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Anyone using a Mac as a PC?

Is it wise?

1:42 pm on Mar 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm starting to think about getting a new PC - and since I fancy having a Mac to play (err... test my site) with too - I'm wondering about getting a Mac, and using Parallels or BootCamp to run PC software.

We're pretty well locked in to Microsoft stuff here (IIS, SQL Server etc), and use a LOT of other PC software that I would want to continue to use. So I'm guessing the machine would be used as a Windows PC 90% of the time - at least initially, until the Mac bug bit!

So the question is, are the new tools like Parallels or BootCamp robust enough to make a Mac a viable Windows PC - if a PC is really what you need?

Gut instinct tells me that anything "emulated" will have enough minor problems to become a real nuisance - and that I'd be better off sticking to a "real" PC.

But I just thought I'd check - anyone running an Intel based Mac as a PC? If so, how good a PC is it?

1:50 pm on Mar 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Considering using BootCamp is the equivalent of running Windows in native mode on native hardware, you would see zero difference between it and a "real" PC. With BootCamp, you really are booting into Windows - there is no emulation layer. There are even reports of people installing Vista without using BootCamp.

BootCamp is just a boot loader that installs a firmware update to the EFI that allows non-EFI aware OSes to boot on EFI. Again, when you use BootCamp, you really are booting into Windows. There's no code emulation.

Parallels is a bit different - it "virtualizes" the system calls to Windows through Mac. The effect you see is that things may run a hair slower. On my C2D MacBook Pro, I run Windows XP in Parallels all day as a window. I have 3 GB of RAM in my Mac, and give 1 GB to Parallels. I don't notice a performance hit on the Windows side with anything I do (mostly browser and office apps).

Where you will notice a performance hit with Parallels is gaming. Running accelerated games won't work. Since BootCamp boots Windows natively, there are no issues running games in BootCamp.

And now Parallels supports two features to make your life ridiculously easy:

1) Parallels can use the same partition that BootCamp does, so you only have to maintain one instance of Windows.

2) Parallels has a "coherence" mode that allows you to run Windows apps literally side-by-side with Mac apps on the Mac desktop. It basically hides the Windows desktop and start bar, and puts running Windows apps on the dock. This is a really neat feature that words don't do justice to.

As a first-time Mac owner (I've had mine for about 3 months now) I can say that I'm happy. At this point, if you like Mac OS X, there's very little reason not to switch.

6:56 pm on Mar 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member whoisgregg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Happy to hear you've made the jump and are happy Jake! :)

I can add that either the Parallels or the Boot Camp method work quite well. Since Parallels can use the Boot Camp partition, it makes sense to install your Windows copy via Boot Camp.

11:10 pm on Mar 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've been using Parallels for 9 months and haven't had any issues, the thing I love about it is the flexibility. I stored my windows partition on a firewire drive and if I'm on a trip then I just drag it to the documents folder and I can boot right into XP without any config changes. It stores the image so all the work I've saved in XP is transferred on the fly, when I go home I transfer it back to the external and pick up right where I left off, so portability is great.

I haven't used Parallels with Boot Camp, only Parallels by itself. I've installed 98, 2k, XP and Server 2003 with zero problems, I'm using a Mac Book Pro with 1.5 gb RAM.

BTW congrats as well on the jump Jake.

5:07 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Certainly seems like everyone's happy, so it must work pretty well.

Thanks for the replies!