Laptop Apple Windows. 4 reasons to ditch your old MacBook for a Windows laptop
Mac vs. PC: Which Laptop is Better for You?
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If you’re in the market for a new laptop for school or work, and have already ruled out getting a Chromebook, you’re left with two choices: Mac, or PC.
The “Mac vs. PC” debate has been going on for more than 35 years, with Apple and Microsoft stoking the flames every few years, especially through marketing (also see: iPhone vs. Android, Headphones vs. Earbuds, etc). But, which one is actually better for your work? There’s no wrong answer, but we’ve broken down the main differences and similarities below, so you can make the right choice.
We’ve also recommended both a Mac and PC, so you’ll know exactly what to get once you’ve made your decision.
What is the Difference Between a Mac and PC?
The hardware differences between both platforms closed dramatically once Apple moved from using PowerPC to Intel processors in the mid 00s. All Macs and most PCs run on Intel processors, have roughly 8GB (Gigabytes) of memory, 256GB of storage, an integrated graphics chip, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, and a built-in webcam. This common baseline of hardware is pretty good, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Apple’s laptops have transitioned to having one type of port: Thunderbolt 3, which means you’ll need a special cable or adapter to connect your machine to a TV, camera memory card, or older accessories. Many PCs still have dedicated ports like an SD Card Slot, USB-A port, and HDMI port, which don’t require you to use an adapter for those common tasks.
The biggest difference between Mac and PC hardware is the amount of choice you have. A majority of PCs running Windows come from third-party companies, with tech specs that can vary wildly. If you have a highly specific computer in mind — high amounts of memory, touch screen, lots of ports, no webcam, excellent speakers — PC laptops are the right way to go. Apple is the only company that makes Macs; they follow a pretty strict set of guidelines in terms of build quality and design philosophy, and your choices boil down to three machines that can be customized slightly. By controlling all Mac hardware, Apple has the ability to make sure all of its computers meet a strict standard for quality. There isn’t anything quite like that on the PC side, but again, you have many more options.
Windows 10 vs. MacOS
Mac and PC hardware has been drifting closer to one another over the past 15 years, but their software is still very different.
MacOS is part of Apple’s larger software ecosystem, which includes iOS on iPhone and iPads, WatchOS on the Apple Watch, and tvOS on Apple TV. Some of these platforms have the same apps, and are designed to work with one another. For example: You can send an iMessage to a friend on your iPhone, receive their reply on your Apple Watch, and respond using your Mac.
Notes, iMessages, calendars, photos, and data stored on iCloud Drive are synced between all of your devices through apps built right into those operating systems. In some cases you can recreate this experience using third-party apps available on multiple platforms, but Apple’s experience is generally more seamless.
Windows, on the other hand, is a more “open” platform. Windows is available on a wide range of machines built by several different companies, and Microsoft hasn’t made a lot of headway into the tablet and smartphone market. If you’re using a PC, you’re likely using a mix of Apple and Google hardware, too. So, instead of having a built-in seamless experience between all of your devices, you’ll have to rely on third-party apps.
The upside there is that the marketplace for software — both free and paid — is enormous on Windows. There are often dozens of options for any particular task, so you won’t have to hunt around very long to find one. Both software platforms have there upside and downsides, but there’s one place where Windows has a truly substantial lead: Games. Windows is a gaming platform, MacOS is not. In many cases, game designers cannot afford — literally — to rewrite their games for an operating system with a totally different structure.
The most substantial difference between MacOS and Windows is that because MacOS is less popular (less than 10% of computers run it), it’s a lot less attractive to people writing viruses. MacOS also has a few additional safeguards in place to help most users avoid Malware by limiting their access to the computer’s file system. Windows may not have all of the same safeguards, but Microsoft has been diligent about patching security holes quickly to keep users safe.
Is a Mac or PC Laptop Better?
While the differences between Macs and PCs have waned over the years, both platforms are very strong. You’ll be able to accomplish the same sets of tasks: Writing, creating spreadsheets or slideshow, photo, video, or image editing, and streaming videos without facing a lot of performance hitches.
If you prefer Apple’s tech, and don’t mind accepting that you’ll have fewer hardware choices, you’re better of getting a Mac. If you’d like more hardware choices, and want a platform that’s better for gaming, you should get a PC.
BEST MAC LAPTOP: MacBook Air
After many years of refinement, the current-generation 13-Inch MacBook Air is the ideal Mac laptop. It has a dual-core Intel i3 processor, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage, and a 13.3-inch high-resolution screen. The machine has a 720P HD web camera for video conferencing, and a Touch ID fingerprint reader, which allows you to unlock the computer without entering in a password.
This laptop features Apple’s T2 chip, which enables certain security features like automatically encrypting its SSD (solid state drive), and enabling Touch ID. Apple outfitted the 13-Inch MacBook Air with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, so you can charge the machine while having one free port for accessories. Apple says you can get up to 12 hours of use out of this laptop without having to charge it, but the amount you actually get depends on the apps you use, your screen brightness, and your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings.
