Mac vs PC – which is better for me? Experts explain how to create the right home office for you

Looking for a new computer and not sure whether to go down the Mac or Windows PC route? We highlight the pros and cons and best design options here to help you pick a side

Desk with chair and floating shelves
(Image credit: IKEA)

'Mac vs PC – which is better for me?' is a question we have all probably found ourselves asking at some point. While styling your home office with an attractive new chair and desk is a relatively straightforward task, choosing between a Mac by Apple or Windows PC can be a little trickier.

For some, opting for a Mac over a PC, or vice-versa, may feel as inherently natural as brushing your teeth or going vegan, and which operating system you choose ultimately comes down to personal preference. But there are good reasons why one may suit you better than the other.

If your computer broke down today – dare we even say it! – or if you’re looking to upgrade your system, it’s worth taking a moment to question whether a Mac or PC  is the best option. To help you decide between the two, we asked computer expert Tim Danton, author of The Computers That Made Britain, to share his pros and cons for both a Mac and PC. We’ve also highlighted some excellent Mac and PC options below so you can shop for the best computer.

'Apple is a great choice if you're happy with its styling and especially if you already own an iPhone or iPad,' says Tim Danton. ‘The way Apple's services tie together is incredibly slick. But you get so much more choice over specification, design and upgrades if you choose a Windows PC. So while these isn’t a clear winner there are good reasons to choose one over the other.’

Apple iMac

(Image credit: Apple iMac)

Mac vs PC – which is better for me? 

Apple iMac

(Image credit: Apple iMac)

The advantages of a Mac 

There are many good reasons to choose an Apple computer as explains Tim Danton highlights:  

CLOSED ECOSYSTEM: 'Apple products are in a closed ecosystem, which means things work easily. All your Apple gadgets – be it an iMac, iPhone, Airpods, iPad and so on are designed to complement each other. It's as if everything is pre-checked for you, which really helps when you take them out of the box.'

SUPERB RESELL VALUE: 'Excellent resell value on Apple hardware means that even though a MacBook is expensive you can sell it on after three years.'

LONGEVITY: 'Apple is brilliant at keeping its products up to date, so a five-year-old machine will still work and use the latest operating system.’

SECURITY: ‘Apple wins on security for the same reason...keeping up to date is half the battle for making sure your computer is in tip-top condition and secure.’

GOOD RANGE OF SOFTWARE: ‘Apple provides much more useful and interesting software with its new laptops and Macs than PCs. You don’t need to spend a penny or install it either: it’s all sitting there, ready, whether you want a word processor, spreadsheet or Keynote for presentations.’

SILENT BUT HIGHLY EFFECTIVE: ‘Apple has launched a new breed of processor called an M1, and it’s both powerful and efficient. That means you can buy the cheapest current MacBook Air and it will feel like a top-end machine, even if you buy it with the lowest amount of memory (8GB). Battery life is excellent too. You may want to upgrade from 256GB of storage, though, as there’s no way to expand on this.’

Microsoft Surface Pro

(Image credit: Microsoft Surface Pro)

The advantages of a Windows PC

Windows PCs are an excellent choice as they offer flexibility and familiarity, as Tim Danton explains: 

CHOICE: ‘When it comes to choosing a Windows PC, there is a far greater choice in size, shape and style of device. While Microsoft does now sell its own “Surface” laptops, tablets and all-in-one PCs, the Windows 11 operating system is open to anyone. That openness means you can find something to suit a wide range of budgets.' 

OPEN ECOSYSTEM: ‘One of Windows’ great strengths (and sometimes its weakness too) is its open ecosystem. That means that there’s a greater choice of third-party hardware. Nvidia graphics cards in particular, which you simply won’t find in Apple computers.'

FAMILIARITY: ‘There's a familiarity to Windows... some people just don't get on with macOS.'

FLEXIBILITY: ‘There's a greater variety of software available for Windows, much of it free, and if you want to play games on a computer, Windows is by far the most obvious choice. You can also download direct from the Windows Store built into Windows 11.

EASY TO UPGRADE: ‘As a rule of thumb, you can upgrade your Windows computer much more easily and much more cheaply with a Windows PC.

FINGER FRIENDLY: ‘Apple has made zero MacBooks with a touchscreen so far, nor any convertible 2-in-1 designs, pushing people to iPads instead. Microsoft has taken a radically different approach and made almost all of its Surface laptops, tablets and even its gigantic Surface Studio 2 all-in-one PC touch-friendly. It’s great for converting writing to text using OneNote (part of Microsoft Office), or for just sketching ideas.'

Apple Studio Display 5K Retina

(Image credit: Apple Studio Display 5K Retina)

Which Mac is right for you? 3 best Apple Mac computers 

1. For the ultimate Mac set up: Choose the Mac Studio (from $2,496) and Studio Display (from $1,871). Use it for creative projects, video and photo editing and more. From rendering large 3D pictures to playing back 18 streams of ProRes video, it’s an exceptional buy. The Studio Display can also pair with any Mac and features a 27-inch 5K Retina display and a 12MP ultra-wide camera with Centre Stage, which makes it great for video calls. A high-fidelity six-speaker sound system with spatial audio provides excellent sound capabilities too.

2. For a more affordable desktop computer: You can edit 4K videos and large images with speed on the iMac (from £1,249), while apps launch incredibly quickly too as it has the power and performance of M1 and macOS Big Sur. It comes in seven stylish colors and includes Touch ID for secure log in and purchases with Apple Pay. 

3. For a powerful and portable option: You can choose from a range of MacBooks including the MacBook Pro 16-inch (from $2,995), which is great for creative pursuits such as designing, photo-editing, filmmaking, 3D artistry and more. It has an  impressive display and audio and an excellent battery life too.

Microsoft Surface Pro

(Image credit: Microsoft Surface Pro)

Which PC is right for you? 3 best Windows PCs 

1. An excellent desktop PC option: The Huawei MateStation X ($2,246) is a Real Color Fullview All-in-One PC with an impressive spec. Its 4K+ Ultra-HD Display is a 10-point multi-touch screen that allows you to interact with its stunning and colorful screen easily. The 5-layer AR coating8 lowers screen reflection and the TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light9 and Flicker-Free10 display helps to protect your eyes. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor means you can run multiple design programs at once without slowing down. You can also multi-task galore thanks to the large 16GB dual-channel memory and 512 GQ high-speed SSD storage.

2. Great laptop option:  The Dell XPS 13 ($1,061) is a compact 13-inch laptop that comes with Windows 11 or Windows 10. It that has an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor for a fast and smooth experience and weighs just 2.6 pounds, which makes it highly portable and easy to carry around. The fingerprint reader on the power button that lets you access the laptop with ease, and the XPS 13 that responds to voice commands up to 14 feet away are just a couple more enticing features of this great buy.

3. Best 2-in-1 model: The Surface Pro 8 teams the power of a laptop with the flexibility of a tablet in one design and comes preloaded with Windows 11. Its sleek body is light and easy to carry and comes with a kickstand and detachable keyboard with built-in Slim Pen storage and charging. With Windows Ink you can draw artworks or handwrite using the pen on screen, which can then be converted to type text if desired. Windows Hello allows you to log in with facial recognition, pin or fingerprints too, which makes it convenient and secure.  

One of the UK's most respected tech and smart homes writers, Emily Peck also covers everything from interiors style to decorating trends. She is a contributor to Wired UK, and has also had a column in House Beautiful. She has written for publications such as Grand Designs, Stylist, Shortlist, Woman&Home, BBC, Ideal Home and House & Garden. She was once the Features Editor of Ideal Home.