Are Apple Macs Slower? It May Be Time to Switch to Windows

The Apple versus Windows discussion tends to get some strong opinions from both sides. Many creatives swear by Apple and consider them to be the only option, and this is mostly due to the operating system. Preferences aside, it would seem that Macs are sometimes the slower and worse option for creatives. 

If I'm not mistaken, most photographers and videographers tend to use the Adobe suite software for editing and post-production. As much as I like Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro, I wish they were better optimized; unfortunately, they remain relatively slow. I can appreciate how it's probably difficult to do that for Windows due to the vast number of configurations on the market. Even so, it seems Apple Macs are still the slower option in comparison. In a recent video by Linus Tech Tips, they demonstrate why and how Macs continue to remain the slower option. It would seem that this is actually intentionally implemented by Apple. Sebastian discusses how most people that buy Apple products are interested in the look and feel as opposed to the raw performance. For creatives in our industry, this is a problem, because the "Pro" models from Apple are not in fact for professional users. 

Personally, I'm not surprised by this because, in my experience, Apple has sometimes neglected the professional market. I can appreciate how they have other priority markets that are more profitable, but this doesn't help me, and for that reason, I now continue with Windows. 

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Rayann Elzein's picture

Haha indeed! That made me laugh :)

Mike Schrengohst's picture

We bought an HP laptop for my wife because it was so much cheaper than a mac laptop. She uses an iMac in her office. She hates the HP laptop. I have tried to use it and windows sucks big time. I have used macs now since 2006 and would not dream of trying to do editing, After Effects, Photoshop on a windows computer now. I have never had any trouble with my 3 iMacs or my 2 iPads. They just work - all the time. No I don't work for Apple......

Dave Dundas's picture

HP is the Skoda of laptops. Try a Dell or a Lenovo. Still half the price, and minimum of double the performance of the Mac.

Robert Nurse's picture

I've used Windows machines professionally as a SW developer for decades. For my personal use, it's been a mixed bag. Once, my Windows notebook needed repair and I borrowed my daughter's MacBook temporarily just for photo editing. I got sucked right in. I installed LR, PS and Wacom and just started right up where I left off. It seemed as though everything just worked without a lot of hand waving. Windows also has this ridiculous registry "feature" that, at least in prior versions, wasn't managed very well. So, over time, your beast of a machine would lose performance as the OS would have to trudge through that registry. There were all these registry "cleaners" that claimed to reclaim performance. But, I never fully trusted them. What seemed to always work was reinstalling the OS and my apps. But, of course, that was time consuming. I got my own MacBook solely for photo editing. But, I'd like something a lot beefier. With a Windows machine the choices are complicated as you got a gazillion vendors for everything. Hence, a cause of much ire. The choices under Macs are simpler, but you'll pay the price for that simplicity. Oh, what's a guy to do?

Daris Fox's picture

Windows losing performance is a thing of a past, Win 10 is a fresh install every 6 months if you allow it. It pulls all your files and settings a across, and with SSDs performance loss (if any) is imperceptible.

The biggest bug bear of Windows was the SXS folder due to legacy support which gobbles drive space but again Win 10 is a paradigm shift in how the OS manages files. If you also use Windows Store apps then you won't be using registry and legacy shims.

Almost all registry cleaners was snake oil from XP days and a lot of bull ****. Windows, since at least Vista days does registry optimisation on the fly. One advantage of the Registry and one of it's key advantages is that it helped make the OS hardware agnostic. Also most crud in the Registry was down to programmers who produced shoddy code and didn't clean up after themselves.

If you actually understood the underlying NT concept, you'll see that OS X and Linux have been bandaging concepts onto a ancient OS paradigm for 'nix like systems (prime example of this is systemd). Apple does a great job of hiding the system limitations. Considering that Windows is still using the same kernel and concepts 25 years later on vast array of platforms speaks volumes.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Am i still on a photography site?

Usman Dawood's picture

Are you suggesting computers that people use to edit their images are not relevant to the photography industry?

Przemek Lodej's picture

A quick comparison and its an absolute no brainer. My fiancee uses a MacBook Pro 15 as an alternative in studio recording ($3000) while on the move, but at home she uses a previous gen iMac. Re-configuring it to today's specs with comparable components (64GB RAM, i7) to my newly build custom PC it runs $6000!! My PC is roughly 1/3 the cost ($2075) with additional 1TB SSD drive, and a better nVidia RTX 2080 card and a 30" display. The new system flies like a rocket. Editing 500MB PS files is a breeze. Modeling and animating in Maya and zBrush is like ice skating through butter. To each it's own, but I will never understand why would anyone be willing to waste so much money on a system with identical specs.

Dan Barthel's picture

Apple has lost interest in the Mac in my view. And I'm a long time Mac user. My next computer will be the giant Microsoft slate. No more expensive than the iMac Pro, and a whole lot more functional. I can learn to close a window on the right.

Ivan Lantsov's picture

hope his voice change soon

Benjamin Skrainka's picture

There is a hidden cost to PCs: it takes much longer to get anything done with Windows because of the cumbersome user interface. With OS/X I am vastly more productive with the knowledge of a just a few gestures & shortcuts. Further, when I need the command line it has the full power of Unix/Linux. I am sure that the time I save more than offsets any potential cost savings.

