Looking for a 15" laptop - trying to decide what to get

Discussion in 'Alternatives to Mac Hardware' started by maflynn, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Boston
    #1
    It looks like I may be looking to get a 15" laptop. Its funny, but I embraced the 13" for factor for its portability, which I love, but with my old 5x year old eyes, its a bit of a struggle lately. I grabbed my trusty old 2012 15" rMBP yesterday while I was traveling and found it was so much easier on my eyes then the 13" This has caused me to consider getting a 15" model and maybe selling the 13" Surface Book. There's a lot I like about the SB, and a few things I don't like (nothing is perfect). I like Windows just as much as OS X, but if I had a preference it would be OS X.

    With that said, I'm not here looking to bash the MBP but I do have limited funds and the Dell is looking mighty tempting.

    I started making a grid of features and what matters, Some of it was assumptions on my part, for instance I'm not a GPU guru but I think the Nvidia is a better GPU then AMD.

    Capto_Capture 2017-02-05_07-25-58_AM.png

    Apple has the following advantages
    Display
    Storage
    Battery - somewhat mitigate due to actual battery life
    OS (Close to a tie but I'll give Appel the nod).

    Dell has the following advantages
    Price - this is a huge one - saving 1,000.
    Memory - though I don't need anything beyond 16GB
    GPU - not a gamer and I don't push the GPU AFAIK
    Ports
    Keyboard - very subjective, the things I don't like about the new butterfly keyboard is the travel and sound

    Other things to consider.
    Quality:
    Apple's reputation for quality has been excellent but recent complaints seem to show some weakness.
    Dells has been inferior to Apples for a while, but recently the machines appear to be solid

    So to weight the advantages, I'd say Apple's advantages are superior, i.e., the display, crazy fast storage and battery (though there are enough complaints about actual battery life to mitigate this advantage)

    On the other side of the fence, the price is a HUGE advantage, its hard to keep a 1,000 in my bank account when it comes to buying something. Basically, I'll be selling my Surface Book and the proceeds will most likely come close to covering a major portion of the cost.

    Final thoughts
    I know I'm posting on a mac forum and I'll get a lot of opinions on how great the MBP is and that's great, that will help. Comments about how bad Windoze is, is less well received. Everyone is entitled to there opinion but since I'm discussing possible purchase decisions, I'm not bothered by windows. I use OS X the majority of time, but I do find myself using Windows for extensively and I like it.

    tl;dr
    MBP is a nice machine, but I'm tempted by the XPS 15.

    Edit: I'm not trying to bash Apple or the MBP at all. Spending this kind of money, I want to be sure I use my limited funds wisely.
     
  2. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

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    #2
    Possible other considerations based upon your wants/needs:
    • Portability
    • Touch screen vs. not
    • OSX's ability to sync iCloud with your info, contacts, internet history, FaceTime, etc. with the MacBook.
    • Warranty & customer service
     
  3. aevan, Feb 5, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017

    aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #3
    Phew. A great post and a tough question. The problem is, it mostly comes down to personal preferences and how you feel about both computers, and only you can answer that.

    The thing is - both computers are expensive. For me, a $2000 computer you don't LOVE is more expensive then a $2700 computer you LOVE. By 'love' I mean - do you enjoy using it and it makes your work a bit easier, because it feels good. I'm not setting this up so you choose the MBP, by the way, it may very well be the other way around.

    So, let's start with this - if both computers are similar, then Dell is the winner for the simple reason that it costs less. Just think about what you can buy for that price difference - like, you can treat yourself with a nice 4K TV or something and still have an amazing computer with the Dell XPS. So, Dell.

    However, there's the other side - what if you don't really love that Dell? I mean, maybe the trackpad sucks or maybe you just don't like Windows or it feels bad for whatever reason. Again, I'm not saying these things are worse, I'm saying that you, personally, end up not liking it. Then, you still payed a large sum of money, and anything north of 1k should be 'perfect' in things that matter to you. Seriously, if I just wanted a tool to get things done, I'd get a $700 computer and not worry about 'not liking it'.

