Are Macs preferable to PCs for handling graphics software?


Excuse me for being totally uninformed, but it usually seems like creative types of people i.e. graphics designers prefer Macs over PCs for accomplishing their tasks. I was wondering, why is this? Is it because the software is designed specifically for Macs only?

1/22/2012 1:40:00 AM

Accepted Answer

There's also the aesthetic side to it. I am and have always been a PC user. However, I still have to admit that OS X and Mac hardware have always been better designed from an aesthetic standpoint than Windows/PC.

Designers naturally gravitate towards beautiful designs. And since we all draw inspiration from our environment and absorb influences from the designs we come across, being surrounded by beautiful typography and stylish interfaces all the time can also make you a better designer.

The Mac culture and Apple brand are also very attractive to creative types (musicians, artists, writers, etc.) because of the way Apple has marketed themselves (e.g. the Think Different. campaign). Not all of this is marketing of course. Macs have deliberately catered to designers and artists, producing high-end DCC workstations and developing strategic partnerships in the multimedia production industries to make sure that leading tools were designed specifically for Macs.

In addition to preinstalled (high quality) creative software, Macs have also historically come standard with a better spread of fonts than PCs. It also didn't hurt that Macs came with high quality S-PVA or S-IPS displays instead of the common TN displays that most PCs come with (this is starting to change as Apple tries to cater more to the general public).

When you see Guitar Center selling Pro Tools + Macbook Pro bundles and your university media center is equipped entirely with Apple workstations and 30" Apple Cinema displays, what are you liable to buy as a musician/graphic designer/animator/etc. when you decide to buy a workstation?

Between the aesthetics, their strategic positioning in digital media industries, their brand appeal, their momentum, and their ease of use, it's no wonder that most designers choose to just drop a couple of grand on a Mac instead of building their own PC for 20-30% less.

Edit: Littlemad's answer reminded me of a few things:

  • For cross-browser/platform testing, you probably should get a Mac since Macs can run Windows, OS X, and Linux easily & legally, whereas the same cannot be said about PCs.
  • It should be noted that not all Apple LCD displays are S-IPS or S-PVA anymore. Though the high end Cinema displays still use S-IPS AFAIK, and as do the larger MBPs.
  • They have the same BS policy as most other LCD sellers—a display has to have more than X dead/stuck pixels/subpixels to be considered defective. So you still need to buy an ISO 13406-2 Class 1 display to be sure your LCD isn't defective.
1/21/2011 5:37:00 PM

graphics designers prefer Macs over PCs for accomplishing their tasks. I was wondering, why is this?

I think it's dangerous to make this generalization, but it seems to ring true to a lot of people. I think there are a lot of nuances and history behind this but it all sort of boils down to the obvious. Graphic designers appreciate good design.

Macintosh computers are designed from the ground up to be elegant, easy to use, and an integrated experience. Compared to other computers, they tend to just "get out of your way" and require less technical fiddling. This appeals to creative types who just want to use the computer as a tool.

Historically, Macintosh computers have been at the core of many design industries, practically inventing Desktop Publishing, so a lot of this is also simply design "culture" and industry inertia.

Be aware that this is all generalization, and it's dangerous to pass judgement on any specific person's preferences. There are plenty of graphic designers who use other tools and are just as creative, just as there are plenty of hacks pounding away on Macs.