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Dell XPS vs Apple Macbook Pro Conundrum


DevonChris
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My 2011 Macbook Air has just died - looks like the SSD drive is failing, even though I have repeatedly run fsck on it.

I mostly use a Dell i7 desktop with 32GB RAM and AMD R9 GPU with Premiere Pro CC for video editing, though I have FCP X on the MB Air which I have used (and like) for basic 1080P editing too.

I'm thinking of getting a powerful laptop to replace the MBA and have been looking into either Dell or Apple refurbs. Not sure which way to go, to be honest, so opinions gratefully received:

Option 1) Dell XPS

  • Core i7 6700HQ
  • 16 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB SSD
  • 15.6 4K UHD Infinity screen
  • Windows 10
  • Price including three years NBD warranty : £1510

Option 2) Apple MBP May 2015

  • 2.2 Ghz Quad Core i7
  • 16 GB DDR3 RAM
  • 256 GB SSD
  • 15.4 inch 2880x1800 Retina screen
  • Intel Iris Pro Graphics
  • Price including three years Apple Care : £1639

Option 3 ) Buy a cheaper MBP (8GB RAM?) and stick to the Desktop for video editing. I only occasionally need to edit video on the road.

Obviously spec wise, the Dell XPS leaves the MB Pro in the dirt, but I do get issues with Windows 10 (desperately hoping for a 10.1 release) on my desktop, and I have had a good experience with my MBA, apart from this very recent hardware problem.

I am not going to spend more than this on a laptop so a MBP with dedicated graphics card is not an option.

Thanks

Chris

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I think the new technology is coming, those Thunderbolt 3 external video cards to make laptops more powerful when it's not being mobile. If you only occasionally need to edit on the run, maybe using proxy would be a good idea to save computing power?

Windows 10 is working flawlessly on my desktop though, but I would still suggest a Mac.

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31 minutes ago, gsenroc said:

I think the new technology is coming, those Thunderbolt 3 external video cards to make laptops more powerful when it's not being mobile. If you only occasionally need to edit on the run, maybe using proxy would be a good idea to save computing power?

Windows 10 is working flawlessly on my desktop though, but I would still suggest a Mac.

Thanks. yep, its good to see Thunderbolt 3 becoming more widely available. The Dell XPS has a Thunderbolt 3 port now whereas the 2015 Macs have Thunderbolt 2 ports :-(

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2 hours ago, DevonChris said:

Thanks. yep, its good to see Thunderbolt 3 becoming more widely available. The Dell XPS has a Thunderbolt 3 port now whereas the 2015 Macs have Thunderbolt 2 ports :-(

Yea the Macbook Pro is now spec wise falling behind, but they are not far away from a new release cycle. We probably will see Thunderbolt 3 there.

I have a custom built PC as well. It's really hard to beat the price and performance, and most softwares I use are cross-platform or even cloud-based so I'm quite happy with it ;)

But just don't consider surface pro/book at the moment, not before they fix the battery issue. It's still horrible, making my SP4 a bit hard to work with.

 

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I have an XPS 15 and have been quite happy with it. 

For 1080p editing it should be great. 

While mac can have good performance with FCP, editing with premiere offers the same performance as an equivalent spec'ed windows computer. On top of that I wouldn't use a computer without a dedicated GPU card, since it is very important for accelerating effects. 

For anything higher that 1080p I would either use proxies or stick with the desktop (which might still need proxies :) ). 

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20 minutes ago, Don Kotlos said:

While mac can have good performance with FCP, editing with premiere offers the same performance as an equivalent spec'ed windows computer. On top of that I wouldn't use a computer without a dedicated GPU card, since it is very important for accelerating effects. 

Thanks for all the helpful replies.

Your point, Don, about needing a dedicated graphics card hits the mark with my concern about the MCP. I just can't justify spending £2k+ on a MBP with a dedicated graphics card, when I have a good Windows Desktop that can handle 4k well, particularly when its transcoded to Prores.

Whenever I need to purchase a new desktop or laptop, I go through a similar dilemma. The Apple products are just so much more expensive and lower specced than the Windows competition, so I usually go for Windows. However after plumping for the Macbook Air four years ago, I have been really pleased with it and it has never let me down, until now.

 

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3 hours ago, Don Kotlos said:

While mac can have good performance with FCP, editing with premiere offers the same performance as an equivalent spec'ed windows computer.

I know it's hard to spend the money a Macbook Retina costs, even more if you compare it with a similar PC. But if you use FCP X all the money is well spent!!! 

If you are a Premiere guy, get a PC!

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If it's just the SSD failing, they're dirt cheap these days. Just clone up a new one from the backup you do every night. (You do backup every night, right?) 

That won't get you more horsepower, but I still run an old G4 aluminum laptop for music to one of my stereos, they're handy to have around and a 2011 could be the heart of an on-set footage transfer rig. Would at least keep your current machine running or give it resale value.

