When you’re deciding on getting a new laptop, the first thing you’ll need to really make a decision on is not really the brand, but the technology behind the brand. Whilst choosing between brands is part of buying a new laptop, the first real thing you’ll want to do is pick between the two big operating systems – Apple or Windows.
Whilst it might seem like Macs are everywhere, the reality is that Windows still dominates in the laptop department in terms of market share (although Apple have continuously closed the gap over the years).
So, it can be difficult to know whether a Macbook or a Windows laptop would be better for your needs. Let’s break things down and take a look at the different aspects of each model to determine which may prove to be the better choice.
MacBook vs Windows Laptops – How They’re Different
MacBooks are Apple’s contribution to the world of laptop technology. The line-up includes the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, which are both fast, sleek and stylish machines.
The Pro is an up to date, modern machine ideal for professionals. It has high-end specs combined with a beautiful display to give the user a premium experience and is the most recently updated of the two main lines of laptops coming from Apple.
The Apple Macbook Air is Apple’s ‘lite’ laptop. It features less cutting-edge hardware, but it is a lot slimmer than the Pro and it’s also extremely light. It has a long battery life, a sharp display and with the new M1 processors, they’re pretty hard to beat in terms of performance.
Windows laptops are designed and manufactured by a plethora of companies. Many of these companies are reputable (like Microsoft themselves with the Surface Pro line, and Asus with their ZenBooks), but there are also a whole host of less expensive, bare-bones machines being made by smaller companies.
Windows laptops are a group so versatile and so wide-ranging in capability that it is very difficult to sum them up. You can find Windows laptops with a detachable keyboard like the Microsoft Surface laptop, which isn’t something you can get with Apple.
Let’s break down the most important aspects that we consider when choosing a new computer. Price is the most obvious and, for many, will be one of the deciding factors.
Next, we’ll look at the functionalities of each machine, the design, the hardware and customisation, and lastly, the operating system.
Apple’s technology is notoriously expensive. From the iPhones to the Macs, they all seem to blow competitor’s prices out of the water. The newest MacBook Pro can set you back by up to $2499. The MacBook Air, the cheapest laptop that apple makes, banks at around $1000.
With the new M1 Max and M1 Pro processors and a better GPU for more graphics power, it’s getting hard to argue with their price tag. And the truth is that no-one purchases Apple laptops for their low price – if anything, the premium price that many pay for their Macbook is a sign of prestige.
Plus, it’s not just the price of the new Macbook that we have to take into account here, as we can also think about potential upgrades needed later down the line too.
In the past, Apple allowed us to upgrade our own machines, but this is no longer the case with new devices. That means if you pick up an 8GB Macbook, then it’s always going to be an 8GB machine – you can’t buy any extra RAM for it later to make it faster.
So although you do get a good build quality and a ton of other features, you won’t be able to upgrade a new Mac. And if it’s cheaper prices you’re looking for, then in most cases, Windows has way more variety at the lower price points.
Once again, it is impossible to summarise the price of a Windows laptop, since there are so many (thousands of models). The cheapest windows laptops sell for under $300, and have basic functions, like internet browsing, watching videos online etc.
They can handle everyday use. The mid-tier laptops have higher specs and can handle RAM-intensive uses well. These start around $500 – $600. Better still are the laptops around the $900 -$1100 mark, which can handle gaming, photoshop, internet AND videos…at once!
If you are looking for the absolute best of Windows, then ultrabooks are the way to go. These are super-high spec machines that cost over $1100, and have the best hardware that tech has to offer (for a laptop, anyway).
So, we see that Windows can be much cheaper – or, it can be more expensive than a MacBook, depending on what you are looking for.
Apple pours money into design. Everything they make is beautiful, robust, and high quality. There is much less plastic than in competitor’s laptops, and the keyboard has a smooth, ergonomic feel.
The design is so successful that it hasn’t changed drastically in the past ten years, only getting slimmer and more refined.
With so many players in the Windows laptop arena, you can find a laptop to suit almost any taste.
There are high-end models that match the design genius of the MacBooks, like the new Surface Pro 6 from Microsoft, with a super-slim body, and a keyboard that is a pleasure to type on.
In contrast to this though, the cheap, low-end laptops are sometimes clunky and are covered in plastic, often with unintuitive trackpad placements.
Can you use a Macbook for gaming? Well, that depends entirely on what you mean by Macbook for gaming.
If you’re talking about 3D games, probably not. Macs are known to be extremely behind the times when it comes to making a capable and powerful computing rig for such heavy graphics work.
Macbooks just aren’t meant for these types of applications. Hardly any worthwhile games have been ported to the MacOS, and this does not look to change anytime soon.