Physically, the MacBook Air is made out of aluminum and weighs 2.8 pounds. It’s.63-inches thick at its largest point, and tapers down to.16 inches at its thinnest point. This is a laptop you can take with you in a backpack without feeling weighed down. Although it’s very well-rounded, the MacBook Air’s integrated graphics card is its only real downside. This is a laptop powerful for light image and video editing, but it’s not suited for regularly handling 4K footage.
The 13-Inch MacBook Air is an excellent example of Apple’s minimalist design philosophy, and FOCUS on solid tech specs.
BEST PC LAPTOP: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Microsoft was late to the hardware game, but the Surface 3 proves just how much ground it’s made up over the last three years with a laptop that’s easy to use and easy to love.
The laptop has a quad-core Intel i5 processor, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage, and a high-resolution 13.5-inch touch screen. It has a 720P HD webcam, which can be used with Microsoft’s Windows Hello feature to scan your face and unlock your machine. Surprisingly, the Surface Laptop 3 supports Wi-Fi 6, the latest version of the wireless standard that allows you to use the internet a lot more quickly if you have the right router.
My Experience Running ONLY Windows on My MacBook Pro
This machine sports one USB-C port, one USB-A port, and Microsoft Surface Connect port, so you can plug in a wide range of accessories without needing an adapter. Speaking of accessories, you may want to get a Surface Pen, Microsoft’s stylus, if you intend to use the Surface Laptop 3’s screen as a drawing tablet.
Microsoft’s Surface 3 Laptop weighs 2.8 pounds, and is.57 inches thick all the way across, so it’s also very backpack-friendly. Like the MacBook Air, its only real technical downside is its integrated graphics chip, which matters more here because Windows is the dominant PC gaming platform. That aside, the Surface Laptop 3 is an excellent portable PC for anyone who enjoys a clean-looking, fast machine that runs Windows.
reasons to ditch your old MacBook for a Windows laptop
We all know that the Apple M1 MacBook Pro is a fantastic piece of hardware. it is fast, thin, light and efficient. but Apple’s performance in the few years leading up to the M1 launch was not great. If you’re using a MacBook in need of an upgrade, there are reasons to go visit Windows-land. some of them petty, others less so.
This is a minor but controversial design decision Apple has made with its latest M1 MacBook Pro lineup. The rumours leading up to the launch said that the new ultrabooks would feature the infamous notch to house Apple‘s Face ID sensors. When the device eventually launched, this was revealed not to be the case.
While there is once again speculation that the MacBook Pro refresh will feature Face ID, the notch seems to just be a design decision at this point. The fact that the notch exists for no apparent reason other than to house the webcam and microphones, as high-quality as they may be, is one that frustrates the aesthetically-obsessed laptop crowd.
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What Apple has done with the ARM architecture and the M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs is phenomenal. They are not the most powerful CPUs to be found, but they are certainly a potent blend of power and efficiency. Apple has even developed a seriously impressive translation layer, called Rosetta 2, to make non-native x86 programs compatible with its new ARM systems.
The problem is that these translated apps perform inconsistently. Sometimes, they perform better than they do on similar x86 hardware and other times you end up with the M1 performing worse than CPUs that would ordinarily not come close. What’s also somewhat concerning is that Apple has not stated how long Rosetta 2 will be supported. So, any developer that does not maintain their projects may be left out in the cold.
Design flaws and Apple‘s attitude towards repair
This is not so much a criticism of the latest MacBook lineup as it is of Apple as a company. In the last few years, there have been numerous repair and longevity-based scandals involving both Apple laptops and smartphones. The 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models suffered from Flexgate and the iPhone 6 suffered from Touch disease. recently, the butterfly keyboard in both MacBook Pro and Air models caused major problems due to poor design and the difficulty to replace it once failure occurs.
This is not to say that there will be any such problems with the M1 range of MacBooks, but it should be noted that Apple has historically been very defensive when these issues arise and has even resorted to blaming user error for the issues in an attempt to avoid responsibility.
Variety is the spice of life
Ultimately, as with any decision, there are trade-offs to be made. In the case of MacBooks, it’s relatively simple. There are basically two questions you need to ask yourself: Do I want to spend more or less money? and Do I need a big laptop or a small laptop? While this simplifies things significantly, it also takes the fun and individuality out of it.
In the world of Windows, you can choose from dozens of manufacturers who each offer several different designs, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You can get a gaming laptop that’s thicker but flies through tasks, or you could get a thin-and-light business laptop, a 2-in-1 for art, or a monstrous workstation with a Xeon processor and a Quadro GPU. The possibilities are endless, and sometimes it’s better to get a tool that is really good at one or two things, rather than one that is fairly good at most things.
ways MacBooks are just better than Windows laptops — fight me
I was an unabashed Apple ecosystem hater with an extreme revulsion for MacBooks for many years. I despised everything Apple did because it felt elitist, stuck up, bland, and overpriced. The tech giant’s dominance always felt cultish, as it preyed on its core user’s insatiable brand loyalty.