    My advice to you would be to focus on the 'nice' things. I'll explain. I think both computers can serve your needs when it comes to performance, and I really wouldn't care if one benchmarks faster in some areas or the other. No one should really base their decision on faster SSD or CPU or even GPU (unless you really know you need it) because both computers are, in my opinion, crazy fast in general. So, I'd rather focus on the things that make you feel good.

    Let's take Dell for example:

    - The really small bezels on the "Infinity Edge" display. These are NICE. They won't make you more productive, but damn, they look great. I know that if I worked for hours on my laptop I would take small breaks and look at that screen and think: wow, what a futuristic device. It's great. It may seem shallow - but it's actually enjoying the things that are good.

    - Windows 10 is NICE. I prefer macOS, I really do. But Windows 10 is not an ugly OS by any means. It adds certain things you may end up liking a lot. Like, the tiles in the start menu. Or the black start menu that blends with that bezel on the great display. Or the way it handles notifications. It's unique, it has its own style - the question is: 'do you like it?'. Because there's a lot to like.

    - The carbon fiber surface is NICE. Again - I don't like it. I have to be honest, it looks like an average PC laptop, and I don't like that 'sandwich' look, but hey - maybe you like it. And if you do, it's ok, because it IS nice.



    Let's look at the MBP:
    - The style. I mean, it's beautiful, and simple, and the subtle MacBook Pro text below the amazing screen screams taste. I love how it feels in every way. It's NICE.

    - macOS is amazingly NICE. If I compared them to people, Windows 10 would be a good looking person, but macOS would be a good looking person that dresses nice. I can't explain it further - if you don't see it, it's fine, if you do - you'll love it more and that's the only thing that matters.

    - The input devices. Ok, so some people hate the keyboard, but I really love it and it feels much more unique than the one on the XPS. It's almost.... well, almost mechanical. It has a sharp, nice click. Stable, not mushy. Love typing on it. And the trackpad - oh man, I love that trackpad. The gestures are great, it feels NICE. Compared to it, the XPS one feels, well, feels just average.

    - The Apple ecosystem and how it all ties togeather. Have an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, another Mac? Plan on getting them in the future? It really does work amazing togeather. It's NICE.

    - Everything else really - the screen is bright (I personally don't care it's not 4K, but I do care it has amazing colors and brightness and I actually prefer it to Dell's 4K one), the speakers are great, the Touch Bar is fun, the build and look feels like Mies van der Rohe made it - it's ART. It's NICE.


    So, ok, it probably feels like I'm a bit biased towards the MBP - that's because I am. I just like it more, and there's no point in pretending I'm objective when I have my preference. But there's a lot of nice things going for the Dell, too and you may actually LIKE it more. Notice that I'm using words NICE and LIKE a lot - because I think these matter the most. So, my advice is this:

    Ignore the specs. Oh sure, I'm saying that because the XPS has a faster GPU and GPU and whatnot, right? No. Because I really think that these are both really fast computers and you won't really care, unless you know you need some specific spec. Like, if you really need 32Gb, then you need an XPS - but then you wouldn't be having this dillema. But you probably don't really need it, and you probably won't notice any slowdowns on both computers.

    Ignore the QA stuff, because, sadly - you can get build issues with both computers. It may seem that the MBP has a lot of issues with hardware, but it's - actually - standard amount. People just tend to forget, but every Apple device has these in similar numbers. Also, I hear Dell has a LOT of hardware defects. So, I'm guessing, it's a bit of a lottery. But, in the end, out of the box or through replacements, you'll probably end up with a fully working computer in both cases (and most likely both will be fine out of the box).

