Ask LH: Should I Buy An Apple MacBook Pro Or Microsoft Surface Pro 4?

Dear Lifehacker, I am looking for a new laptop. After pricing up a few different options I’ve settled on either a MacBook Pro or a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (i5, 256gb). They are similar specs for a similar price. As much as I prefer OSX, I’m leaning towards the Surface because it doubles as a tablet. Am I making the right decision or should I stick with Apple?

Also, since the end of the financial year is coming up, is it worth waiting for a sale? I know Apple doesn’t often give out huge discounts on their products, but I am not sure about Microsoft. Am I likely to get an EOFY discount if I buy the Surface Pro? Thanks, LaptopBuyer

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Dear LaptopBuyer,

The first question to ask yourself is: what will your laptop be chiefly used for? If it’s mainly for entertainment purposes, you should probably stick with the OS you’re familiar with. In addition to eliminating potential frustrations, this will allow you to keep using the applications you know and love. (While it’s possible to run OSX on a Surface Pro 4, first-party hardware will obviously make for a smoother, bug-free experience.)

On the other hand, if you intend to mainly use the laptop for work, it makes sense to go with your company’s preferred operating system. This will increase the likelihood of company software running on your machine and should also help with IT support.

For the rest of the article, we’re going to assume you mainly want a laptop for personal use. If you vastly prefer Macs, it doesn’t make much sense to swap to Windows just for the “free” tablet. Bear in mind that the Surface Pro 4 doesn’t come with a keyboard — you’ll need to buy the Type Cover separately which will set you back an extra $249.

It also comes with a single USB port, while the equivalent MacBook Pro packs in two, along with a pair of Thunderbolt 2 ports and a HDMI outlet. If you like OSX, the MacBook Pro is simply a better computer out of the box.

Besides, do you actually see yourself using a 12-inch tablet on a regular basis? For most users, eight to 10 inches is the sweet spot for tablet size — 12 inches can be a bit cumbersome, especially during commutes on public transport. Once you factor in the cost of the Type Cover and connectivity hub, you could probably buy a cheap tablet alongside the MacBook and still come out on top.

As to the second part of your question, we usually advise against holding off for potential sales. The nature of commerce means there’s always going to be a cheaper deal around the corner, no matter when you buy. However, in this case we’re only talking about a couple of months, so there’s really no harm in waiting. Keep an eye out for EOFY deals at places like JB Hi-Fi: you might be able to snag 10-20% off the RRP. Best of luck!


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