My dad once said, “Sometimes you have to spend extra to get the quality you need, and that saves you money in the long run.” I didn’t understand that then. However, I do now. Before you come for my head, I am not saying affordable Windows laptops are a waste of money. However, I know most people purchase their new laptops without thoroughly researching beyond their budgets but forgetting about the actual use case.
There was a time in my life when I was homeless. I needed a notebook and found a Windows laptop that I could repair and use to check emails, create a new resume, and turn my life around. However, it got to the point where I could use my smartphone to do the same things. Also, as time passed and it slowed, I switched to a Linux OS to keep the system going.
When I found that Windows laptop, it was only two years old, and I got another year and a half out of it. A friend gave me a three-year-old 13-inch MacBook with an Intel CPU. I owned it for two years and then gave it to my daughter, who had it for another two years. So we got a collective total of seven years of use.
After talking with many friends in the production industry, that is about the same longevity they claim to get from their MacBooks. Let’s say the average use is five years, and based on the ten people I spoke to who say it’s seven, we meet in the middle at six years of service. Now let’s say the average price of a 13-inch MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD is 1,500; when you divide that by six, you get 250 a year over the lifetime of that laptop. You can use a computer to handle all those documents you’re pushing and easily edit images and videos. That is a considerable value, especially if you buy a Windows laptop for the same 1,500 that will most likely come with more RAM and a larger SSD, but will feature an Intel Integrated GPU.
So although the laptops cost the same, sadly, because the Intel integrated GPUs performance lags ages behind the M1 or M2, you won’t be able to get the same levels of work done and will be less productive. If you want to equal the performance of the M1 or M2, then you have to spend more for a Windows laptop with a discrete GPU, which could end up costing you an additional 500 or more.
Let’s cut to the chase; somehow, the soccerers at Apple found a way to get the most out of the M1 and M2 chipsets and average 15 hours plus of battery life across the MacBook Brand. So, all-day battery life is a check. The MacBook Pro 16 M2 Max 2023 lasted an astounding 18 hours and 56 minutes during our recent testing, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi until the battery is fully drained.
If you look at our laptops with the best battery life page, you’ll see that four are MacBooks, which is Apple coming out on top 40% of the time against every other OEM (by the way, number 11 would also be a MacBook). The closest Windows laptop challenging for the top spot was the Dell Latitude 9510 2020 edition, which lasted 18 hours and 17 minutes. It featured a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and integrated Intel UHD GPU.
The next Windows-based laptop is the HP Elite Folio which lasted 16 hours and 21 minutes but featured a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 chipset. Again, there is excellent battery life, but the performance is no match for even the MacBook Air M1.
You can go through our top ten list and see that although many Windows laptops are solid performers with all-day battery life, they all tend to have integrated GPUs that cannot compete with even the Apple M1 Air, let alone the Air M2 in overall performance. If you add a discrete GPU, an option none of them have, battery life will take a significant hit.
So Apple wins this hands down and, over time, is more cost-effective.
Here is something where Windows machines with Intel CPUs can match Apple in performance; many even surpass the M series chipsets. However, it’s always at the cost of battery life, and when unplugged, the loss in performance is significant and noticeable. I don’t know how Apple pulls it off, and if the competition knows how it hasn’t managed to match it yet.
Windows-based laptops with integrated GPUs are no match for any M series chipset, don’t believe me; ask anyone in the know. You can get a Windows-based laptop with a discrete GPU from Nvidia or AMD, and the performance will be excellent, surpassing anything Apple has, but battery life will not be in the 8-hour range to qualify as all-day.
However, for gaming and even content creation, a Windows Laptop with an Nvidia GPU, like an HP ZBook Studio G8, a Lenovo ThinkBook P16 workstation, or a Razer Blade 16, blows Apple away… while plugged in. They are still potent unplugged, but there’s a steep fall off, and battery life is just sad face emoji.
Again, this is where you must think about what you’re using your laptop for and if you will travel with it often. If not, you can get a lot of bang for your buck and excellent performance with a Windows workstation laptop as long as it’s plugged in.
This is a tricky one because I have kept several Windows laptops alive by doing things like upgrading the hard drive or changing my use case. Also, with the growth of Cloud applications such as Google Workspace replacing MS Office to a point, you can use an older Windows notebook longer to check emails and push documents as long as you keep the number of tabs in your browser to a minimum. However, there will be battery degradation over time. As apps become more complicated and new versions of Windows are released, your old laptop may be unable to keep up, which is also something Apple does better than Windows-based systems.
You can keep an older Windows laptop going by downloading a Linux-based OS like Ubuntu and squeezing a couple more years out of it. In my years of experience, macOS upgrades allow for older systems and keep them functioning longer.