    Ignore the price difference. Sure, it's big, but as I said, you're paying a lot of money either way. It's better to feel good, even if you pay more. However, I am NOT saying "get the MBP" and if you think both computers feel just as good for you - by all means, get the Dell.

    So, ignore these things and just focus on the "nice" things. The MBP is "nicer" for me. The Dell could be "nicer" for you. So, just look at the things you like, close your eyes and.... good luck :)


    When you get yours, ignore Macrumors and Dell forums for a while, they will just make you feel bad :))


    I hope this helps and I hope I was as objective as possible. It's hard to be objective when you already have a preference, but perhaps it helps you choose.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 5, 2017 ---
    And posting on a Dell forum will tell you that Dell is better, but the thing is - how do you feel about them? In the end, it's all that matters. Do you like that Dell? Man, it's great - get it and who cares what people say. Do you like that MBP? It's great - get that one and - you've guessed it - ignore what other people say.

    If you don't know what you like more - ah, well that should be your main goal. Not comparing specs, writing down advantages - I applaud your detailed post, but I think this kind of thinking will just get you crazy. If it's any way possible, go somewhere and test them out. The good thing is - initial impressions are usually those that stick. Approach both computers with an open mind and see how you FEEL. After that, just get the one that feels better and don't look back :) Because both are great.
     
  4. maflynn thread starter Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    Boston
    #4
    I'm not worked about the portability to a degree, though Apple wins that decision.
    The model I selected is NOT the touchscreen (omitted purely for cost).
    Syncing with the iCloud is a definite advantage, plus the MAS will pull my apps down, another plus

    I see your point and I'm not disagreeing, Perhaps I'd reword it, to getting value for your money. Its possible that the 2700 purchase provides superior value over the 2000 purchase. To some degree that's what I'm starting to vet out.

    Good point, one of which I forgot about that and I will need see if I can find some Dell computers in retail stores to see how it works. PC trackpads have been awful for years for some odd reason.

    No question, and maybe if I feel adventurous I'll do that

    You wrote so much, I'm going to take more time to digest and consider what you wrote.
     
  5. doitdada, Feb 5, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017

    doitdada macrumors 6502a

    doitdada

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    Oct 14, 2013
    #5
    I would buy the rMBP 2.6Ghz baseline and upgrade the graphics to AMD Radeon 460.

    With Android, I like the discovery of the OS, but after a while I miss an iPhone and iOS. The same can be said about Windows. At first it's great to play around with, but after a while I miss macOS and the build quality of a MacBook. Tried many times to switch back to Windows, but every time I keep preferring the Apple experience. I know the price on the current offerings sting, but there is no real alternative in terms of a more complete package.
     
  6. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

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    #6
    I'm assuming/hoping that you're opting for the SSD for both?
     
  7. maflynn thread starter Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    #7
    Yes, the mid-tier XPS has 8gb/256gb ram and SSD
     
  8. svendobbelaere macrumors member

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    Jul 27, 2012
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    Belgium
    #8
    iCloud does sync with windows though. I use this to sync our photo stream pictures to an M3 Surface Pro 4 so my wife can use them for instagram.

    Might want to check if iCloud for windows provides enough of what you need?
     
  9. MrGuder macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2012
    #9
    I don't have an answer to help you decide but I just wanted to share my opinion on the Macbook Pro. I came from an old Dell Studio 15" that came with XP but I loaded 7 later. I recently knew it was time for an upgrade, way overdue and because I was so vested in Apple, having the iPhone, iPads, Mac Mini (my home desktop) I told myself maybe I should look at the Macbook Pro. I had to have 15" so the Pro was the only option although I'm not a Pro user.

