retina MacBook or Surface Pro 3

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dj64Mk7, Aug 14, 2015.

?

retina MacBook or Surface Pro 3

  1. retina MacBook

    8 vote(s)
    42.1%
  2. Surface Pro 3

    3 vote(s)
    15.8%
  3. Dell

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Dell XPS 13

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. retina MacBook Pro

    8 vote(s)
    42.1%
  1. Dj64Mk7, Aug 14, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015

    Dj64Mk7 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #1
    *Feel free to participate in the poll, but please leave a comment/post explaining why you chose the option you did. Please ignore the "Dell" option above. I hit enter accidentally.*

    Hi everyone! As some of you may know, I am a high school student, going into 11th grade. I have a little bit of a story, then I need some advice, please.

    I am going to receive a grant from my state government to get me my own assistive technology to help me with my school life, as well as my home life, as I don't have the money to afford either of the options I am looking at.

    Anyway, I need help deciding whether to get a retina MacBook or a Surface Pro 3. The specs I'm looking at for both are as follows:

    MacBook:1.1GHz Core M, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD ($1299)
    Surface: 1.9GHz Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD ($1428 = $1299 + $129 for Type Cover)

    And the pros and cons I have for each so far:

    MacBook pros: very thin, lightweight, no fan, fast SSD, can run OS X and Windows, retina display
    MacBook cons: only one port, very shallow keyboard

    Surface pros: comes with Surface Pen, fairly thin, full-size USB port, high resolution display, can be used as just tablet
    Surface cons: very heavy with Type Cover attached, loud fan, only runs Windows

    Thank you for reading this far. Please reply with your thoughts and feelings. Questions and concerns are welcomed too.

    *Feel free to participate in the poll, but please leave a comment/post explaining why you chose the option you did.* Thanks!
     
  2. s0nicpr0s macrumors regular

    s0nicpr0s

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Location:
    Illinois
    #2
    Just curious, is the Macbook the only option from Apple? Or would you maybe be able to consider a Macbook Air? I only ask because I feel that those are the better computer between the non-pro line of Macbooks.

    Between the two current machines, I'd go with the surface as it is the stronger machine overall, but I don't know what you would need to run on your machine. What do you expect your workload to be like?
     
  3. Gildarts macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2014
    #3
    I voted MacBook but I thought the thread said retina MacBook Pro.

    Anyways. It's the same price as a rMB so I would get the rMBP. You should think about what you want to buy. If the device you want/need is a laptop then the Surface is not the one for you.
     
  4. Dj64Mk7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #4
    I'm mainly looking at MacBook due to the size and weight. I will be having to carry this computer with me from class to class along with my binder as, unless I get special permission with help from my case manager at school, I am not allowed to use a backpack. That being said, it'd be easy to get that approved, as the principal has been 'on my side' from the beginning. I'd definitely consider a retina MacBook Pro then. As far as Windows machines, I'm also considering the Dell XPS 13.

    EDIT: I forgot to mention that I need a high-resolution ("retina") display because with my vision impairment the blurriness of the screen on something like a MacBook Air makes my eyes and head start to hurt after awhile.

    My workload, even now (I've used an iPad from the school board for the past three years, and will continue to, at least part way into the year) includes research for projects, homework, adding calendar appointments, light photo editing, listening to Apple Music/Spotify, and creating papers, presentations, some video creation, some music creation, and of course taking notes; basically a whole range of things, which I can go into more detail on if you'd like me to do so.

    Again, I am really looking at size and weight as major factors right now (less so once I know I can use my backpack,) so a retina MacBook Pro may not be a great option. The device I want is more than an iPad, but not quite a power-hungry beast of a laptop. This is why I am looking specifically at MacBook and Surface.
     
  5. s0nicpr0s macrumors regular

    s0nicpr0s

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Location:
    Illinois
    #5
    Priced out, a 13" rMBP with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD is $1499. It costs $200 more (before any sort of education discount is applied) but you'll be upgrading to a much more capable machine. Everything that you do, except for possibly the video/music creation can be quite easily handled by the regular Macbook, and I'd expect it to start overheating and throttling if doing the creation for extended periods. With the Pro, you wouldn't need to worry about it struggling to keep up with you during those activities. Plus the slightly higher resolution and overall size may be a nice benefit.

    Looking at the prices of all the machines with an education discount applied (High Schools should still count) you're looking at the following prices.

    $1249 for MacBook (1.1GHz Core M)
    $1399 for MacBook Pro (2.7GHz Core i5)
    $1266 for Surface Pro 3 ($1149 + 117 for Type Cover) (1.9GHz Core i5)

    Another thing I had seen was this bundle.
    $1418 for Surface Pro 3 Bundle (Surface, Type Cover, Case, Office, 2 Year Protection Plan) (1.9 GHz Core i5)

    Each machine has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

    The Surface options don't seem to want to apply the student discount on top of the current discounts. I would honestly suggest sticking with the Apple options due to the flexibility of running whatever you may need at the time. If weight is going to be a deciding factor, the MacBook may be the best option since it is still a decent machine, but if you get the permission to use a bag, I'd pick the MacBook Pro every time.
     