For example, the Apple MacBook Air M1 was launched in November 2020 (999), and it’s aging gracefully. I currently use an M1 Air on run-and-gun shoots to do quick photo and video edits or share footage on the go, in the wild, with clients. The only difference I notice between being plugged in or unplugged between the M1 and M2 is rendering performance has been improved with the M2, so yes, it’s speedier. However, the three and half-year-old M1 can still do the job without worry.
I have a three-year-old Windows system with a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU, also released in the fall of 2020, and it still works great. Still, battery life and performance while running on battery can’t compete with the M1 MacBook Air, and that Windows PC efficiently costs double plus (2,799) what the Air did at the time.
Again, not everyone will use these two systems on the go, and both remain powerful. However, the Air is the better value, thanks partly to its battery life of over 14 hours after three years of use. I get 3.5 hours over the aforementioned Windows laptop. When plugged in, this Windows laptop remains a super useful beast, but I did notice some performance slowdown with the Windows 11 upgrade. And with rumors being that Windows 12 is going to take up a great deal of hard drive space, and seeing that Microsoft is failing at addressing performance issue complaints instead rushing ahead with Windows 12, I doubt I will get the levels of performance at year five that I will with the Air M1 in year five.
That is the last reason I will give Apple the win here. macOS is just more efficient than Windows. As a reviewer, I know this is true because I have been to many laptop launch events where the maker brings up that the new system compares with a MacBook in this way or that. This happened again recently, and sadly, no, the Windows laptop with integrated GPU on board did not match any MacBook in the three main areas, battery life, performance per watt, and GPU.
Gaming (With an assist)
We know MacBooks will not win the gaming wars. Windows gaming laptops come with discrete GPUs made by AMD or Nvidia that are mind-blowingly awesome. The M1 and M2 chipset are impressive in their own right, but Apple still cannot match Windows in the gaming arena.
Apple’s trying to address this by working with major games studios to bring optimized versions of games like Resident Evil Village and No Man’s Sky to macOS, but it’s simply not in the company’s DNA, so for now, native gaming on MacBooks remains marginal at best.
However, thanks to Nvidia GeForce Now and the company rolling out its RTX 4080-powered servers, I have personally enjoyed an outstanding gaming experience on a MacBook Pro 14-inch, and the performance rivaled gaming consoles, and who needs more than that? Seriously no average person will need more versions than that, so now you too can now game like a war-thirsty demon on a MacBook. So thank you, Nvidia, and thank you, internet.
Last but certainly not least, design. Sure, MacBook’s design hasn’t changed dramatically in nearly a decade, but its utilitarian, modern chic, all-aluminum chassis is not just classic; it’s a statement to the rest of the world that “I got this.” Sure, Apple hasn’t got a 4K OLED display. There are no touch screens to speak of (that’s what an iPad is for), and Apple charges insane amounts of money for RAM and more SSD storage, but the appeal here is you can trust this laptop to be user-friendly and get things done. The format is familiar, comforting in its bland banality, and yes, even the MacBook Pros with that hideous touch bar have grown on me. Fight me; I like the touch bar.
There is something to be said for consistency in design. That is what Apple is going for with its MacBook lineup. Uniformity and recognizability also come with a status when you pull one out. The MacBooks are all clean aerodynamic lines engineered for precision.
Outside of some keyboard issues in the past decade, which were addressed, each MacBook has an intended flow that inspires confidence. No plastic MacBook cousins are running around or any weak, creaky hinges to concern yourself with; it’s that simple.
If you want a touch screen or 2-in-1 laptop, get an iPad Pro; if you want a laptop that’s also a tablet, buy a Windows device.
I showed earlier in this piece cost-effectiveness. I will do so once again. Not to belabor the point, but to be reflective for a moment. So, the MacBook Air M1 was 999 when it was first released in 2020. My Windows laptop from the same year was 2,799, and they can do everything I need them to do three years later… as long as the Windows laptop remains plugged in. However, unplugged, it’s a wrap, which is how I and most will use it even just around the home browsing the web; this is where the MacBook royally defeats the Windows laptop.
Also, to keep my Windows machine relevant by the 5th year, I must install Ubuntu or some other Linux-based OS, while the MacBook Air M1 can still run macOS. By year five, the 999 investment works out to 199.80, while the 2,799 investment in the Windows machine works out to 559.80. Math doesn’t lie, and neither does productivity.
As always, make sure you know what you need to do with your laptop and your budget, and leave a little room for growth in what you may need to do.
How to install Windows on Mac
Everything you need to know about how to get Windows on Mac including differences between using Boot Camp, VMware and Parallels.
Prior to the launch of the M1 Macs in November 2020 one of the benefits of using a Mac was that you had the choice of either running macOS on its own, or installing Windows for those occasions when you need to run Windows-only apps and games.
