Transitioning from MacBook Pro to Windows
June 19, 2020 3:00 PM   Subscribe

I switched from Windows to Mac in 2013 and haven't had a Windows machine since. I'm considering switching back, and am wondering what brands/models might hit the things I like about Macs - without the drawback of paying a lot of money for faulty hardware.

My first Macbook Pro (2013) was wonderful and lasted for years. My second Macbook Pro (2017) has had problems that are frustrating and expensive to fix. It has the defective butterfly keyboard, which they repaired for free once but is now broken again. Its USB-C ports have also loosened over time - one is unusable, one is inconsistent, and the two others are probably living on borrowed time. Together it might cost close to $1000 to fix these problems, in the worse case scenario, which is pushing into "consider buying a new laptop territory" for me.

What I like about the Mac though, is the user experience. When I left Windows, it was a bloated, crufty mess - hard to get a machine you didn't have to wipe and reinstall in order to clean up, and I just didn't like the changes they had made to the UI. The Mac's experience is more slick and seamless, which I really like. The machines are just physically appealing as well... I like the aesthetics, overall, much more than I liked what Windows was doing back then.

So.... what would you recommend I look at, if I'm considering Windows? Some considerations:

- I'm on my laptop a lot and a machine that is a pleasure to use is important to me

- Ability to handle large Photoshop-type files gracefully is a must

- Ability to play AAA games is a possible wish (can be dropped if too $$$)

- A nice balance between price point and durability/longevity is important to me

- I would like to get a machine without a lot of infuriating cruft

And since I've been out of the Windows world for so long, is there anything I should know about current Windows that might be important as I'm making up my mind?
posted by Kutsuwamushi to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The usual answer is to start with The Wirecutter's recommendations. They suggest solutions from the cheapest to the highest performance.

Lenovo Thinkpads are business oriented but very repairable and durable.

Dell business machines are well regarded. The Dell XPS 13 is one of the more popular ultralight machines.
posted by blob at 8:21 PM on June 19

I hear you about the 2017 MacBook Pro, it was a train wreck. The 2013 version was a high point and then in true Apple fashion they had to screw with a good thing.

I was going through a similar situation and ended up going with the 2020 13" Macbook Pro and I'll say this, they fixed the keyboard, it's great again. I've had it for 3 weeks now and it's like hanging out with an old friend. The sole exception is the idiotic Touch Bar which, as advertised, is completely useless.

But your question was about Windows. The Wirecutter reviews are a great place to start, but I suspect you are also looking for anecdotal evidence. A friend of mine took the plunge into Windows with the purchase of the Surface Book 3 which checks some boxes that the Mac can't, in particular, the ability to play AAA games which we all know the Mac is incapable of without heating up to the power of the sun. It will also handle Photoshop files probably better than the Mac, tbh.

So the second hand review is that the Surface Pro 3 is a solid, even lovable machine, albeit expensive. If going to a Microsoft store were a thing these days, you could see it in person and see if it fits.

So if you left Windows in 2013 that would have been Windows 8, in terms of the UI and general experience, Windows 10 refined and/or removed a lot of the issues that made that OS so unpopular. Windows 8 was radical in it's adoption of touch-screen interface that made no sense on a desktop. Windows 10 dialed that back so it's now a comfortable balance of the familiar Windows features (Start menu, for example) but with an up-to-date UI look.

But... it's still Windows underneath. It's not a UI that I would call "pleasurable", it's "predictable" and "reliable" and tbh that is most of what an OS should be. If you get a new 2020 MacBook you are forced to use the Catalina OS, which has had a really rough start and is just barely getting out of the weeds.

So, I dunno, the main thing I would say is try to get your hands on a new system to test it, if there's any way to do this safely. If you're looking for a pleasurable laptop, the devil is in the details: build quality, performance, etc. These things can only be evaluated in person.
posted by jeremias at 4:47 AM on June 20

I recently switched back to Windows after about 10 years on Macs. The price point for the specs and hardware I wanted was just too high.

I ended up getting an XPS 13. The main thing I've been missing is the ability to drag items to the Dock to open them, and some other small things like selecting an area of the screen in PrintScreen. Otherwise, I've figured out the equivalent for other things, and it's been fine, and even better for some things. Having a touch screen is handy, it was easier to install some open source software I use for work, closing a window actually closes a program, etc.
posted by damayanti at 5:22 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]

If you like the look and feel of Mac hardware, one thing you might consider is that with the Intel-based Macs, you can set it up to dual-boot between Windows and MacOS, or even make it a straight Windows machine. I have several friends in IT that have done this, because the Mac hardware is just so nice. (Still using my 2012 MB Air and 2008 cheese grater Mac Pro). Probably more expensive than a similarly-specced pure Windows machine, but you have the easy option of going back to MacOS (or dual-booting) if needed.
posted by xedrik at 8:49 AM on June 20

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