Time to switch? – Thinkpad vs. MacBook Pro – Part I

I’ve been an IBM Thinkpad user for the last ~7 years. By and large they’ve been good to me. I think in those 7 years I’ve had 6 different Thinkpads. On average one a year. Only two failures to speak of; the first a hard drive failure on my T20 which had been whining for weeks so I had good backups. The 2nd a screen failure when an airport screener (one of those new anal post-9/11 types) dropped it taking it over to the bomb residue tester. So for 7 years of heavy laptop use not a bad record. However more and more I’ve got my eye on making the switch to Apple. Thinking back; my first ever computer that I did any *real* work on was an Apple IIe. Wrote some LOGO programs in an after school computer class.
Today my first reason to consider the Mac is that my day-to-day work can all be done(I think) without the support of Windows or Linux as my primary OS. Using Windows as my primary desktop for more than a decade has I’m sure left some scars. However most of what I do these days can be moved to just about any modern OS. Let’s see… Web based AJAX email, calendar, and contacts client. Thunderbird for offline IMAP mail. IDEA for software development. Firefox for web programming and surf’n the net. FTP, SSH, WinZip, etc. Lots of little productivity tools that can be replace in any OS. So for the most part being internet connected a bulk of the time let’s me do most things on the web.
The second reason is a common one echoed by geeks around the blog-sphere and the net. OSX is more secure, it’s Unix, it s *real OS*, it’s got nice UI candy, yadda yadda yadda. Nothing new there but for the most part I agree. The third and key factor is that Mac laptops have finally caught up speed wise with Apple’s switch to the Intel chips. For years the even the highest end Apple laptops suffered severe lags in performance compared to their IBM counterparts. For a developer or someone who uses a laptop for more than just a word processor and internet kiosk this is a huge deal. Before the MacBook Pro it just wasn’t feasible to use a Mac laptop as your primary machine if you wanted to get the most performance. The forth and final reason I’ve identified is that in my space and geek space in general an Apple is just cooler than a Windows machine. Ok so this is hard to prove and it’s a bit of a religious topic but I had to add it. So with that my delima begins. To Mac or not to Mac? Stick with Thinkpad and the new Core Duo T60’s or leave IBM (ahem.. Levono) behind and take the plunge with MacBook Pro?

I’m obviously not the only person looking at this issue.

What do you think?

Kevin Henrikson
Kevin Henrikson leads engineering for Microsoft Outlook iOS/Android. Previously, he co-founded Acompli and ran engineering prior to an acquisition by Microsoft in 2014 for $200M. Before Acompli, he was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Redpoint Ventures, a venture capital firm for early stage technology companies.

By Kevin Henrikson

Kevin Henrikson leads engineering for Microsoft Outlook iOS/Android. Previously, he co-founded Acompli and ran engineering prior to an acquisition by Microsoft in 2014 for $200M. Before Acompli, he was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Redpoint Ventures, a venture capital firm for early stage technology companies.

17 replies on “Time to switch? – Thinkpad vs. MacBook Pro – Part I”

i got the same question. t60 2007-b28 agains macbook v2 black. you can take both on a stage, no problem concerning style. hm….

OK guys, What are you thinking about the heating problems that Macbooks got? Because I am thinking of buying a new Laptop, and I am choosing between Apple and Lenovo. I am most concerned about the reliability, Cuz I can not afford to buy a new laptop after a year?

Thank you for the help

1) Parallels/VMWare will let you run Windows without a problem. Slight performance penalty but it’ll work. Apple’s Boot Camp will let you run Windows at native speed. So one idea is to install windows in boot camp and for day-to-day use Parallels to run the Boot Camp install along with Mac OSX. When you need max speed reboot and run native windows.

2) Parallels and Boot Camp.. for gaming Boot Camp is the answer.

agree with you that MAC OS X is the best OS in the world…
but Thinkpad is better than the MacBook!

Thinkpads are the best laptops you can buy imo, and the new revamp of the T & R series are amazing. Macs are not more stable than a , stability issues come from poor 3rd party hardware & software. Most people compare the macbook pros ect with crappy laptops made with low quality parts, and software with horrible driver programming. Get a high quality windows machine and its just as stable & secure as a mac, with better flexibility and a myriad more application support.

As far as being virus free, well if you were a hacker/virus writer, why would you write anything for what amounts to a few percentage points of the worlds computers, when you can write one for a platform that accounts for almost every single one? If macs were more common, you’d find just as many virus’s taking advantage of the many security holes found in Mac’s OS just like you do windows. Good anti virus and being remotely intelligent about what you open in your emails = no virus’s ever.

OK I agree to Derek. I just want to sale my mac as soon as possible. I have it since 2006 and I am so disapoited that this “superstar-machine” works just on the same level as ‘regular’ and cheap pc machine. Even more that I found software like iphoto,imovie, dashboard, idvd so bad and primitive that I am still suprised of it.
Just sale it and get thinkpad asap !

