I am a very late arriver to the world of Home Computing. Needless to say I am no computer expert though I have grown more knowledgable over the past 2 years particularly when it comes to hardware and all things relating to audio.
I got my first computer as a gift caus someone wasn't using it about 3 years ago it was an older Dell laptop running Windows '98. What a nightmare. And the nightmare wasn't Dial-up or the old processor. I hadn't used a computer at home so dial-up was plenty fast at the time. It was Spyware, Adware, and all sorts of other things appearing on this computer that I had no understanding of what they were or how to make them go away. My computer would crash constantly and freeze. This had made my life more difficult. I lost my cool and threw the thing on the ground breaking the screen though the computer still worked, credit dell there. End of first PC.
Then a year later I began school for Audio engineering. All they used and taught were Macs. However at first they were older macs running primarily OS9, and we never went on the internet we just used Pro Tools Free, Reason, Digital Performer 3.1, and some other random programs along the way. I liked it, it was easier to use. However I now wanted to start to put together a Digital Audio Workstation of my own together at home, and in looking at Apple I was put off by the price. It is true that your initial cost is higher when buying a Mac flat out. so I began looking into PC's and definetly saw I could get more bang for my buck.
Here I get very lucky. My soon to be brother in law saw that I was going to school but had no computer at home. He had a PC in his basement that was a custom built IBM running XP Pro that he wasn't using because it was a gift and the one he already had was much better. He let me use it. So I went and got a cable modem too. I thought the Firewall provided by Internet Explorer was plenty of protection, along with Norton and Spy Sweeper and Window Washer (provided by my brother in law) for this nice little PC running an Athalon XP 3200 w/ 512 Ram, a 30 GB HD, and the highly superior XP Pro w/ SP2. This is far better than that silly Dell I had. Silly Me.
The Pop ups were the first to get out of hand. Then the Spyware and Adware (What is Spy Sweeper doing, or the Firewall?) so I start deleting the files that Norton and Spy Sweeper are telling me they can't. So now wierd messages start popping up. By the way if anyone on this planet can tell me what Rundll.32 is please inform me because I have two friends still trying to solve that riddle. So then it just starts crashing about three minutes after startup and freezing. So I have no choice but to re-install the OS clean. Now I have to save things to discs, and bother my brother in law for discs of some of the programs which would now be lost and had to be rebooted. I did this along with getting a REAL Firewall. I must admit the spyware and adware problems literally disappeared. However, the popups were still a problem. I kid you not I loaded like seven different toolbars w/ pop up blockers onto Internet Explorer and still got pop ups. Finally I switched to the Netscape browser and that problem disappeared. Still alot of work though. So nothing Microsoft packaged worked for me just against me.
I still had to get a computer of my own he would want his back eventually so I continued shopping. Keep in mind , Thankfully, I have not spent a nickle except on the Cable modem (My cable provider offered an excellent Firewall so I spent 0 on that). I compared and still felt like more bang for the buck came from PC's. Then a friend made a suggestion. He said why not invest a small amount in an older used Mac then upgrade. He showed me how upgradeable they were using the Sonnett Encore Processors. I saw that I'd be running as fast as most modern computers and since I wasn't going to be running a major studio I wouldn't have a need for a G5 or Dell XPS or Alien Ware Mega Bomb Super Etc. I looked into it.
I got a G4 AGP 350 MHz for $340 w/ 512 Ram, 35 GB of Hard Drive, DVD Rom, and an External CD Burner. I spent $85 on OSX, $40 on Desktop Speakers (I'm not including any of my Audio Gear Prices, that would be a wash the expenses would have been the same if I had bought a new Apple, or new or used PC). $115 on an LCD Flat Panel screen. $85 on an extra card of 512 Ram and $20 on Mouse/ Keyboard. Total $685. By the way they all match and make my Digital Audio Workstaion Look fantastic. I'll post a picture sometime in the future. But here is where things got really interesting. Keep in mind I have not purchased the upgrade processor yet.
