MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook)



  • So my friend is about to take some beginning c++ and R classes. His major is not comp science so this probably a one time semester usage. His laptop was purchased back in 2012... and take forever to load Windows 7.

    He is now looking for a new laptop for his classes. His options are Macbook Air 13" (he has iMac as his primary computer) or Surface Pro 4 (128GB/4GB/i5). Both is about $900-$1,000 USD.

    He's a casual computer guy. Facebook, youtube, netflix, hulu are pretty much it for him (as far as I know). Assuming the cost difference is not a big deal which one is a better option?

    *He couldn't afford to wait for surface 5 because of his classes.



  • If he already has a imac as his main computer he might like having an Air things will sync between the 2.

    Surface Pro sucks. Hard to use on your lap, dim screen, wifi issues, just to name a few problems.



  • wow - how did those two options rise to the top?

    Sadly, I'd have to say, if he likes his MAC, then the MAC air is probably good for him...



  • As @Dashrender said, neither one of these should be considered.

    Any machine from 2012 will work just fine unless it was a bottom of the barrel consumer laptop. Most likely his existing laptop just needs Windows reinstalled. A SSD or additional memory would not hurt, but for light usage and only a semester of real use, I would not bother.
    I work from a desktop purchased in 2010 and a laptop from 2011. Both have SSD and clean OS installs and run will with no issues.



  • Also, have him upgrade the laptop to Windows 10. It is 100% legally available for users that use any of the accessibility features.

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/windows10upgrade.
    0_1484807742870_upload-fa1ff7cc-e14f-4812-8c31-c5f3c80a83c0



  • @stess no need to change a machine from 2012, if it's not broken. I still use a MBP late 2011 as my main machine and it works great… absolutsly no need to buy other hardware if he is going to learn development stuff.

    If the laptop can run a Linux distro without melting, just use it and wipe Windows. It's 100 times better for development, especially for beginners.



  • If he's keen to spend money, why not rip out the old HDD and replace it with an SSD?



  • Those are both horrible options, why would he be limited to them. I'd accept neither. Both are expensive and not very good. Of the two, the Air is mediocre, the Surface is garbage. But neither would make my acceptable list in any way, especially not the Surface. For most programming you want Linux as your OS anyway. What is causing this bizarre requirement? Something is wrong somewhere.



  • back up the data, list some of the applications he uses and TnL the Windows 7 laptop.

    TnL - Toast and Load

    It's likely that WIndows has become very bloated and would be best to do a refresh on it. You can also replace the HDD with a SSD for added speed, More Memory never hurts either.

    *IF* he is open to the idea, as @scottalanmiller mentioned, look at a Linux Distro such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint. Nearly every application you mentioned is web and therefore browser based and fine regardless of OS or Kernel.

    the MS Surface is junk,.. and not geared for programming.



  • Thank you for all the replies.

    I already upgrade his laptop with SSD, but the processor is just crap (IDK which one he had). His laptop is a low-end kind of laptop. He just want to kick things up a notch.

    These two options were proposed by him. I do not have experience with neither, so I seek help from mangolassians.

    The primary purpose for the air and surface would be casual use.
    Why would surface Pro a bad option?

    Some of you asked how did these two become the top choices? He wants something light that wouldn't feel like carrying a brick in his bag. If you have other suggestions please let me know.



  • Surface would be taking things down a notch. Low end garbage.



  • @stess said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    Thank you for all the replies.

    I already upgrade his laptop with SSD, but the processor is just crap (IDK which one he had). His laptop is a low-end kind of laptop. He just want to kick things up a notch.

    These two options were proposed by him. I do not have experience with neither, so I seek help from mangolassians.

    The primary purpose for the air and surface would be casual use.
    Why would surface Pro a bad option?

    Some of you asked how did these two become the top choices? He wants something light that wouldn't feel like carrying a brick in his bag. If you have other suggestions please let me know.

    I've returned the Surface 4 last month, and I also made a review of it in my blog. Is not. That bad, but… you can buy better hardware for the same money.

    Consider some Thinkpad or Dell business line, they are usually a good investment.



  • For programming, CPU doesn't matter. You can do programming perfectly well on a Raspberry Pi (I'm not recommending that, just pointing it out.) All you need is a text editor, really. I prefer low powered things for programming because it encourages me to keep things simple. Really, Chromebooks often work. But a low power machine with Linux Mint or Korora is often ideal. Light and simple, but Linux is far better suited to programming tasks than Mac or Windows, IMHO. Some people prefer Mac, but I've never found someone give me a technical reason for this, it's always just hipsters.