  6. Dj64Mk7, Aug 14, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015

    Dj64Mk7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #6
    First, I'll give you our original quote, without an education discount.

    Surface Pro 3 ($1299)
    MS Complete ($149.99)
    Type Cover ($129.99)
    Office 365 Home ($99.99)
    Extra Surface Pen ($49.99)
    Wedge Mouse ($49.99)
    HEX sleeve ($39.99)
    --------------------------------
    Total = $1818.94

    Now, let's look at that same quote with the 10% education discount.

    Surface Pro 3 ($1299 - $129.90 = $1169.1)
    MS Complete ($149.99, not eligible)
    Type Cover ($129.99 - $13 = $116.99)
    Office 365 Home ($99.99 - $10.00 = $89.99)
    Extra Surface Pen ($49.99 - $5.00 = $44.99)
    Wedge Mouse ($49.99 - $5.00 = $44.99)
    HEX sleeve ($39.99 - $4.00 = $35.99)
    --------------------------------
    Total = $1652.04

    Savings = $166.9

    Next, let's take a look at the same items and their prices from the Microsoft Store today.

    Surface Pro 3 ($1149)
    MS Complete ($149.99)
    Type Cover ($129.99)
    Office 365 Home ($79.99)
    Extra Surface Pen ($49.99)
    Wedge Mouse ($49.99)
    HEX sleeve ($39.99)
    --------------------------------
    Total = $1647.95

    Savings = $170.99

    I'll follow up with a similar post for the MacBook [Pro.]

    EDIT: I'll add in the Dell XPS 13 here.

    Dell XPS 13 ($1299)
    Office 365 Home ($99.99)
    Wedge Mouse ($49.99)
    --------------------------------
    Total = $1448.98

    Savings = $369.96
     
  7. Dj64Mk7, Aug 14, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015

    Dj64Mk7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #7
    Starting off with the retina MacBook with no education discount.

    MacBook ($1299.00)
    AppleCare Protection Plan ($249.00)
    Magic Mouse (already own one)
    Incase Sleeve ($39.95)
    USB-C to USB adapter ($19.00)
    --------------------------------
    Total = $1606.95

    Savings = $211.99

    --------------------------------

    Now, let's look at the retina MacBook with the education discount.

    MacBook ($1249.00)
    AppleCare Protection Plan ($183.00)
    Magic Mouse (already own one)
    Incase Sleeve ($39.95)
    USB-C to USB adapter ($19.00)
    --------------------------------
    Total = $1490.95

    Savings = $327.99

    --------------------------------


    Time to look at the Pro, first without the education discount.

    MacBook Pro ($1499.00)
    AppleCare Protection Plan ($249.00)
    Magic Mouse (already own one)
    Incase Sleeve ($39.95)
    --------------------------------
    Total = $1787.95

    Savings = $30.99

    --------------------------------

    This is the Pro, with the education discount.

    MacBook Pro ($1399.00)
    AppleCare Protection Plan ($183.00)
    Magic Mouse (already own one)
    Incase Sleeve ($39.95)
    --------------------------------
    Total = $1621.95

    Savings = $196.99
     
  8. s0nicpr0s macrumors regular

    s0nicpr0s

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Location:
    Illinois
    #8
    Will you need Office on the Macs? Or would the Apple Productivity programs work for you?

    And I suppose it's a bigger concern for later on, but a copy of Windows for boot camp/virtual machine?
     
  9. Dj64Mk7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #9
    Office is something to consider. I already have enough Office 365 cards to get me through high school if need be. When formatting issues arose in the past, I usually ended up sending my papers and things as PDF files.

    Again, if the need arises, I can tackle that. Now that I think about it, that's a great reason to go with a Mac: you can get the best of Apple AND the best of Microsoft on the same computer. Although I don't think the grant would pay for a copy of Windows (they'd probably shrug and be like "just get a PC lol.")
     
  10. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    #10
    Because it's such a delightful piece of kit,all forward thinking, from the Keyboard,Track Pad,right down to the tiered shaped battery, as well as running OSX.
     
  11. Dj64Mk7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #11
    I assume you are recommending the retina MacBook, since you are talking about the tiered battery. Why though?
     
  12. burgman macrumors 65816

    burgman

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    #12
    Because Windows 10 and new features, I would not consider a Surface Pro. Surface Pro 4 isn't far away and will run 10 completely. The XPS is a really nice machine, screen is much better than the MacBook or SP 3, on the touch screen models. Windows 10 scales very well with the Dell drivers, but touch screen not really needed . Same problem as SP 3 and 10 features. Sounds like rMB is the best choice, especially considering that it will run both OS systems, but again not complete W10 feature set. Nothing on the market until October or so will with the true Windows 10 release.
     
  13. Dj64Mk7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #13
    Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not too concerned about about having the absolute newest. As a matter of fact, it's probably better to go with SP3, XPS, or rMB as those will be less expensive, and a less expensive grant would get approved quicker, enabling me to have the hardware in my hands much sooner.

