When you’re in the market for a new laptop, it can be overwhelming to choose between all the options out there. For instance, if you’re a software engineer, the laptop you choose will be different from someone who just needs to browse the internet and send a few emails.
We’ll narrow things down and compare the latest laptop models for two of the best laptop brands — Apple and Dell.
Of the two brands, Apple has the edge. With its focus on privacy, design, and stellar customer support, the brand has laptop options that cater to people from basic users to tech-savvy.
Diving deep through their specifications will help you determine which laptop brand is a better fit for you.
Apple is better because it has built trust into all aspects of its brand. From software and hardware to privacy and customer support, Apple has an advantage over the competition.
Privacy has become a commodity, but it’s different for Apple. Privacy is built into its products from the start and less data is tracked across apps, which means less of your information will be available for use by advertisers and other app developers.
For most people, the MacBook Air with Apple’s M1 processor will be the best laptop choice. It’s a powerhouse for basic uses like browsing the internet, writing documents, and creating spreadsheets. The M1 chip provides enough power for professional editing and even light gaming. Not to mention it has the longest battery life in the Macbook Air lineup to date at 18 hours.
Each brand has its strengths and will perform better depending on the situation. Apple has the advantage when it comes to privacy and customer support, but if you’re looking for a serious gaming laptop, Dell is the right choice.
Let’s dive deeper into the uses that set these brands apart from each other, so you can decide which one is best for you.
Choosing a laptop for creative and graphic design work is different from buying one for general use and gaming because the requirements are different. It boils down to an age-old debate between power and portability — you need enough power to run the design software, but it needs to be light enough to carry around to clients, too.
Apple has a clear advantage in the market for being known as the industry standard for professionals in the creative industry. A big perk is the Apple ecosystem in general. If you have a MacBook, iMac, iPhone, or iPad — they all talk to each other, which makes sharing files between devices with AirDrop an easy way to showcase your work no matter where you are.
Another big factor is the screen you’re working on. Apple has developed retina display screens, which have a higher pixel density than others on the market. Retina display improves your viewing experience by increasing color accuracy and improving content detail. This means if you’re zooming in closely on a design, you’ll be able to see the full detail — no blur or pixelation.
Dell doesn’t have the same reputation that Apple does, but the brand is catching up in terms of features. If you want to stick with Windows OS, consider the Dell XPS 15 as an alternative to Apple. You’re able to upgrade the RAM for faster processing and rendering, which isn’t an option with Apple.
Gaming laptops are in a world of their own. They require a high-performing graphics card with fast processing speeds so there is no lag time when you’re playing online. Most high-end gaming laptops run Nvidia’s RTX card.
The refresh rate of your monitor is also an important factor to take into account when it comes to gaming. Refresh rate is the amount of times per second your monitor can load a new image, so the higher the refresh rate, the smoother the gameplay experience will be.
Dell has a clear advantage when it comes to gaming. The company has developed its own gaming brand called Alienware, which was built with serious gamers in mind.
The Alienware Area-51m runs the latest Nvidia RTX card, features a 17.3″ FHD display, and comes standard with Intel’s i7 8-core processor that can be clocked up to 4.8GHz. For games that take advantage of multiple CPU cores, the Area-51m will be able to render them faster and deliver solid performance. It’s also compatible with popular virtual reality tools like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
On the other hand, Apple focuses heavily on optimizing software versus hardware. The brand has reduced the number of ports on its laptops over the past few years, which limits the number of peripherals you can hook up like controllers and headsets. In most cases, the hardware isn’t customizable either, so you’re not able to upgrade the graphics card or processor. Not to mention, most games aren’t available for the macOS.
It’s possible to do light gaming on a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, but these laptops are not equipped to handle the graphics and processing requirements for most modern gaming.
Convenience, capability, and operating systems play a major role in how you experience and navigate your laptop. A lot of it depends on personal preference, but there are some key differences here between Apple and Dell.
Apple is unique in the fact that it designs its own operating system and hardware to work together without a hitch — no third parties necessary. The Apple OS provides a smooth user experience, offers constant updates pushed directly to the computer, and includes a lot of native productivity apps like Pages and Notes.
If you have a collection of Apple devices, they’re all capable of instantly talking to each other. So if you’re working on a document on your laptop, you can easily pick up right where you left off on your iPhone or iPad too. This feature alone makes using Apple devices every day a seamless experience, but they can be pricey.
Dell’s focus is more on hardware, providing more options to customize the internal parts of your computer for more memory and processing power. The computers are designed with components from multiple sources, so there isn’t one straightforward update process like with Apple. Each software update will run on its own schedule, which can be hard to maintain and lead to vulnerabilities.
Dell was originally started as PC’s Limited in 1984 by Michael Dell when he was a student at the University of Texas. By 1986, Dell had established itself as a leader in the industry by focusing on delivering quality customer experience with risk-free returns and at-home product assistance. Today, Dell ranks as the second largest PC vendor in the U.S. with over 27% of the market share.