  • @Francesco-Provino said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    @stess said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    Thank you for all the replies.

    I already upgrade his laptop with SSD, but the processor is just crap (IDK which one he had). His laptop is a low-end kind of laptop. He just want to kick things up a notch.

    These two options were proposed by him. I do not have experience with neither, so I seek help from mangolassians.

    The primary purpose for the air and surface would be casual use.
    Why would surface Pro a bad option?

    Some of you asked how did these two become the top choices? He wants something light that wouldn't feel like carrying a brick in his bag. If you have other suggestions please let me know.

    I've returned the Surface 4 last month, and I also made a review of it in my blog. Is not. That bad, but… you can buy better hardware for the same money.

    Consider some Thinkpad or Dell business line, they are usually a good investment.

    We support a lot of them for customers and they are literally the most unreliable, overpriced stuff we've ever touched. We expect a failure rate around 50%. We literally have to charge extra if clients use them because they are so expensive to support.



  • Surface Pro's are good for boardrooms and some other limited cases BUT that's providing that:

    • nothing goes wrong with them
    • you can stand the flimsy keypad/type cover (also, this wears REALLY fast)
    • you buy an over priced dock and defeat the purpose of the design (mobility)

    Windows in a sealed fragile form factor is a bad idea when things go wrong. The magic smoke gets out far too easily 😉 lol

    MBA and SP are really overpriced toys IMO.

    You/he would be better off with Dell, HPE or Toshiba



  • @nadnerB said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    If he's keen to spend money, why not rip out the old HDD and replace it with an SSD?

    THIS x100!!!

    I put an SSD in my late 2011 MBP and it was like getting a new computer. What a huge difference in speed!!



  • @stess said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    Thank you for all the replies.

    I already upgrade his laptop with SSD, but the processor is just crap (IDK which one he had). His laptop is a low-end kind of laptop. He just want to kick things up a notch.

    What kind of things is he wanting to kick up a notch? websurfing? paying video games? listening to music? What's the actual complain - let me guess - it just feels slow.

    As for what he should get? The Dell XPS or the HP Spector x360 or the HP Elitebook x360 should be great devices. Though I think they might be a bit higher starting prices.



  • @Dashrender said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    @stess said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    Thank you for all the replies.

    I already upgrade his laptop with SSD, but the processor is just crap (IDK which one he had). His laptop is a low-end kind of laptop. He just want to kick things up a notch.

    What kind of things is he wanting to kick up a notch? websurfing? paying video games? listening to music? What's the actual complain - let me guess - it just feels slow.

    As for what he should get? The Dell XPS or the HP Spector x360 or the HP Elitebook x360 should be great devices. Though I think they might be a bit higher starting prices.

    https://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Dell-XPS-13-9360-Signature-Edition-Laptop/productID.5078713400

    Students might still get an additional % off too from the MicrosoftStore. Signature Edition or nothing for consumer builds, imo.



  • @stess said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    Thank you for all the replies.

    I already upgrade his laptop with SSD, but the processor is just crap (IDK which one he had). His laptop is a low-end kind of laptop. He just want to kick things up a notch.

    So his pr0n is buffering too much?

    You should take his actual, real world requirements (not wants, big difference) and his budget, then find a suitable device instead of taking 2 piss-poor suggestions from your "casual computer guy" friend and making us tell you which is the least crappy. Those both suck, he only knows those devices because of advertising (which is the absolute last place to ever get advice on what to buy).



  • @RojoLoco said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    So his pr0n is buffering too much?

    That would be a really shitty home wireless. Porn sites are some of the most stable things around.

    Too much money to loose to a competitor if it buffers too long.



  • I like my Asus. Better and cheaper than either of those options.



  • @Tim_G said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    I like my Asus. Better and cheaper than either of those options.

    That's what I use too.



  • MRW I was going to post about how my Surface Pro 4 is lovely, and then I see all of the comments.
    AXzU1wl.png



  • @JaredBusch said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    @RojoLoco said in MacBook Air or Surface Pro 4 for beginning coding and casual use (youtube/facebook):

    So his pr0n is buffering too much?

    That would be a really shitty home wireless. Porn sites are some of the most stable things around.

    Too much money to loose to a competitor if it buffers too long.

    Is that why my... um, his porn is buffering so much?


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