MacBook Pro 2020 or Microsoft Surface Laptop 3? Pricing considerations & usage

I am tossing up between a Macbook pro and a Surface laptop 3. My main uses for the laptop is for university and a bit of photo-editing. I've used Windows all my life, although I've found my laptop to have blue-screened or crashed a couple of times, presumably due to the updates & other programs.

However, the Surface laptop is a more attractive pricing point for me. With a 15% discount I can get, it'd be $1699 vs Apple Macbook pro with a student discount to $1811.70. Also wondering if people add Applecare too?

I also do not have an iPhone, touch screen isn't the be all end all for me.


  • +4

    You can get the Surface Laptop 3 for $1599 during Microsoft 20% off if you can wait. You might find one coming up for EOFY.

    • +1

      yeah I did see around that there can be discounts up to 20% so may wait a little if I do end up deciding with the SL3! thanks!

  • +2

    If you want something that is “set and forget”, then get the MacBook. It’ll last you a long time without many issues.

    If you want optimal performance and capability, then go for the Surface. Will you run into blue screen of death or other issues? Maybe; depends on how you look after the OS, but it is inherently more likely to have issues than MacOS (not because Windows is a bad OS, but because it needs to make concessions to increase its compatibility across devices).

    • that's definitely one of my main concerns of it "lasting a long time without many issues" because I've read and heard that there are a lot less problems on MacOS. I've had two Dells and they've gone into all sorts of problems over the years. Also perhaps the fact that there's more support readily available at a store vs having to post it to Microsoft.

  • +1

    The base model Surface is a better buy. It will most likely last longer specs-wise.

    I wouldn't get Apple Care on the base model. The excess charges are too high to be worth it. You'd be paying 30-60% of the new price. That said, if you have a 3 year degree and have a higher risk of damaging the screen then it could be worth it for you.

    • Yeah I saw the extra $303 for Applecare which does seem quite steep. Do you think getting the $179 Microsoft complete for surface laptop with accidental damage is worth it? I only have a year left in my degree, so the purpose is yes for university but also in a year's time, just general use + photo editing.

      • +1

        Skimming the PDS for the Microsoft plan, it's a lot cheaper and more flexible. But it only pays out up to the purchase price of the device. No knowing how much repairs can cost, it's hard to make a value judgement.

        Probably wouldn't bother. I've only broken one laptop screen in 15 years, and it was about a $600 repair at the time. Just think about how often you drop stuff or spill things to make a call. Laptops are also much less prone to damage than phones.

  • +1

    Surface laptop is amazing - I'm running a couple and love them. Thin, stable, good battery, looks good.

  • Maybe a Surface tablet or book instead of laptop? Those two can use the Surface pen to help with the photo editing and you'll need a Wacom or Huion graphics tablet to do the same.

    • Call me a traditionalist, I'm more of just a simple laptop person rather than having a detachable screen/tablet? I do see where you are coming from though with the ease of using a Surface pen but the Surface book potentially is a little out of my budget range. The surface tablet I'm not a fan of the keyboard!

  • out of curiosity for that 1.8k why not get MacBook Air from Ed store with double the storage and same i5 processor etc?

    • that's a fair call - I originally was looking into the MacBook air (the base model), but then realised an i3 processor probably wouldn't be as handy. I think my only rationale for not getting the MacBook air with i5 processor was because for the same price, the Macbook Pro would be a better model (c.f. it's a lower generation from what I see in the specs).

      • I suggest to get the i5/512/8gb MBA from the ed store for 1.7k or so….

        • I just bought this i5/512/8gb MBA for $1780 from Apple Ed

          would there be any things better in MBP ?

          • +1

            @barozgain: i got both in my household, MBP has better thermals and can perform better under the heavy load. If you are not using it for video editing or software development you'll be fine with MBA most of the times.

  • i have a surface laptop 2, the only thing i dont like about it is the alcantara fabric. I am a clean freak and still my fabric doesnt look great.
    so if you get a non fabric keyboard model you should be ok. as a side note, im looking to switch to a MBP!

  • MacBook Pro imo. Rock solid stability, great resale value, great trackpad and (finally) no butterfly keyboard. Warranty is also easier to deal with and you get 14 day returns if purchased through Apple in case you don't like MacOS.

    Display is more colour-accurate and has a wider gamut on the MBP, but both are great.

    • vs MBA?

      • MBP for sure

      • Much, much better thermals. The Air doesn't have the fan directly "connected" to the heatsink and as a result, it really starts to throttle if you're doing anything remotely intensive for more than a few minutes.

    • actually just to add, the thermals on the Surface are a bit meh. I have my Surface Laptop connected to 2 external monitors via the dock, and even running a zoom call or a few youtube videos is enough to kick off the fans to probably 70% capacity. something to think about.

  • I had the same dilemma, even though I have minimal MacOS experience. I have been very happy with the Macbook.

  • I bought a brand new Surface Laptop 2 to replace my 2013 Macbook. Thought I'd have no problem going back to Windows, been a Windows user since 3.1 through to 8.1 being used on my work machines and retired HTPC. I put too much faith in Microsoft. Thought that if MS make the hardware and the software this machine would be a seamless experience, it was a complete fail. When I open the lid on my Macbook it turns on quickly. Surface laptop does not. If it hasn't drained on standby you press the power button and it might startup/resume. No tweaking of settings could replicate the Mac. Running Chrome exactly the same way I do on my Macbook would destroy battery life. I fine tuned Chrome as best I could but it seems background tasks must be causing issues with Windows which simply aren't present on MacOS. Automatic screen/keyboard brightness on the Surface was all over the place, on the Mac it's spot on every time. On a positive note, the face unlock feature on the Surface was great…provided the battery hadn't drained flat since the last time I used it. Anyway, sold it and went back to my 2013 Macbook…still using it. I'm not an Apple fanboi, don't like their phones but when it comes to a complete, reliable experience and long lasting battery life Apple still have the lead I feel. Maybe the Surface 3 has improved? I have my doubts….

  • +1

    I would go for a MacBook over Windows any day, if you are looking for stability and "set and forget" thing. Another plus is since you have an iPhone, the overall experience in an Apple ecosystem is amazing. Like you can send/receive texts from your laptop, copy something on iPhone and paste on Macbook, send a file from iPhone to a Macbook. Features like these make Macs awesome.