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Switching my main computer from PC to Mac

Image courtesy of All Systems Go Computer Consulting

Last month I realised that my 3-year old desktop computer needed a serious upgrade; although it had 4 GB of RAM multitasking was becoming gradually slower and the processor was not quite up to scratch. Not only that, my PC was enormous, taking up about one third of my desk. It was also very loud. Working alongside something that sounded like an aircraft taking off was distracting.

I had the option to upgrade some of the PC’s parts, but once I started to tot up the costs, I realised (with a little help and persuasion from fellow translators on Twitter!) that it was time to buy a wholly new desktop. Many of the PC’s parts were already over 5 years’ old, as it has been built and rebuilt over the years.

I did quite a bit of research about which new computer would suit me best. But you may be surprised to hear that switching to a Mac desktop and OS wasn’t initially in my sights.

My main priorities were:

1)   8 GB of RAM, for faster multitasking

2)   Small form factor, ideally an all-in-one, to avoid continuing a situation where my desk is dominated by my computer

3)   Peace and quiet!

4)   Reliability

I soon realised that if you want a powerful computer, you may have to compromise on size and noise. I looked at all-in-ones but after reading reams of reviews it seemed that they weren’t necessarily the best option for business users, usually being less powerful. Most also seemed to be pre-loaded with Windows 7 ‘Home Premium’ rather than Windows 7 Professional, which suggested to me that they weren’t really designed for the sort of intensive use business users tend to inflict on their computers. There’s obviously an additional risk with all-in-ones too, since it’s likely to be more difficult to remove and replace the computer’s parts. However, what the reviews did tell me was that if you ‘re set on an all-in-one, the Apple iMac still stands out miles from the competition.

After deliberating over a couple more alternatives and not finding anything else that could combine performance + size + quietness so well, the iMac was the only computer through to the final round. I went for a 21.5” iMac (I use 2 screens) with an Intel Core i5 processor, a 1 TB Serial ATA Drive and 8 GB (2x 4 GB) of RAM. I customised the computer on the Apple website; it was pricey, but the final cost was not wildly different to that of a PC with the same specs, based on my online searches.

I have no plans to become an Apple cheerleader; I have no burning preference for Apple hardware and software and (perhaps unlike some other Mac users) in my opinion there’s nothing inherently wrong with PCs or Microsoft Windows. I don’t have an iPhone and these days my business laptop is a great little Lenovo ThinkPad.

But I have to admit that my new iMac has most definitely been a change for the better. I now have a high-performing computer that is virtually silent and has allowed me to reclaim a large section of my desk. This is a revelation in itself, aside from the benefits the computer itself offers. I have a small office and surface space is at a premium – this is now much less of a problem. This is important to me. With Parallels, I also have a way to continue using my Windows programs (such as my preferred CAT tool) – more on this in my next blog post, which will give some tips for making the transition as smooth as possible if it’s something you’re considering.икони на светциКартиниИдея за подаръкикони

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User Responses

13 Responses and Counting...

  1. Val

    April 20, 2011

    Chapeu! You will see the benefits are huge. Nothing else to add! Well done.
    Your friend and Apple faithful cheerleader, Val :)

  2. Durf

    April 20, 2011

    Always nice to treat yourself to a new machine, no matter what it runs. (And a nice feature of Apple hardware is that it can run most anything.) Enjoy!

  3. Maria Antonietta Ricagno

    April 20, 2011

    I use a MacBook with an embedded virtual machine so I can also use Trados.

  4. Rob Grayson

    April 20, 2011

    Hi Philippa,

    Welcome to the world of Mac. I made the same decision as you in mid-2008, and have never looked back. I do believe that Mac hardware is generally of a higher quality than PC hardware, and am convinced that the OS X operating system is orders of magnitude more stable than Windows.

  5. Fred

    April 20, 2011

    Thanks for your very interesting post and insights (no Apple “fanboyism” :-)).
    My opinion is that you need to get the tools which best fulfill your needs and which you are comfortable and productive with (be it a Windows PC, a Mac, or a Linux machine…). (+ within your budget of course). Virtualization allowing to benefit from all at once (with small drawbacks and slight performance losses).
    If it works for you, then use it. Why spend energy and time in Apple vs Microsoft vs Linux wars…

    The iMac has an excellent IPS screen (the ipad & iphone also use IPS (in-plane switching) screens, this gives an idea for those who have never seen an IPS monitor) whereas most often “standard” LCD monitors feature TN panels (easy to identify: it “gets dark” when viewed from below). As for silence, this all-in-one is watercooled isn’t it ? or can you hear fans?

    So you have dual 21.5″ displays? What LCD monitor did you choose as a 2nd display?
    Will be interested to read you post on Parallels (great w/ your 8GB of RAM). I am considering buying a Mac one day :-) (in my case it will not be for professional use though)

  6. Robb

    April 20, 2011

    My wife made the switch a few years ago and has never looked back. Her well-used machine still has more horsepower than my brand new quad-core.

    What’s more, everything just works!

    Best of luck with the change and resist the urge to Boot Camp 😛

  7. Matt Young

    April 20, 2011

    I switched to a 24″ iMac about 4 years ago, and it is by far the best computer I’ve ever used. It’s getting quite full now, but hasn’t hung or crashed even once in all that time. I run Windows XP using VMWare Fusion for 1 client for whom I have to use Windows, which merely serves to remind me how much I prefer Mac OS X.
    If you’re new to OS X, how about subscribing to a mag such as MacFormat for, say, a year. I did, and picked up loads of tips & tricks.

  8. Fred

    April 20, 2011

    very interesting post! thank you for sharing.
    What screen and size did you chose as a 2nd monitor? 21.5″ IPS LCD ?

  9. Paul Kearns

    April 20, 2011

    Very interesting post, just made me think that maybe I should be looking for a new machine too! I just wonder if it’s time to move from PC to Mac. I’ve heard very few negative comments about Mac’s – their reputation for reliability seems second to none. Will look forward to that next blog.

  10. philippa

    April 20, 2011

    @Fred I chose a 17″ LCD monitor as my second screen, but I also have another 21.5″ sitting around if I start to feel that’s too small. Seems fine so far though!

  11. Guillaume

    April 20, 2011

    Dear Philippa,

    Thanks a lot for sharing with us your decision-making process in order to upgrade your hardware. It is full of advices and I will read it once again as soon as I need to update my office PCs. As a matter of fact, I already have changed for an iMac (and a Macbook Air) at home but I still hesitate to do the same for the PCs we use in my agency. I am still afraid that Windows programs we need to work with (like Trados…) can’t run well on a Mac. It is very encouraging to read the reverse in your post and its comments.

    All the best,
    Guillaume, Anyword

  12. Daniel Pestana

    April 20, 2011

    Hi everyone. What’s your experience with Trados Studio 2011 on a Mac? Do you use Parallels, VM-Ware Fusion or Bootcamp? What’s the best choice? I really want to buy one, but I’m still afraid to get compatibility problems.

    Thank you.
    Kind regards,
    Daniel Pestana

  13. Hans Lenting

    April 20, 2011

    Dear all,

    I think for Mac users CafeTran is the best CAT tool available.



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