Surface Pro 4 vs Macbook Pro for University?


May 7, 2015
So come September this year I will be going off to Uni and as it currently stands I have no form of a laptop. Have used both Windows and Mac in the past and would probably say I prefer Windows but am still happy to use Mac OS. I will be studying animal science so will majority be word documents, note taking, small media and design projects - just general use. Obviously I'd also like to use it for leisure outside of Uni and will most likely do other things like edit videos and photos on Adobe software, primarily After Effects, Premiere Pro and Photoshop. I also don't want it to be too expensive, around £1,000. I really like the look of the SP4 with how lightweight it is and everything else about the design however I still love the look of a Macbook. It would be a Macbook Pro 13inch by the way, NOT THE RETINA. This would be so if need be I can add an SSD etc. If anyone has used one or the other, maybe even both any feedback will be much appreciated as well as if anyone has used either for Uni/College! Many thanks for reading :D


Yeah, both are pretty different animals. People generally like MacBook's build quality, but the Surface Pro 4 also has very good build quality.

The SP4 is more versatile than the MacBook since it is a convertible and it has a digital pen which can be used to write notes. MS's One Note should come standard with all Surface products and it has a recording feature that allows you to record lectures while writing notes. The entire lecture can be played back as a kind of video. When you playback the recorded session not only will you hear the audio, but you will also see the notes / graphics you wrote / drawn. This is demonstrated in the following video for the Surface 3, but like I said One Note is a standard feature on all Surface products:

The downside is the detachable keyboard, it will not be as good as a typical laptop keyboard because it is thin and light which means key travel is below average and it can feel "springy" when typing on it. Another downside is that all Surfaces are sealed so you cannot upgrade anything.


Sep 17, 2016
I had the macbook pro retina and it was a great computer my only issue with it was the software updates always caused issues and I would have to take it to the apple store for them to fix. I also had to use windows for some programs my classes used and I didnt like boot camp. I now have a surface pro 4 i5 model and love it. The battery was better on the macbook pro where I would get around 9-10 hours of battery life but I am still getting 6-7 on the surface which has been more than enough.



Those are pretty different animals here. If you are OK with using MAC products and know that the software you are using will run on it (or can run something like Parallels and install Windows on it as well), and are OK with the extra cost for same speed as a Windows system, MacBook is fine. Has good resale value also and you won't feel left out at Starbucks when everyone else there has a MacBook and you don't ;)
Is really your personal preference, there is no glaring advantage going one way or the other. SP4 got touchscreen while MAC doesn't, yet. MacBooks have ridiculous battery life between charge which I love, don't know what SP4 battery endurance is like.


Nov 3, 2016
Basically the ONLY advantage MacBook Air has over SP4 is battery life. That's it. Of course operating system is subjective but for all intents and purposes, Windows 10 is on par with Mac OS.

Looking at capabilities, SP4 is the ultimate student device. It's a great laptop, a pretty good tablet, but the main draw is the pen. This pen is AMAZING for notes, marking up PDFs etc. OneNote works wonderfully on SP4 because of this. Like someone mentioned, not only can you keep all your notes in the cloud, you can also search your handwriting and voice recordings (for those key lectures).

Even ignoring these massive game changing features, you have a faster machine at the same spec (newer gen processors), lighter weight and MUCH MUCH better screen quality than MacBook Air. I would say even if you prefer Mac OS, you would be kind of making a mistake to pick up a MacBook Air.


Aug 9, 2016
You may want to consider the Macbook Air 13" which is lighter and (I believe) comes with a SSD.

I have both a Macbook Air (by choice) and a Surface Pro (Required for work). I was excited to get the Surface Pro (SP) and really wanted to like it but after being used to a Macbook (MB) I found the SP to be as difficult to use and as frustrating as all Windows laptops.

Many comparisons of the Macbook (MB) and the Surface Pro (SP) compare memory and CPU but ignore the usability, comfort, and level of frustration level of computing devices. When you look at usability and value the MB wins hands down over the SP. Get past the cool commercial with people dancing and clicking the SP keyboard on and off and look at the nuts and bolts and you’ll find that unless there is a compelling reason (such as the common "The application I use at work only runs on Windows machines”) to own a SP you will be much happier with the MB. Ask around and you will find many former Windows users that now swear by Macbooks while it is very difficult to find a former MB user that has chosen to switch back to Windows. Another key consideration is that MBs tend to continue to run better for years. Apple operating system upgrades are free and won’t slow down the machine to the point where it becomes useless. Find someone with a five year-old MB and someone with a five-year old PC and see which person is still happy with their computer.

Here are a few points to consider if you are trying to decide between a Macbook and a Surface Pro:

1. There are many little things that make the MB easier to use and less frustrating. For example, the chargers for both the SP and on the MB connect magnetically and have indicator lights to let you know they are connected and charging. On the MB the light turns from amber to green when the battery gets to 100% charged. On the SP you need to start the computer and log in to see if the battery is at 100%. This is a minor difference but it sets the tone for how these machines are different. The MB just does it right while the SP tries to be like a MB but fails.

2. The MB charges significantly faster and lasts significantly longer than a SP.

3. Both the MB and the SP have a multi-gesture touchpad. On the MB the touchpad works every time. When you pinch, tap, double-tap, or whatever, it does what it is supposed to do. On the SP the touchpad works 'most of the time' at best.

4. When the MB sleeps it wakes fast and it wakes every time. Open the cover and the MB is ready to go. With the SP, open the cover, press the power button to wake it, press a key or touch the screen to finish waking it, hope that it didn’t actually shut down rather than sleep. Sleep mode and especially waking from sleep is something that the MB does much better. Sleep mode works so well on the MB that many MB owners seldom shut down the computer.

5. Cloud computing and integration - iCloud works better than MS account/OneDrive/Office365. iCloud provides seamless integration between all your devices even to the point where if your iPhone is in the kitchen and you are in another room on your iPad or MB you can answer your phone (or make calls) on whatever device you are using.

6. Many laptops are actually used on your lap (thus the name ‘laptop’). The MB and SP are both comfortable on a desktop but the SP is less comfortable on your lap. With the kickstand out it is a balancing act to keep the SP stable while typing. Before deciding which to buy try sitting in a chair or on a sofa with the machine in your lap and see how it feels. Try it in different sitting positions especially where you need to open the SP kickstand.

To be fair, there are some things a Surface Pro does better:

1. It can be a tablet or a laptop although a much worse tablet and much worse laptop than using a Macbook and iPad. The touch screen works in laptop mode although I find that the machine often goes into tablet mode while I'm using it as a laptop and I have to shut everything down and restart it to get it back into laptop mode. OK, maybe this isn't a point that the SP does better...

2. It has a usb slot for tablet mode. The MB has a usb slot and a sd card slot but the iPad has neither.

3. The magnetic connection for the charger is stronger on the SP so less likely to unplugged while charging. A good thing since it takes so long to charge the SP

I tried but I cannot find a significant reason for why anyone would pay more money for less capability with a Surface Pro...
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