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Don't get a high end Macbook for that price unless it has dedicated graphics. Iris Pro... no thanks!

Has to be Nvidia or AMD for future proof Premiere / Resolve / video editing performance and at least 2GB video RAM. At least.

The CPU and all the rest is nowhere near as important as the GPU for video editing.

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33 minutes ago, M Carter said:

If it's just the SSD failing, they're dirt cheap these days. Just clone up a new one from the backup you do every night. (You do backup every night, right?) 

That won't get you more horsepower, but I still run an old G4 aluminum laptop for music to one of my stereos, they're handy to have around and a 2011 could be the heart of an on-set footage transfer rig. Would at least keep your current machine running or give it resale value.

Thanks, Michael. I had wondered about changing the SSD on the MB Air. Luckily I had it hooked up with Time Machine so at least the data is ok. Good point about using it for on set data transfers if I can get it running again.

 

34 minutes ago, Andrew Reid said:

Don't get a high end Macbook for that price unless it has dedicated graphics. Iris Pro... no thanks!

Has to be Nvidia or AMD for future proof Premiere / Resolve / video editing performance and at least 2GB video RAM. At least.

The CPU and all the rest is nowhere near as important as the GPU for video editing.

Hmmm those Iris Pro graphics seem to be a showstopper. I'm not going to spend £2 k plus on a MBP with dedicated graphics.  Maybe it's time to say goodbye to Macs.

Thank for all the help so far.

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Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but the MBP is supposed to be moving to Skylake (new cpus) in the next few months, so there will be a refresh. If you are going for an integrated GPU, the new models will have a better one. Though in saying that, its a lot to spend on a work laptop without getting one with a GPU. Apple moved back to AMD graphics with their last MBP refresh and I think theres mixed feelings about this as theres no longer CUDA support. Personally, I know a lot of people say you have to get on the bus eventually and cant keep waiting for the next computer to come out, but I'd seriously wait for the next machines this time and maybe save the extra to get a dedicated graphics card if you are set on a RMBP.

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8 minutes ago, Calum MacPhail said:

Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but the MBP is supposed to be moving to Skylake (new cpus) in the next few months, so there will be a refresh. If you are going for an integrated GPU, the new models will have a better one. Though in saying that, its a lot to spend on a work laptop without getting one with a GPU. Apple moved back to AMD graphics with their last MBP refresh and I think theres mixed feelings about this as theres no longer CUDA support. Personally, I know a lot of people say you have to get on the bus eventually and cant keep waiting for the next computer to come out, but I'd seriously wait for the next machines this time and maybe save the extra to get a dedicated graphics card if you are set on a RMBP.

Apple have got to catch up in the specs war, as they are being outgunned at the moment, it seems.

A MBP with a Skylake cpu and a dedicated GPU would be fantastic, but chances are it will also be expensive and I'm not sure I can wait a couple of months as I use a laptop a lot.

 

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I guess the choice you have to make is wether you'd prefer to focus more on FCPX? When it first came out, it broke my heart, I loved 7. I've since moved to Premiere and they've made a lot of moves to make it similar to FCP 7, including keyboard shortcuts and the like. Though I hear these days that FCPX is a powerhouse and not to be overlooked, so I guess it depends wether you want a machine that could do premiere and FCPX?

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I like FCPX so I will miss it. I also use Premiere on my desktop PC, so its not a problem to chose one over the other, although I don't like the Adobe subscription model.

I came across some YT video reviews about the XPS, which say that the screens have over saturated colours and white balance issues.

Hmmm, this is not an easy decision!

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2 minutes ago, DevonChris said:

I came across some YT video reviews about the XPS, which say that the screens have over saturated colours and white balance issues.

Don't listen to the average person over the internet. You have to calibrate the monitor or at least download the profile that was developed at notebookcheck

I have been using the previous generation XPS and it has a great monitor. Peple were just using the wrong settings! See a report at anandtech.  

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11 minutes ago, Don Kotlos said:

Don't listen to the average person over the internet. You have to calibrate the monitor or at least download the profile that was developed at notebookcheck

I have been using the previous generation XPS and it has a great monitor. Peple were just using the wrong settings! See a report at anandtech.  

Awesome information, Don. Many thanks.

I normally calibrate my monitors with Xrite, however I wasn't sure about the high white balance mentioned in the reviews.

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38 minutes ago, Don Kotlos said:

Don't listen to the average person over the internet. You have to calibrate the monitor or at least download the profile that was developed at notebookcheck

I have been using the previous generation XPS and it has a great monitor. Peple were just using the wrong settings! See a report at anandtech.  

Dell monitors are very nice, including those in their XPS laptops indeed. In fact I know most of my friends are/were using Dell for photography editing and they do recommend them. For the price it's really nice.

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