MacBooks don’t suit everyone, especially when it comes to the price tag and people who need extra power and customization. Check out all the disadvantages of a MacBook in 2023.
MacBook is easy to learn. Astoundingly powerful. And designed to let you work, play and create in ways you never imagined. It’s the computer that comes packed with apps that are ready to go right out of the box. Free, regular software updates keep things up to date and running smoothly. And if you already have an iPhone, it feels familiar from the moment you turn it on. But, what are the disadvantages of a Mac?
We’ll help you understand if Apple laptop is worth your money by highlighting major disadvantages or limitations of Macbooks. By the end of this article, you’ll know whether you should spend your hard-earned money on a MacBook or if you should purchase a windows PC.
1. High prices
There’s no getting around the fact that Apple charges a lot for MacBooks. You can argue that some of this balances out—Apple MacBooks hold their value, so you can usually resell them years later and make a decent amount of the cost back. But people tend to dislike expensive computers, especially one that’s perceived as a status symbol like Apple MacBook.
The cheapest current Mac, the Mac Mini, will set you back $599, but you can get super-basic Windows PCs for under $300 that will work just fine for basic tasks, such as running a web browser.
The same thing goes for laptops too. The cheapest Mac laptop you can buy is the $999 MacBook Air with M1 chip. There’s the first MacBook disadvantage. $999 is a lot of money for a computer to perform simple tasks. Meanwhile, you can get Windows laptops under $600 that will handle simple tasks just fine.
The most expensive Mac, the Mac Pro, has a base price tag of $5,999. And if you start to tinker to the point of maxing one out, expect to spend more than $50,000.
Comparing spec-to-spec between Windows and macOS PCs it becomes clear that you can get a lot more for your money with the former. Or, can you?
Apple often claims that the cost of its products is rooted in the quality and superiority they offer against other brands. But, there’s no absolute truth to these claims. This is just spectacular marketing.
Apple’s high pricing isn’t just for laptops, though. As mentioned above, MacBook accessories like dongles and chargers cost a lot of money. Apple’s upgrades are also way above the manufacturer’s price. Going from the base 256GB of storage to 512GB on a MacBook Air costs an additional $200, even though you can buy a high-end 500GB Samsung 980 Pro SSD for around $130.
2. Limited upgrade potential
I’ve upgraded Mac hardware from time to time, of course: Older MacBooks used to be fairly easy to open up and add/replace RAM and storage. Newer models, however, are built as system-on-a-chip, and while upgrade modules exist from some third parties, they’re extremely expensive relative to PC upgrades, and basically amount to replacing all of the internal logic components at once.
In practice, it makes more sense just to buy a new Mac than to upgrade the components in an M1 or M2 machine. And because someone will bring it up: Yes, the $6,000 Mac Pro is much more upgradeable, of course, but it’s in a totally different class of machine than anything even enthusiast Mac or Windows users are likely to buy. We’re really not talking about workstations here.
The range of hardware upgrade options for Windows PCs is at least as vast as the array of off-the-shelf PCs available for sale. CPUs, GPUs, RAM, storage drives, USB controllers, capture cards, just about anything that can be put inside a computer is available as a fairly easy upgrade for a desktop PC.
While laptops are generally proprietary and much more difficult to to upgrade beyond swapping out RAM and storage, a few allow for CPU and GPU module upgrades that can be done by anyone with a screwdriver. One particularly interesting option: The Framework is designed for DIYers and tinkerers, letting you build your own laptop and customize it to your desires.
When the time comes, my windows desktop machine will be ready for easy GPU upgrades. The case pops open in seconds, and all components are within easy reach.
3. MacBooks offers limited customization
Apple computers are less customizable than many Windows PCs and laptops. For many, the original hardware inside their Apple computers will work fine, and most probably don’t want to tinker around with upgrading parts. But anyone who does want to tinker around will have limited options with Macs.
Plus, you can build your own PC with exactly the parts you want. It’s surprisingly easy, not to mention satisfying.
You can build your own “Hackintosh” computer, but you’re limited in what parts you can use, and macOS is a pain to update and maintain on computers that aren’t made by Apple.
It feels weird to call Windows an “open” operating system, but compared to macOS, Windows is a big ol’ open playground of customization possibilities, both for hardware and software.
The Windows OS is also generally more customizable than macOS, although a great many utilities exist for both platforms.
Overall, you’ll find more settings to tweak in the Windows operating system than you will with Apple’s macOS operating system — formerly known as Mac OS X. More advanced users will find value in those extra settings. That said, Apple has a clear bias against encouraging users to tweak the look and feel of their OS, while Microsoft has long fostered a community of theme developers to help users personalize Windows to their tastes.
The PCs’ big performance advantage across the board is the ability to tweak hardware performance.
Overlocking software interface
Even off-the-shelf PCs include tools for overclocking and tweaking your hardware performance.
A knowledgeable PC user can overclock CPUs and GPUs, shut down system processes, and tweak every element of the software and hardware to optimize performance. Most gaming PCs come preloaded with performance management software just for this purpose, making it easy even for relative novices to overclock.
4. MacBooks have fewer hardware options
There’s no getting around it: The PC ecosystem is just massively vast. While the Mac range offers a healthy variety of form factors and performance levels, it doesn’t even come close to the breadth of PC systems available for purchase off the shelf.
