Windows-to-Mac personal debate

Jul 30, 2018
I have never had good luck with Windows laptops. I always regret the purchase and I settled on a more reliable desktop years ago. However, my needs have changed and my desktop is aging so I’ve been researching laptops as to not make another costly mistake.

Needless to say I’m torn due to the vast amount of conflicting info on the Internet. I don’t want to spend a lot, below $1k if I can get away with it. I realize this won’t buy me a powerhouse or the sexiest machine, but I simply need it for multitasking and business work. My biggest conflict is whether I should go with a cheaper Windows laptop that I am reluctant to do or a cheap MacBook Air (I can get one for $850 with a student discount) for the potential enhanced reliability.

I hate dealing with Best Buy. I’ve heard many negatives about customer service directly from Windows PC producers. For the discounted cost, is an Air a good option as compared to PCs at a similar price point? Is there a more powerful Windows option that is also reliable and cheap? Thanks!


Generally speaking, Mac's biggest selling features are the OS and build quality.

Performance-wise, you can typically get more for the money on the Windows side of things but, depending on the pricepoint, that may be at the expense of things like build quality.

What, specifically do you need the laptop to be able to do? Is there a preference of MacOS or Windows exclusive programs?

What Macbook Air are you looking at, specifically?

To pick something at that general pricepoint (or less), I'd throw this HP into the mix.

It's refurbished, yes. But a 4core/8thread CPU, 12GB RAM and a dedicated 4GB GPU.
Lacks an SSD, but you could add even a 1TB SSD and come in well under the $1k budget.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Storage: Crucial - MX500 1TB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($179.87 @ OutletPC)
Total: $179.87
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-07-30 12:55 EDT-0400

For the kind of money you're talking for a MacBook Air..... I'm assuming that's the base model?
Dual core i5, 8GB RAM and a ~120GB SSD.

Spec-wise, they're vastly different.


Jan 13, 2014
Macbook Air has gotten pretty dated right now.

That said the whole Windows vs. Mac is all about the usage.
If you have any particular demands, you're a college student right? If you're into film and animation, then 1000% it is a mac you should get. If you game casually, simply go for Windows, mac don't have a lot of titles and also can't run shit. Some specific windows tools such as for architects and engineers also demand Windows. So, choose based upon your field.

If you think that all doesn't matter, then a Mac should do your job. It will last long. The hardware + software made for each other stuff is not just salesman bullshit. It actually does matter. If you don't need core power for games or engineering applications, then you won't see any difference in day to day life whether you choose a more powerful windows pc for the same price or a mac.

If you go for pc, Barty1884's suggestion is quite good. If you don't want a refurbished product, see if you increase your budget to an xps 13. If not, envy 13t and zenbook are good options. If you're okay, with losing core power but getting a 2 in 1, surface pro 4 can be a good option.

Good Luck.
Jul 30, 2018
I appreciate the input. To be more specific about my situation, I only have one semester of college left. However, it’s going to be very intensive and I will be at the school often and I need a reliable laptop to do work without having to seek out an empty desktop. The extent of that workload will be large Excel files and some slightly intensive multitasking. Otherwise, I plan to use the laptop after college to do light work loads and perhaps some light video editing.

As a career I’m going to be a data analyst. One consideration I had was to invest into a substantial machine that can handle the programs I will be using in my field. However, I assume that my employer will provide me with the necessary equipment and I will just be spending money on an overpowered machine like so many others.

As for a preference, my comfort zone is Windows. My only experience with Mac OS is my iPhone (I realize the difference, don’t worry). However, this isn’t a big issue for me because I think I’ll enjoy the learning process. I just want a laptop that I can depend on, won’t overheat, and won’t do anything unexpected as long as I take care of it. I feel like the only way to do this with a Windows is to spend at least $1,500+ which is not ideal for me at the moment. But perhaps I’m wrong and I will look more into your suggestions. I have considered the XPS 13 but for decent specs it gets mighty pricey. I feel the Air could be a good compromise?


Jan 23, 2015
Unless you can spring for the new 13" Pro with a 4C processor, I find the MacBook and MacBook Air to be massively underpowered for my liking. These days, you can pick up something with an 8250u or 8550u for ~$700. There ARE good build-quality Windows laptops out there. Windows 10 is another love/hate thing in itself.
Since you are expecting to be employed in six months with a company's provided laptop, hold off?

I have a 7 years old Air and just went over its 1,000 original battery cycle, with a little wiping, it looks good as new, if I had a Windows, it would be falling off by now, but then I just surf with it with other light tasks.

Switching platforms means you have to re-procure applications software, have you budget that in?



You can make the same argument about Macbooks. They offer decent performance for the price you pay, though MacBooks are generally more expensive than the Dell XPS 13.

If you are looking for a more reliable (in other words better build quality) laptop, then you also need to realize that you have to spend more to get that quality. Additionally, 13" laptops are traditionally more expensive than 15.6" laptops with the same specs. In my opinion there are two basic reasons for this:

#1 - 13" laptops with good performance are pretty desirable. It's small and light which means it is easy to transport. Good performance means it generally should not hamper you in whatever you are doing... as long as you feel the laptop suits your needs.The Dell XPS 13 is a great choice for productivity. However, I is only a decent solution for editing 4k video and a poor choice to play games with (unless the games are not graphically demanding).

#2 - Build quality. The XPS series is Dell's premium line of laptops. Therefore, they have the highest build quality compared to all their other series.

If you are willing to spend a relative large sum of money for a MacBook, but balk at spending around the same amount of money for a high quality Windows laptop, then perhaps you need to re-access what you want to purchase.
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