Done with MacBooks - Any good Windows replacement?

adww12321

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Dec 24, 2012
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My final take-away was that if Dell can get their act together with the XPS 15's reliability, it could be an acceptable alternative on a price/performance basis.
Reliability was a concern for me too when I experimented with the XPS 15, but the fact of the matter is that everything is easily user-serviceable. So when 1TB starts to look pathetic, you can easily swap in a 4TB drive, etc. It looks to me like you can't even replace the SSD on any of the new 15" macs (or if someone figures out how, it is going to be a nightmare.) This limits its useful life, no matter how reliable it is.
 
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aohus

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Apr 4, 2010
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i'd wait for the dell xps 15 refresh with gtx 1060 support + kaby lake. i'd argue for surface book but they're too expensive and only comes in a 13.5 inch screen.
 
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michaelz

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Apr 12, 2010
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There is a lot more then specs. Here is a good example, see how can 12" Macbook edit 4K video much faster then higher spec PCs. There are nice windows laptops, but none like Macs.

 

bigcat

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Not to hijack this but hate to create another thread for this. Is there a decent 15" Linux machine out there? I was wondering why Dell doesn't put Ubuntu on the XPS 15". I see they offer the XPS 13" with Ubuntu, but I need the power of the 15.
 

aohus

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Not to hijack this but hate to create another thread for this. Is there a decent 15" Linux machine out there? I was wondering why Dell doesn't put Ubuntu on the XPS 15". I see they offer the XPS 13" with Ubuntu, but I need the power of the 15.
you can't just put linux on the dell machine?
 

Ghost31

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Before you even think about hardware, you need to look at the software you use and how much of it is cross platform. If a Windows version does not exist, you need to start transitioning to software and services that are available on Windows. Moving forward, try to use software that is cross platform so you don't tie yourself into a single platform again.

For example:
You might ditch Apple Notes and move to simplenote because it runs on everything including Linux.
No OmniFocus so switch to Todoist who provide apps for Mac/Windows/Android/iOS. And a web client for Linux.
If you're considering Linux for some stuff, then moving from Apple Music to Spotify and iCloud/Google Drive/Onedrive to Dropbox makes sense because only Spotify and Dropbox runs on all of macOS/Windows/Linux.
Stop using Pages and Numbers and transition your docs to MS Office if you want macOS, Windows, iOS and Android apps, or even libreoffice if you want Linux as an option on top of the others.

If you start doing much of this now before you buy a new computer, you'll get a good taste for how viable switching is. If you really loathe the cross platform alternatives to what you currently use, once you try living in these new apps, maybe you'll determine that staying macOS is the best thing for you.
I've been using Apple exclusive note taking apps like notability and Apple notes since forever...just downloaded Microsoft one note this week and was surprised the software was actually better than apple's. This is a good sign the Microsoft knows wtf they're doing and I don't think we need to be so afraid to try windows
 

adww12321

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Dec 24, 2012
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Reliability was a concern for me too when I experimented with the XPS 15, but the fact of the matter is that everything is easily user-serviceable. So when 1TB starts to look pathetic, you can easily swap in a 4TB drive, etc. It looks to me like you can't even replace the SSD on any of the new 15" macs (or if someone figures out how, it is going to be a nightmare.) This limits its useful life, no matter how reliable it is.
.. i'll also add a couple of minor annoyance with the XPS15 vs. the MBP --

* when on battery, the XPS is a totally silent machine (until you do something heavy)

However when you plug it in and the battery is charging, the fan always runs -- it is ALMOST silent, but not quite (ie, you can hear it in a silent room). The machine does this IMHO to protect the battery; it heats up when it charges. So it is a trade-off.

* 16:9 screen. Annoying coming from 16:10. Since MS is showing off a 3:2 on their studio product, hopefully other OEMs will start to get the hint.

* battery life - not great, about 4-5 hours. Kaby Lake will probably improve that a bit.

* nostril cam. Because the screen is bezeless, the camera is mounted underneath the screen. It creates unflattering angles :)
 

MareLuce

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Sep 26, 2010
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* 16:9 screen. Annoying coming from 16:10. Since MS is showing off a 3:2 on their studio product, hopefully other OEMs will start to get the hint.
Completely agree.