I loaded OSX, all my programs, after doing some research I got Virex online for a small donation of $5.00 (would've had to spent that regard less).Didn't get syware protection and still haven't. Turned on the firewall.
Then went online with Safari. Got a popup right away and said "oops better turn on the pop up blocker." Have not seen a single pop up since (No Kidding). Initial basic impressions. Eaaaaaaasssyyyyy. Anytime I had any problem I was easily able to find the resolution within seconds. That never happened with Windows. (As you can tell since I still don't know what Rundll.32 is) Some websites took lonnger on this Mac to load as well as some pictures. But the pictures were much crisper and much clearer very noticeably so. The programs that come with Windows don't even compare to what comes standard with OSX. Text Edit to Word Pad or ITunes to Media Player. How about IMail to Outlook oh wait you have to buy Office to Get Outlook. Nevermind. Have I mentioned that to this day i have not run into Spyware, Adware, Viruses, or Popups (since that first one.)
My friend had recently tried to run Pro Tools on a Pentium 3 (which re-sell for at least $150 less than a Mac like mine) and it was like trying to fix a VW bug from the hood in the front. I began planning a budget in my head to buy the processor upgrade. I knew Pro Tools would not run well enogh on this 6 year old processor to do anything useful with. Right. Wrong. Not only did it run Pro Tools fairly well I was able to take some freelance jobs with the original processor in place. Some processor heavy plug-ins and certain processing chores were noticeably slower than the newer G4 workstations at school and certainly in comparison to the G5 in the main studio at school. But really only to me. The musicians I worked with most of whom used PC's never noticed and some of the jobs the client wasn't even there to notice. I managed to use quite a number of tracks without having trouble. Why I was suprised I don't know many great albums were recorded on G4 350's, 400's, 450's, and Digital Audio 466's.
I made enough to more than cover the $405 for the upgrade processor a 1.7 GHz Sonnett Encore G4. It runs a little hot. But, not detrimentally so. the Athalon ran hot too it was just it's nature. (I think I'm going to get one of those PCI slot fans to be on the safe side but no problems yet. My friend with the Pentium 3. It took him forever to figure out which Upgrade suited him best would give him the best results and ultimately he sold his P3 for a small amount and bought a new PC from HP basic $1350 with all periperals (Monitor and such, a CRT by the way).
Having used both, mine with the upgade, runs faster. It could be partially due to the fact that even though he also has 1GB of ram a fourth of that is being used for all the security applications and other such applications that the PC automatically runs at startup. he has to go Manually close those. (And had to learn what was what that he could close because some of the names are so vague) My Mac is running faster than the 867 G4's at school. It feels a bit faster than the new Mini Mac, EMac, and IBook (1.33 to 1.55 Ghz I believe). Can't tell the difference with the new Powerbooks though I'm sure if tests were done it would be slightly slower. Feels real close to the G5 IMac 1.5's, but again I'm sure in depth bench marking would put me behind. As far as PC's I haven't run into a PC that feels faster, not one. And no one I know owns an upgraded Pentium 3 though I have run into folks with upgraded Mac all of whom say that the only Maintenance expense they've ever had was their upgrade. That can't be said about Windows. Remember my brother in law bought Norton w/ the computer, he bought Spy Sweeper, Window Washer ( Which by the way OSX comes standard w/ an equivalent of this), and thank goodness for my cable provider who as part of my package gave me Netscape and a very good Firewall. He also had to pay extra for Microsoft Office. OSX comes with a competive equivalent for most everything in office standard.
