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Soluto's PC Purchasing Guide for Small Businesses has just been released and the surprising result - culled from hard data from 150,000 PCs: the best Windows PC is the MacBook Pro 13 by Apple (AAPL). Yes, that is correct, the best PC on which to run Microsoft (MSFT) Windows, is made by arch rival Apple.

In the study, the MBP 13 received a score of 1.05 besting Acer's Aspire E1-571 at 1.12, and Dell (DELL) XPS 13 at 1.28. Apple's MBP 15" Retina model came in #6 with a score of 2.51, while #10 was the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon with a score of 3.2. In all, they evaluated 47 currently available models.

Macs run Windows?

I think that most people know by now that Macs have the capability of running the Windows operating system. There are emulator programs such as VMWare (VMW) Fusion and Parallels Desktop that allow you to run Mac OSX with Windows running as an emulation, but these give you a performance hit. The simpler way, if you should want to run Windows only, is to use the Apple provided software called Boot Camp that allows you to set a disk partition with one partition holding Windows. It has been available since 2006 when Apple switched its computers to use Intel processors. With it, your Mac boots up directly into Windows OS.

What is "Best"?

Of course, what defines best is rather subjective, and all depends on how this is defined. Soluto, which "is a web service that helps you get more from your PC…," uses a very analytical, data driven definition. Their database contains millions of data points on real user events. They focus on the "frustration" factor in computing - events that impact a user's ability to get work done. They write:

This report is based on Soluto's big-data frustration analytics. It is unique because it is based on long term, ongoing analysis of a huge number of PCs, taking into account events such as application crashes, application hangs, blue-screens-of-death, long boot times and excessive number of background processes.

Their model evaluated 5 parameters:

Parameter

Average

Min

Max

Application crashes per week

1.85

0.74

3.24

Non-responsive events per week (hangs)

1.18

0.4

2.16

BSoDs per week

0.08

0.01

0.2

Background running processes

78

60

94

Boot time

167s

57s

251s

[source: https://www.soluto.com/reports]

[Note: BSoD = Blue Screen of Death, or system crash. - ed.]

This, of course, may not be your definition of what determines the best laptop, but surely it has some value.

What they say

The MacBook Pro is the most expensive PC among the top 3, but if you're looking for top reliability - the data is clear. MacBook Pro is the best Windows PC on the market.

There are definite disadvantages to using Windows on Mac. First - there's more work to do (buy windows, set-up BootCamp, install Windows, etc). Also, the keyboard is not optimized for Windows (e.g. no Del key), and there may be driver issues. But on the other hand, the Mac has an amazing trackpad unparalleled by any PC, and has a very solid build.

In the end, the data speak clearly: The MBP 13 is the most trouble-free computer of the lot.

Conclusion

Now some will argue that PCs are dead. This is, of course, hyperbole. While the PC may be approaching a time when they are no longer the dominant computing device in terms of number, no one realistically believes that they are going to disappear anytime soon. This is particularly true in the office where compute power, screen real estate, and comfort of input (i.e. good keyboards) are important. This study is related specifically to business usage.

What does this all mean? Well, with the price differential, it is unlikely that every single businesses will run out and pay $1200 for #1 MBP when the #2 Aspire is only $429. Yet the wise buyer relies on many factors, not just one study.

Acer, for example, does not come highly rated otherwise. LaptopMag wrote in 2012:

Although Acer offers aggressively priced laptops, the overall user experience trails other brands.

And this year's review:

However, reviews continue to be mixed… and support is just middle of the road, leading to a second-to-last finish in this year's survey.

Apple computers, on the other hand, continue to get by far the highest satisfaction ratings of all brands. (See: here and here)

If you go to Amazon's Laptop page, 4 of the top 6 most popular units are MacBooks. The number 1 is Samsung's Chromebook at $249, in spite of the price that is many times higher, Apple has four of the next five spots.

So what does it all mean? Apple spent years working on one thing: building the very best products they could. Now it seems they are getting recognition for this even in some very unlikely places.

To me it is clear that continued growth of this recognition will only lead to a greater appreciation of all items in the Apple brand.

The Mac line has continued to gain market share slowly but relentlessly, as businesses learn that the initial price is only a portion of the overall cost of a system, that long term value sometimes overcomes short term savings. That is to say that there are other factors that need to be included into the economic equations:

  • platform stability affects productivity, losses here are economic costs,
  • stability affects support costs,
  • long term product life needs to be factored into the original product cost,
  • platform usability affects training and support costs.

This appreciation of the more complex factors should lead to greater Mac sales and growth of computer market share - a very good thing for the Apple investor.

Source: Best Windows Laptop? MacBook Pro!