It’s still possible to run Windows on a Mac, but right now this will only really work on a Mac with an Intel processor. In theory you can run Windows on a Mac with Apple’s M1 Chip, but this is only the ARM version of Windows, which isn’t readily available, and many Windows programs don’t run on it.
In this article we explain how to install Windows on a Mac. There are a number of ways to do so: you can use Apple’s dual-booting Boot Camp Assistant, you can use third-party virtualisation software or you can run Windows apps via an emulator.
We also discuss the pros and cons of each approach in this article.
There is a new version of Windows coming – Windows 11 – read: Windows 11 vs macOS and what Apple should copy.
Which Macs can run Windows?
This depends on the version of Windows you’re trying to install, if you want to run Windows 10 any Mac with an Intel processor since late 2012 should support it.
Here’s the list of compatible devices:
- MacBook introduced in 2015 or later
- MacBook Air introduced in 2012 or later
- MacBook Pro introduced in 2012 or later
- Mac mini introduced in 2012 or later
- iMac introduced in 2012 or later
- iMac Pro (all models)
- Mac Pro introduced in 2013 or later
If you have an M1 Mac you can run the ARM version of Windows via Parallels Desktop 16.5, however, getting a copy of Windows for ARM isn’t simple, and there are compatibility issues with Windows programs not running in that version of Windows. information here: New Parallels Desktop brings Windows to M1 Macs. You may also like to read: Will Windows run on Apple Silicon.
Because it’s such early days for the ARM version of Windows running on M1 Macs we won’t go into detail about how to get it running on a Mac, but we will point you to Parallels who have some information detailing the process.
As for Windows 11: running Windows 11 on the Mac may not be possible whether you have an Intel or M1 Mac. This is because in order to run Windows 11 the computer needs a security module called TPM – which Macs do not have. We explain everything in Will Windows 11 run on Mac?
How much space does Windows need?
Your Mac will also need to have at least 64GB of disk space free if you are to install Windows in a Boot Camp partition. However, because Windows requires 128GB (once you install all the accompanying programs) Apple actually suggests that you create a 128GB partition.
What’s best Boot Camp or virtualisation?
There are two main methods if you need to install Windows on your Mac, and the option you choose will generally depend on the type of software you need to run.
The first, provided by Apple itself with the Boot Camp Assistant that is installed on all Intel Macs, is called ‘dual-booting’, as it gives you the ability to start up (or ‘boot’) your Mac using either Windows or macOS.
The Boot Camp Assistant can split your Mac’s hard drive (or solid state drive) into two sections, called ‘partitions’. It leaves macOS on one partition, then installs Windows on the second partition. You simply choose which operating system you want to run by pressing the Alt/Option key on your keyboard when you boot your Mac.
Installing Windows on a Boot Camp partition with this method effectively turns your Mac into a Windows PC, and devotes all of your Mac’s processor power and memory – and its graphics card if it has one – to running Windows alone.
That’s the best option if you want to play Windows games, or run high-end graphics and design software that needs all the power it can get.
The only disadvantage of Boot Camp is that you lose access to all your normal Mac apps while you’re running Windows, which means you have to shut down Windows and boot back into macOS if you want to use Mac apps such as Apple Mail or Photos.
This is where the other option, known as virtualisation, can come in handy. Instead of splitting your hard drive into separate partitions for macOS and Windows, you use a virtualisation program such as Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion to create a ‘virtual machine’ that runs within macOS itself. For more options see best virtual machine software for Mac.
The virtual machine (VM) is simply an app that runs on the Mac just like any other Mac app. However, the virtual machine mimics the workings of a PC, allowing you to install Windows on the virtual machine, and then install any Windows apps that you need to run as well.
This is definitely the most convenient option, as it means that you can run your Windows apps on the Mac desktop right alongside all your normal Mac apps, so there’s no need to dual-boot back and forth between the macOS and Windows as you do when running Boot Camp.
But virtualisation has disadvantages too. Running Windows within a virtual machine means that you’re effectively running two operating systems at the same time, so you’re going to need plenty of processor power and memory to get decent performance when running your Windows apps.
Even so, most recent (Intel) Macs can still provide good performance when running Windows in a virtual machine, and it’s only 3D games and high-end graphics apps that need the extra power you can get from dual-booting with Boot Camp.
The new alternative: Windows 365
Microsoft has launched a new service – Windows 365 – that allows business users to access Cloud-based PCs running Windows and Windows software from anywhere. It means you get a full-fledged Windows 10 computer in the Cloud. But this isn’t limited to Windows machines – it can also run on a Mac, iPad or iPhone. here: How Windows 365 is bringing Windows to Mac, iPad and iPhone.
All Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices will be compatible, as you would expect. But the good news is that a Windows 365 session will also be able to be streamed to hardware running macOS, iPadOS, Linux and Android.