After finally purchasing a printer for $95 and extra Hard Drive for $140 (all paid for by work done on my Mac). The final cost of my Mac $1325 that includes all shipping charges. Features 1.7 Ghz Sonnet Encore 1GB of Ram, 155GB of Hard drive Space, an LCD screen, Desktop Speaker w/ Subwoofers, OSX, Keyboard/ Mouse, Printer,DVD Rom, and External CD Burner. That is as much as I would have paid for a new PC with similar features. None of which in that price range I've seen run the applications I would use, as well. And a bit less than I would have paid for a new Mac with similar features, though the Mac I can afford would have offered no PCI slots. Not that I would mind knowing what I know now. Keep in mind though that I didn't run out and buy some of these things right away. The wonderful design of this 6 year old Mac allowed me to do what I had to do and allowed me to make the money to complete my system. So for half the price I was up and running. Without credit checks or financing. Then I made the money to modernize myself. Honestly there is only one thing I lack right now. A DVD burner but I haven't come across a need for one yet. Besides i'm sure I can sell the CD burner I have to cover a small portion of a DVD burner.
I know there's not much further I can take this system. But, right now, there's not much further I have to go. I do mostly Hip Hop artists and R & B artists who use electronic drums primarily. For Rock I only have the space for overdubbing, Vocals, and primarily I do Mixing for Rock Bands. Unless I end up moving into a full fledged studio I don't need anything faster. Maybe one day I'll be able to afford a state of the art system at home like the one in the studio I intern at, but I gotta be honest I "feel" as though I have one when I go to other people's homes and see what they run which is supposedly more state of the art and feels no faster.
It all amounts to this. I've seen what all the benchmark tests say, but how many of those PC's used in those tests were loaded with all the security applications needed to survive on Windows. And if so were they connected to a modem at the time so that they were up and running. How many of those PC's had ever run into adware, spyware or viruses trying to run on their PC. Even if the Firewall wasn't allowing it to, it's still using Ram to try. These are things the "average" computer user is dealing with.
Every Mac I've ever used "feels" faster than it's PC equivalent. To me that's the only real benchmark. Also, when using Windows, I don't feel as if I'm in control of my system particularly online. I feel like I'm sitting in the passenger's seat saying, "Can we go here?" or "Can we do this?" Who is this "we". It's the people writing viruses, adware, spyware, & any other ware I can't think of. On OSX I feel as though I have most of the control for once. I've since added an excellent Third party Firewall and I just feel that much more in control. All of this amounts to one thing. Getting things done.
I spent enough time in school learning all this stuff about Digital Audio. Why should I now have to go again just to get the computer I'm going to do the Digital Audio on, to work THE WAY IT"S SUPPOSED TO. Basicall to learn what "Can't find Rundll,32" means and fix it. In OSX if there's a problem it tells you it's coming from here and what the name of the problem is. In windows it does the same EXCEPT IT'S NOT REALLY THERE & IT"S NOT REALLY CALLED THAT and your wondering if you just deleted something that's going to cause your computer to never open again.
Look I know That there are a few of you guys out there so knowledgable about computer programming & software you probably have never had a single issue with your PC's and they have always run like super computers. The fact is you either had training or the time to put in to learn Microsoftese and Hacker/Programmerese. The average person does not. There off in THEIR field learning other things and other eses. I will never go back to PC. And I count my lucky stars because I never spent a nickel going through the "Windows Experience". I'm sure I had things on the PC running very well at the time I gave it back, but it was a hardship getting there. Not to mention when Longhorn comes out I would have had to go through alot of it again. I don't need to switch to Tiger if I don't want to as someone pointed out earlier in the thread. I don't think I will at least not for a while. Or maybe not till I buy a new system because this one is running so well.
I'm going to save my pennies (Of which I'll make quite a few running this system right now.) I'm going to make sure my credits good. And someday soon, I'm going to buy a new State of the art Mac, whatever that may be at the time. Because while the initial cost is higher. Factoring in the maintenance expense. Then factoring how well they hold there value. The price eventually evens out. PC's are like Fords if your on a budget, your credits only OK, and you can't wait. it'll get you from A to B. But, it's got a shelf life and you'll have some problems along the way. Macs are like BMW or Mercedes long life, fewer problems, and high re-sale value. Not to mention, I can get right to doing what I got the computer for in the first place. Doing my work.
"If you have the means I highly recommend picking one up. It's so choice."
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"Once the music leaves your head it's already compromised." - Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth