Sorry Apple, we’re breaking up. Bill Gates has my heart now.
I’m going to contradict myself here a little with this review, especially after reviewing the refreshed MacBook with the touchbar back in December and saying how awesome it was.
(Note: Apple recently released a MacBook with a newer processor which I haven’t used yet so I can’t comment on that.)
A few months ago I quit my job as a DIT which ultimately lead to me also quitting post color and doing photography full time. And now I don’t have to be on Mac OS anymore because of the proprietary Apple ProRes codec that the film industry can’t seem to get away from… I can do whatever I want now.
Keep in mind I’m a HUGE Apple fanboy so making the switch wasn’t easy, I tried to hold on to Apple as long as I could but they’re just not doing it for me like they used to. The only Apple device I have left is the iPhone 6S+, which is solid.
Earlier this year I sold my Mac Pro for a 18 core Xeon HP Z840 Workstation and basically it’s the coolest thing ever. That’s one of the reasons that got me thinking of switching, Windows is actually pretty cool now and is cross compatible with most Mac things narrowing the gap a little more. Having two computers on the same OS is pretty great too.
Being a Mac user for the past 7 years (12 years on Windows prior to that) the switch was an iffy one but definitely worth it. Microsoft has been stepping up their game pretty hard the last few years where as Apple has been falling behind, unfortunately. Still love my iPhone though! The transition definitely wasn’t as bad as I thought, Windows 10 is pretty solid and smooth, smooth being the keyword. With the jump from Windows 8 to 10 I feel like the OS actually utilizes all the hardware resources for whatever task your doing now instead of it all going to running the OS. OSX always had a nice flow to it and I feel like Windows is finally at that point where it won’t be super foreign to a Mac user.
So why did I switch so soon after buying the new MacBook?
Well to be totally honest, the XPS is just better all around spec wise. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the MacBook and I loved using it, the XPS is just better for what I want to do now. The real deal breaker was the 4K display with the sweet touchscreen and 100% Adobe RGB accuracy. It’s really hard to find a display with 100% Adobe RGB especially a mobile 4K workstation with one, the Apple display just doesn’t match up. I think the MacBook is P3 calibrated which is more geared toward film rather than photos which is perfect if you’re in that field of work… which I no longer am. After using the XRitePro calibrator I can confirm it is in fact 100% color accurate.
When I was considering the switch I also had a maxed out Surface Pro in mind. I ultimately didn’t go with it because I felt like it wasn’t powerful enough to keep up with my workflow since I shoot with the 50mp 5DSR and the files are huge at almost 9K x 6K resolution. Definitely a cool device to keep in mind for the future, the tablet laptop design is very light and convenient for traveling.
If you’re curious how the touch screen is, it’s so amazing! No complaints at all, super smooth and accurate and fun to use. I won’t be using it all the time but I can totally see situations where it’s faster and easier to use, like swiping between photos when tethered shooting.
I got mine with the following specs:
- 15.6″ Infinity Edge 4K (3840×2160) Touch Screen @ 100% Adobe RGB Accuracy
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 4GB DDR5 GPU
- Intel i7 7700HQ Quad Core @ 2.8ghz / 3.8ghz Turbo
- 32GB DDR4-2400mhz RAM
- 1TB PCi-E NVME Flash Storage
And here’s the best part… it’s cheaper than the MacBook! Lets be honest with ourselves here, the only reason the new MacBook is so expensive is because of the touchbar which no one is going to use. Could I of still used the MacBook and did whatever job I needed to get done? 100% yes, but given the option why not get the better machine? The touchbar is actually pretty great for Premiere Pro and Davinci Resolve but outside of that I’m not sure why you would use it.
There’s no such thing as a perfect device, there is definitely cons:
One downside which the MacBook will always win is the dimensions and weight and sleek design. The Dell XPS is a little bigger and half a pound heavier, I specifically went with the MacBook at the time because of this. My camera bag is usually in the 28-30lb range when I take everything so every little lb matters. I guess I’m contradicting myself again, at least the XPS is more powerful. However for a windows computer the design and feel is definitely not bad at all. The keyboard feels great, especially compared to the 2016 MacBook.
One thing I loved about the MacBook was all the thunderbolt 3 ports could also charge the device. I’ll love not having to bring a bunch of dongles everywhere but they should of made it chargeable from the thunderbolt 3 port. The only way it charges from the TB3 port is through Dell’s 4 cell USB-C portable charger and that’s it. Definitely miss that flexibility of charging from either side of the laptop, not a deal breaker though.
The trackpad on the MacBook was HUGE and Apple’s trackpad’s are always amazing, not to say this one isn’t bad but just not “as” nice as Apple’s.
The speakers are pretty bad to be honest, they lack that “full” sound, whereas the MacBook was amazing. Maybe it’s because Apple owns Beats? Probably the least favorite thing on this laptop and I’m not a fan of headphones.
Final Cut X – The greatest editing software ever, I’m going to miss it. Just kidding, I’ll never miss FCPX. #Premiere4Lyfe
I feel like Apple is doing the right thing by pushing for TB3/USB-C and wireless despite everyone still using “legacy” hardware. We can’t go to the next level of technological evolution if we keep holding on to the past, so personally I would of like to have seen more thunderbolt 3 ports and less old ports on the devices. Just personal preference though.
Just for fun I put it against the 18 core Xeon HP Z840 (GTX 1080×2, 64gb ram)
5K R3D footage un-rendered 2 minute Clip to 4K uncompressed 10 bit (Media Encoder)
- Dell XPS: 10 min 22 sec
- HP Z840: 7 min 58 sec
Honestly for a laptop I think It’s pretty fast given the spec difference.
While there’s no way for me to physically show how it is editing photos I can say it’s a super smooth experience. I use a 5DS and 5DSR and the raw files are pretty decently sized at 60mb or so per file so editing can get choppy sometimes depending on the computer. I can honestly say I experienced little to no lag while editing, even after adding a bunch of adjustments and masks in camera raw, regular Photoshop runs really smooth as well.
If you’re still on the fence about Mac or PC go to your local Microsoft and Apple store and compare the two. Most major malls have both!
At the end of the day it boils down to personal preference and what you’re going to be using the device for. If you work in film you’re basically beholden to Apple because of the ProRes codec in most cases and because everyone else also has one. If you’re any other type of creative professional then you can go either way. Every few years there’s always a shift in trends, from 2010-2015’ish it was all about Apple everything, now it’s shifting more towards PC. With the rise in thunderbolt 3 and thunderbolt making their license open I don’t know if we’ll ever see a hard shift to either side again. The gap between Apple and PC is very narrow now and both are powerful enough with modern technology to not have to be one or the other. Only time will tell.
If you’re interesting in picking up a Dell XPS you can check them out here.
If you still fancy Apple you can get the latest MacBook here.
Thanks for reading!
Follow me on social media: