I’m not so sure.
With the rumours of Apple looking to replace Intel processors with their own custom silicon around 2020, it made me think about Apple on the desktop/laptop and how comfortable it has been. It’s like putting on comfortable slippers and lounging around wearing a smoking jacket, with a faux smoking pipe sticking out the corner of one’s mouth – occasionally removing it to make some witty quip about the state of the British Empire. That is to say that the Mac, and MacOS, is getting tired, out of date and increasingly irrelevant.
Much of the innovation from Apple found in modern Macs and MacOS is from Apple’s mobile divisions – iOS. The iPhone and iPad have been rolling out features to MacOS rather than the other way around. MacOS’ new filesystem, APFS, first featured on the iPhone and iPad before it hit the desktop. The processors (or rather, System on a Chip – SoC) have routinely beat the likes of the competition in the mobile market, and we’ve even seen them approach the performance of lower end modern Intel laptops.
So it makes sense for Apple to eventually move away from Intel and start using their own A-range of ARM processors. But this is not without cost – I remember the transition between PowerPC and Intel and while it wasn’t too strenuous, it took some developers quite some time to roll out native code. If the Mac went ARM, I can see the same thing happening: you’re stuck with a machine that is so new and shiny that so few apps can take advantage of the performance.
So I’ve decided now’s the time to swallow my pride and head back to the PC. And that means having to (well, not HAVING to, but it’s better than Linux GUIs I’ve come across) embrace Windows 10. Back in 2016 when I bought two machines – a Dell XPS and an Alienware R3, the experience of Windows 10 was dire , to say the least. Just search this blog for my opinion at the time. But work has convinced that despite the massive pain in the arse Windows is, it IS getting better – albeit slowly.
The hardware was went convinced me. My MacBook Pro was a 7th generation Core i5 running at 3.1Ghz, 2 CPU cores, and had four threads. Intel’s latest offering is 6 cores with 12 threads. That includes desktop and laptop CPUs. The MacBook Pro is limited to 16Gb RAM. The SSD cannot be upgraded. At work I recommended Dell to start replacing a fleet of low powered Windows machines. For development work, I picked out the Dell 8930 which offers a 6 core Core i7 8700 processor. And it looks beautiful:
RAM is easily upgradable to 64Gb DDR4 RAM – and you can see the M2 slot is perfectly capable of being upgraded. Furthermore, this machine can accommodate up to 3 more 3.5″ hard drives. The machine comes with an NVIDIA Geforce 1050 Ti, which is a big step up from the integrated Intel graphics.
So I’ve been very impressed with Dell’s latest desktop offering. We’ve also had a Vostro laptop which is also extremely good and at a decent price range. The one problem I encountered with it, however, was that Dell’s Windows 10 Pro image didn’t allow Windows domain users to access any of the installed software or Windows Store programs. So I had to re-image the entire machine with fresh copy of Windows 10. And this is where Dell is bloody marvellous: just download the System Manager and it’ll go off and find all the drivers your system needs. It’ll also download and update the BIOS and other bits and bobs.
So after my experience at work, and having mulled over the possibility of Apple’s potential move to ARM processors among other concerns, I decided to buy a gaming PC. I’ve ordered an Alienware (which is owned by Dell) Aurora R7 with an Intel Core i7 8700 processor, 16Gb RAM, 512Gb SSD boot drive, 2Tb 7,200 RPM secondary data drive, a top of the range Nvidia Geforce 1080 Ti with 11Gb RAM, 850 watt power supply, and the system is liquid cooled (closed loop). Along with this is a 27″ Dell monitor with quad HD resolution, 144Hz refresh rate and supports Nvidia’s G-Sync. I’ve already sold my MacBook Pro, and I am in the process of selling the other two laptops and other bits and bobs. But it does mean I’ll have a top end system that will last a good few years (just like the Dell XPS desktop I had around 2001 which lasted ages – I gave it to my now former in-laws and it lasted them a good few years).
Still keeping the iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is my new laptop (which became extremely useful on my previous cruise – more so than the MacBook Pro). But as my contract starts to run out with EE, I may look at Android phones – though none of them have got to the point where they can give iOS or the Axx series of chips a run for the money.
At the moment I’ve transitioned everything to the Alienware R3 as a trial run. Windows is actually behaving itself, and I’ve migrated Apple Photos over to Adobe’s Lightroom Classic CC (Adobe, for goodness sake, please give us Apple-like pricing for storage if you want us to use Lightroom CC in the cloud – your pricing is too expensive). Still keeping with iTunes for Apple Music (which works remarkably well under Windows).