    Normally, I would completely agree with you and wait it out, but this is a scenario that potentially impacts the rest of my life. Thanks again for the suggestion, however!
     
  14. burgman macrumors 65816

    burgman

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    #14
    Actually rumors about SP 4 are saying it will be cheaper. same with new laptops. Anyway best of luck in school.
     
  15. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #15
    I have both the Surface Pro 3 and the retina Macbook. If the stylus appeals to you, and you think that it will be genuinely useful to you, get the Surface. If not, it makes only a mediocre laptop, so I would get something else. I think that for your workload, and as something that you carry everywhere with you, without a backpack, that the Macbook will be perfect. It gets much better and more consistent battery life than the Surface, has a much better trackpad and keyboard, and is plenty powerful enough for you. Yes, the Macbook Pro is not that much more and is considerably more powerful, but for your use that capability will basically sit idle the vast majority of the time so you will be carrying around a laptop that is nearly twice the weight and volume of the Macbook for what, exactly?

    I do agree that if you decide on the Surface, the v4 is likely just around the corner and it should be a significant upgrade and would wait for at least another month if at all possible.
     
  16. Dj64Mk7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #16
    Here's the big thing with the Surface Pen: with my slight disability, it is hard for me to write using paper and pen for a long period of time, as my whole hand starts to cramp up and my writing speed slows down dramatically. In theory, and from what I gathered at the Microsoft Store, the digital nature of Surface [Pen] means that it takes less effort on my part to take "hand-written" notes.

    The other big thing with a tablet like Surface is the ability to draw, in addition to writing, notes. I am taking chemistry this year, and while I don't know what kind of notes we'll be taking, I imagine it'd be hard to put into words, as I would have to do with something like a MacBook that doesn't have a touchscreen. Do you have any suggestions for this?

    I was using my mom's cMBP yesterday, and I remember why I love Macs so much: OS X. Plus the fact that I can legally run Windows if need be, AND use Microsoft Office in addition to iWork for school documents, and you have the one of the biggest reasons I'm even considering a Mac.

    As far as waiting for the rumored "Surface Pro 4," I can't. The person who is working to get this grant for me is coming by on Monday afternoon, and I can't ask for a grant on a product that doesn't technically exist.

    Seeing as you own both a Surface Pro 3 and a retina MacBook, I have a question for you: would you be willing to post or PM me or email or whatever, some photos and impressions that you have on both of them? There's only so much that going to Apple.com/Microsoft.com and the retail store(s) can do. Please? Thanks!
     
  17. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #17
    I'm not sure I understand how the Surface would make taking hand-written notes easier than writing on paper. I'd say if anything it is about the same to slightly more difficult as writing on glass is not *quite* as good as writing on paper. Don't get me wrong - the Surface is an excellent tool and takes excellent hand-written notes - but the big advantage is that everything can be digitized inside a single notebook in OneNote and you can switch between writing, drawing, and typing at-will.

    I have written extensively here about my experiences with both devices; I have a very thorough review of the Macbook in that forum. In short, as I said before, the Surface is the choice if you want the stylus and/or if you really need Windows. If I had to choose between one or the other though, as much as I like the ability to write on the Surface, I would choose the Macbook because of how much better the trackpad and keyboard is, and because of how much better the battery life is (I get easy 8-10 hours+ on the Macbook, but struggle to get more than 6 on the Surface Pro). In fact I purchased the Macbook as my own personal computer even though I have a Surface Pro that work provided for me and I was free to use essentially as a personal machine. The Surface used to come home with me most nights and weekends. Now it stays at the office unless I am traveling for work.
     
  18. Dj64Mk7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #18
    As for taking notes, because it is all digital, there's no pressure that's needed like with pen and paper. Also, from my experience at the Store, the Surface has great "arm-rejection" for writing like a normal pad of paper. And the advantage you listed of OneNote is great too, as it may help me to stay more organized.

    I don't want Windows. If the Surface Pro 3 was available with OS X, I'd get it for sure. Although Windows may be a necessary evil due to being in the public school system. As for battery life, an average school day is ~7 hours, with time 30 min-1 hour here and there, for before/after school. I will definitely continue to look for that MacBook review, as I trust your opinion because you seem fairly unbiased and friendly.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think it's also important to note that this grant I will be getting is for not just a school device, but for my own device that I can use however best I see fit. The reason I listed all the prices above was because the person working to get the grant said that a less expensive grant may go through the system faster.

    With that being said, there's still four options here: Surface Pro 3, Dell XPS 13, MacBook, or MacBook Pro. I am going to the Microsoft and Apple stores tomorrow, so I would be willing to take any suggestions on things I should test and compare on the different tablets/laptops. Thanks!
     
  19. Dj64Mk7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    #19
    Thanks for all your help! I've decided to go with the base retina MacBook. Wish me luck with this grant, please!
     
  20. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #20
    Good choice I wouldn't buy any laptop with a great screen that I would have to smear my greasy fingers accross all day.
     

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