What to buy? New Macbook Pro vs. New Surface Book

This was an exciting week for the big two. Microsoft unveiled its new Surface Book on Wednesday, October 26th, and Apple followed suit the next day with their new Macbook Pros. This left me wanting both laptops so I have a big decision to make!

This article isn’t about all the new features of these products but I will just give a small snippet of the big differences for those of you who haven’t seen the multitude of coverage already:

Review of new technology in both systems

Late 2016 New MacBook Pros:

  • New ‘Touch Bar’ allows for dynamic control of content, settings and actions that adapts to the app you are using
  • Upgraded to Intel 6th generation processors
  • Better screen brightness and colour range
  • Dedicated graphics on 15″ (Radeon)
  • Larger trackpad and 2nd gen butterfly switched (similar to the MacBook keyboard)
  • Thinner (who knew?)
  • and of course, as they never fail to mention it is their “best MacBook ever”…

Surface Book with Performance Base:

  • As the name suggests, they added higher-performance dedicated graphics to the base (Nvidia)
  • up to 16 hrs battery life (with base attached)

As you can tell from above, Apple was more innovative in their laptops this year (rather Microsoft’s big reveal was their Microsoft Surface Studio All-in-one). However, we can’t forget that the Surface book already has some great innovation built-in!

Comparison by price and specs

So, let’s get right into it. The pricing for both of these systems are quite evenly matched but I created a price-by-price specs-based comparison. Based on that data, it would appear that the new MacBook Pros are a better bang for your buck. Now, keep in mind that a comparison of specs vs. price is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more that needs to be compared here. However, note that all of the internals have received performance upgrades this year for the MacBook Pro while the Surface Book with Performance Base only received a boost in graphics performance. The MacBook Pro has 2133 MHz clock speed ram and new PCIe-based SSDs which should make a significant difference in file transfer and multitasking.

Everyone has their own unique idea of their ideal laptop and then they make compromises to save money and start valuing different features over others. At least this is how I usually end up making my decision. So, although it is a unique decision-making process for every individual, there are two categories of laptop users that I have a strong recommendation for:

Design Professional who primarily uses Adobe Creative Cloud (Adobe CC):

This user should definitely consider a Surface Book with Performance Base over the new MacBook Pros and this is not even because of the digitizer on the Surface Book series. A lot of people would recommend the Surface Book to designers because of the digitizer but a lot of pro designers already have their preferred way to draw. This recommendation is because several Adobe CC apps now support GPU acceleration to borrow processing power from the computers GPU to speed up rendering for example. AMD cards do not support this whereas Nvidia cards do! So that fancy 4GB AMD card on your new MacBook Pro 15″ for $2700 will not be helping you much!

Apple Developer:

This is something I was struggling with up until now. I have a couple ideas for iOS apps and am looking to partner with a team of other developers to make an app or two. I bought a new laptop recently (Dell Inspiron) with the intention of using VMWare Workstation to create a virtual MacOS setup and save some money since I didn’t need a laptop that costs me an arm and a leg! After a couple months, huge regrets… It’s definitely not the same which is why I will be turning to the new MacBook Pros. They have new 6th gen processors (I wish they were 7th gen…), excellent battery life, faster RAM, faster SSD storage, they look and feel beautiful, I’m not worrying too much about graphics and most of all, it will work beautifully with XCode! The new touchbar will contain your favourite tools as well for even faster coding!

Everyone Else

If you haven’t made up your mind yet, I don’t blame you! A laptop purchase decision is something that should take more research than one article but I hope this article did help shed some light. My last advice, if you are looking to save some money but still want a MacBook whether you are an Apple developer or prefer MacOS, considering getting the previous generation MacBook! When it comes to specs, the processor is merely less efficient and the RAM clock speed is slow but it is still a very capable machine. Plus, you could spend the extra money on a bigger hard drive! If you do not have a preference of OS or like Windows better, the Surface Pro 4 is a cheap and powerful alternative as well!

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