The argument I’ve most heard for picking Mac over Thinkpad is that a person can do most everything they need to on a Mac these days. I agree – can’t argue with that. So what we’ve got is two machines that will both do what you need them to do. A nice Thinkpad with discrete graphics is $1100. A Macbook with discrete graphics is $2000. Get the Thinkpad.

Thinkpad = rugged (not so sleek looking), ultranav

Macbook = sleek looking (not so rugged), no ultranav

Those are really the only differences now (other than price i guess) – you can run OSX or WinXP on either.

I like the thinkpad running OSX personally. The touch-pad mouse thing gives me carpal tunnel issues, and I don’t like the external mouse – because I like to be able to compute in full effect while, for example, sitting on an airplane or whereever without carting one more misc item.

Ultranav kicks ass once you get used to it, and I believe apple has some ego issues to deal with before they would adopt something similar.


I just sold my Mac pro days ago and get new TP X300. I’m not saying MAC is not good enough, but it’s really hard and unconvenient when I used MAC in the school….terrible!!!

TP X300, i really love it.

I will get a Thinkpad and install Linux on it. Switching from Windows to Apple is from bad to worse in the sense you waive complete control over your computer to a monopoly company.

I’m having issues… I have a vaio, 6 years old.VERY disapointed… to try to avoid simular let downs I’ve done major research on what to get in reasonable prices but durable hardware and software flexibility. So, I’m down to macbook pro and IBMwell- lenovo thinkpad W500. Thinkpads have better processors. They are fast.. you really have to try to bring that computer down And by being able to costumize your computer with such a big range of choices, thinkpads take the lead. What i want is 1.619$ and the coressponding macbook is 1.999$. So pricewise, thinkpads also win. i am familiar with windows running in macs but the efficiency is inferior-nothing too critical but still if you need windows aplications, macs are not a good choice. I currently need windows because in Europe all assays, presentations, programmes etc are done in a microsoft inviroment and there are convertion problems. But longterm – in say 3 years they will not be as essential. Ok, it sounds like thinkpads are the way to go on every level but the ‘cool’ factor of a sleek smooth machine can;t be ignored.
And the fact that people don’t really use many macs and viruses aren’t going around in a wide range is a +. Macs are as ‘closed’ as there is and that’s kinda reassuring. It’s hard for them to ‘crush’. How about windows 7 basically copying macs? I don’t know.. they are both strong machines.. and they can both do pretty much whatever you might want them to do. In the ever changing world of computers.. ahich will be better longterm?

I’ve recently switched over to using a Thinkpad T510, its a pretty durable and reliable laptop. It runs pretty fast and doesn’t overheat if your don’t play games. Very reliable, and tough. 2 small problems that annoy me is that the trackpad isnt very sensitive, espicially the scroll up/down and magnify option, and also the fingerprint scanner isn’t very accurate or responsive.

i am a ThinkPad user till 2006 ThinkPad made by IBM was really great, then i switched to macbook pro for the last 5 years, today i feel that i need to go back to ThinkPad but i am not sure about the Lenovo ThinkPad…

I recently switched from a thinkpad to a macbook pro and would never go back to a windows machine. If you need specific applications that only run on Windows then chances are they are for school or work in which case your university or employer will have a machine for you to use or there will be a computer lab where you can use those apps, etc. Windows works reasonably well in a corporate or other large network environment where there is an entire IT department configuring, deploying, and maintaining the Windows installations. For a personal machine it is such a pain in the ass. Some people seem to actually enjoy spending time fixing bugs in Windows, getting their system to function, managing antivirus software, and so on. But why spend your time on that when you can spend it finding new applications, writing code, doing web development, and other productive stuff. I don’t understand how switching from Windows to Mac is “handing over your computer to a complete monopoly company”. You can install Windows on a Mac or Ubuntu or whatever the hell you want. 10% of the market is hardly a monopoly. If I remember correctly it is Microsoft, not Apple, finding themselves in never-ending antitrust battles with various governments.

Macbooks have problems just like all other computers.But have less.Also,one thing to think about is resale value.As much as i hate it,it’s a reality we all have to face as updated PC’s are always around the corner.I’ve had ”cheap” 300-400 laptops that really sucked and some that lasted well over 5-7 yrs that still run good.Same thing with mac.Some needed to be replaced and some i have that are a decade old.Mac’s quality control has gone down hill over the years and are assembled in China due to high labor costs in the US.But are still the best bet all around.And you can add apple care a year later when the one yr warranty is just about to run out.And is very worth it as apple has the BEST customer service bar none.They will replace it no ?’s asked.Lenovo TP’s are good but i’ve had way too many (w520,t420,….)that had too many features just give out.I’ve had them since IBM and after IBM sold out to lenovo and they are NOT the same.Mac can run just about everything so thats a plus.Iam a computer engineer and i can tell you that if you take a mac apart they are better built,quality,placement,and flow so much better.It all boils down to who has less problems..Look at lenovo forums and look at all the problems compared to mac forums…..

I switched from Thinkpad to PowerBook in 2002. PowerBook > PowerBook > MacBook Pro > MacBook Pro > MacBook Pro….now thinking of going back to a Thinkpad W520.

I miss the track point, what else can i say 🙂

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