Windows 365 is similar to virtualisation and remote access software, but it’s worth noting that one disadvantage of Microsoft’s Cloud solution is that the monthly fee is quite high (starting at £20.50/24 per user, per month, for a 1 CPU, 2GB RAM, 64GB storage Cloud PC – details of pricing here), and if you want more memory and storage space it costs even more. You’ll also need a good internet connection, since every input must also be transmitted via the web.
How to get Windows for Mac
If you want to run Windows 10 on your Mac you can download it as a ‘disk image’ file – sometimes also called an ‘ISO file’ – from Microsoft’s website.
You can download ISO files for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 as well. However, these versions of Windows were originally sold on disk, so if you still have the original disk then it’s probably quicker to create the ISO file using the installer program on the disk. This is actually quite straightforward, and Apple covers this option on its website too.
Now you have Windows install files you just need to get Boot Camp or your Virtualisation software up and running so you can install it.
If you want to get Windows for free or find a way to run Windows for free on your Mac read: How to run Windows 10 on a Mac for free.
How to run Windows on a Mac via Boot Camp
One of the best things about running Windows via Boot Camp is that Apple provides Boot Camp Assistant as a free app that helps you to install Windows on your Mac.
You’ll find the Assistant located in the Utilities folder within the main Applications folder on your Mac – but before you run the Assistant there are a few things that you will need to run Windows in Boot Camp.
What you need
- Apple recommends that you have a minimum of 64GB of free storage available on your Mac’s internal hard drive (or solid-state drive) for installing Windows. Actually 128GB is recommended!
- You may also need a memory stick with at least 16GB of storage for the additional ‘driver’ software that Windows needs in order to control components such as your Mac’s monitor and camera, as well as your Mac keyboard and mouse (which, of course, are different from conventional Windows mice and keyboards). Some Macs will be able to download these necessary drivers though.
- You’ll need a fully paid-for copy of Windows, along with the licence number. Recent Mac models and any Mac running Catalina will only work with Windows 10, although older models may also work with Windows 7, or Windows 8.1. You can check which versions of Windows your Mac can run on Apple’s website.
The installation process will vary, depending on which version of Windows you’re using.
Once you’ve completed those preparations you’ll be ready to run Boot Camp Assistant and install Windows on your Mac. Here’s what to do.
Step 1: Open Boot Camp Assistant.
When you run Boot Camp Assistant for the first time, it will prompt you with a number of options. The first option is to select the ISO image you want to use. Click the Choose button then navigate to the one you have created or downloaded. This will copy your Windows ISO file on to the USB memory stick so that you can install Windows.
Step 2: Download driver software
Next Boot Camp Assistant may tell you that it will download the driver software for Windows on to the USB memory stick as well. However, it will only download the drivers for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, so if you want to install Windows 7 – which is still used by millions of people around the world, but is no longer supported by Microsoft – then you’ll have to head back to the compatibility tables on Apple’s website in order to locate the driver software that you need for your Mac, then follow the instructions to copy the drivers on to your USB memory stick.
Step 3: Partition your drive
To allocate room for Windows, Boot Camp will need to split your Mac’s hard drive into two separate sections, known as ‘partitions’. This is shown at the bottom of the pane with the normal macOS on the left and the proposed Windows one on the right.
By default, Boot Camp Assistant offers to create a small Windows partition that is only 40GB in size, but you can use the slider control (the dot between the partitions) to adjust the size of the two partitions as required.
If your Mac has more than one internal hard drive or SSD, it’s possible to devote one of those drives exclusively to Windows.
However, Boot Camp doesn’t play well with external drives connected via USB or Thunderbolt, so it’s best to use your normal internal drive wherever possible. And if you have an external drive connected to your Mac for Time Machine backups then it’s a good idea to remove it as Boot Camp can get a bit confused if it detects an external drive during installation.
When you’re done, click the Install button at the bottom of the window to start the process.
Step 5: Install Windows
Once you’ve partitioned your Mac drive, Boot Camp will shut down your Mac and launch the Windows installer program from the USB memory stick. You can just follow the prompts to install Windows. As soon as Windows starts up you will also be prompted to install the additional Boot Camp drivers from the memory stick as well.
Step 6: Run Windows
Once that’s done you can simply ‘dual-boot’ between the macOS and Windows by pressing Alt (aka Option) on your keyboard when you turn the Mac on. You’ll see the two partitions with the macOS and Windows displayed on screen as the Mac starts up, and you can simply select whichever operating system you need.
How to run Windows in a Virtual Machine
Virtualisation programmes such as Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion provide an ingenious and flexible alternative to the dual-boot approach of Boot Camp.
Instead of splitting your Mac’s hard drive into separate partitions, and then installing Windows on to the Boot Camp partition, these programs create a virtual machine – or VM – which is simply an app that runs on the Mac and acts like a PC.
