After a long period of careful consideration, including an in-depth evaluation of my options, and considerable doubts, I’ve made the decision to move to macOS. For those of you who know me, I know what you’re thinking, and rest assured my hypocrisy here does not escape me – I’ve been a diehard Windows user for as long as I’ve known what a computer is, and not only have I been loyal I have often been known to disparage those who prefer the Apple ecosystem; to those people I apologise wholeheartedly – as a carpenter once said “…forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Why I’m Moving
For a while now, the minor incompatibilities between OEM hardware and the Windows 10 operating system have been increasingly bugging me. I firstly want to make clear that for an average user, Windows 10 is an exemplary operating system, and I would recommend it any day of the week before recommending anything like a Chromebook. I would also still recommend Windows 10 for desktop use cases in most scenarios, as hardware configuration is leagues more free flowing. However, as a daily driver to handle my considerably more demanding workflow, Windows systems can no longer support me well enough.
Firstly, for the sake of context, I should explain how I like to work. I’m very much a social individual – I work far more effectively when collaborating with others on projects, and even when working solo, I prefer having a person or two around to bounce ideas off. This means that desktop PCs are basically a no-go for me. I’ve preferred thin and light laptops for all of my academic and working career, and I continue to favour them on the whole mainly for the fact that I can pick them up and move around with them in order to make the most of my working day. My preference for laptops paired with my need for more powerful systems than most users drastically limit my options, and when my student budget is factored in, I basically have a pool of four or five laptops to pick from at any given time.
This time around, evaluating my current options, I really started to question why I strictly limit myself to Windows systems, and I started to think about why I have this visceral and innate hatred of Apple’s product line-up – as it turned out, I could justify neither.
Essentially, macOS does everything I could possibly need it to do, and arguably a lot more than what Windows 10 can. Furthermore, I’ve become increasingly irritated with Windows’ in-OS advertising – basically regardless of how hard you try, they will collect some data, and they will try to advertise to you. This is where the fabled “Apple Tax” comes in; essentially, Apple will charge you more for a product up front, but once you buy that product the transaction is over i.e. the product is the product. Windows on the other hand will sell you a product at a slightly lower price, on the understanding that they can make some extra money from advertising to you i.e. the customer is the product.
As a self-proclaimed privacy freak, I’d much rather not be advertised to while I work, and therefore I was basically left with only one choice – it was Apple time!
CISC vs RISC
Now here’s where it gets slightly technical, so bear with me. When it comes to CPU architectures, there are two types you can choose from: Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC), and Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC). CISC-based CPUs have a larger set of instructions they can make use of, but each instruction may run in several CPU cycles meaning they can be less efficient; RISC-based CPUs on the other hand have a smaller set of instructions available to them but each instruction will always fully execute within a single CPU cycle meaning they are far more efficient and draw considerably less power. Also, and this is notable in the laptop market, RISC-based CPUs only generate a fraction of the heat CISC-based CPUs do.
In the past, the go-to choice for any desktop/laptop computer has been CISC-based CPUs, mainly because until now RISC-based variants have simply not possessed the speed and power required to run full-fat operating systems on the desktop – Apple’s new M1 chip very much redefines this scope though, and was without a doubt the straw that broke this camel’s back. With this new piece of bespoke Apple Silicon, the company have revolutionised what RISC-based CPUs can achieve, and have set a completely new standard for desktop computing.
Apple’s new M1-based line-up offer exceptional performance with outstanding battery life, and for me there’s basically no decision to make here – Apple are lightyears ahead of any competition in this class, and frankly it’s incredible what they’ve achieved.
The model I’ve bought is a 13” MacBook Pro with M1, and to be honest I couldn’t be more excited to get to know macOS – I’m a convert! I will admit that my decisions and setup here don’t fit everyone’s use-case, and there are some genuinely valid reasons for preferring/needing to use CISC-based CPUs and Windows 10. However, for me, this has realistically become the only good option.