MacBook or Surface Pro 3?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Kendo, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. Kendo macrumors 68020

    Apr 4, 2011
    I need to upgrade my 2011 MBA and had my sights set on a Surface Pro 3. Mainly because I like the fact it can double as a second tablet (I have an iPad Ai r2), my wife owns an iMac, and it would be nice for us to have Windows 10.

    Anyone else in my position? This is a tough one because for relatively the same price, both units have similar specs right down to the 12" 1440p display. The SP3 costs a little more when you buy the cover, but with the various sales on Microsoft products (and the lack of sales on Apple products), it is a wash.
  2. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    you can have windows 10 on the imac or macbook as no need for that surface
  3. JoelTheSuperior macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2014
    London, UK
    Up to you. Both are absolutely fantastic computers (keep in mind this is an Apple focused site).

    With that said, I really do think Apple has nailed user experience. I mean even on a tablet I still find it difficult to really like Windows - the apps on the Windows Store are still very low quality compared to what is available on Apple's side of things.

    Regardless, I don't think you'll go wrong either way. Personally I'd go for the MacBook but there's still some very valid reasons to go for the Microsoft offering, especially if you want PC focused apps and want something that is also usable as a tablet.

    I'm sure there's plenty of people who would disagree with me, but I genuinely feel that the iPad makes a much better tablet than the Surface for media consumption and web browsing, so if budget allows perhaps you could consider two devices?
  4. Mivo macrumors regular


    Jan 23, 2015
    I'd probably wait half a year and see what happens. There's the rumors about the iPad Pro and we may see something new from Microsoft. If you do want or need to get something new shortly, it's definitely a tough choice. Since you already have an iPad Air 2, I would probably opt for the Macbook. If you didn't have the iPad, I'd likely go for the Surface Pro.
  5. saintforlife macrumors 65816

    Feb 25, 2011
    Congratulations on a very objective and useful post. We need more of these. :cheers:
  6. burgman macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2013
    While true you can run windows on macs, it's not a great experience. If you want touch screen then the choice is clear. iCloud/iTunes works pretty good on the Surface. If you multitask,once you use the snap screen, you'll love it. Couple of downsides that if not addressed with W10 might be a problem. First is scaling, Default is 150% so type isn't very sharp and is tiny in Explorer favorite bar, as an example. Windows 8.1 doesn't scale well at all with high def screens.
    Compared to an iPad it's heavier but manageable. The dock is not required but really makes the SP more useable as a desktop, especially if you use ext monitors etc, it is very well designed, so figure that into the cost. I purchased mine to replace my rMBP and air2, figured since I have a 6plus I could get by. For me, after using my SP I decided to keep my iPad. I use my surface to sync my iPhone and iPad. People say the app ecosystem in Windows is weak, which it is, however they gloss over that this is a computer with tablet functionality. I suggest the Reddit Surface group for the best information.
  7. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    Tough one, cause there are rumours of a Surface 4 . I'd wait if possible...
  8. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    Do you see yourself using Windows? Do you have a use for a tablet/pen input?

    As someone who does a bit of sketching and needs a few Windows only apps, I'm thinking of replacing my 15" MBP with a powerful desktop and a Surface for on the go/couch use.

    But I think both could be good options. It really comes done to what you'll be doing on the machine. If you already have an iPad and being well served by the Mac ecosystem, maybe the 12" MB would be a better option.

    Side note, if you're considering the keyboard an added price on the Surface, I think one almost needs to consider the accessory breakout dongle for the MB as part of the price. Also, I think we can expect a Surface Pro update fairly soon. I'm not sure wether they'll be going with the core M or speedier CPUs or possibly two lineups...
  9. Hankster macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Washington DC
    Apples and Oranges.

    You should not be comparing hardware. You should be comparing software.
  10. burgman macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2013
    Interesting point of view, hardware doesn't matter when they are very different configurations. designed for different usage. Software is a major consideration but not the only one. Especially now when there are blurring between the two with apps available on both os's
  11. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Do you expect that you would use the pen on the Surface? Do you like to use your tablet in portrait orientation for reading? Those things should sway you towards the Surface.

    If you spend most of your time in landscape orientation and you don't expect you'll use the pen, the keyboard and touchpad on the MacBook should be significantly better, and the MacBook will likely offer a more cohesive, more polished experience. I'd also expect the battery life to be better as the Surface often seems to get more like 6 hours in real life.

