Windows PC for Mac user

Nobody needs 4TB unless they are editing video. 1TB is sufficient. Save some money.

This may be way off base, as it only considers the experience of one person (my older son), who only got interested in medicine after he graduated college. He was accepted into a one-year post-bac program at a reputable medical school, and use only his MacBook Pro. He then went on to four years of medical school at the same school, and used only a MacBook Pro (and an iPad for notes while on rotations). He’s now a resident, and as far as I can tell, still only uses the MBP and iPad, though his specialty (emergency medicine) often doesn’t allow time for the doc to make notes — they have coders for that. (“Coder” in this sense refers to assistants who assign a billable code to each action/piece of material used by the medical team, rather than someone who writes code.)


I’d echo the thoughts of others on here

I spent nearly 40 years working at a university in the UK. I was constantly surprised at the numbers of students turning up with high-end MacBook Pros. They were/are probably the single most popular brand on campus, but students have a huge range of computing options open to them nowadays. I know of students completing their university career up to thesis using just an iPad; some with no computer at all, and just using shared public resources. To be so restrictive in a computing policy seems, at least, curious these days.
Our university has a general policy of being platform-agnostic unless there were very good reasons to favour one particular platform. I’d go back to the university and ask for specific examples of Windows-only software that she will have to use.


A minor correction: most of the XPS laptops are upgradeable, but some are not. For example, the XPS 13 subnotebook fills a similar niche in the Windows marketplace to the one that the 13" MacBook Air fills in the Mac world, and it similarly uses soldered RAM and SSD storage.

Dell’s sales site (at least in the USA) generally includes a model-specific support link on the bottom of its system configuration pages, so it is easy to check the model’s user manual and/or service manual for upgradeability before making a purchase.


True. This made me laugh, too, remembering my college days at a small liberal arts college where one of my friends and I had an unofficial, friendly understanding with IT that we’d help with tech support for students while our jobs on the VAX that may have “somehow” had their priorities set to higher levels would be ignored. I doubt you’d manage that these days, but this was a long time ago and everyone was happy.



I’ve been the tech support person asked to help students in the sciences because their department didn’t support Macs. There are often work arounds, but not having official support can make using digital work flows for completing assignments or collaborating with peers or sumitting a non-standard file format via a portal difficult.


I’ve just finished helping a friend through a similar process; he’s going to be working as communications support for summer wildfire service, and the comm equipment needs specialized Windows software; he’s used Macs by preference before.

After going through an initial selection process, we settled on a ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and bought it through Lenovo’s refurb store, after seeing some positive experiences online. Turned out to be a disaster. The machine kept hard freezing during setup and initial Windows updates, Lenovo’s support was terrible, and after them sending a restore disc that failed to help, he finally had to send it back for a refund.

We also looked at the Dell XPS 14, but ended up rejecting it because of the changes to this year’s model line. From what I could tell from reviews, this year’s models adopted the design from last year’s XPS Plus models - high performance processors without the cooling support to handle thermal loads in extended use. For a laptop intended for use in remote wildfire command posts, that was a hard ‘no’.

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For field use, you might take a look at a ruggedized model. They generally are more expensive than consumer models, but it might be worthwhile. Several manufacturers offer them.

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We talked about that some; but the rugged models are out of his price range (just checked your link; he was looking to spend around $1000-1400, and a rugged 14" with 16GB/512GB is almost $2200) and almost certainly overkill (this is going to be used at a mobile command post, which may be outdoors but will be well back from the front lines).

When I last talked to him, he was looking at the Asus Zenbook 14".

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Keep in mind you can just get your student an appropriate Windows laptop now, and then sell it to another student when it is no longer needed and put the proceeds towards what they want at that time.

A quick side-bar about universities/institutions and “supported” web browsers:

I am finding it more common to see things like “Firefox not supported”. While this is occasionally true, there are usually work-arounds. My personal feeling is that often these “supported” statements may simply indicate the web coding team only tests on Chrome/Edge.

While I cannot make any guarantees, we have had a good deal of success with Firefox in “unsupported” environments using something simple like the User-Agent Switcher and Manager add-on. Just set it to identify as either/both “Chrome” and “Windows”.

This may not always work if you are interfacing with a specific feature requirement unique to Chrome. In most cases the only real problem with this method is downloading software may default to the incorrect type (ie. Windows executable vs. macOS). The add-on is easily turned off on the fly, or you can often just do a few more clicks on the web site to manually download the desired installer.

Of course it may be easier to keep Chrome installed for those “special needs” web sites. :grin:

Definitely. I keep three browsers installed on my main Mac, because not everything works well on just one:

  • Safari - because Apple bundles it

  • Firefox - My preferred browser

  • Edge - For when something needs a Chromium engine. Because I trust Microsoft more than I trust Google. (Wow, how the times have changed over the last 20 years!)


I do the same, but use Vivaldi or Arc instead of Edge.

I keep Safari, which I use by preference, Brave so I have something built on Chromium but without the profound snooping of Chrome, and Firefox just in case — where “just in case” refers to those edge cases where site or some functionality within the, won’t work on either of the first two.