This post was originally written almost 5 years ago, in August 2014, which makes it extra bizarre that we've felt the need to update it now. But the truth is, many of the same differences still apply to the 2 leading computer operating systems. And despite less diversity in the hardware being used under the bonnet - the gap in usability, at least from a sports analysis point of view, has probably increased.
So, as popular debate continues over the merits of Windows and Apple MacOS powered computers - and with this page getting more visits than ever - we thought it was time we revisited our original article and looked again at which operating system provides the best solution for sports analysts.
We’ll begin by reviewing the points we originally made back in 2014 before moving on to more recent differences.1. Pricing
This has always been the biggest issue non-Mac users have cited and it’s not to be underestimated, you’ll never be able to pick up a new laptop running MacOS for under $400.
In fact, the cheapest MacBook on the market today retails for around $1000 (€900). And even that doesn’t get you much; 13” display, 8GB of memory and a measly 128GB of storage.
Take a look at Windows machines available for the same kind of money and it’s a very different picture. For $1000 you can take your pick from any number of higher-spec laptops, including Microsoft’s cutting edge Surface series, with touchscreen; Acer’s Swift with it’s full HD 15” display and 9 hour battery life or Lenovo’s flexible and robust Yoga laptops, offering 4 times the storage space of a basic MacBook, as standard.Winner. Windows, every time2. Durability
As an analyst you need equipment that’s durable, travel-friendly and resistant to the odd drop of rain.
While Apple laptops consistently score well in terms of weight, making them highly portable, durability is another matter and we only found top-end MacBook Pros mentioned in strength related user tests.
Couple this with the much-publicized keyboard issues of Apple, that have plagued the company for years and taking your Mac on the road, can begin sounding like risky business.
But for a lot less than the MacBook Pro’s asking price - of around $5000 - it’s possible to buy Windows-powered laptops built specifically to take the rough and tumble of the great outdoors. Panasonic’s Toughbook range for example, offers similar spec to the MacBook Pro, coupled with water-resistant design, touchscreen display and a very sturdy outer casing, for almost $1500 less. And Dell’s Latitude series, which begin at under $2000 are frequently described as the toughest computers in the world - perfect for a rainy winter’s evening of live-tagging.Winner. Windows by some distance
3. Operating systems - Windows vs MacOS
Price will never be the only reason 90% of desktops in the world run Windows...
If we begin by assuming both operating systems are up to the job - of running your sports performance analysis software - then the issue of which one to choose, becomes a more nuanced discussion, focusing on integration and stability.
Macs certainly score well on stability and don’t suffer anything like the same security issues as Windows. But conversely, Apple tend to lag behind in terms of embracing technology and introducing new features.
But when it comes to plugins, add-ons and peripherals Windows - by the nature of its open operating system - leaves Apple for dead. The same goes for internal components like graphics cards and storage. You’ll find far greater choice and price competitiveness when shopping for Windows parts every time. Go looking for anything more than an iPhone cover and you’ll most likely find the only place stocking your component is an officially licensed Apple reseller, with prices to match.
One area Macs have improved on greatly since we first wrote this article, is compatibility with 3rd party software. So for example, programs like Nacsport - written primarily for Windows machines - will run perfectly well on any Apple computer running the popular Boot Camp application.Winner. Windows, simply because of what’s available4. Speed
When you think about the computing involved in running an analytical programme such as Nacsport, it’s roughly comparable with playing a complex video game. There’s a need to stream high quality video, while processing a large number of actions which influence what happens next, placing demand on your computer’s operating system and memory.
Elements that many analysts take for granted; overlays, side-by-side or picture in picture viewing, even timing and measurement tools place a toll on your system’s memory and can easily slow you down.
While Apple’s new(ish) A12X Bionic processor has begun to close the gap, it’s still some way off the heady heights of Intel’s Core i7s and i9s, which among hardcore gamers are considered an industry standard.
Dig a little deeper into the fiercely competitive sector of gaming laptop and you’ll discover machines like Acer’s game-ready and hugely rated Nitro series, which come in at under $1000 and easily outperform Apple laptops costing 3 times the price.
But don’t take our word on this one. Ask any experienced gamer, or make the most cursory of internet searches and you’ll find Windows machines are the universal favourite among the gaming community. Apple comes a very distant second.Winner. No-contest. Windows by TKO5. Versatility
In 2016 Apple began cleaning up (or should that be clearing out) the selection of ports and plugs it includes on laptops and notebooks. If it’s possible to describe a $1000 laptop as budget, then you’ll struggle to find anything more than a headphone jack on the cheapest Mac notebooks.
And even the latest crop of MacBooks only ship with a couple of USB-C ports, one of which you’ll need for your power cable. That means, if you want to attach your machine to a monitor, external video stream, camera or even a memory card, you’re going to need an adaptor - and to remember it every time your team goes on the road.
In short, there are way more compatible devices for PC than for Mac by far. In terms of video capture devices alone, Nacsport can handle more than 15 different manufacturers including: Avermedia, Matrox, Blackmagic, AJA U-TAP, ELGATO, Magewell and Mokose. But on most Mac machines you’ll struggle to connect them.Winner. Maybe it’s different if you live in Silicon Valley, but for the rest of us Windows is - and probably always will be - a way more practical solution.
That's it. A Nacsport take on the age-old Mac vs Windows debate - as it applies to Sports Analysts.
Which system's right for you and your team? We could never make that decision for you.