At first glance, you may see a world of difference between Dell laptops and Apple MacBooks, especially when looking at their entry-level models. To do a fair comparison, however, it's necessary to look at equivalent models. The lowest-priced Apple computers are equivalent to the mid-range models of most other manufacturers. Unlike Dell, for example, Apple doesn't sell computers with Celeron processors, so you won't find a MacBook Air, let alone a MacBook Pro, in the sub-$500 price range.
Comparing Apples and Oranges
The Apple MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS 15 were equivalent in screen size with the same Intel i7 processor at the time of publication. With a longer battery life, four USB ports compared to the MacBook's two, and a touch-screen display not available on MacBooks, the Dell could be a better value if you didn't have a preference in operating systems or any use for the added software that comes with Apple products.
The Mac OS X operating system is quite different from Windows. Getting used to one after using another may take some adjustment time, even for advanced users. In most cases, using one over another is a matter of personal preference. While the Mac operating system may be more secure than Windows, it is not immune to viruses, malware or other security concerns. However, viruses that can affect a MacBook are so rare that many users don't even think about installing anti-virus software. Operating a Windows PC without anti-virus is not advised.
Dell's Versatile Selection
Apple limits its laptops to two models. The MacBook Air comes in 11-inch or 13-inch screen sizes. The MacBook Pro is offered in 13-inch and 15-inch screen sizes. Dell offers dozens of models with screen sizes from 11 inches to 18 inches, with prices ranging from $250 for an Inspiron 15-inch nontouch display to more than $2,000 for its top Alienware gaming laptop. While both companies allow you to customize the hard drive size, memory and video cards, MacBooks are usually limited to two choices in each category, whereas Dell laptops have many more options.
Apple's Comprehensive Software Bundle
Apple MacBooks come with more software options than Dell laptops. When you buy a MacBook, Apple's equivalent product bundle to Microsoft Office -- Pages, Numbers and Keynote -- is already installed and ready to go. MacBooks also come with GarageBand for music editing, iMovie for movie editing and several other programs and utilities, all at no additional cost. You don't even have to set them up. Just open the MacBook, create an Apple ID and begin using your laptop immediately. If you already have Windows-compatible software and don't want to lose that investment, a Dell laptop -- not a Mac -- can support it.
- TechRadar: Apple MacBook Pro 2013 vs Dell XPS 15 2013
- Dell: XPS 15 Touch Screen Laptop
- Apple: Configure Your 15-inch MacBook Pro With Retina Display
- Dell: Inspiron 15 Non-Touch
- Dell: Alienware 18 Gaming Laptop
- Apple: MacBook Pro: Built-In Apps
- PC Advisor: Do Apple Macs Need Antivirus? OS X Security Explained
- Photo Credit Brian Kersey/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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