As an animation studio, we are asked this question quite a lot and to be honest – it is not a quick answer and we sometime choose to stay out of it! The reason why is that it can cause powered debate’s in the animation content production industry as people feel very strongly about the systems they use and its capabilities.
To stir up a conversation like this we may actually say that a MAC is a PC! After all – a PC is abbreviated from a “personal computer” which is exactly what a MAC is as well. This has absolutely nothing to do with the hardware or software on the actual device. They may look completely different from the outside; however, this ethic disappears quite quickly once you to start to look inside of the machines as they are both made up from similar hardware components.
Essentially the real differences in the two are within the operating software. So, let’s take a look at these below:
1. Operating systems
When it comes to a preferred operating system, everyone has an opinion. If you think about how ingrained our computers are in our everyday life – no wonder people feel this way. So the three operating systems in competition are run on most desktop PCs, Apple’s OS X, Windows and the various Linux distributions. Not to forget mobile operating systems but they are completely separate to these.
Comfort zones are a big factor here as people fall into the either/or mind set and are not willing to try anything else but their chosen.
As Ben Franklin’s now-famous quote says, “Time is money”. Although this may be a bit more literal for 3D artists, we know that in general the more efficient you are, the faster you can get your project finished and move on to the next. Or tweak your current making it the best it can be and this falls outside of any operating system. So, we think that it is vital that any 3D artist uses tools that help them accomplish their tasks quickly, what saves you time and your personal organisation for your current projects.
2. Pros and Cons of Macs
Apple has done a great job of positioning Macs to be the chosen computer for creative artists. Functionalities like the Adobe’s suite of software and even the tag folders visually with colors have helped perceive this mindset. This doesn’t mean that 3D artists will benefit from these and take advantage of the visual nature of the beautifully designed interface in OS X.
Getting straight here – some of the tools just aren’t available with OS X. The biggest being its 3ds Max. To take place of these there are like for like versions available such as Maya, MODO or CINEMA 4D.
However, we need to be practical and honest in that computers will be computers! They can fail at any time no matter what make or model. However, as Apple have locked down the OS X to avoid any customization it saves time completely by not having to tweak the hardware
3. Pros and cons of Linux-based PCs
Linux isn’t a mainstream operating system but it is quite commonly used in the 3D animation industry. You could do anything with Linux from supporting your 3D programs to run faster by stripping out any extraneous software running in the background. On the other hand, generally speaking Linux often isn’t regarded as a user-friendly operating system. This has to do with the customization that can be built into Linux. So, while that customization can ultimately save a lot of time, it can also mean that a lot of learning is required.
We see Linux as a great option for those who do love customization and like to deal with complicated coding now and then. As far as we can see – there isn’t an official “boot camp” for Linux PCs functionalities and techniques and we think there doesn’t really need to be either. You always have the option of dual-booting Linux and Windows and there are plenty of tutorials online to help you do this.
4. Pros and cons of Windows-Based PC’s
We generally see a lot of love / hate relationships with windows, however it is by far the most popular operating system according to Net Market Share Online. Most people will be using it now or have used it before previously. The reason why us 3D artists may favour it is that just about every tool you could wish for is available of Windows including 3ds Max. Macs are great for anyone who doesn’t mind changing their systems and Linux systems are good for those who want extreme customization. Then Windows-based PCs are a great middle ground between the two – giving ease of use and customization
On the other hand there is more chance of serious unwanted viruses or malware with the window-based PC’s. Other operating systems definitely aren’t immune to viruses but as Windows is the most popular operating system it also means it’s the biggest target for malicious code. As a 3D artist, you’ll more than likely need internet security software running at all times. One disadvantage is that this can take away some of your processing power for your 3D programs and, depending on the security software you’re using, could completely freeze your 3D programs so this is something to be aware of.
5. So which operating system is best for you?
There is no one size fits all when it comes to operating systems so you need to find one that will help you be as efficient as you can be for your 3D projects. So, it is best to focus on what is best for you and not what you want or think that looks good. Once you come to the conclusion of these two points it should be a lot easier to look at your options in a more objective light.
At Zaini Media we always advise to go for one that is completely dedicated to your 3D work. By keeping your work computer separate, the space shall be dedicated to your work and so will the operating system. Now that you’ve had a chance review the pros and cons for each operating system, we would love to hear your thoughts and what you have chosen to work with and why!