    I ordered a refurb 2015 2.2 ghz and when it arrive I was completely blown away. When I read aevan's post above it was exactly how I felt. It was expensive (although it was less than $2k still expensive to me) but the moment I touched it all around I could immediately feel the craftsmanship. The cold feeling of the hard metal and smooth edges, the retina screen, the keyboard, the way you can lift the laptop with 1 finger (something I could never do with the Dell) so many little things that made it feel "nice" and like aevan mentioned these were important things to me, it creates a feeling of wanting to use it. I relate it to a car in that....a BMW is often called the ultimate driving machine, the Macbook Pro is crafted with that same concept, it's a fine tuned machine, nice to touch and makes me happy to use it.

    I then visited this forum and realized I may have missed a great opportunity in not giving the 2016 Macbook Pro a chance, so I played around with it at Best Buy and decided to return the 2015 for the 2016. I couldn't get over the difference in the display, I felt it was nicer than the 2015 and I loved the smaller footprint, slightly less weight and the SG was nice as it matched my iPhone. I ultimately decided to return it mostly because of the keyboard. Ordered a 2015 again and now I'm realizing how much I missed the 2016 because of all the little things, size, smaller bexels, nicer display, being able to charge it from either side and the backlit keys are nicer in my opinion. The larger trackpad was very impressive, never have me any wrong feedback with my hands on it and it worked so fluidly. I never realized a trackpad could work so well.

    So while I still have the 2015, I re-ordered another 2016 15" and I will actually have both for a few days because deciding to return the 2015 before the 2 wk limit is up. At this point I'm much more leaning toward keeping the 2016 and putting this all to rest. I know these few days will help me decide what makes my happy and what works for me as a whole between these 2 models side by side.

    Perhaps you could do the same order both and do your own side by side comparison to determine which is best for you.
     
  10. Altis macrumors 68020

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    Sep 10, 2013
    #10
    On paper, the XPS is absolutely a better value (and those screen bezels are glorious). The money saved might make for a nice trip even.

    The 15" on the XPS is 16:9 compared with the 16:10 on the MBP, which does make a difference.

    Another option is a used 2013-2014-2015 15" MBP since they're still quite powerful and have a nice enough form factor.

    What do you plan on doing with the machine? If you don't need lots of computing power, a brand new 15" MBP might be a waste of money.
     
  11. Naimfan macrumors 68040

    Naimfan

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  12. leman macrumors 604

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    #12
    There is no doubt that with the Dell you are getting more performance for money. The battery life should be more or less the same if you skip the energy-inneficient 4K screen. If you don't have any reason reason to prefer OS X to Windows, Dell is the more reasonable choice. Of course, the MBP is undoubtedly the more premium and technically refined machine, but that alone certainly doesn't make it a better purchase.
     
  13. Winterfibre macrumors member

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    Nov 30, 2016
    #13
    I love the airdrop feature of osx, espesially the way it all syncs with my iphone is what wins it over in my book. But i'm using a windows pc as i need the extra power.
     
  14. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

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    #14
    Future-proofing and longevity should also be a consideration.

    While admittedly anecdotal, in my (and my friends' & family's experiences), we have gotten much longer lifespans from our Macs than their Windows brethren.
     
  15. raqball macrumors 6502a

    raqball

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    California
    #15
    One other thing to consider might be future reparability if you plan on keeping the machine long term. The new MacBooks are pretty much non repairable at every level. If you go that route, Apple Care+ is a must have in my opinion. The price of Apple Care+ needs to be included in any price comparison..

    I don't know if the Dell's are the same so if they are then that's a wash.
     
  16. Sanpete macrumors 68020

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    Utah
    #16
    Have you considered better glasses? The resolution of the SB display is such that you should be able to easily resolve a lot of detail with proper glasses, in most cases. It seems from comments you've made elsewhere that you really like the SB, but maybe there's something more driving this? Hard to tell what really matters to you, so it's hard to respond helpfully.

    You might want to wait for reviews of the new Dell before purchasing. And I suppose you'll settle in at the Dell forums to see what owners think.

