Apple v Windows PCs

Dan’s Desk
By Dan Douglas, President, Space Coast PCUG, FL
May 2019 issue, The Space Coast PC Journal
datadan (at)

This month I’ll take a look at the differences between Apple and Windows based PCs from the perspective of a repair guy such as myself. Most people will agree that Apple has enjoyed a better reputation for well-designed devices compared to comparable ones from Dell, HP, etc. Sometimes these differences are truly in the eye of the beholder, however. What is well designed to be attractive on the outside, as an iMac is, can be a chore to take apart on the inside. The estimates below are based upon the All-In-One (AIO) formats that are most iMacs, and many PCs from Dell and HP. Let’s take a look at a few standard common repair scenarios.

Hard Drive Upgrade or Replacement – The need to replace the hard drive happens to every PC sooner or later, either because of mechanical failure or the need for more storage capacity. With the recent dramatic price drops of solid-state drives (SSDs), now there is a third reason to upgrade, which is to greatly improve the performance of the PC. Rather than spend the money required to replace a PC, the cost to upgrade the hard drive is less than a hundred or so.

For this upgrade to a typical Windows PC, the drive can be easily cloned (copied) to the new drive and then swapped with the current drive. The steps to take the Windows PC apart are typically:

1) remove the case cover (5 minutes)

2) disconnect the old drive and connect the new drive (10 minutes)

3) replace the case cover (5 minutes)

To perform the same drive swap after cloning on an Apple iMac requires:

1) Remove the memory from the iMac (5 minutes)

2) Remove the front glass shield (5 minutes)

3) unscrew the LCD panel from the back of the iMac (10 minutes)

4) remove all connections to the LCD panel and remove the LCD (10 minutes)

5) disconnect the old drive and connect the new drive (10 minutes)

6) replace the connections to the LCD panel and put back in place (10 minutes)

7) reattach the LCD panel to the back of the iMac (10 minutes)

8) replace the glass cover (5 minutes)

9) replace the memory in the iMac (5 minutes)

Power Supply Replacement – The need to replace the PC power supply happens to many PCs either due to age and an internal power supply component failure or because of damage through power surges. Essentially the steps and time required to replace the power supply are the same as for the hard drive as listed above. The main difference is the cost of the part – where the PC power supplies are pretty well standard sizes, given some differences in the variations of the case dimensions and wattage requirements, expect the cost to be between $25 – $85. iMac power supplies typically range from $80 – $135.

Reloading the Operating System (OS) – When the existing OS is not recoverable or required to be moved, the iMac provides an easier recovery experience in many cases. Through the use of key combinations pressed during the boot up process, most iMacs can actually reload the Mac OS through the internet, without the use of recovery media. A Windows PC on the other hand will usually require the installed version of Windows to be booted from a DVD or USB drive containing the fresh version of the OS. If the Windows PC is reset using the recovery partition located on the hard drive, there is a fair chance that it will be an older version that what is currently in use and will not be appropriate to use.