I've always liked 16:10. However, after visiting the Microsoft store last night, 3:2 is compelling. It means a couple extra lines of text and documents PDFs webpages, more visible rows in the spreadsheet, etc.
 

Deanster

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Jun 6, 2005
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.. i'll also add a couple of minor annoyance with the XPS15 vs. the MBP --

* when on battery, the XPS is a totally silent machine (until you do something heavy)

However when you plug it in and the battery is charging, the fan always runs -- it is ALMOST silent, but not quite (ie, you can hear it in a silent room). The machine does this IMHO to protect the battery; it heats up when it charges. So it is a trade-off.

* 16:9 screen. Annoying coming from 16:10. Since MS is showing off a 3:2 on their studio product, hopefully other OEMs will start to get the hint.

* battery life - not great, about 4-5 hours. Kaby Lake will probably improve that a bit.

* nostril cam. Because the screen is bezeless, the camera is mounted underneath the screen. It creates unflattering angles :)

4-5 hours battery? Wow... that's terrible.

I can say that I haven't been impressed with the battery life on my Surface Pro 4, but our 12" MacBook isn't all that much better unless I really crank the screen down dark. It's the area where iPad really shows off - I recently used mine for note-taking at a seminar, and it had 30% left after a 12 hour day, showing just a hair under 11 hours of usage on the counter.

Fan noise is one of my least-favorite laptop things, fan noise whenever charging might be a deal-breaker even if there weren't other issues.
 

Deanster

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Jun 6, 2005
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There is a lot more then specs. Here is a good example, see how can 12" Macbook edit 4K video much faster then higher spec PCs. There are nice windows laptops, but none like Macs.


This is a very good point.

My Surface Pro 4 with 8 gigs RAM and the i5 CPU is NOT a fast computer. It's all the time hanging and not accepting my typing or clicks for 5-10 seconds while it does... whatever it's doing. When it's running fast, it's fast, but even using it briefly I routinely get frustrated by slowness. By contrast, our 12" MacBook (original version) is legitimately not intended to be fast, but it FEELS *much* faster than the SP4 in routine usage.

I originally got it because I wasn't loving the 12" MacBook, and the low-resolution screens on the Airs weren't working for me, and I needed a proper computer, not an iPad.

The SP4 is soooooooo close to being a really excellent computer, but the weird lags in what SHOULD be a fast computer, along with the truly awful touchpad (which is supposedly a VAST improvement over prior Surface touchpads?) make it surprisingly unpleasant to use.

After an extended experiment with the SP4 and a 12" iPad Pro, I've come back again and again to the 12" Macbook as my 'superportable'.

I can't wait for my new 15" MBP - as I said above, I'm seriously irked about the pricing, but... I can't find anything that's even close to better at a competitive price.
 

WolfSnap

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Sep 18, 2012
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Just a quick observation -- there's way more than just comparing CPU GHz and how much RAM is in a computer...

Need I remind everyone that Porsche's are 4-cylinder cars? Obviously, they're WAY slower than V6 vehicles.. Right?!?
 

adww12321

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Dec 24, 2012
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Fan noise is one of my least-favorite laptop things, fan noise whenever charging might be a deal-breaker even if there weren't other issues.
It is very quiet, you can't hear it in a room with other sounds. If the place is dead silent, you can hear a distant whir. I don't think it is a Windows thing either, it seems to be controlled by the bios. I think Dell was really concerned about heat when charging.
 

duervo

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Feb 5, 2011
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Not to hijack this but hate to create another thread for this. Is there a decent 15" Linux machine out there? I was wondering why Dell doesn't put Ubuntu on the XPS 15". I see they offer the XPS 13" with Ubuntu, but I need the power of the 15.
Call Dell and ask them. They may have an XPS config they can configure over the phone that will match what you want, that can't be done on the website. I've been able to do some nifty custom stuff over the phone that you can't on the web store (for both Lenovo and Dell over the years.) They can also sometimes give you a bit more discount as well.
 

auero

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Sep 15, 2006
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We have both an XPS 13 and 15 in my office and they're very nice machines. From build quality to performance they shine. I'm not sure if some of the people here are writing Windows off because of their customer loyalty to Apple, or if they genuinely spent time with the system and dislike it. Either way, Microsoft has personally impressed me as of late. What a majority of manufacturers haven't done is impressed me with the build quality of their laptops.