With such a variety of laptops to choose from, Dell provides a spectrum when it comes to performance.
If you’re a basic, everyday user, the Inspiron series will deliver on all fronts. With touch screen capabilities, these laptops are ideal for streaming movies, checking email, and some basic productivity tasks.
If you work or run your business on your laptop, you’ll want more power and features than what the Inspiron series has to offer. The XPS series offers ultra-high-definition screens, longer battery life, sleek design, more processing power, and better build quality.
Performance is relative to what you’ll be doing on your laptop, so if you’re doing more than browsing the web and checking email, spring for the XPS series.
Battery life is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a new laptop. You don’t want your workday or client meeting to be ruined because you forgot to charge the computer the night before.
You need a laptop that’ll last on its own for more than a few hours away from a charger, but how long your computer lasts off the charger depends on the type of activities you’re doing. For instance, editing photos in Lightroom will expend more of the battery than just watching Netflix.
If you need a real workhorse, Dell’s Latitude 9510 is touted as the brand’s longest-running business PC ever with up to 34 hours and 11 minutes of battery life. Take those numbers with a grain of salt, but many people are getting 18+ hours of battery while taking into account different uses, configurations, and software.
Dell’s line of laptops ranges from budget-friendly to top-of-the-line expensive, with a host of different options in between. Price is typically connected to performance — so the more features, processing power, and memory you get, the higher the price will be.
If price is a concern, Dell’s Inspiron series is right for you. With options starting under $400, you’ll be able to find a laptop that performs well for everyday use like taking lecture notes, basic photo editing, browsing online, managing your budget spreadsheet, etc. There are even some touch-screen laptops too.
If you’re looking for a higher-end laptop with more business capabilities, check out Dell’s XPS series. With three screen size options — 13,15, and 17 inches — the XPS series provides power, portability, and decent battery life for the price. The XPS 15 starts at just over $1,000 and will be a reliable option for most people.
Gaming laptops deserve a category of their own since it’s such a specific use case. Dell’s Alienware series is perfect for this, but expect to pay at least $1,200 for a basic configuration. Some laptops can even go above $4,000 once they’re fully upgraded.
Dell has been a leader in the PC market for a while and for good reason. With a variety of options for everyday use, business purposes, and gaming, Dell has something for everyone.
Apple was originally founded by Steve Jobs, Ron Wayne, and Steve Wozniak in 1976. The company produced one of the most successful PCs to hit the market, the Apple II. Today, Apple ranks as the third largest PC vendor in the U.S., with over 16% of the market share.
One of the core values at Apple is privacy — the company believes privacy is a fundamental human right. Privacy is important, especially in the world of digital advertising, because apps will collect data on how you interact with them. Companies will use that data to build an online persona of who you are and use it to market products to you.
Apple’s web browser, Safari, uses Intelligent Tracking Prevention to help you stay hidden from advertisers on the web by blocking tracking cookies. This means you won’t see ads directed to you based on your Google search history.
If you send a message or Facetime on your laptop, that’s protected too. All of your conversations are encrypted, so that means neither Apple nor the stranger next to you can read anything while it’s being sent. Since Apple develops its own software, this protection is included with all of its laptops and across most of its apps.
A big differentiator between Apple and other brands is its dedication to quality customer support. If something is physically wrong with your laptop, you can schedule an appointment at a ‘Genius Bar’ in one of their retail stores.
Apple doesn’t fall short in online support either. All of your questions can be answered in the comfort of your own home. Whether it’s on the phone, through live chat, via email or Tweet, Apple’s customer support is reliable and convenient.
AppleCare is Apple’s warranty program with hardware, tech, and software support rolled into one package. All of its laptops come with a standard 1-year warranty and 90 days of free tech support. Once the 90 are up, you’ll have to purchase AppleCare+, which gives you 24/7 access to priority customer support and an extended hardware warranty.
Apple laptops are not cheap. The brand’s most entry-level laptop, the MacBook Air, will cost you over $1000. But this doesn’t stop people from buying them because frankly, MacBooks are worth it — especially if you already use another Apple device like an iPhone or iPad.
Apple doesn’t have a large variety of laptops in its range like Dell does, so it really comes down to two options. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly laptop, choose the MacBook Air. If you can afford the price tag and want better performance, the MacBook Pro is for you.
If buying a brand new Apple laptop isn’t in the cards for you, Apple sells certified refurbished models at a discount. They’re also backed by a 1-year warranty, so this is a great option if you can find the model you’re looking for.
Apple stands out from the crowd in a few ways: privacy, customer support, and convenience. You’ll pay a higher price tag, but the seamless integration between Apple’s software and hardware are worth it.
Purchasing the right laptop depends on how you plan to use it.
Here’s why a Dell laptop would be the right purchase for you:
Here’s why an Apple laptop would be the right purchase for you:
Comparisons of all the best laptop brands:
Marcus has a graduate degree in computer engineering and has many years of experience in cutting-edge technology research and development in both startups and Fortune 500 corporations. In his free time, he enjoys RTS gaming.
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