The Disadvantages of Mac Computers
By Matt Koble
Apple computers have a lot going for them. They're well-designed, easy-to-use and they're often seen as the hip or trendy computer choice. Despite all of their advantages, there are still a few areas where Apple computers fall short. It's easiest to determine the largest shortcomings of Mac computers when you compare them to Windows-based PCs.
PC computers offer many more customization options than Macs. For example, desktop PC users can open their PC case and replace their graphics card or processor with a more powerful unit. With the right parts, a relative novice could follow a guide and build his own PC. In contrast, it's nearly impossible to build a computer capable of running Apple's OS X operating system and software. In their rare appearances, such machines (often referred to as "Hackintosh" computers) require a precise mixture of the correct components and a hacked version of the operating system. The only sound way to get an Apple computer customized to your demands is to buy one. And some Macs — like the Macbook Pro with Retina Display technology — don't even make it possible for users to apply common upgrades like replacing the RAM.
Apple computers are often more expensive than PCs. As of November 2012, Apple's most inexpensive laptop -- the 11-inch MacBook Air --starts at $999. However, if purchasing a PC, you can easily find an 11-inch netbook for under $300. This basic comparison does not take specifications or build quality into account, but there are also far fewer budget options when shopping for desktop Apple computers. Apple's least expensive -- the Mac Mini -- is $599. Comparing the price-per-value is trickier, however, because it's difficult to find a PC with the precise specifications offered on a comparable Mac.
Pricier computers typically mean better components, but that isn't always the case when comparing Apples to PCs. It becomes difficult to determine price-per-value when comparing intangible concepts like how the operating system feels to a particular user, but comparing specifications offers some insight into Mac price-per-value. As of November 2012, Apple offers a 15.1-inch MacBook Pro for $2,199. For that price, you get a retina display capable of 1080p HD picture, a 2.3GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, 8GB of DDR3 memory, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics card and a 512GB solid-state hard drive. In comparison, a computer in Dell's XPS 15 line offers the same amount of memory, a similar quad-core i7 processor running at 2.2GHz, and a slightly less powerful NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M graphics card. While the Dell doesn't feature a solid state hard drive, it offers more storage with a 750GB hard drive, and also includes a Blu-ray player. The Dell XPS 15 costs $1700, about $500 less than the MacBook Pro.
When you visit Apple's website, there are only a handful of computers available. While each of their available models have customization options, the selection is still far more limited than that of the PC market. PCs are offered across a variety of different brands from different manufacturers — such as HP, Dell and Asus — whereas only Apple makes Mac computers. More manufacturers leads to more competition, with more options at lower prices, and as a result, you could literally spend days looking at new PCs and never run out of new models to compare. With Mac, if you don't like the limited models offered, you're out of luck.
Software is often considered a disadvantage for Macs, but many big name manufacturers now make Apple versions of their popular Windows software, like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office. While this is the case for some software, video games still see a wider release on Windows-based PCs. Many current video games released on home consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are also released for Windows. While some games make their way to Mac, they're often released later than their PC and home console counterparts.
Matt Koble has been writing professionally since 2008. He has been published on websites such as DoItYourself. Koble mostly writes about technology, electronics and computer topics.