In contrast to MacBooks, you can get windows laptops specifically designed to handle the newest games.
These have top of the line graphics cards, 32+ gb of RAM, as well as gamer-friendly design. Alienware are a prominent maker of this type of laptop, although their prices can reach ungodly heights ($4000+).
When it comes to gaming laptops, it really comes down to personal preference.
In the modern day, they can provide a similar gaming experience to Windows PCs with the added bonus of being able to take it with you wherever you go.
The great thing about the MacOS is that it comes with good software for video editing, photo editing and other creative suites straight out of the box, no extra cost.
The suites are easy to learn and have far-reaching capabilities. The amazing display on the newest MacBooks lends itself well to graphics and visual arts as well.
The only drawback is that the spreadsheet and text editing software that comes with Macs is much less powerful than the Office suite.
You would either have to make-do, or buy the Microsoft package, which still doesn’t have as much functionality as on Windows laptops.
Windows has a lot of specialist software that is not available for MacOS, as well as the classic creative editing software (photoshop, illustrator etc), but none of these come with the factory install of Windows.
Getting the best software can set you back by hundreds of dollars, and the cheapest windows machines may not even be able to handle a large program running for hours.
However, Microsoft Office does come with laptops that have windows 10 installed, and it is kept up to date with windows updates.
Connecting to Other Tech
Macs have slowly been transitioned away from traditional ports for USB drives, headphones, and HDMI ports. If you have a lot of gadgets, then you’ll have to buy converters and splitters to allow you to use them.
This is typically one of the drawbacks of changing over to a Macbook, as they often use different ports that what you might have been using previously.
However, if you’re already using the Apple ecosystem, then it’s a no brainer to get the best Macbook laptop you can afford.
If you have an Apple TV and an Apple Watch already, then it only makes sense that you get something that integrates with them very easily.
Most windows laptops still have at least one of each traditional type of port, as well as some of them having a DVD drive (although nowadays this is less and less prevalent).
This will depends largely on the brand of the laptop too – brands like Acer and ASUS tend to have a lot of different ports for you to use.
When you install Windows on your laptop, you’ll then be able to use it for a variety of different tasks. This can range from Word processing to watching movies.
Customisation and Hardware
Since Apple are the only ones who update MacBooks, they tend to keep the same specs in their laptops for years. This means that sometimes you could be paying a lot of money for tech that was bested years ago.
There is little room for customisation, since the only hardware that you can install and use on a MacBook is stuff that was originally made by Apple.
Even if you do manage to make a ‘hackintosh’, the updates for MacOS on it will be a nightmare. The upside is that macs are easy to use out of the box, and if anything goes wrong, are easier to repair (if not more costly).
You can take apart a windows laptop and easily upgrade its RAM, hard drive or replace broken parts with a selection of parts from various suppliers, so it is cheaper to fix as well.
Companies churn out new laptops all the time, so no matter when or what you want to buy, there will be at least 10 options that will satisfy your every requirement.
Like Window PC’s, their laptops will typically have Intel processors or AMD processors in some cases too.
They are the industry standard, with a lower level model coming with an Intel i5 processor or equivalent, and premium laptops coming with an i7 processor or better.
MacOS is an efficient, extremely fast operating system that is easy to learn and intuitive to use. It is kept relevant with periodic updates, and the UI is modern and sleek.
A bonus is that it is safer to use than Windows, as hackers will target MacOS less much less often.
Laptops with windows are more likely to be targeted with viruses because of the sheer number of people that use the operating system.
Although Windows 10 does a great job with Windows Defender, sometimes malware does still slip through the cracks.
In addition, many factory installs of Win 10 come with a lot of bloatware (think Bubble Witch Saga..), that can be hard to get rid of.
On top of all that, Windows updates are glitchy a lot of the time, and they reinstall previously uninstalled bloatware.
That aside, some people feel the most at home in a Windows environment, and that can be a big motivator to purchase Windows every time.
It’s very different to compare the battery life between these brands, because it really depends on the specific laptop itself. New Macbooks tend to have a great battery life, as do all apple products.
However, the battery life of a laptop can depend on a variety of different things, like its components (the same laptop with an i3 processor might have a different battery life thank with a core i7 processor, for example).
If you want the best battery life possible, then you’ll definitely need to shop around for the right option.
In conclusion, I would say that if you are looking for a fast, no-stress user experience on a robust, timeless laptop, and you don’t mind less choice in games and software, then get a MacBook. It is a good investment and will last you a decade.
If you are interested in customising your workspace and your specs, getting to pick from an enormous selection of software and open source, or have a tight budget, then pick a Windows laptop.
Lastly, if you are buying a laptop for gaming, then Windows is your only option.