Which is more powerful? - Macbook Air 13" or Surface Pro 4

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Ben.D, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. Ben.D, Nov 29, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2015

    Ben.D macrumors newbie

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    Nov 20, 2015
    #1
    I'm in the market for a new laptop to use for school, and I've narrowed my interests down to these two devices (below). They are both equally portable so I'm looking for the one with more power as I'd also like to do some light/medium gaming (Bootcamp on the mac is no issue). Is it safe to say that the Surface is the more powerful device? Anyone know if the difference would be significant in something like gaming?

    - Macbook Air 13" -
    1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-5250U
    Intel HD Graphics 6000

    - Surface Pro 4 -
    2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-6300U
    Intel HD 520

    Edit: Also, if I waited for the next Air, would it likely be superior to the Surface?
     
  2. Shirasaki macrumors 603

    Shirasaki

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    #2
    If you mention raw power, both are somewhat identical.
    But if what you consider is more than just raw power, I have no idea which one to recommend.
    If you want some sort of stability and Mac OS X, choose MacBook Air.
    If you use more on handwriting, taking notes, and prefer using touch screen and don't really mind currently still really crappy Windows 10, choose Surface Pro 4.
     
  3. MikeAK macrumors regular

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    Oct 26, 2011
    #3
    Only the worst kind of apple kool-aid drinker would recommend the air over the SP4. Also, I've had way more issues and frustrations on El Capitan than I have with Win10. I know it's a fun theme around here to bash Windows but I have been very impressed with Windows 10 and I hardly think "still really crappy Windows 10" is accurate. That is a comment made by somebody whose never used it, or hates change and only used it for a day. As far as I'm concerned the SP4 is the superior choice. Too each their own though.
     
  4. merkinmuffley macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I've been looking at the Surface 4 too - only thing keeping me from buying is the OS. I have no idea how to do anything with it. In terms of compute power, the Skylake processor in the Surface is the clear winner - for now. Myself, I'm waiting - and my patience is limited in this wait - for Apple to put Skylake into their laptops. They're behind the curve in this effort. Assuming the wait doesn't take too long, I'll make my buying decision when the new laptops are available, if this drags on into summer I'll pick up a Surface 4.
     
  5. 960design macrumors 68000

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    #5
    Put Ubuntu on it?
     
  6. SmOgER macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    MBA has slightly more powerful iGPU, SP4 slightly more powerful CPU. But differences are only marginal.
    Now If you at least remotely care about the resale value, MBA is a much better option. Moreover SP4 is more like a finicky floppy toy than rock solid machine you would get from Apple. Let's leave it at that.
     
  7. Melrose, Dec 5, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015

    Melrose Suspended

    Melrose

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    #7
    I'd say buy the Mac, but that's because I prefer the stability, security, and ease of use it offers. Label Mac users as Kool-aid drinkers if it makes you fell better about yourself, but that's how it is. I've heard the Surface is okay - and props to you if you can abide Windows - but I've also read enough bad experiences with it (at least the first two generations) to keep me away. Well, that and it's Windows...

    And, on a purely technical viewpoint, there will always be a reason to "wait another six months to get the more powerful X". That type of thinking basically just paralyzes the buyer. Also, unless you are a hard-core user any difference between two models of current-generation devices will be minimal at best barring OS or major components like resolution that may hog graphics processing. Honestly, any difference will be unnoticeable for the vast majority of users.

    I've used every version of Windows, except Vista and 10, for work, games, or support and I can vouch for their statement. :)
     
  8. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68020

    Ulenspiegel

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    #8

    +1. Some of the reasons are in the post above: stability, security and ease of use.
     
  9. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502

    cincygolfgrrl

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    #9
    Apple releases new hardware on a schedule. Skylake was not available for the last release as it was projected to be. Apple released the current crop of laptops without. Intel was the problem, not Apple.

    Yep, I'm drinkin' the Kool-Aid, and I like it.
     
  10. quackers82 macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I've got Windows 10 running a VM here on my Macbook Pro as some of the sites we support still run Windows 7 and support ends in 2020 for that so we need to start looking at moving them along. I want to burn Windows 10, its vile. The Control Panel or Settings as its now called is just a mess for a start, its like its been designed for touch screen, the whole OS just seems to be schizophrenic. Then again my love for Windows stopped with Windows 8, and made me buy my first ever Mac, i love the fact OS X is designed for mouse and keyboard and not this mash up like Windows 8 and 10.

    My advise, if you want a laptop, get a laptop, i.e. the Macbook Air. At least OS X knows what its trying to be. The Air is also the best laptop i have ever owned, i just love it!
     
  11. jmoore5196, Dec 7, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015

    jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

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    #11
    I'm not offended at being labeled a "Kool-Aid drinker" ... I value productivity and utility over mediocre performance and an infuriatingly obtuse OS. That's the basis for my bias: I will never own a Windows machine, and I adore my 11" MBA. I realize many people who buy Windows machines do so because they believe they are saving money. I evaluate the time cost of everything I do, and the time I've saved by not having to screw with Windows has probably added a year to my life over the past quarter of a century. If that stark accounting gets me labeled a "Kool-Aid drinker," then so be it.
     
