A little over 5 months ago I replaced my aging Mac Mini (it is not eligible for the Big Sur update this fall) with a Windows desktop. As someone who has bought Macs his entire life, this was a bit of a surprise to many. At the time, a few people even predicted I would break down and come back to the Mac in no time.
So, how’s it going 5 months in?
It’s going great! Do I like Windows as much as macOS? No. But again, my main work machine is an iPad Pro, so I don’t need the desktop to be good at everything, I need it to be good at a few select things. So what’s it good at?
First off, it’s primary purpose is off to a great start; it’s a killer gaming machine. Now I could have gone higher end, but for just over $1,000, getting a 6-core 9th get Core i5 processor and an NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super graphics card have combined to deliver a basically perfect gaming experience across the board. I can play literally any game that comes out today, and likely for the next 5 years. Not only that, I can play basically everything out today at 60fps with all graphics cranked at 1440p, and even at 4K most of the time. Control and all it’s ray tracing goodness is the only game that really makes me turn anything down, and I suspect Cyberpunk 2077 will push this a little harder.
Not only do PC games run great, but so do emulators, and I’ve gotten to enjoy the world of emulation as well. Check out my 2020 review of the GameCube classic Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes for an idea of what that looks like. Running retro games at native 4K and with an Xbox One controller is amazing.
The rest of the story isn’t as perfect, but I’m getting what I need done. I’m using Lightroom and Photoshop for photo editing, just like on the Mac. I’m using Figma for design work a well. For the occasional video project I need to make on a PC, I’ve learned to use DaVinci Resolve, which is totally free and shockingly powerful (although shockingly, even with some pretty beefy specs, editing 4K video on my iPad Pro in LumaFusion still feels faster than this).
But then there’s the file explorer, which I know some people love, but I find truly insane to work with and makes every interaction with the file system an absolute nightmare. And similarly, I can’t find an FTP app that I like nearly as much as Transmit for the Mac, nor is there a writing app as good as Ulysses…the list goes on.
But I don’t use this machine for all that stuff, I use the iPad and I’m more than happy to do everything there.
Am I Going Back?
Occasionally I wish I could use Final Cut Pro, but in general switching to the PC was a great move for me since my needs were very particular. I’m certainly intrigued by the prospects of Apple Silicon in upcoming Macs, but the odds of me switching back to a desktop Mac is remarkably slim right now. Besides, Apple is already satisfying 95% of my computing needs with the iPad Pro already, so it’s not like I’m shunning their whole lineup of computers.