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CPC Issue 70 Preview: Letting The Mac Out Of The Bag

Posted on 16th May 2009 at 13:01 by Alex Watson with 20 comments

Alex Watson
We’ve just got our copies of the next issue of CPC in the office, and it’s something of a milestone for us. As I (admittedly mischievously) hinted a few days ago in the forum, it’s got a Mac on the cover for the first time in the magazine’s history. Not only have we never had a Mac on the cover, we’ve actually only ever fully reviewed one Apple product, a monochrome screened iPod in a group test from 2004.

So what’s changed? Is CPC going all lifestyle? Did we get mixed up with Mac User this month?

Of course not – instead, the Mac is a focus of the issue’s main feature. Our ‘build a PC’ features are some of the most popular we do, but they’re usually focussed on either building a great gaming machine, or a powerful budget PC.

CPC Issue 70 Preview: Letting The Mac Out Of The Bag

We’ve had quite a few emails asking us to broaden the focus of these pieces, and when a 24in, top-of-the-range iMac pitched up in the labs, we couldn’t resist pitting our wits against it. While simply bashing the iMac with a big hammer had its attractions, a closer look (well, it was irresistibly shiny) revealed that it wasn’t without its charms. We weren’t the only ones who thought this – it turned the heads of many passers-by. So we decided to try and build a PC rival that competed with the iMac, not just in terms of performance – because few people buy iMacs if they just want raw speed – but in terms of looks, noise, ease-of-use, and of course, desirability.

In addition to the ‘Make a Mac Killer’ feature, the issue also has an absolutely huge look at Folding@home (17 pages, no less). Given the success of the Folding team, and the fact it’s been a very long time since we’ve covered Folding in detail in the magazine, we thought we needed to go the extra mile with our coverage. We’ve got two articles, the first looking at the science behind the project, and the second looking at how to get all the various clients working, as well as James’ attempts to build a Folding supercomputer using an Asus motherboard with six PCI-E slots...

Subscribers should get their copies today or at the start of next week, depending, of course, on Royal Mail.

As well as being interested in getting feedback on the issue overall, I'd also be interested in hearing, in the comments, about how you think (or perhaps would expect) a custom built PC to compare to a Mac. Are Macs completely without saving graces, selling only to the gullible solely because of the brand? Are aesthetics the only thing Apple knows how to do well? Or is the recent upsurge in Mac sales due to the fact that actually, they're not bad computers? Finally, if you had a friend who was set on buying an iMac, what sort of PC rival would you spec up for him or her?

20 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
ch424 16th May 2009, 13:07 Quote
Ooh.. that's cool - did you manage to make an all-in-one?
Sifter3000 16th May 2009, 13:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ch424
Ooh.. that's cool - did you manage to make an all-in-one?

Nope, that was one area we did have to compromise on - but we did make a machine that was small (Silverstone Lascala case), and water-cooled :)

Mark did the build and I think we'll do a build log on the site at some point...
bigkingfun 16th May 2009, 13:41 Quote
Thats sounds like some very interesting articles.
Is it possible to get a copy shipped to Denmark?

I'd pay for a pdf'ed issue as well...
Zurechial 16th May 2009, 14:02 Quote
Macs are nothing if not well-built in my experience.

I'm not fond of Macs and I'd in almost all circumstances much rather use a PC I build myself, running Windows or Linux, than use a Mac, but as self-contained, well-made products I find that they do their job well.

I'm interested in seeing this article though - Given the skills of many PC enthusiasts I'd expect a very capable, elegant self-built alternative to a Mac to be plausible.
GravitySmacked 16th May 2009, 15:26 Quote
Looking forward to the postie coming on Monday
Cupboard 16th May 2009, 15:44 Quote
If you were trying to make a PC look as good as a Mac with every bit of software they had built in and all the extra little bells and whistles I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up more expensive.
harveypooka 16th May 2009, 16:37 Quote
In the last few years five of my friends have switched to Mac. Be it for music software, reliability, the laptop experience, but never for games. But that too is changing.

They're great machines. But it's Mac OS X that is worth the cash. I built an EFiX based machine this year to run Mac OS X on generic hardware. It kind of removed the point of the software-hardware relationship, but that option is always there.

There just needs to be a greater range and better GPUs. And I'll be happy.
Jamie 16th May 2009, 18:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigkingfun
Thats sounds like some very interesting articles.
Is it possible to get a copy shipped to Denmark?

