Designers and video editors used to ‘need’ Mac computers to get the job done. Now, they’re getting the job done equally well on both platforms.
Macs have been the preferred tool of visual designers and video editors for decades. They’ve also been an outcast of PC-centric corporate networks. Over the years, an epic battle raged between network administrators and corporate creative groups over which machines were best for the company.
The choice is often left up to a company’s marketing leader, like myself, who needs to balance competing points of view. As a lifelong Mac enthusiast, I’ve always erred on the side of Macs. In recent years, however, the benefits of Mac-centric design and video editing have diminished. Print-ready PDFs have become the standard format for file delivery. Adobe InDesign conquered QuarkXPress. Adobe Premiere trumped Final Cut Pro. PC processors, hardware and operating systems are capable of meeting — sometimes surpassing — the performance of their OsX-based equivalents.
After taking the time to vet differences among more than 50 print designers (Macs staunchest defenders), its become clear to me that Macs in the workplace are no longer the result of business need. They’re the result of personal preference. Using a LinkedIn poll and several LinkedIn design-oriented discussion groups, I asked designers to reconsider the ‘Mac vs PC’ debate. Although most designers still prefer a Mac, few said they ‘require’ one to complete their job. A growing number of designers are platform agnostic or prefer working on a PC.
“I have been in the design business for many years and use a PC exclusively,” said Sarah Hanley, a print design based in North Carolina. “I work with businesses and printers alike and have never had a problem… It’s not the tools, but the designer and how the tools (software, PC or MAC) are used. As long as you supply the printer or end user for whatever you are creating with a comprehensive product that includes all the elements they are going to need to complete their end of the product (be it print or web or app design), that’s what’s important. “
“I think that -for the most part- it’s a question of prestige. There’s quite a bit of snobbery – somehow you are perceived to be a non-sophisticated designer if you say you work on a PC,” said Costas Kyriacou, a UK-based designer. “Yes, Macs tend to look nicer, which is a factor to consider as a designer obviously cares about how things look.”
“Apple has a very closed and controlled system which makes quality control easy, whereas in the area of PCs you may run into a lot of cheap low quality options” said Kyriacou, “But if you compare a CAREFULLY SELECTED PC (ideally one for which you have selected the components yourself), with a good monitor, I really don’t see any significant difference. Especially since from Windows 7 onwards the operating system stopped being a hindrance. I have been working on an iMac for more than 3 months as this was the computer that was provided to me at work and my personal computer is a PC. Sometimes I actually find the Mac OS (especially the ‘Finder’ function) less practical than the Windows 7 one.”
“As far as video production…Mac is not even with Windows…it’s trailing,” said Video Production Editor Tim Kolb, of Oshkosh. “I switched around the time whe OSX first dropped and Apple’s own editing program wouldn’t run on it…yet Adobe Premiere would. As far back as 2003, I had a colleague that was anxious to return to Mac since they were 64 bit, however in his tests, his 32 bit Xeon Windows XP system still significantly out-performed Apple’s biggest desktop offering in After Effects. Apple pulled near even in CPU power when they adopted Intel, but fell behind again with slow config updates. Print and Web design are fine on an iMac, but Windows has owned the heavy-lift video post market for some time.”
While using a PC for video editing — and for design in a PC-based workplace — probably makes the most sense, a Mac-based environment for small offices and home based designers still seems like the best fit. Macs network easily, resist malware effectively, and provide a better overall user experience.
Like many designers and video editors, I prefer using Macs myself — but I don’t NEED them to get the job done.