An Apple every 2 years…

After an unfortunate water spilling incident, my early 2011 15 inch MacBook Pro met its death at the end of November 2014. I had already had to replace its logic board after burning out the video chip with too much Netflix binge watching (streaming Netflix in the background helped me to focus on doing organic chemistry problem sets, so before a test, I would sometimes have it running for 8 hours straight). When I walked out of the Apple store with my new 13 inch MacBook Air, my wallet hurt quite a bit, but I was very happy with my purchase. So far, this computer has been a vast improvement over my old machine in terms of battery life and portability. The specs are as follows:

  • Manufacturer and Model: Apple 13″ MacBook Air, Early 2014
  • CPU Name and Speed: Intel Core i5-4260U (1.4 GHz)
  • Hard Drive Type and Storage Capacity: SSD/Flash, 256 GB
  • RAM: 4 GB, 1600 MHz DDR3
  • Video Card: Intel HD Graphics 5000 1536 MB (built in)
  • Maximum Display Resolution: 1440 x 900
  • Laptop Display Size: 13.3 inches
  • Battery Life: according to manufacturer, 12 hrs wireless web; from my experience, probably about 9 hrs with a few apps running
  • Weight: 2.96 lbs
  • Data Ports: 2 USB 3.0, SDXC card slot, Apple Thunderbolt
  • Video Connections: Apple Thunderbolt Mini Display Port
  • CPU benchmark score: 2389

When looking for computers for my hypothetical $1750 upgrade, I realized I’m pretty happy with this computer, although at times I wish it had more RAM and a better processor, since many times I have a browser with a few tabs, PowerPoint, Word, Excel and my Calendar all open at the same time. When this happens, I lose a lot of processing speed. I don’t really play games, so I’m happy with the built in video card. I really like the startup speed of the solid state drive, and since I don’t store too many images and videos on my computer, I don’t need 500 GB of storage space. Since I use my computer to work up my chemistry research data, I bring it with me everywhere. I’ll often enter data directly into my computer when I’m in lab or work up my results while my reactions are running. Thus, portability is an important criterion for a machine I’m going to purchase. This is also why I am looking at laptops. I’ve considered getting a desktop and just bringing an iPad to lab, but I find that entering data into Excel sheets and translating the data into figures are more easily accomplished with a physical keyboard. After considering both Windows and Macintosh computers, I narrowed the search down to two finalists:

First is the PC. The specs are below, or you can view them on the purchase page:

  • Manufacturer and Model: HP Spectre x360 2 in 1 13.3″ Touchscreen laptop
  • CPU Name and Speed: Intel Core i7-5500U (2.4 GHz)
  • Hard Drive Type and Storage Capacity: SSD, 256 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB, 1600 MHz LPDDR3
  • Video Card Details: Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • Maximum Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Laptop Display Size: 13.3 inches
  • Battery Life: Manufacturer–12 hrs
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs
  • Data Ports: 3 USB 3.0
  • Video Connections: HDMI
  • CPU Benchmark Score: 2819
  • Price: $1149.99 from Best Buy

And the Mac (view the purchase page here):

  • Manufacturer and Model: Apple 13″ MacBook Air, Early 2015
  • CPU Name and Speed: Intel Core i7-5650U (2.2 GHz, boost up to 3.2 GHz)
  • Hard Drive Type and Storage Capacity: SSD, 256 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB, 1600 MHz LPDDR3
  • Video Card Details: Intel HD Graphics 6000
  • Maximum Display Resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Laptop Display Size: 13.3 inches
  • Battery Life: Manufacturer–12 hrs
  • Weight: 2.96 lbs
  • Data Ports: 2 USB 3.0, Apple Thunderbolt 2
  • Video Connections: Apple Thunderbolt Mini Display Port
  • CPU Benchmark Score: 3344
  • Price: $1379.00 from Apple with Education Pricing

Both of these options are better than my current computer, even though I’ve had it for less than 6 months. This speaks to the importance of upgrading your computer frequently if you want to keep up with the changing tech landscape. I enjoyed researching the meanings of technical terms, and I now feel like I am more informed about the components of my computer. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the PCs available; I expected to only be able to find Windows laptops that were bulky. I liked the HP Spectre x360 because even though it has a tablet built in, it manages to be fairly light and thin. It really was a strong contender, but ultimately, I would still buy the Mac because I personally really like the operating system and the design of the computer. The Mac trackpad is also really tough to beat, because I find it very easy to use. The Mac is also only $230 more than the PC, and I would still have money from my hypothetical $1750 budget left over after purchasing it. It comes with a better processor, better video card, and better maximum resolution, and is slightly lighter than the HP. With the faster processor and the better video card, I think there would also be a smaller chance of me ruining the video card by watching too much Netflix. So, for my next real upgrade, I’ll most likely be sticking with the Mac.

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