Mac vs PC

Middlebury College offers employees hardware options on both the Dell (Windows) and Mac platforms. As a general rule, the Dell options are recommended due to lower cost, better performance, repairability and upgradeability, wider range of software options, and easier access of college network resources. Mac computers are available for employees who may need to run software that is Mac-only.

Details of the pros and cons of each platform:

  • Dell offerings have more powerful hardware (both in standard offered configuration and in what can be special-ordered for dept purchases)
  • Dell computers have all necessary ports integrated - No “dongles” necessary or to lose. Macbooks only have 2 “USB-C” ports so adapters are required for any other connectivity.
  • Dell computers are available with a “dock” allowing all ports and power to connect with a single connection. This dock is funded by ITS for the user’s primary computer.
  • Dell laptops can support 2-3 monitors via the single dock connection. Macs only support a single monitor per port, with a separate cable/adapter needed for each.
  • Dell computers have significantly lower cost to the college/dept, so your money goes a lot further and gets you more computer.. For identical hardware specs, Macs tend to carry around a +50% (or more) price premium. Spending less while getting more helps reduce the college’s overall spending and keep us within budget.
  • The battery in Dell laptops can be replaced when it wears out. In Macbooks, the battery is glued in and cannot be replaced, so towards the end of their cycle Macbook users will need to work with reduced battery life until their next replacement cycle due date.
  • The college’s standard Dell laptop weighs 2.75 lbs. The Macbook weighs 3 lbs.
  • The college’s standard Dell laptop is only 0.7” thick, while the standard Macbook is slightly thinner at 0.58”.
  • The Dell cannot run Mac-only software, nor can the Mac run Windows-only software. In general all standard college-issued software is available for both platforms. The apps in the Adobe Creative Suite now look and perform the same on both Windows and Mac, and benefit greatly from the higher-performance hardware available in the Dells. Microsoft Office on Windows offers more functionality and features than the Mac version.
  • There are no issues exchanging Adobe or Microsoft Office files between the Mac and Windows versions, so you do not need to run the same platform as other departments you exchange files with.
  • The Dell computers are significantly easier and cheaper to repair than the Macbooks. This is of particular concern for departmentally-purchased computers, but also contributes to the college’s financial burden.
  • Dell computers can be upgraded (more memory/RAM, or more hard drive/SSD storage) without replacing the entire computer. Macbooks require an entire computer replacement for different specs.
  • On the Dells (Windows), a “single sign-on” allows entering your password once for logging into the computer which then carries over to the network, wifi, etc. * On the Macs, each network resource needs to be signed into separately, and changed separately when the user’s password changes. Keychain issues on Macs are a common user frustration, an issue avoided on the Dells.
  • Dell computers can be ordered with touchscreen as an option.
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