I have used Apple products for my entire working life as an adult. Post college I went into debt and bought a 17” MacBook Pro, because I thought I needed it to be taken seriously and to become an editing juggernaut. Also, I probably still have back/shoulder problems from lugging that thing all over the place for years, in addition to realizing that I have no desire to be an “editing juggernaut”…
I’m not sure when exactly my disillusionment with Apple began. If I had to pinpoint a moment, I’d say it was when they redesigned and unveiled the new Final Cut Pro (X, they called it, which confused everyone, because we all assumed they meant 10, because Roman Numerals, but that was confusing, because the previous version was 7… alas, no, it was just X…).
So much hype for a program that essentially, at least in that iteration, turned out to be what many of us referred to as iMovie Pro. And I think that’s what started the drip feed into my mind. Apple made it sound so revolutionary, that it was exactly what we needed, even though we didn’t quite know or realize it yet… which was obviously NOT the case. I remember downloading the free demo, using it for 10 minutes and then immediately uninstalling it from my system. I was that angry, frustrated and unimpressed.
So eventually, after Final Cut 7 started slowing down and feeling like it was on its last leg, I made the switch to Adobe Premiere Pro. Logically it made sense. I was already using Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects, etc. Why not have everything be seamless? Also, it was around this time that the Creative Cloud became a thing and even financially it made a lot more sense. More on the cloud later…
Fast forward to the fall of 2016. I’m doing most of my editing work on a late 2013 15” MacBook Pro. It has served me well but now that I shoot video primarily on my Sony FS7 and have some clients that are asking for 4K, my poor laptop just couldn’t really handle it anymore. I was having to watch footage back and edit in usually ¼ resolution, which, quite honestly, just sucks. Yes, Adobe did introduce the ability to make proxy files (sorry, this is super nerdy, I won’t go into it…) but the time it took to create those files was a massive time killer for me. Render and export times had also slowed to an excruciatingly long amount of time. Time that I couldn’t justify charging for.
I thought about building a “Hackintosh”. I thought about building a PC outright. I then realized that with all of the traveling that I have been doing for work, it makes no sense to spend all of my cash on building a desktop. This does nothing to eliminate the problem of having to be able to work on the go. So I decided to wait it out for the new MacBook Pro.
And then Apple finally introduces it. So much anticipation. So much build up. So much disappointment. Old Intel processors. 16GB of RAM, max. AMD video card (which does not play as nice with Adobe software). But the coup de grâce for me was thoroughly insulting my intelligence by calling the Touch Bar a “touch of genius”. Really? A tiny strip that takes my attention away from the screen that I have to kinda squint at to see what’s happening? Like this is pushing my editing workflow forward in a compelling new way? This is genius?
And honestly, I probably would have been more stoked about it had I not recently seen, and I had no idea about this, that PC laptops were now coming with 4K touchscreens. TOUCHSCREENS! Not a tiny little strip that lets you pick emojis faster. No. An entire screen to pick your emojis faster!
In addition, I hated the new keyboard and I was baffled at only including USB-C.
Grumbles aside, I wasn’t actually tempted to switch sides in the great Apple vs. PC war until I saw the prices of the new MacBook Pro. I would LOVE for someone to explain to me what Apple was thinking with this. The prices are so outrageously over the top that unless China/Japan/Taiwan/wherevertheyregettingpartsfrom jacked up the prices for components or the exchange rate has gone completely off the rails, I cannot begin to understand why they’re so expensive. Not to mention the DONGLES.
So, deflated, I started looking around. The thought of actually switching to a Windows based system made me slightly queasy, mostly because I remembered from years and years and years ago what it was like, and that all you hear about are viruses and malware and things going wrong. At least that’s all that I heard as an Apple fanboy who had not legitimately looked into things for years on years on years.
After wandering around a Best Buy (woof) and more successfully the Microsoft Store (shockingly less woof) and after doing quite a bit of research and narrowing things down, I settled on the Dell XPS 15. I only made this decision after the new version, recently released, came out. I watched head to head videos comparing the MacBook Pro vs. the XPS 15 when it came to rendering and exporting in Adobe Premiere and was blown away by the results of the XPS 15. And this was the older version of the laptop, far less powerful than the new version I was looking in to.
The consensus of most of these YouTube comparisons was, if you’re using Apple’s software; Final Cut Pro, etc., there’s no reason for you to consider switching. If, however, you primarily live in Adobelandia, there’s no real justifiable reason to stick around if you’re talking about PERFORMANCE… aesthetics aside.
Outside of performance, there was the cost. This was the final nail in the coffin. Here’s the breakdown of what I was looking at. We’ll start with Apple:
The above is for a loaded 15″ MacBook Pro, with an OLD, 6th Generation Intel Processor, maxed out at 16GB of RAM. I have also included Apple Care, which you can only purchase with a 3-year length, and every dongle that I would need to make this function in the same manner as the Dell XPS 15 (with the addition of a Thunderbolt 2 dongle, so I could keep using those drives). I also forgot to include the USB-C to HDMI dongle, which is another $49. Which takes us to a total price over $4,300.
And now on to the Dell:
A few things here. When I purchased my XPS 15, they were including a year of premium customer service for free. I added a year of repair. Those are both reflected here only I did not have to pay the $99 for the year of customer service. Why only a year? Because I didn’t want to spend the extra money right now AND it was an option given to me.
Also, when I purchased mine, Dell was offering $250 off of the total price. Even as I type this, they’re offering 10% off their XPS line, which would roughly give you the same deal. Actually a few dollars better.
In addition, I chose to buy the 16GB of RAM version because, with Dell, you can still replace and upgrade your own parts. With Apple, what you get is what you get. Everything is soldered on to the motherboard. I guess in theory you could get parts upgraded, but at what cost? So I could buy the 32GB version for an extra $300, or get the 16GB version, spend around $200 and upgrade myself. I could then turn around and sell the 16GB that came with the computer to recover some of the cost or give it to a friend or WHATEVER. So that’s what I chose to do.
So with the discount, the final price I paid for my loaded Dell XPS 15 with the new generation Intel processor, Nvidia graphics card with 4GB of RAM on board, 15″ 4K Touchscreen, 16GB of RAM, Fingerprint Scanner, 2 USB 3 ports, 1 USB-C port, SD Card Slot & HDMI port: $2,214.52.
After spending $200 to upgrade the RAM to 32GB: $2,414.52
So, again, I spent $2,414.52 on the Dell XPS 15 vs. $4,341.94 on the MacBook Pro.
That’s a savings of $1,927.42
Can you see why I made the switch?
In my next post (or two, depending on how long-winded I am…), I’ll go over my experience thus far, how I royally effed up the computer 4 days in, how it worked better once I restored everything (still baffled by this one), the quirks and frustrations of the switch, and the applications I’m using to help ease the transition from Mac to PC.