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Understanding Macs - Differences Between Mac and PC

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 1/15/2010

Macs and PCs have been made out to be two completely different things. Although this is partially true, Macs and PCs also have a lot in common. This article will help you to better understand the differences between Macs and PCs.

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    Introduction: A Mac is a PC

    mac hardware 

    True statement: Macs actually are PCs. The term PC is an abbreviation for personal computer, and a Mac is, in its own right, a personal computer. So, why do we not refer to Macs as PCs? The simple answer is: Macs are so thoroughly branded and different from other PCs that people refer to them as Macs. A Mac is like a BMW and a PC is like a nice fully restored Chevy Camaro. They are different, but they are both cars.

    If you take apart a Mac computer, and you take apart a PC, you will find that they use the same parts and components. Both have: a motherboard, processor, RAM memory, graphics card, optical drive, hard drive, heatsink, fan, etc... They use the same basic hardware. The Mac BMW and the PC Camaro both have an engine, exhaust, intake, wheels, etc...

    However, they do not use the same software... which brings us to difference #1.

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    Difference #1 - Operating Systems and Program Types

    x 

    Mac computers run on the operating system OS X. You can run Windows or Linux on a Mac, but OS X is the default operating system of Mac computers. Legally, OS X is only supposed to be used on Mac computers. Apple has gone to great lengths to make sure of this. Macs OS X uses distinct programs and applications. For example, DMG is an extension used by Mac computers. A BMW is factory tuned to be a performance car, and BMW wheels will only work with a BMW.

    PCs are best known for running on the operating system Windows. However, Windows has nothing to do with a PC being a PC. Many people prefer the open source operating system Linux. You cannot legally install OS X on a PC. PC operating systems, such as Windows, use distinct programs and applications. For example, EXE is an extension used by Windows based PCs. When restoring a Chevy Camaro, you can choose whether or not you want blue or black gauges in it.

    Operating systems and program types are simple differences between Mac and PC.

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    Difference #2 - Hardware Customization

    motherboard 

    Mac computers do not offer a whole lot of hardware customization options. You can upgrade the RAM memory and hard drive capacity in a Mac, but not much else. The only Mac with an exception to this rule is the Mac Pro. You can customize the RAM, hard drive, graphics card, and add CD/DVD drives in a Mac Pro. There is not a lot of customization that you want to do to a BMW, an already great factory car. You can change the intake and rims, but you would not want to do much more. The Mac Pro is an M3.

    With PCs, you can customize just about any hardware component that you want. You can even build a PC from scratch and pick out every single piece of hardware for your own customization preferences. If you buy a branded PC, such as a Dell, you can still customize just about anything. When restoring a Chevy Camaro, you can build from scratch, or swap parts to restore an existing car.

    Hardware customization is a simple difference between Mac and PC.

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    Other Notes

    Steve Jobs is the genius behind Apple, and Mac computers. He specifically built Apple to be the sole supplier of Mac software as well as Mac hardware. He also intertwined Mac software to only work with Mac hardware. This is why you cannot just by an Apple OS X disc and install it on any computer. To have OS X, you have to have a Mac. (the legal way) Steve Jobs built the luxury car, and parts for it are expensive.

    There really is no genius behind PCs. There are several companies that manufacture branded PCs: Dell, Gateway, IBM, Toshiba, Sony, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, etc... However, Bill Gates is often viewed as the genius behind PCs. Gates chose to concentrate just on software by creating Microsoft. In doing so, he built the most popular operating system in the history of computers, Windows. But, he chose to sell Windows to any computer manufacturer that wanted to distribute it with their own PCs. That is why Dell, HP, Gateway, etc, are all Windows PCs. Bill Gates sold you the windshield to the Camaro, but he let you custom build the rest. Dell sells different models of Camaros: base, Z28, and SS.

Understanding Macs - Mac vs PC

This four part series details the simple differences between Macs and PCs, the advantages of Mac vs PC, and concludes with which is better, Mac or PC.
  1. Understanding Macs - Differences Between Mac and PC
  2. Windows and Mac: Differences in Everyday Operating System Use
  3. The Benefits of Mac vs. PC
  4. Which is Better - Mac or PC?