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Apple vs Dell Comparison

This document is geared at understanding the differences between Mac and Windows computers.

The University does not recommend one platform over another. DoIT provides extensive support for both PCs and Macs and their software. When making your decision, a good rule of thumb is to "go with what you know." A student faces many new challenges when starting college; it's probably a good idea not to add the effort of learning a new operating system. Here are some other issues to consider.

Usage Areas

PCs are generally used in the business, legal, and engineering fields. Macs tend to be found in the art, video production and web design fields. This is not always the case however, and as time progresses there is more of a crossover between the two operating systems in various areas of study. DoIT recommends contacting your intended field of study if you are concerned. Apple computers with an Intel Processor can also have Windows installed on them if you need to run any programs that require Windows or provide more features than their Mac version. For more information see: Running Windows on Macs

DoIT Recommendations

Macs and PCs use different operating systems so it's hard to compare from one platform to the other. We recommend coming in, trying each machine to see which one fits you better. DoIT also recommends not changing platforms unless you have a reason to do so.

Market Share

While PCs outnumber Macs in the general public and on campus, Macs have experienced a significant increase in numbers in recent times, especially on college campuses. Roughly 50% of college students last year on our campus had Mac computers.


The latest Microsoft Office products (Office 365 University 2013 for Windows and Office 365 University 2011 for Mac) are available for $79 through our campus Microsoft Contract. These latest versions employ by default a new file format which cannot be read by earlier versions of Microsoft Office without installing the appropriate free updates from Microsoft. Comparable versions of Microsoft Office are cross-platform, allowing file transfer back and forth between Macs and PCs. 

For $79, Office 365 University 2011 for Mac includes: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook for Mac.

For $79, Office 365 University 2013 for PC includes: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access.

You can purchase these Office products and other specially priced software in person at the DoIT Tech Store or online at the Wisconsin Integrated Software Catalog (WISC) site.

Price and Feature Comparison Example:

Apple systems have always been thought of as more expensive, partly because of smaller market share and higher profit margins. Recently, Apple's laptops in particular have come down in price to match more closely with Dell's education prices. Below is a chart comparing the standard recommended laptops, configured as closely as possible.



Dell Inspiron 14R

Apple 13" MacBookPro
Intel Core i3 3217U (Ivy Bridge)

2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 Mobile (Ivy Bridge)

14" HD (720P) LED Display with True Life (1280x800)
13.3-inch widescreen WXGA LCD (1280x800)
Hard Drive
500GB Serial ATA 5400 RPM
500GB Serial ATA 5400 RPM

Video Card
Intel HD Graphics 4000
Intel HD Graphics 4000
Optical Drive
8x CD/DVD Burner
8x CD/DVD Burner (SuperDrive)
Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless,
Bluetooth 4.0
Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless,
Bluetooth 4.0
3 x USB 3.0, Headphone minijack, Analog line input, 1.3MP WebCam, Microphone, HDMI
2 x USB 3.0, Firewire 800, Built-in iSight camera, Microphone, Thunderbolt Port, SD Card Slot

3 Year In-Home Service with Accidental Damage
1 Year Limited Warranty (3 Year warranty available with AppleCare currently priced at $183)

Operating System

Windows 8 64-bit
Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
Microsoft Office 2013 trial, Adobe Reader X, McAfee SecurityCenter with Anti-virus, Anti-Spyware, Firewall, 6-months
iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, Mail and iCal
Size / Weight
1.1" thick; 13.6"x 9.65"
5.1 lbs
0.95" thick; 12.78"x 8.94"
4.5 lbs
$200 Back to School Gift Card (ends September 19, 2013)
None Currently

File Compatibility

Exchanging documents and files between a PC and a Mac is not a problem as the long as the program used to create the file has an equivalent Mac and PC version. Products like Boot Camp (Included on all new Macs), Parallels and VMware Fusion allow your Mac to run a Windows operating system and software programs written for Windows. For more information: Running Windows on a Mac.

The Technology

Both platforms are reliable, although the prospective PC buyer should always do some checking before selecting from the large number of PC manufacturers. DoIT Repair and Desktop Support is certified to perform warranty repairs on both Dells and Apples. Although they can also handle repairs on other manufacturers of PCs, they cannot honor those manufacturer's warranties.

Variety of Choices

PCs are made by many companies and are available everywhere. That gives you a broad set of choices and lets you mix and match to meet your needs. The Mac comes from one vendor, Apple. For more help in identifying a computer to fit your needs, contact the DoIT Tech Store at 264-3648;, or chat.

Keywords: personal departmental apple dell incoming freshman student new computer soar comparison compare   Doc ID: 3045
Owner: Patrick J.Group: DoIT Tech Store Consulting
Created: 2004-07-22 19:00 CDTUpdated: 2013-09-18 08:59 CDT
Sites: DoIT Tech Store Consulting