I have a 15" MBP order placed, but I'm not sure I'll be taking delivery after comparing the processor to my late 2013 model. I look for the best tools available to make me proficient at my job and this new machine is looking to be a marginal improvement.
 

dumastudetto

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Aug 28, 2013
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you can't just put linux on the dell machine?
You have to tweak the bios turn off secure boot and use AHCI mode. Linux will then install just fine.

We have this machine running Linux Mint in our office. Everything works just fine out of the box. Wireless, touchscreen, etc. You do need to tweak some settings to optimise for the 4K display if you opt for that model. You'll also need to set a parameter to get some apps like Spotify to use hidpi mode when you launch them. Most people just go for the FHD display without touch I think though.
 
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Kimcha

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Feb 19, 2012
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Guys, I don't think you are thinking straight if you are considering a windows alternative, because of the price of the MBP...

Sure if the new MBP does not fit your usage, is really underpowered for the kind of work you are realistically going to do , lacks the ports you need, I understand if you are looking for an alternative.

But, it seems like many people here are simply emotional about the price hike, because they compare it spec by spec to windows laptops..

Think about all the other cost such as needing an anti virus scanner, time of dealing with viruses when it fails, re-installing windows once every 1-2 years, cleaning up all the ad and spyware that comes with almost everything you install...

How much do you value your time and nerves? How much would you pay not to have to deal with that stuff every year?

On top of that...

The one thing Windows absolutely stinks at is scaling for high-DPI screens. MS left the work of converting the software to hi-res screens up to the developers of each app -- which has had uneven results. The UI of many apps is microscopic at 4k. Even photoshop still doesn't get it right. I'm certain that will work itself out as more Windows machines ship with very high DPI screens. But coming from the Mac that was a shock.
How much value do you put on not having to worry whether a certain software will be readable without squinting?

My Surface Pro 4 with 8 gigs RAM and the i5 CPU is NOT a fast computer. It's all the time hanging and not accepting my typing or clicks for 5-10 seconds while it does... whatever it's doing. When it's running fast, it's fast, but even using it briefly I routinely get frustrated by slowness. By contrast, our 12" MacBook (original version) is legitimately not intended to be fast, but it FEELS *much* faster than the SP4 in routine usage.
How much value do you put on not having to take a risk like that?

Once again, I understand why someone would consider putting up with all of the above if the new MBPs are truly underpowered and unsuitable in other ways to do what you need to do for the next 4 years, but why would anyone in the right mind voluntarily put up with all of it because of price?
 

gametime10

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Mar 30, 2006
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I haven't read through the thread, so somebody might have mentioned this, but check out the Xiaomi Mi Air 13, if you're looking for something in the 13" category. Discrete graphics, USB-C Thunderbolt, premium design and build quality, expandability. All for under $1000.
 

duervo

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Feb 5, 2011
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Xiaomi has my ear, but until they start selling their stuff where I live, that's all they'll have. Their stuff looks impressive though, as well as their prices.
 

Altis

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Sep 10, 2013
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Just a quick observation -- there's way more than just comparing CPU GHz and how much RAM is in a computer...

Need I remind everyone that Porsche's are 4-cylinder cars? Obviously, they're WAY slower than V6 vehicles.. Right?!?
What? Porsches are flat-6 engines... not that the analogy totally works here anyways.

Yes, there's more to it, but specs are very accurate measures of performance for computers.
 

pika2000

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Jun 22, 2007
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The problem in the Windows camp is that, if you want the decent laptops, they're not cheap either.
If I go for a Windows laptop vs Mac, I know I'm going to sacrifice:
- the trackpad (all Windows users I've encountered always bring an external mouse. I have never used a mouse since I switch to Mac laptops)
- Worldwide warranty
- Worldwide service centers/Apple stores where I can go in and get support

So for me to opt in for a Windows laptop, they have to be significantly cheaper since I know they are not bothered much with the things I mentioned above. And yet if I want a great built lightweight Windows machine with SSD (not eMMC), they are not exactly cheap. If I want cheaper, I am seeing the same old heavy laptops with spinning platters. It's BS. These PC OEMs are trying to pad their margins in a shrinking market without actually delivering the goods. It's not encouraging at least from my point of view. If I have to spend that much money, might as well go with Apple since I know I don't have to sacrifice those things above.