You can then install Windows in the VM, along with whatever Windows apps and software that you need to run. The VM can run alongside other Mac apps, such as Safari or Apple Mail, so there’s no need to switch back and forth between the two operating systems, as you are forced to do with Boot Camp.
You may need to buy a copy of the VM software, as well as providing your own copy of Windows. Parallels starts at £69.99/79.99, VMware is free for personal use, but will cost from 149 otherwise.
There is also a free virtualisation program, called VirtualBox, but it’s fairly complex and difficult to use, so we’ll FOCUS first on using Parallels and VMware to install Windows. We do have a separate article discussing how to use VirtualBox though, if you feel ready for the challenge.
Run Windows on a Mac with Parallels
Parallels Desktop (version 16 at time of writing – read our Parallels Desktop 16 review) costs £69.99/79.99 and has a more colourful graphical interface than VMware Fusion, but the two programs take the same basic approach. They provide several options for creating a new VM on your Mac, using an installer disk, or ISO file.
It’s also possible to connect an existing Windows PC to your Mac and create a VM on the Mac that is an exact copy of the PC, complete with Windows and all the Windows apps that you need. And, if you’re already using Boot Camp, you can even create a VM that duplicates your Boot Camp partition – which is a handy option for quickly checking a few files, or running apps that don’t need top performance, without having to shut the Mac down and boot into Windows.
Once you’ve decided how you want to install Windows, both programs allow you to adjust a number of important settings.
Run Windows on a Mac with VMware Fusion
VMware Fusion (now in version 12 – read our VMware Fusion 12 review) is a little more complicated, as it displays a window with a lot of settings that might seem a bit daunting to first time users. Parallels makes things a bit easier for beginners, by providing a number of predefined options that are suitable for productivity software such as Microsoft Office, or running heavy-duty 3D games, or design software.
VMware has various licensing options. The basic version- Fusion 12 Player – is free for personal use (details here). The commercial price of Fusion 12 Player is 149, while Fusion 12 Pro is 199, or it is an 79 upgrade from previous versions.
Both VMware Fusion and Parallels allow you to change the hardware configuration of your VMs if you need to, just as though you were choosing the physical hardware for a real Mac or PC.
If your Mac has a multi-core processor then you can devote multiple cores to your VM in order to improve performance. You can also allocate extra memory and disk space, and even increase the amount of video memory that your VM can use for handling 3D graphics in games and other graphics software.
Other options provided by both Parallels and VMware include the ability to connect external devices, such as a hard drive or even Bluetooth speakers to your Windows VM. You can also determine how your VM interacts with the macOS on your Mac, perhaps sharing specific folders and files that you need for a work project, or sharing your music or photo libraries.
A key aspect of how your VM runs on your Mac is the way it appears when it’s running on the Mac desktop.
By default, both Parallels and VMware run their VMs in a window – so you get a kind of ‘Windows window’ that displays the Windows desktop floating in its own window on top of the Mac desktop. However, it’s also possible to expand the Windows desktop so that it fills the entire screen, making your Mac look just like a normal PC (whilst still allowing you to switch into Mac apps by using Command-Tab).
But a better option for many people is the ability to hide the Windows desktop altogether, so that individual Windows apps appear all on their own on the Mac desktop, just like ordinary Mac apps.
The number of different options available here can be a bit intimidating, but the great thing about virtualisation technology is that you can’t really break a VM. You can save different versions of your VM – just like saving different versions of a document in Microsoft Word. That allows you to experiment with different settings to see which options work best for you, and then simply revert back to a previous version of the VM whenever you want.
Can I run macOS on a Windows PC?
What about the opposite scenario? Is it possible to run macOS on a PC?
In a word: no. It is one of those ironies that although Microsoft is famed for its aggressive commercial practices, Apple is responsible for this particular impasse. Although you can run Windows on any X86 computer, Apple makes its own macOS software available only on Mac software.
Overtly the reasoning is laudable: macOS is designed to run on Apple’s own hardware, and the experience wouldn’t be as good on any old computer. This is one reason why you will never run an underpowered Mac.
But it is also fair to say that Apple creates software in order to sell hardware. The excellence of macOS is a killer app when it comes to selling Macs, and it doesn’t want to share. So if you want to experience the best of all worlds, you need to run Windows on your Mac.
Which Is the Best Laptop for Architects?
It’s a question that has attracted unending debate on forums across the internet for years — not just among architects, but for aspiring design professionals of all kinds.
The perceived finality of selecting a work computer makes this a difficult choice, particularly for students just starting out. The computer you use from the beginning of your architectural career will be the one you get used to, and once you are familiar with it, there is a natural resistance to change. As you master the computer’s native software, navigate its technical quirks and learn to love your hardware, it’s quite possible that you will use that type of computer for the rest of your life in architecture.
This may sound dramatic, but there is no denying this is a big decision — take a breath and read on before you decide …
The question of build quality is a crucial one for architecture students and practicing architects alike, as we spend our days running between home, office, coffee shop and café. Our laptops have to survive the journey along with us, so it is essential to buy a computer that can withstand the rigors of daily life.