  12. Melrose, Dec 7, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015

    Melrose Suspended

    Melrose

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    #12
    lol. Price watchers are the worst, and sort of living, breathing oxymorons. I've known so many Windows users who only care about money - so they by a $400 computer once a year (and AV on top of that), and then complain that it's underpowered, glitchy, hard to use, slows down after 6 months... all that jazz. They don't seem to know how to connect the dots to see the picture.

    I mean, even Windows - Windows! - will run better if you pay more for better specs. That's not saying much as far as Windows goes, but more money = better specs = better performance = fewer than normal Windows-induced headaches. Its not that complex.

    Then you get the users who continually buy "high end" (so called) Windows computers, $1500 a pop, and then complain about how they still have to do disk cleanups, delete .TMP files, do defragging, still get plastic cases that creak and have injection-molded seams sticking out like razor blades, STILL have slow computers after 6 months, and snicker up their sleeve at me for being "suckered into using a Mac." It's telling that Windows users, as if compensating for something, oftentimes feel compelled to label users of other OSs.

    I'll just be over here, quietly drinking my Kool-aid. Fill it up!
     
  13. akimoriRyuuji, Dec 7, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015

    akimoriRyuuji macrumors regular

    akimoriRyuuji

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    #13
    Regarding the OS, that comes down to choice. Regardless of your opinion on each OS, each has its pros and cons; and different uses. More software on Windows, but generally more stability on OS X. I wouldn't really recommend Windows.

    Regarding the hardware, I would choose the Macbook if only because the Surface hardware line has some big problems. Mainly that, in sacrificing thickness, they sacrificed cooling. Meaning that you will generally have more throttling. This may not necessarily be true regarding the Surface Pro 4, but I have had that experience.
    There are a number of problems I have with the surface in general.

    Namely, that the hardware cannot be fully taken advantage of by the OS. This is due to the lack of touch-optimized apps. If you want touch apps, then get an iPad. Your experience will be no different if you get a keyboard for it. Of which you can find many. Again, this is true of pen input. Though some desktop applications will readily take pen input. And note-taking would certainly be nice. Though I can take similar quality notes using the Pencil by FiftyThree with my iPad. Saving a fraction of the cost.

    But that you mentioned gaming, I would definitely recommend the Macbook over the Surface. The Macbook has a better GPU, better cooling and longer battery if you plan on going mobile.

    The Surface will do you better as a note-only device, tbh. But if you want a real tablet experience, then buy an Android tablet with a pen or just buy a bluetooth pen like Pencil like I mentioned. I do it all the time. I'll post some notes from my class. Note, I used a larger (and messier) ink style so it'll look imprecise but the pen is capable. It won't match the Surface pen but it's not hopelessly lagging behind it either.

    Notes: http://imgur.com/a/7yqbD
     
  14. Precision Gem macrumors 6502

    Precision Gem

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    #14
    Going to school....focus on your education, forget about playing games.
     
  15. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502

    cincygolfgrrl

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    #15
    Brilliant!
     
  16. MacDanF macrumors newbie

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    Apr 7, 2015
    #16
    As said, both machine are very close in term of ability to play games - if you install Win on the Mac -. The Mac is a very solid machine. Mine is, it as seen a lot of abuse in the past 4 years and still run great and without maintenance.

    But there is no reason for the hatred of Windows here. It took Microsoft many years to make a good product but Win 7 was excellent, Win 8.1 even if controversial was very solid. Win 10 looks good but I have not tried it yet. OSX Lion was great but the OS that gave me the most problems in recent years was Yosemite.
     
  17. Melrose, Dec 8, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015

    Melrose Suspended

    Melrose

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    #17
    Here's a useless anecdote for you: I used to work for this guy who kind of fancied himself as a "web design guru" (complete with earring, goatee, and new-age Hindu-style bracelets). Anyway, I went from working on a $250 11" Dell Inspiron 1100 to my first Mac, a 17" Pro that I got refurbished. This is back when the bigger laptops inherently had much better performance for Photoshop stuff.

    So the day after I get I go into his office for work, and he sees my new computer and asks how much I spent on it. I tell him I paid $2400 and start going into the specs. He stops typing on his loose clattery keyboard, cuts me off with one of his sensible, condescending chuckles and says he only spent $600 or something on his machine - he picks it up this 17" Dell monstrosity and it's an inch thicker than mine, the lid is 0.5" thick and doesn't meet flush with the case, it has DVI and VGA ports on the back, fugly stickers all over, and it literally creaks in his hands because it's so poorly assembled.

    I laughed, because honestly it was so comical I thought he was making a joke... he wasn't, so I had to stop laughing and get to work. An hour or so later I hear him chuckling again and he says he was just thinking again about how much I spent on a computer and how little he spent for his.

    ...no reason at all except personal experience. But I guess if you happen to disagree with that it means I'm being illogical. . :p

    What? It took Microsoft many years to polish the turd. That's the high and low of it.
     
