Apples-to-Oranges comparison: Which should I bring to work?
September 15, 2017 4:05 PM   Subscribe

Please excuse the pun in the title. I'm looking for a way to meaningfully compare two slightly older computers so I can decide which one to bring to work.

I'm a math teacher who's been the owner of a MacBook Air circa 2011 or so. It runs well, upgraded to OS X 10.11.6, the main drawback is that the battery doesn't hold charge like it used to, especially when the internal fan comes on, which it will because the underside get hot when it's working hard.

At the same time, my employers gave me a Lenovo Thinkpad, which is a dark grey brick of a thing running Windows 7, don;t know how old it is. My experience with Windows ended around 2002, when XP was still riding high. The reason I needed the Thinkpad is because it came installed with SMART Notebook for the smartboard in my room -- I'm a math teacher. Now, as an educator, I can get a license for SMART Notebook for not too much, so I'm wondering whether it'd be easier on my back to bring the MBA back and forth to school rather than the Thinkpad.

My question is: what should I consider? Is there a way to compare the specs of these two very different machines and decide which one would be better for use in my class? What do I not know about the Thinkpad or about Windows 7 which might affect my decision?

(Mods: I beg forgiveness in advance that I may post more details about either machine below, if someone tells me how to pull specs from the Thinkpad.)
posted by The Pluto Gangsta to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
If the battery is the main issue with the Air, it's not that hard to replace. Here's one option.
posted by primethyme at 4:22 PM on September 15, 2017

Eh, I'd just use the OS that feels better. Performance is sufficient on both and thus hardly matters, and the battery hardly matters if you are mostly planning for classroom use (and it can be replaced).
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:41 PM on September 15, 2017

Absolutely agree with SaltySalticid and primethyme. Use whichever one you feel most comfortable with that gets the job done. You seem like you'd prefer the Macbook Air, so go with that. Get the software you need and also, if you haven't already, maybe do some diagnostics or take it to someone who knows what they're doing and see what's making the fan crank so high. Replace that. Consider replacing the HD with an SSD and upping your RAM too.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:48 PM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd check with your employer about using your personal laptop for work, it's very against the rules at my employer, although admittedly not in the education field.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:28 PM on September 15, 2017

OP, here's an article that compares Windows 10 with Mac O/S 10.13 High Sierra, the two operating systems that you'll eventually have to upgrade to in order to keep up with security updates and stuff. Personally, the amount of maintenance required to stay on top of the Windows security issues and sneakily embedded spyware in apps and problematic driver updates led me to switch to Macs for almost all of my computer needs. I still use Windows occasionally and feel that Win XP (the O/S without embedded ads!) was about as good as they're going to get, but a this point in time, I think that if you have a choice, Apple's O/S is safer and less troublesome, so use that if you can.

Here are two quick wikis on How To Check Your Windows specs and How To Check Your Mac specs on El Capitan.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:12 PM on September 15, 2017

Just wanted to 2nd that changing a battery in the Air was surprisingly easy and I am not in the habit of opening up my computers. So if you can confirm that's your only real problem it is an easy fix.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:03 AM on September 16, 2017

I also work in education and would check with your district. I use my work laptop to access student information protected by FERPA.
posted by Aranquis at 5:03 AM on September 16, 2017

Belated thanks everyone! Unfortunately the RAM cannot be upgraded on a Macbook Air, as it is soldered in place. But the battery can be replaced, which I'll do.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 1:56 PM on October 8, 2017

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