    There are a lot of things I like about my Surface Pro 3 - but they really come down to those first two items - the pen and the fact that I like to do reading and web browsing with the device in the vertical orientation. I think the keyboard and trackpad leave a lot to be desired, to the point that I connect a real keyboard and mouse as long as I will be seated in that location for more than a few minutes.
  12. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    I see you posting this everywhere on the board but yet to have seen an explanation. On a machine like this, it's a make or break. Either you have software or a service that is platform dependant or you don't. But for most people, it's going to be a machine that'll be running a web browser and/or office software. As much as I prefer mac os as an operating system, Chrome works just dandy on Windows. I think the hardware differences will make a much bigger difference when comparing these two devices.
  13. SlCKB0Y macrumors 68040


    Feb 25, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    How is it much different from running Windows on any other x86 machine?
  14. burgman macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2013
    No touch screen for one. I use Parallels 10 which is vastly improved over 9.
  15. chaoscarrot macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2015
    I have had both devices (a 2010 MBP and a SP3).

    It really comes down to how much you like the whole tablet experience.

    Now, I have nothing bad to say about the SP3 - the screen is fantastic, its light and portable, the keyboard is actually really nice for what it is and the build quality overall is top notch. It still works nicely as a laptop, but half of its selling points are that it is a tablet as well.

    If you only have an iPad right now and not a laptop, I would go with a Macbook. I think someone else said this, but if you didn't have an iPad and will utilize the SP3 as a tablet quite a bit, plus you want W10, I would say go for the SP3.

    The one thing I will say is that the SP3 (and other Windows devices with such high res screens) really struggle with certain programs in terms of them being fuzzy. They are still readable and everything, they just don't look so nice.

    On top of that, the battery life on the SP3 isn't so great. I usually got about 6 hours out of it, and that was with only maybe 3 or 4 programs open (spotify, office, IE, and avast). If you don't use IE, the battery life will be much worse as well, but that to me isn't an issue as IE is great on it.
  16. mentaluproar macrumors 68000


    May 25, 2010
    Ohio, USA
    Having had a surface pro 3 I'd say macbook. It's a really good device, but the macbook was better. The battery life will be better, interacting with it will be better, thermals will be MUCH better. There won't likely be wireless problems either.

    Again, the surface is great. But as it is now, the macbook is better.
  17. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Feb 12, 2005
    I've had both, but the SP3 is the device I currently own. Both are top-shelf, quality pieces of hardware. I love the pen-based input of the SP3, something that Apple continues to not support for some reason. The MBs have superior keyboards and trackpads though. I think most retailers should allow you no questions asked returns, the Microsoft store included so you can have some quality no-risk alone time with the SP3.
  18. mgipe macrumors demi-god


    Oct 6, 2009
    I own both the MBP and an SP3.

    If you need or can benefit from the pen input, go SP3.
    If you would never use the pen, go MacBook.
  19. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
  20. Abbara macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2014
    SP3 is better value, better performance, than the Macbook.

    I'd get it. Unless you either love OS X or hate Win, or need OS X for work.

    For example I much prefer the Dell XPS performance wise, over any equal-price (or even cheaper price, e.g. MBA) Macbook. But I need OS X for work, and while I'm fine with Win7, I'm just not a fan of the new Windows lineup. So it's just not an option atm I'd be happy with.

    But in terms of value I think the SP3 is a bunch better.
  21. mgipe macrumors demi-god


    Oct 6, 2009
    It's ironic. With all the complaining about the MB single USB C port, no one mentions the SP3's single USB port. That's the main niggle I have with the SP3. Otherwise it is a nice machine.
  22. LudwigZildjian macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2015
    The Apple is much more user friendly and like others have said, you can run Windows...
  23. Abbara macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2014
    Not really ironic. The issue people have is not so much not being able to plug in two USB devices at the same time. It's that they can't output video to a screen and charge at the same time. Or have a keyboard and charge at the same time. Or use a USB stick and charge at the same time. Or any of those combinations or all of them.

    The Surface Pro 3 has a USB yes, but a separate charge, and a separate display port, and a separate SD card slot. You can use all at the same time.

    Sure, 2 USB is better than 1, but I don't see how it's ironic people complain that the Macbook has 1 port to charge, display, usb & lost an sd card slot, while not complain about the SP3 having all four of those.

    Having a thin, light and compact device doesn't suit also needing to carry a dongle or a hub with you.
  24. mgipe macrumors demi-god


    Oct 6, 2009

    Very good points.

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23 March 10, 2015