Are Mac and PC equal?

Can a PC be just as good of a music server as Mac if set up properly? Can a PC with foobar2000 or Jriver work just as good as a mac setup with iTunes or whatever storage and streaming options exist? My portable external hard drive has flac and mp3 files, and I will stream spotify or tidal, pandora, Internet radio, etc.
Can I buy a PC tower or laptop (and if so what features/system requirements do I need for a great system) and get results equal to a mac? Digital files & streaming will go to an external DAC then an integrated amp and tower speakers. Thanks.
I've actually found (one of) the bigget problem with windows is its integration to IE (or lack of). It just kills it. Google Chrome runs much better than IE BUT, remember, windows can't run "unmaintained" by the user effectiently or even just decently. It REQUIRES malware detection and removal (as well as virus) on a constant basis. If you go into your window services, most uses will find hundereds if not thousands (yes, thousands) of problems. Thats what slows you down, gets you booted off sites, slows down downloads, etc. (needed a new hard drive lately???) Your puter is like your car or home...needs to be serviced.
03-31-15: Zd542
For audio, I use Windows and Linux. But I wouldn't buy a pre built PC. In most cases, the parts they use are very low quality. Its easy enough to buy the parts and put it all together yourself. Then you know its done right.
+1. I would add that when you buy a pre-built PC, or at least those made by the major manufacturers, they will inevitably come with huge amounts of performance degrading "crapware" installed. And in many cases also anti-virus programs, security "suites," and other programs that are known resource hogs. Although even if you buy a pre-built PC you can reformat the hard drive, purchase Windows separately, and install it and all necessary programs from scratch. That is what I have done with my two laptops (an Asus and a Sager in this case). And I build my own desktop PC's, so of course I am installing all of their software from scratch.
04-24-15: Mgrif104
I'll never buy another PC again. I have owned many PCs, and am required to use one at work every day. They all need constant restarting and updating, and clearly grew old and slow quickly with expanding bloatware in the OS.
Many and perhaps most Windows users seem to have this kind of experience, but it needn't be so. I currently have 3 desktops and 2 laptops in my house, ranging from 4 to 8 years old. Most started out with Windows XP, and all now run Windows 7 (I've made a point of avoiding Windows 8, based on what I've read about it). All of them work as fast and reliably as the day they were built or purchased. And I have never had to reinstall the operating system, aside from when I replaced XP with 7.

I suspect that the following are among the reasons many Windows users have experienced performance degradation and slowdowns over time:

1)Crapware installed by the manufacturer.
2)Failure to regularly defragment the hard drive, if it is a mechanical drive (SSD's don't have to be and should not be defragmented). In some cases, failure to ever defragment the hard drive.
3)Resource hogging anti-virus programs and security "suites." I use NOD32 (just the anti-virus program, not the full suite).
4)Failure to deselect free add-ons that are installed by default when things like Adobe Flash and Java Runtime Environment are updated. Sometimes those add-ons are anti-virus programs, which can result in two anti-virus programs running on the computer at the same time, which will almost guarantee poor performance.
5)When a new program is installed, choosing "express install" rather than "custom install," thereby losing visibility into and choice of what is actually being installed. The result often being installation of unnecessary and potentially resource hogging software.
6)There are certainly other reasons, but I suspect those listed above are among the most common.

I certainly understand that for many users a Windows PC will not be the right choice, but my point is that the performance degradation of Windows computers over time, that is often reported, is often explainable and in any event is avoidable.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al
Al - good points all. And, those are things I have typically done with my PCs to make them last longer. I just refuse to go through the hassle anymore.

Most users will experience the degradation we're referring to here. Further, I would submit that windows updates are likely to degrade performance anyway, even if you avoid the crapware.

To ZD542's fair point that it's hard to justify the expense of a Mac I would say fine for those who don't mind going through the exercise to build and maintain a PC. Yes, you can get better performance than pre-built. But, I doubt that better performance on the bench translates into better sound when using it as a server with an outboard DAC.

But, the OP is wondering whether a PC can be as good as a Mac. Certainly - and perhaps even better if it is as a dedicated machine. That said, I'm skeptical of claims about the sound of one OS or platform vs another, believing it has more to do other cummulative factors that are not easily isolated or tested.

However, if Labguy's question is can the machine serve a dual role as working machine and music server, then there's going to be other software and process drains on resources.

If budget is a concern, I go back to suggesting buy a used Mac mini and be done with it. Less expensive than building or buying a new PC, and likely to last longer and perform better over time. And, still have some value after years if he wants to upgrade.

My $.02
Used to think Mac OS platform/software was superior. Now am not so sure with right Windows platform/software. I have been using a Mac since middle '90s.