  18. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

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    Midwest US
    #18
    Melrose put it rather crudely, but he has the better of the argument. You can try to teach a pig to sing, but you'll waste your time and annoy the pig.
     
  19. akimoriRyuuji macrumors regular

    akimoriRyuuji

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    #19
    The problem is that people are assuming that the negative feelings towards Microsoft and Windows are biased, simple hatred and pre-conceived.

    I don't blindly choose Apple simply because. I'm not made of money. I'm choosing Apple because (at least at the time) the Macbook Air was the best laptop for my $1K. I am saving money because I'm getting a laptop that will last me for some time to come and it will be the most satisfying purchase. The hardware is good and the OS stability (personally) has been excellent.

    Any time I come back to Microsoft products, which I WANT to like, I am burned time and time again. Instability, Unsatisfying ecosystem, Annoying and non-intuitive UI, etc.

    History: ME - Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 and even a Surface RT. And I am well aware of the fact that modern Surfaces have x86 processors and run "full windows" but that doesn't mean they are good tablets without any modern apps. Apologists will argue it doesn't matter with a web browser, etc. but it does. Use iOS and Android and you will find out why.

    Not that I'm saying OS X and iOS are perfect. But they are simply alot easier to use and I enjoy using them. And they suit my purposes fine.

    Again, have more to say but I gotta go.
     
  20. primotivo macrumors newbie

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    Jun 16, 2015
    #20
    I have a MBA and dual boot with bootcamp. If you're dead set on gaming don't get the MBA. Mac is top notch on build quality, stability and the software runs more efficiently because it doesn't need to built for a thousand possible hardware configurations. However, the MBA gets red hot running games like DOTA, LOL, or Smite whether you play through Win10 on bootamp or OSX.
     
  21. Melrose, Dec 8, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015

    Melrose Suspended

    Melrose

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    #21
    The reason I switched was reputation - I had never used Macs extensively but had gone through one nightmare with Windows after another and heard lovely things about Apple. Once I got a Mac, I couldn't believe how much easier the UI was - and they don't degenerate the longer I use them as my Windows computers always have.

    However, temporarily regarding OS choice as simply opinion and not quality, the customer service is enough to guarantee I will never buy a Windows computer. In my pre-Mac days, I'd call Sony/HP/Dell they brush me off on Microsoft. Call Mircosoft, get brushed off on Dell/whoever... no one ever takes responsibility and gives you help. I had a first-time free support call with Sony; I have an issue with my computer; I call Sony and an Indian-accented support rep told me to reboot the computer but he refused to stay on the line and said I had to call back - cha-ching! $50 on the next call 3 minutes later, which I paid, and after which he told me to call Microsoft because the problem wasn't Sony anyway. Microsoft told me it was Sony. Round and round we go. I ended up having to teach myself how to fix stuff like the system registry.

    Then on my MacBook Pro (the refurbished one), the lid latch fails; I'm a month out of AppleCare, and Apple ships out a box and replaces it free, and gives me a Magic Mouse on the house. Last month I accidentally chipped the glass on my last-gen iMac - Apple tells me it's accidental damage won't be covered, but "hold on I'll transfer you to a senior rep and he'll schedule your AppleStore visit." And her senior rep comes on, I tell him I live 1:20 from the Apple store, so he sets up a house call through a certified repair shop and he says "it's covered. They may charge for the house call but probably not." They didn't. I broke my own screen, and Apple fixed it without any hesitation.

    Customer for life.

    </rambling>

    Sorry if that came out offensive; I didn't necessarily mean it that way.
     
  22. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

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    #22
    Don't game with the Surface 4 Pro either. The OS is perfect for gaming but get yourself a desktop to experience PC gaming the way it is suppose to be experienced.
     
  23. Ben.D thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 20, 2015
    #23
    Thank you everyone for your help. Just as an update, I ended up choosing the Surface after comparing the two in-store.
    Seeing and comparing them, I just couldn't justify getting the Macbook.
    I was kind of expecting the Surface to be "just another Windows laptop", but the hardware is unbelievable. It actually makes Windows look and feel good unlike others I saw in store (HP, Dell, Asus, etc.).
     
  24. Melrose Suspended

    Melrose

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    #24
    I hope it works well for your needs - and I sincerely mean that. :)
     
  25. akimoriRyuuji macrumors regular

    akimoriRyuuji

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    #25
    It's not like you won't enjoy your experience. It will be an excellent note-taking device if anything else. But my argument was that if you wanted a laptop experience, and wanted to do light gaming, the Macbook would have been the better choice. And a pure tablet experience would be better enjoyed on the iPad or an Android tablet.

    Anyways, enjoy your new purchase. If all else, you have 2 weeks to change your mind :D

    One more thing, have you considered a Chromebook? I would have gotten one had I not needed something like the Macbook to program on. I know you said you wanted to do some gaming but it's just another thing to consider if you could weigh your needs and wants.

    But anyways, the deal is done. But for anyone else in the same boat.

    Question for OP: While it's a bit late to ask, what is your field of study if I may ask? That could have a bearing on your choice.
     

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