Windows vs Mac: Which is best for college?

Updated on June 10, 2020

The age old question appears once again. Windows and Mac are pitted against each other once more. This time we discuss whether Windows or Mac is better for college. 

As always, this is a tough question to answer and it ultimately comes down to your personal preference and your needs in college. However, we’ll be going over the pros and cons of each in this post and hopefully crown a winner.

College is an amazing time of your life. You’ll see new places, make new friends, learn new things, have the occasional mental breakdown during finals. It’s an overall great time. 

You’ll also need a great laptop to keep you going through all of this and hopefully make those breakdowns a bit less stressful. But is a Mac or Windows laptop right for you? Well there’s a few things to consider before you make your big decision.

Windows Vs Mac: Which Is Best For College?

1. Major

I know, I know. It’s the question every college student hates the most but it is important to know when deciding what kind of laptop is going to be best for you. Mac is known for its stellar performance and can run lots of intensive software needed for certain majors like art and media, for example. 

Check out our article on whether or not Windows or Mac is best for programming if you’re looking into computer science or software engineering.

2. Budget


As a college student, you may not have a huge budget to work with. Macs are notoriously insanely expensive. With Windows you at least have more options to choose from and a lot of them can be quite inexpensive yet still rather powerful. 

If you have a decent budget and can afford a Mac, you’re sure to be investing in a long-lasting, powerful machine. 

If your budget is more modest, you can still find great Windows laptops that will last you your whole college career. 

For example, I had an Asus ultrabook that lasted me all four years of undergrad and even through my postgraduate years so there are still plenty of great Windows laptops you can get that will work perfect for you.

3. Features

Do you want portability? Probably. You’ll have lots of classes, clubs, and meetings to be going to. Do you want something that is budget-friendly? Also, probably yes. How about a good battery life? Yeah, you’ll want that. 

These are all important features for a college student but you may have more personalized features that are unique to you. Do you like playing games on your laptop? How about editing photos or videos? You’ll want to think about what features are you’re going to need to be happy at school.

Source: studybreaks

4. Preference

To be completely honest, the answer to this question will always come down to your personal preference as a consumer of technology. If you’ve always used a Windows computer, this article should not be the nail in the coffin of your Windows days and vice versa. 

If you’re most comfortable using one or the other, you will find a way to make it work best for your needs as a college student. The best way to use this article is more as a guide to finding what product is going to work best for you.

Pros & Cons Of Windows vs. Mac For College

Mac Pros

  • Ultraportable
  • Powerful
  • Long-lasting

Mac Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited selection
Source: 9to5mac

Macs are known to be incredibly powerful machines. They’re well made with powerful hardware which make for long-lasting devices that are well worth the expensive price tag over time. 

They tick all the boxes for performance because of their streamlined hardware and software. However, it is possible to get a Windows laptop with the same specs as a Macbook Pro that is vastly cheaper.

Macs are going to be ultraportable which makes them a great traveling laptop. This is going to be important for the student who is constantly moving from building to building, class to class, coffee house to coffee house. 

However, you can also get super portable Windows laptops so the Mac doesn’t exactly beat out Windows just yet. 

Macs have great all day batteries and can easily pull 13 hours off the charger. That is another plus for the college student. You don’t want to have to worry about that battery and finding an outlet when you’re sitting in a lecture hall of 500 other freshman.

…If you’re doing art or media, you’ll find that your university will likely have a Mac lab for your use..

If you’re doing art or media, you’ll find that your university will likely have a Mac lab for your use that is going to have all the software and power you’ll need to get your work done. 

This is because Macs are great for photo, video, and music editing and much, much more. They are specialized machines and work well with the software you’ll probably be using. 

You may be inclined to use your university’s lab because it will definitely be more powerful than whatever laptop you’ve got in your bag, windows or mac. 

However, if you feel more inclined to use your own laptop in the comfort of your dorm room or wherever you like to study, both Windows and Mac will be able to give you the performance you need.

The Macs biggest drawback (as has already been mentioned above) is the outrageous cost. There have been many polls and surveys taken of college students which show that Mac would be the most popular option for college students if cost was not a factor. 

Most students are like Mac for the brand, the style of their laptops, their ease of use, and their durability. However, a majority of the students taking part in the survey use Windows because of the cost.

If you’re willing to pay more than $2000 for a machine that can be matched in performance, durability, and versatility by a Windows laptop for far less, you’re likely shopping for the brand and not necessarily its features. 

That’s perfectly fine. If you’ve always used a Mac, you’re going to be most comfortable on a Mac. But for those looking to get a laptop for college, the Mac is not your only nor your best option. 

Windows Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Large selection
  • Variety of features

Windows Cons

  • Not as durable
  • Susceptible to viruses

..Windows will almost always beat Mac in affordability and that is often the most important factor to the college student…

Windows will almost always beat Mac in affordability and that is often the most important factor to the college student when choosing their college laptops. Macs are simply not affordable. 

College students stereotypically don’t have a lot of money to throw at a laptop. You have many more expensive things to worry about when you’re just starting out in college: tuition, textbooks, accommodation, coffee, etc. 

You can get Windows laptops that are powerful enough to get you through college for less than $200. 

More realistically, you’ll be spending around $500 to get a laptop that has the most important features like enough storage for your files, enough memory for your browsing, and a processor that’s going to keep you going.

Windows offer a far larger selection of laptops to choose from and most of those options come with even more customizable features so you can find the laptop that works best for you. 

Mac fails in this because you basically have two options with very limited customizability and you’re still going to pay nearly $2000 for it. 

Source: microsoft

Some may find this range of variety intimidating and to be honest, it may be for some. To have thousands of laptops to choose from can be overwhelming.

Many Mac users will claim that Windows are far less durable over time. However, Windows computers can be just as long-lasting as Macs with proper care. 

Where Windows laptops can fail is virus protection. Virus protection software (in the form of a trial subscription) often comes preloaded on your Windows laptop. 

Personally, I’ve never fallen for this gimmick and it’s one of the most frustrating things about owning a Windows laptop. Getting rid of bloatware is a headache which Mac users do not have to worry about. 

Windows laptops are more susceptible to getting viruses and malware than Macs but this is easily rectifiable by the user.

Overall, this question really comes down to personal preference. Personally, my Windows computer got me through 6 years of university and is still alive and kicking. I only upgraded to a better Windows computer so I could run games better. That’s my preference. 

The truth is, both Windows and Mac laptops will be able to get you through your college career. They both have their advantages and disadvantages and it ultimately comes down to your preference and comfort.

Article by:
Jordan Noland
Jordan is a tech wiz with several years of hands on experience researching and testing new products. Whether it’s a killer new gaming rig, a college laptop sure to last you your whole degree, or a sleek new tablet, Jordan has the know-how to get you started on your way to new and exciting tech adventures.

Leave a Comment