Change all the things: Mac to PC!

After working on Macs for over 20 years, I've made the switch to a Windows PC.

Logitech Bluetooth desktop

After working on Macs for over 20 years, I’ve made the switch to a Windows PC.

This wasn’t really part of my rebranding effort, but it did tie in. Knowing that I was going to be focussing on high-end retouching and artwork, I knew I’d need a new computer. My “old” Mac (which I just purchased two years ago) wasn’t going to cut it. That computer was a great computer for writing and web design—i7, 16gb, SSD, Thunderbolt—but it was seriously lacking in the graphics card department. I was going to need a workstation-class computer.

Back in February, I bought myself a belated Christmas gift: a new gaming rig. Quite proud of myself, I actually built the computer all by my lonesome! Ordered parts, put it together, used it. It was more of a hobby machine, as I don’t actually play that many games. So, most of the time, it just sits there. But, as I built it for gaming, it’s a pretty powerful system with great specs. I figured, why not give Photoshop a spin? I have Creative Cloud, which allows for cross-platform installation. Couldn’t hurt.

I was actually quite surprised by how much I actually prefer working on Adobe products on the PC. No, I am not being paid to write that. I simply find myself using the Mac less and less. Aside from Adobe, I’ve found some great software stand-ins for my regular arsenal in the Chrome Store. Things like Wunderlist and Sunrise have given me a familiar experience without requiring me to migrate any or all of my data from Apple just yet. (Both of those apps run offline, by the way). And with everything being so cloud-oriented these days, most of my data is sync’d between Windows, Mac, iPhone, and iPad automatically. The whole thing was virtually painless.

As far as performance is concerned, I’ve heard it said many times over the years that Photoshop runs better/faster on a Mac. Let me tell you something: it doesn’t. One of my friends, a high-end retoucher in Germany, purchased a fully-loaded Mac Pro around the same time that I purchased my PC. I spent ~$1,200 building this machine, he spent close to $8,000. His computer has more cores than mine (6 hyper-threaded vs my 4 non-hyper-threaded), has more RAM (32gb vs my 8), runs at an equivalent clock speed (3.5ghz), and has dual graphics cards (which are supposed to be nicer cards than the single mid-range Nvidia card I bought for this computer). We ran several benchmarks, and in each one of them…my computer bested his by at least 10 seconds. That doesn’t sound like much, but it was consistent—and minimal. On some of the benchmarks, my computer was 16-30 seconds faster. Again, that sounds like nothing. But the longest test was 2½ minutes. Average that out over an 8-hour work session, and you’re looking at nearly an hour of time saved.

There are certain things I don’t want to migrate just yet—my accounting software (iBank), document management (Together), writing software (Ulysses, Highland). These things have equivalents on Windows, some of which are ok. I think the interface for these types of apps is still superior on the Mac side. Windows software designers (not those at Microsoft) just don’t seem to pay as much attention to OS UI standards as Mac software designers do.

I’m hesitant to move everything just yet. I have a feeling that, eventually, I might. The only question is: to buy a MacBook Air and keep them there, or to invest in all new software equivalents on Windows and toss everything onto a Surface Pro or a Razer Blade? Until then,  I have moved all of my creative things to Windows.

One last thing: For the record, I don’t find Windows 8 to be nearly as offensive as most people seem to. I rather like the Start Screen, and the overall OS feels just as snappy as Mavericks. I remember using Windows 7 on a high-end PC just two years ago, and it did not feel nearly as smooth as my Mac. The Live Tiles on the Start screen are particularly nice. The only thing I have found that I don’t like so far are the Windows Notifications. These feel half-baked and somewhat under-utilized. There’s no notification center (that I know of), so if you miss a notification, that’s that. The notifications themselves look too big on my screen (27″ Apple Cinema Display). I’m hoping that this experience on the desktop is refined in Threshold next year.

Now, just have to decide what to do with the phone in December. iPhone 6, or switch to Android? That Material Design looks pretty slick.

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