I'd pay for a pdf'ed issue as well...

http://www.magazinesondemand.co.uk/custom-pc/laptop-vs-netbook-issue-69-computing-13929.html

I think it'll be on there when it's released.
bigkingfun 16th May 2009, 22:47 Quote
Thankyou very much Jamie ;)
Have a cookie:
http://yeenova.com/images/Blue-Chip-Cookie.jpg
r4tch3t 17th May 2009, 10:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cupboard
If you were trying to make a PC look as good as a Mac with every bit of software they had built in and all the extra little bells and whistles I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up more expensive.
And if they used Linux instead of windows, all the software bells and whistles would only cost 1 hour of labour for an experienced Linux Zealot to get looking the same as OSX and all the software most likely has Linux alternatives.
I'm sure you could get a PC into the same case as the iMacs for cheaper seeing as the iMacs can run Windows anyway. Your just paying extra for the design of it. If there was enough demand for PC iMac lookalikes then I'm sure a company could make them for cheaper than the macs with the same hardware specifications.
Macs have their uses and the cost is justified for whatever reason by those who buy them. It is just most PC users are not really all that bothered about having a sleek all in one box, they are more interested in performance and price. Different markets for different people.

As for the build I will certainly be looking forward to seeing it put up on the site. Also a 17 page article on Folding sounds quite interesting.
azrael- 17th May 2009, 13:43 Quote
Macs per se aren't "bad" computers. It's more the limited selection available that nags me. I'm thinking desktop models here. MacBooks are just fine. For desktops the only real alternative to a pc is the Mac Pro, since iMacs just are too underpowered and effectively non-upgradable. The only downside to the Mac Pro is that it's prohibitively expensive.
Walibe 17th May 2009, 13:59 Quote
I can see this article going wrong but look forward to reading it anyway. However theres always the argument that if like the MACs you can always just buy one and stick Windows 7 on it.
smc8788 17th May 2009, 14:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walibe
theres always the argument that if like the MACs you can always just buy one and stick Windows 7 on it.

Thereby negating the reason 99% of people buy Macs.

People don't buy a Mac for the hardware, they buy it for the software. Any conversation I've had with a Mac user says something to this effect - that they're happy to a several hundred pound premium for OS X and live with an underpowered, unupgradeable system - an argument that I've never understood.
wuyanxu 17th May 2009, 14:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc8788
Thereby negating the reason 99% of people buy Macs.

People don't buy a Mac for the hardware, they buy it for the software. Any conversation I've had with a Mac user says something to this effect - that they're happy to a several hundred pound premium for OS X and live with an underpowered, unupgradeable system - an argument that I've never understood.
do install Hackintosh from OSX86 project.

the OS is very nice, will be a delight to use if it supports GTX2_0 graphics cards. i don't want to sound like a Mac fanboi, and i never owned a real Mac in my life, but the .app system and the way drag and drop is implemented is fantastic. and don't get me started on how easy it is to write C++ in Xcode.

IMHO the perfect computing combo would be: Win 7 gaming desktop at home, a small netbook-like Macbook for on the go. (if i have the money for latter)
roblikesbeer 17th May 2009, 15:39 Quote
I'd be extremely tempted to buy a Mac if the hardware and software support for gaming was anything like it was on the PC. They so shiny.
Walibe 17th May 2009, 22:19 Quote
Quote:
Thereby negating the reason 99% of people buy Macs

Most of the converts I know buy them and run bootcamp. The MAC is only 50% about the software or less, the most part is the image.
Hugo 18th May 2009, 00:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sifter3000
Mark did the build and I think we'll do a build log on the site at some point...

Ex-Vadim maker assembled Mac killer :D
Cutter McJ1b 19th May 2009, 10:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HugoB
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sifter3000
Mark did the build and I think we'll do a build log on the site at some point...

Ex-Vadim maker assembled Mac killer :D

It was a little tricky to squeeze it all into the media PC chassis, but it turned out a pretty sexy build in the end :D

The feature was a lot of fun to work on. Hopefully, it will be as fun to read :)
Ergath 20th May 2009, 09:26 Quote
I thought it was a good article. My main objection to macs is the repulsively smug advertising and general "considerably richer than yow" image they project. That and the restrictive nature of the platform - give me good old buggy Wind Holes any day of the week.
crazyceo 22nd May 2009, 12:53 Quote
My lad is making a "Mac killer" for his school project. However, it's a copy of the iMac G3 fish tank project from CPC mag a few years ago and threaded on here a few weeks ago.

We emptied the iMac in about 5 minutes. Now we are at the stage of filling every hole with clear silicone.

Still a Mac beater though!

I'll get him to post results when it's finished.
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