one product rather than the other. Both can surf the web, create Word documents and whip up some cool graphic designs, but there are some very important differences in how the two go about these tasks.
In short – PC is the practical choice for most applications, while Mac offers a high-end product that might be a better fit for creatives or those with a big budget. That statement used to be even more true 10 years ago, but with both PC and Mac constantly expanding their software and hardware catalogs, the two are closer than ever to offering the same experience.
PCs Are the Affordable Option
If you’re on a budget, it’s probably best to cross Mac off your list. Apple’s flagship products are discounted periodically throughout the year, but they come nowhere near the affordability offered by PC. Whether you’re looking for a desktop PC, gaming laptop or just something to knock out a few school or work assignments, you can find a PC that fits your needs for much less than $1000.
For example, you can have this full-fledged HP OMEN Gaming Desktop for just $949.99, while the even more affordable Dell Inspiron 3880 clocks in just under $700. Even if you opt for the cheapest Mac in Apple’s lineup – the Mac mini – you’re looking at spending around $800 and you won’t have the freedom to upgrade your device as it ages.
Slick Tip: If you’ve got your eyes set on Mac, be sure to set a Deal Alert to receive notifications when they go on sale.
Macs Have the ‘Cool’ Factor
This has little to do with the product itself and everything to do with Apple’s incredible marketing team. When put up against each other, Mac always walks away as the “coolest” product around. From an ultra-premium design to its limited first-party production, Apple has positioned itself as not just a product but a fashion statement. If you want your Word processing or Facebook-scrolling to have a flash of style, there’s no beating Mac.
There’s something to be said for that nebulous “cool factor,” as it’s a direct result of Apple being the only manufacturer of iMac and MacBooks. Because of this, you’re all but guaranteed an incredible product for the money. With PC, you’ll have to wade through a laundry list of products – some of which just aren’t worth their price tag, diluting the PC name and giving Mac the upper hand.
Gaming is Best Done on a PC
There’s no doubt about it – PC reigns supreme when it comes to gaming. Mac has made huge strides in recent years, but most developers are still optimizing their games to run best on PC. You can get most titles running on Mac with a few different workarounds, but there’s no beating the native PC support.
Another win for PCs is you have the ability to easily upgrade your rig. Opting for a laptop might make it tricky to swap out parts, but a desktop PC can easily be torn down and reconfigured whenever you need to upgrade your graphics card or add more RAM. You can even custom build your own PC – as long as you know what you’re doing, you can buy parts online and save hundreds of dollars by installing everything yourself. Meanwhile, Mac products tend to have their hardware permanently fixed in place, making upgrades all but impossible.
Because of their native support for gaming and easily upgradable nature, PCs have been the go-to rig for gaming enthusiasts for years – and that doesn’t look to be ending any time soon.
If you’re looking for a quality gaming desktop, the ABS Master Gaming PC is a good place to start. Not only does it come with one of the best GPUs on the market – the Nvidia RTX 3060 – but it’s easily upgradable. It’s also currently available at a $50 discount.
Software Compatibility Cuts Both Ways
Games are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to compatibility. Because of their widespread use at schools, offices and households, PCs tend to have better support for business applications and related software. However, the same can be said of Mac, which has a massive library of creative applications that are best suited for macOS.
If you find yourself working with spreadsheets and Word documents more often than Photoshop, PC might be a better fit for your needs. Meanwhile, budding musicians, artists and graphic designers might get more mileage out of the software available on Mac.
Both operating systems have put together a robust catalog of business and creative applications over the past few years, so it’s difficult to say if one comes out ahead of the other. PCs continue to carry the most popular operating system in the world, but plenty of incredible software can be found on macOS.
2021 is a Great Time to Buy Either Product
If you’re looking to buy a PC, it’s all but guaranteed that a new product will be announced in the next several months that puts out better specs. With so many manufacturers in the game, new PCs are hitting the market at a constant rate. However, with Windows 11 announced to be a free upgrade for some Windows 10 users this upcoming holiday season, it’s a great time to pick up a new PC.
As for Apple, anyone looking to pick up a Mac can rest assured nothing new will happen for quite some time. The latest iMac lineup was just revealed this year, and we can’t imagine anything substantial happening over the next few years. MacBooks, however, are a different story – keep your eyes peeled in the coming months for a big announcement regarding a reworked 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Which is the Better Purchase?
At the end of the day, neither PC nor Mac is superior to the other – instead, they’re two sides of the same coin. Certain users might benefit from a Mac, while others will be more than happy with a PC. There isn’t a wrong choice between the two, but here’s a quick breakdown as to which might be best for you.
Who Should Buy a PC?
If you want compatibility with the software used at your school or business, PC is probably the way to go. PC is also the best option for gaming, as anyone who picks up a desktop can easily upgrade their rig as new components are released. You’ll also benefit from a wide variety of products to choose from and the ability to pick up something on a budget.
Windows became the most used OS in the world for a reason, and that popularity has given it a wealth of software and hardware to choose from.
As far as PCs are concerned, here are some of our favorites that are currently on sale:
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 Laptop – Sale Price: $329.99 | Regular Price: $429.99
Acer Aspire Desktop – Sale Price: $504.92 | Regular Price: $549.99
Lenovo IdeaPad S340 – Sale Price: $682.99 | Regular Price: $799.99
Razer Blade 15 (2020) – Sale Price: $1,198.53 | Regular Price: $1,499.99
ABS Master Gaming PC – Sale Price: $1,549.99 | Regular Price: $1,599.99
Who Should Buy a Mac?
Apple makes some of the best-looking hardware you’ll find on store shelves. That passion for beauty and design carries through to its macOS software, which lends itself well to a variety of graphic art and creative endeavors. The gorgeous lineup of iMacs is also all-inclusive – meaning a monitor is built into the computer so you won’t have to worry about spending more money after the initial purchase. All the above holds true for MacBooks as well, which feature the same powerful OS and a slim, stunning design to boot.
Best of all, you can actually get Windows running on a Mac with a bit of legwork, giving you the best of both worlds if you don’t mind the heavy upfront investment.
Here are a few current deals on Apple’s Mac lineup:
Apple Mac Mini (M1 Chip, 2020) – Sale Price: $659.00 | Regular Price: $699.00
Apple iMac (21.5-inch, 2020) – Sale Price: $1,149.00 | Regular Price: $1,299.00
Apple iMac (27-inch, 2020) – Sale Price: $1,699.00 | Regular Price: $1,799.00
Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) – Sale Price: $2,249.00 | Regular Price: $2,399.00
Our editors strive to ensure that the information in this article is accurate as of the date published, but please keep in mind that offers can change. We encourage you to verify all terms and conditions of any product before you apply.