Spy Black's picture

I've been working with Macs and PCs since 1989, and I appreciate the comedic elements of your comment...

Dave Dundas's picture

Same. Good chuckle.

Robert Escue's picture

I don't know why anyone thinks that a laptop is a good choice for a work machine. By its very nature a laptop limits the amount of CPU, GPU and disk you can have available (even with SSD's) because of their limited cooling abilities unless you buy a desktop replacement grade machine that basically defeats the point of owning a laptop.

I don't think it matters which OS you use because it comes down to personal preference over specific functionality advantages between Windows and macOS. What matters is how the OS and applications perform on the hardware you buy. for that reason I prefer a PC running Windows. I get the ability to expand and replace hardware far easier than a Mac and the applications I use run just fine. This is all about nothing.

Paulo Macedo's picture

Hey Robert. I've bought a Lenovo Legion Y530 to pair with my BenQ wide gamut screen.
It came with a lot of IO, including displayport and USB-C.
Now, as for specs, mine came with an i7 8870H with 6Cores and 12 threads, really quick munching through files, paired with 16GB of DDR4 and a GTX 1050Ti.
This for 1000€, which was cheap for the kind of machine I've bought.
As for space, it came with a 240GB SSD paired with a 1TB HDD.
Cooling? No problem, two big ass fans at the bottom rocking when you game, yes it becomes noisy, but still it's pretty neat when it comes to cooling the computer.

Spy Black's picture

If Adobe software is your primary concern, get a middle-of-the road PC with 6 or 8 cores, and as powerful a graphics card as you can afford. I'm not aware of any Adobe program that can make use of more than 6 cores. If you bought a fancy 16-core Mac for your Adobe suite, you've been had. Badly, I might add.

Zoran Grbic's picture

When are you going to finish the article? Publish the part that says something useful and really make it with while to read?

Guy Incognito's picture

This is always sure to be a calm and respectful debate...

I have no grievance with Macs or Apple in general, I still use my iPad Air although she does seem to be getting a little long in the tooth. I use Windows and build my own PCs because I enjoy it, I'm a gamer, and I have some other specific needs. I think I can get more bang for the buck building a PC and, despite my repeated attempts, Linux distros often just frustrate me.

The only problem I might have with Apple/Mac/OSX is that for the longest time it had this reputation as being for "pros" without anyone ever being able to explain what made using a Mac "pro". I think it was a triumph of marketing.

JetCity Ninja's picture

it's as if someone popped in and said, "Nikon is for pros, Canon is for wannabes" in here.

Usman Dawood's picture

That's not true, clearly, Nikon is for wannabes :P.

David Penner's picture

The difference is while Canon, Nikon, Sony and most of the other camera brands it really comes down to personal preference. For simple photo and video editing it doesn't make much of a difference. Getting into more advanced work you are no longer looking at anything prepackaged. You are building your computer for whatever tasks you need it to accomplish and apple doesn't give you that option. Even being able to cool your system properly can turn into a huge issue for Apple computers. I don't know if Apple gives you the option to have an overlay of what your computer is actually doing but thermal throttling is very real.
I'll admit with my current computer it was a week or so of tinkering with settings to get everything running exactly how I wanted but with Apple you don't have that option and you'd be losing performance. I got a bit more performance out of my ram by overclocking it. After that I did a very slight overclock of my cpu but managed to keep it stable with a decent undervolt (runs cooler at a higher clock speed). Video card is the same thing.

Fred Teifeld's picture

As far as I'm concerned, Apple gave up on the Pro market when they removed all the useful connections on the MacBook Pro and forced the use of dongles and/or port replicators. Between professional shooting, I did a years long stint in the IT industry, where I learned that (at the time) running Windows was like walking around all day with your pants down around your ankles when it came to security vulnerability.

I've been out of IT and back in the professional photography field for well over 10 years and friends with far more current experience in IT field have informed me that Windows is far more secure and robust these days so I've been considering switching back as my Macs die off.

In deference to the Apple hardware, I have gone well beyond the average TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) so I have gone well beyond exceeding the initial investment. While I've never been an Apple fanboy, experience tells me that they have used higher quality hardware which is why they tend to last far longer. At home my oldest of my two MBPs' is an early 2011 and stays on my desk. Yes, its slower- No dispute there but its also about 8 years old without any major hardware failures. I've definitely gotten my money's worth out of it along with the newer MBP (The last generation before Apple decided to blow off pros). The 27" iMac in my studio is a late 2011 i7 with 32gb of ram and while I've noticed that my later MBP is faster, it still works well enough when it comes to imaging work.

Like I said- As they die off, modern Windows based units are in my future.

Rhonald Rose's picture

Apple!!? Windows!!??? What are they?

Jerome Brill's picture

My goto is a netbook with an Intel Atom. When I want to export something, I just go on vacation. When I get back it's done. It really makes me want to travel more.

bill bynum's picture

I have always used Windows - not because I dislike mac it's just what I have always used and always will.

chris bryant's picture

I would rather squirt tabasco sauce in my eyes.

Usman Dawood's picture

I second your preference and would love to watch lol.

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