Apple is the only company that creates its own Mac computers, and you have fewer choices when it comes to designs and specs. Having fewer options can make it easier to pick a computer, but it doesn’t always suit someone with more advanced requirements.
You don’t get much choice when it comes to the processor and RAM with Macs, for example, which dictates how much power the computer has and how smoothly it’ll run.
Since Apple moved its Mac lines to the company’s own CPUs, buying a MacBook means selecting an M1 chip or an M2. That’s it, unless you want a Mac Mini with an Intel Core i5 or i7, or a $6,000 Mac Pro with a Xeon.
By contrast, the mainstream Windows PC range presents an abundance of CPU choices. Intel Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 CPU lines each offer multiple options, as does the copious AMD Ryzen family. If you’re not easily thwarted by decision-paralysis, the Windows world gives you a lot more room to customize.
More hardware choices also means more pricing options. The lowest end MacBook, the 2020 MacBook Air, runs $999. A comparably spec’d Windows laptop can be had for $350. It won’t be Apples to “apples,” of course, because Mac hardware is proprietary, but the performance will be similar. Meanwhile, high-end PCs offer incredible specs in a vast array of form factors for every specialized need, from gaming to intense Intel Xeon-powered graphics workstations. At pretty much every price point, you get more hardware for the dollar with a PC than with a Mac.
5. MacBook has a smaller, less flexible software ecosystem
Both Windows laptops and MacBooks come with a healthy ecosystem of first-party apps, such as email, calendars, note-taking, and reminders. Apple’s offerings on MacBooks are still barebones. Notes and Reminders have come a long way in the past five years but still don’t match up to many third-party apps. Apple Mail is dismal, despite Apple’s mediocre updates since MacOS Ventura.
Thanks to Microsoft’s Your Phone app for Android, you can get a lot of the same functionality on your Windows laptop as you would on a MacBook, such as messages and file transfers (up to a limit). Samsung phones, in particular, work extremely well with Windows.
You’ll also get Microsoft’s excellent first-party apps built right in. Microsoft’s productivity software is light years ahead of Apple. Even the base Windows Mail client is more functional and easier to use than Apple’s horrible Mail app. OneNote is a beast and possibly one of the greatest productivity apps ever created.
Because Windows constitutes roughly 76 percent of the global computing market share, and developers around the world who’ve never even seen a Mac in person are cranking out apps constantly, the numbers game here is obvious. I don’t want to overblow this, because most of the really major productivity suites out there work on both platforms just fine. But if you want seemingly unlimited options for software in just about every category, Windows wins hands-down.
6. If you want to play video games, MacBooks are not great option
Another disadvantage of a MacBook is that you simply cannot enjoy Mac gaming the same way you can enjoy gaming on a Windows laptop. Sure, there are some big titles available on MacBooks. You can cloud game with Game Pass Ultimate, Stadia, and GeForce Now. But you can’t get all the functionality, smoothness or any offline capabilities.
Anyone who wants to play video games on a computer should buy a Windows PC, hands down. Only a fraction of the games available can be played on Macs, and anyone seeking high-end graphics won’t find them on Macs because they lack the power.
The biggest game studios develop for Windows first, then consoles or mobile. The biggest gaming titles tend not to be available for Mac at all.
Wanna play Call of Duty: Warzone II, Fortnite, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7, or just about any of the top 20 games in 2023? You can get all of them on Windows, most of them on Xbox or Playstation, and even the Nintendo Switch has quite a few. A couple run on Macs, but you’ll run out of options fast.
You can certainly try running an emulator or virtual machine on your Mac, and there are ways to stream your games from a PC, but these are all kludges and hacks, and yield poor results. If gaming is your thing, Windows is a must.
7. MacBooks are expensive to repair
Another big disadvantage of a MacBook is that they are difficult and expensive to repair. While it’s easier overall to get a Mac repaired, it can be a lot cheaper to get a Windows PC repaired.
Whether you bring your Mac to the Apple Store or a certified Mac repair store, the prices are generally higher than they are to repair a Windows PC. If your MacBook is under warranty, the repair would be free. But it can cost upwards of $700 to get a single defective key repaired on a new MacBook or MacBook Pro, according to Apple Insider.
8. Most MacBooks don’t come with commonly used ports.
Another notable disadvantage of Apple MacBooks is that most of them come only with USB-C ports. That means you can’t plug in monitors that use HDMI, SD cards for photo transfers, and other regular USB accessories, such as external hard drives, without a USB-C adapter.
Having to use a USB-C adapter to plug in non-USB-C accessories is, in a word, frustrating. If you forget your USB-C adapter, you can’t use your non-USB-C accessories. If you lose it, you have to buy a new one, and it’s an annoying extra cost.
To be fair, USB-C is the evolution of connecting everything to your computers. USB-C plugs and ports support the so-called ThunderBolt 3 standard, which can be used for charging your laptop as well as hooking it up to a monitor and other accessories all in a single port instead of needing to plug your devices into multiple ports. And it transfers data a lot faster than previous USB and Thunderbolt versions too.
With all these MacBook downsides, the only reason you should choose an Apple computer over a Windows laptop is if you want to be comfortable inside that Apple garden. You give up the diversity of accessories and apps, as well as the ability to really game, but you get a polished, good-looking computing experience.
Everyone else should get a Windows laptop. You’ll have so much more freedom to use the machine how you want. You shouldn’t even be considering a MacBook if you’re packing an Android phone. There really isn’t a choice for gamers, either. It’s Windows or bust.
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