What makes a MAC differernt to a PC?

  Simsy 08:11 15 Dec 04

Hi folks.

I've offered to help with some training in my dept, giving some of the "computer scared" folk some basic training. In preparation for this I'm compiling some notes, and am going back to basics, primarily as a way of getting my head round things and to organise my thoughts. Most of this detail wont be for the "trainees", but I want to be prepared for questions that may arise...

To most people, a "PC" and a "MAC" are both "personal computers". they are even more similar, physically, in laptop versions.

Now I know what a PC is made of, (I've built a few). A Mobo, RAM, HDD, Graphics card, (possibly onboard), and possibly other stuff.

And I know the basic start process; Bios checks for whats about, Bootable disc runs, OS loaded... and everything runs in/via RAM/Swap file

(And I have a feeble grasp of the "fetch and execute" principle)

What I want to know is;

In principle, what is the difference between a PC and a MAC?

For example a PC may run "Windows" or "Linux", (or others). A PC running Linux is different to a PC running Windows. How much MORE different is a MAC? I know it's a different to Windows, but so is Linux. Does a MAC not have MOBO, RAM, HDD etc, in the same way that a PC does.

In short, is it more than an OS thing?

I hope this question makes sense. Thanks in anticipation for any replies.



  GANDALF <|:-)> 09:15 15 Dec 04
  Simsy 14:28 15 Dec 04

thank you for that Gandalf...

I had already trawelled a bit, and, if I understood what I read correctly, a significant difference is the way the CPU works internally...

I can accept that; But don't AMD and Intel process work in a completely different way, internally to each other?

Do MACs have different processors in them? I assummed they had the same processors as PCs. Is that wrong?

I'm struggling here to come to terms with all the information.

May I repeat the gist of my question, to see if someone is able to answer it;

1)A PC with an Intel processor running Windows.

This is different to

2)A PC with an AMD processor running Linux,

Which is different again to


The first two have much in common, but have a lot of differences. What is the difference between 3) and 1) that is significantly greater than the difference between 2) and 1).

Thanks again.



  recap 14:53 15 Dec 04

PCs are CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computer) architecture click here for further details.

Macs are RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) architecture click here for further details.

I hope that helps you a little more Simsy?

  TomJerry 15:50 15 Dec 04

mac user processors made by IBM (if I remember correctly).

you may extend you coverage more, Sun workstation (you can treat it as a PC, I do to the one on my desk) use another processor

principlly, they all same, Motherboard, proccesor, RAM, disk, optical driver etc. Even some specilist computer on boeing jumb jets and IBM's super computer deep blue all the same.

  TomJerry 15:55 15 Dec 04

if you treate as personal, it is a PC

if you treat it as workhorse. it is a workstation

if you put in in a corner, let it manange files for a network, it is a server

if you put in in a corner, let it manange web sites for a network, it is a web-server

if it very powerful and you can call it fancy name, a supercomputer

if it do special tasks in a jumb jet, it is a flight control/management unit

if it is in a car, then it is a ECU

if you make it small, put some button on it, then it is a mobile phone

list can go on for ever

  TomJerry 16:20 15 Dec 04

an electronic device that executes the instructions in a program. A computer has four functions: inputs data, processes data, produces output, and stores results

this is interesting The Alan Turing Home Page click here, click here, click here

  Simsy 17:11 15 Dec 04

So the differences are great...

they use different processors, and the processors work in a different way.

An dthat is apart from the diferernt OS.

Thank you for your time folks.



  seedie 17:52 15 Dec 04

Hi Colin, The Pc and the Mac use different processors and as such the compiled code is different. eg qbasic compiles to intel/amd instruction set and mac basic ?? compiles to Mac processor instruction set. Spectrum code didn't work on BBC computers and vice versa because their processors were different and not compatible, and i guess that linux compiled for Mac won't work for intel etc. Never had a Mac but i think I read somewhere they use motorola processors??

Been trying some Christamas cocktails so if I'm completely of the mark forgive me.

good luck


  Masterspy 19:16 15 Dec 04

Yes Macs have motherboards, a battery, ALU, various slots, ram, video ram etc., but they are managed differently to a Windows PC. I believe the essential difference is the firmware and the OS. Of course Macs have traditionally been more expensive to buy and the software has been pricey too. this is less of a problem now although software is expensive.

I have an old Mac running system 7.5 (now ancient)and can honestly say the Mac OS is easier to use than Windows. I have a windows machine using Win XP.

I am sure you will be able to find the technical differences on the web if you search.

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