Left: MacBook Pro; right: Microsoft Surface Book; image via PCMag UK
There is no clear-cut answer when it comes to the build quality of PC laptops, since there are many brands and models available, but among the best is the Microsoft Surface Book 2, which is built with a light magnesium chassis and an innovative “Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge” to keep it balanced at any angle. Other, cheaper PCs with plastic-based outer shells possess a certain flexibility that can provide a cushioning effect if dropped, but they have a tendency to crack and get scratched up over time.
Ultimately, though, this is one area where the MacBook Pro is unbeatable. Apple’s flagship laptop is built with a unibody aluminum chassis, with no inconsistent gaps or joints that can result in creaking or torsional yielding. Using light aluminum means the MacBook has a great strength-to-weight ratio, and its sandblasted exterior shell minimizes the aesthetic impact of grazes and scrapes. If build quality is a top priority for you, Mac might be your best choice.
Windows User Tries New M1 Max Macbook Pro: First 24 Hours
Revit can now be run on MacBook on your browser using Frame; image via AEC Magazine.
Historically, while Apple’s OS runs perfectly with its own hardware, this closed system led to a more limited choice when it came to software — a fact that has long been a drawback for architects. In the past, big software developers like Autodesk and Bentley created CAD software solely for PC, while Mac users were limited to (the admittedly excellent) ArchiCAD or Vectorworks for their drafting needs.
Things are now changing, with certain major players now viewing Apple’s large user base of professional designers as a market they can’t afford to ignore. Autodesk now offers AutoCAD for Mac, and in 2015 it became possible to run Revit on your Apple computer, too, but with a catch — to do so you must use Frame, a platform that delivers Windows applications and work-flows from the Cloud, to run Revit within a browser. This key BIM program is still not available natively, but if you have Frame, perhaps it doesn’t need to be.
Autodesk’s offerings for Mac. Frame is needed to run Revit, Inventor and Inventor LT; image via Autodesk
The other thing to note here is that you can actually run Windows in its entirety on your MacBook with the help of Boot Camp and Parallels, partitioning your hard drive and effectively giving you the best of both worlds in terms of software compatibility. This is not possible in reverse, so Apple appears to hold an advantage over PCs in this respect, but it comes at a price. We’ll get on to that next.
It is generally accepted that Apple products are premium products, and their high price repels many people from purchasing them — particularly architecture students and young professionals on a budget. This is true, but there are plenty of high-end PCs on the market, too — ultimately, it comes down to choice, and there is a much larger range of price points for PCs.
“A lot of the hype about the Mac laptops comes from the fact that the entire Mac series is in the high range,” says Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir on Quora. “Windows laptops run from a 60 Stream to a 1,000 Thinkpad to a 3,600 Alienware laptop. Macintosh laptops run from 900 to 2,000.”
To create a more comparable scenario, Sudhir compared specific models at the same price point — a 1,300 Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga with a 1,300 MacBook Pro with retina display. You can check out his full analysis here, but his takeaway is as follows: The PC wins for the processor, screen finish, keyboard, trackpad, energy consumption, casing, customizability, touchscreen and hinge. The Macintosh wins for the graphics, screen resolution, trackpad finish, battery life, weight and thickness.
So, it could be argued that both models in question — Mac and PC — represent good value depending on your priorities. In the end, it seems you really do get what you pay for.
While processing power and graphics will dictate the longevity of a laptop for many, these aspects won’t matter if your computer’s build quality is low. This is where a MacBook comes into its own again — the robust nature of Apple’s hardware means that it will outlast the majority of PCs, and this in turn makes its hefty price point appear more palatable.
The seductive aesthetic qualities and robust build of a Mac versus the greater compatibility and comparatively lower price of a PC make this a difficult choice, and as much as you may want a definitive answer, we have to disappoint you! This all comes down to personal preferences.
If ArchiCAD or Vectorworks is your go-to CAD application, a MacBook is a reliable — not to mention stunning — option that has the capability of paying for itself over time thanks to its incredible build quality and stable OS. On the other hand, if you have specific preference pertaining to processing power, graphics or price, a specialist PC may well prove the better option.
“Choosing the Windows platform also gives you a lot of choice,” says Sudhir. “Do you want durability and features? Get a Thinkpad. Do you want durability and a great trackpad? Get an Elitebook. Do you want sleekness, screen resolution and design? Get an Ideapad. Do you just want a cheap PC? You’ve got a ton of options … Where the PC loses out, there are other PCs that win over the Mac.”
So there you have it — PC offers a great range of options and the ability to customize, while Mac continues to excel in specific areas. Neither is the wrong choice — all that matters is choosing a computer that complements your personal work-flow.
Which computer do you use? Are you considering a change from PC to Mac or vice versa? Let us know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев on !
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