    On battery life, I'm not sure what you mean by "somewhat mitigated due to actual battery life," but the MBP 15" battery life is quite good. Both carefully controlled measurements from reviews and user reports here are fairly consistent about that. The negative buzz about battery life is due to the 13" TB. I don't know how good the XPS 15 FHD battery life is, but you're looking at a small battery with desktop RAM. The XPS 15 with the UHD display has a much larger battery but still has poor battery life.
     
  17. Ludatyk macrumors 65816

    Ludatyk

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    #17
    For me, I just think the whole Apple ecosystem has played a huge part in going with a Mac laptop over a Windows one. When deciding between the two at the time... I just liked the idea of having all my devices are in sync.

    I have a iMac, iPhone... had a iPad Pro previously (cracked display), which now the newly arrived MacBook Pro has replaced my iPad. I do use Windows on both my iMac and MacBook Pro, I like what Microsoft has done with it. But with my family and friends under Apple... it just made sense for me to go with a Mac laptop.
     
  18. fokmik macrumors 68000

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    USA
    #18
    if you have specific questions for me...i have the kaby lake 15" dell
    -i dont like the trackpad and the carbon fiber with silver exterior...it gives you the feel that are not part from the same machine
    -the usb-c tb3 is not full 40gb/s its half so you cant connect more than 1 4k@60hz, if this matters for you, for me it does

    Right out of the box for macbook pro i had just to update to the latest version macos, on my dell i got driver crush, i had to get the latest nvidia drivers and a lot of more updates
    The screen wobble a lot more on the dell than mbp, even the dell was build with touch in mind so i dont get them (the OEM windows brands that makes such a mistake for their touchscreen devices, on the surface book i also didnt like this aspect)
    The keyboard at first i liked the dells, but after 1 week i love the MBP and i think this is the future for all of the keyboards (in 5 years everyone will make them, i think)
     
  19. ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    #19
    Is the XPS-15 built as well as the XPS-13? If so, it should have an outstanding build quality, in my opinion. Not Apple quality, but a helluva lotta quality for the pricing, and at a level that many would not expect from Dell.

    If you are on limited funds, have you considered Apple Refurbished? Apple frequently has 2015 15-inches, still occasionally has 2014s, and I imagine in the near future will start having 2016s. From my experience, I've found that the refurbishment program entails QA/QC that is top notch, and whoever coordinates it must be an anal person because every refurbished item I have purchased has met or even exceeded my quality expectations that I would have of a new machine.
     
  20. Sanpete macrumors 68020

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    #20
    Have you checked out the Dell's battery life yet? And could you give the specs you have?
     
  21. IngerMan macrumors 6502a

    IngerMan

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    #21
    Maybe you could still consider a 13" with scaled resolution? I'm running 1 click larger then the default and find it very easy on the eyes. I wear 2.0 readers.
     
  22. fokmik, Feb 5, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017

    fokmik macrumors 68000

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    #22
    yes, i get with light usage around 7 hours (when no updates are in background) and around 3 hours in rest
    i5,8 gb ram,256 ssd,gtx 1050,4k display

    As for build quality, from my perspective dell is on 3d place after Apple and second i must give it to razer blade
     
  23. Sanpete macrumors 68020

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    #23
    Which battery do you have? I can't remember which size goes with which options anymore.
     
  24. MrGuder macrumors 68020

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    Nov 30, 2012
    #24
    I also noticed that by the end of my first week having the 2016 15" after I adjusted the resolution and notifications on sleep that I saw an increase in the battery and I easily got 9-10 hrs and have a feeling it would have been more as time went on. I have noticed since back in a 2015 15" that the battery is about 1.5 less for me and I can't seem to get more than 8 hrs.
     
  25. fokmik macrumors 68000

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    Oct 28, 2016
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    #25

    97WHr, bottom line for productivity, if you use pro apps designed for macOS, it is a lot better than on windows. I would wait for kaby lake mbp, it will be a more polished one, but even so, mbp hands down if you dont game or if you don't need especially windows
     

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