Mac or Pc for mechanical engineering students(solved)

a lot of students are wondering what they should choose mac or PC for mechanical engineering.

if you are one of them this article is for you.

In this article, we’re going to make a comparison between mac and PC for mechanical engineering, and finally, determine which one is better for mechanical engineering students.

we’re going to treat a subject from 4 aspects

  • hardware powerfulness
  • comfort and portability
  • software support
  • affordability

1- hardware powerfulness

the most important thing that mechanical engineers need from a laptop or a computer is to have powerful hardware to run heavy software likes:

  • CAD
  • Matlab
  • FEA
  • Solidworks

so we made a test comparison between mac laptops and PC or windows laptops, in this experience we tested:

  • MacBook air
  • MacBook pro
  • hp dragonfly
  • XPS 13
  • windows laptop studio
  • ThinkPad

we picked the best laptops windows and mac laptops to see what is the difference, or which is the most powerful device that a mechanical engineer could use, and here are the result.

Ram Test

 Macbook pro

Macbook Air

XPS 13

Windows laptop studio

ThinkPad x1 carbon

Hp dragonfly

Single core test 







 Multi-core test







 total Ram








to explain more about a test:

this test is evaluating a ram and CPU powerfulness, test is divided into 2 parts:

  • Single-core test: in this test, we evaluate the speed and efficacity of a laptop ruining simple tasks like writing, browsing, editing etc
  • Multi-core test: in this test, we evaluate the speed and powerfulness of a laptop running heavy softwares like in your case CAD or Solidworks, also gaming applications

As we can see in the first position we find a MacBook Pro and MacBook air having scored more than 9000 which is 44% better than any windows laptop in the market.

The secret behind the powerfulness of the mac is the M1 chip, it is very powerful than intel or processor. In addition, it is more energy effective by consuming 50% less energy than its peers.

We’re going to talk about that later in detail in our article.

So if you are a mechanical engineer and looking for a powerful computer machine there is no competitor to a mac, it beat a PC in the powerfulness test.

But things don’t end up easily at this level because you will be surprised about mac machines in the next paragraph.

2 – software support

For mechanical engineering having a good laptop that supports all applications they need is the priority, for this reason, we decided to make a comparison between Mac and PC and see how they support the 5 pillar mechanical engineering softwares:

  • CAD
  • Solidwork
  • FEA
  • Matlab

1 – CAD

you can run CAD in your MacBook Pro or air but the problem is you need to install an intermediate app called rosetta to make a translation between an M1 chip and a software CAD.

Simply because CAD is developed and based on intel chip processors, you won’t have the flexibility or take full advantage of running CAD as PC or Windows users.

in other words, it is expectable to face some problems, but normally CAD is still working in MacBook m1.

2 – Solidwork

But if we talk about Solidwork the history is totally different, in other words, if you have a MacBook pro, air, or even mac you won’t be able to use it. Solidwork works only in windows computers which are bad news for mechanical engineer students.

you have only 1 method to use SolidWorks with a MacBook which is :

  1. you should have a MacBook intel chip not an M1 as a first thing.
  2. you have to BootCamp to windows or install windows to run SolidWorks. So for this reason you need to have a MacBook intel processor because if you have a MacBook M1 chip you won’t be able to do that.

The same thing for mechanical engineer students who have MacBook air versions, you need to have an intel-driven version to BootCamp to windows if you want to run Solidworks.

So if you want to run SolidWorks in mac you will face a lot of problems and limitations. So pc or windows computers are the best choice in this case.

3 – FEA

FEA is an interesting software that mechanical engineers use to study how materials behave under mechanical stress and forces. If you are a mechanical engineer you would know about that.

But for freshman or future mechanical engineering students, you have to learn how to use this software is very interesting in a mechanical engineering major.

FEA software doesn’t work in mac computers it is only working in windows computers. So for people who have a MacBook M1 chip, this operation is impossible.

You should buy a MacBook intel base version which 3 times more costly than a MacBook M1 chip. As a result, you will not be able to benefit from the powerfulness that the MacBook M1 chip has.

So the only thing to run FEA software is you need to have a windows operating system to do that.


the fourth software that mechanical engineers use is ANYSYS to solve numerically the mechanical problems and a lot of details that we won’t dig into. But the bad thing is this software is not supported in IOS operating system.

So if you have an M1 MacBook laptop you won’t be able to run this software. Because simply you can’t BootCamp to windows as we said in previous paragraphs.

So you have to buy a Windows PC or laptop or at least have a MacBook intel version which is useless.

5 – Matlab

running MatLab is essential for mechanical engineering students, but the problem is if you need to install Matlab on a MacBook pro M1 chip you have to install Rosetta as an intermediate software to run it on your computer.

Or you need to have a MacBook Intell-driven processor to not face this issue. So windows laptop remain the best alternative in this case.

To be fair Matlab is still working on the MacBook M1 chip but windows or PC is performing better.


According to the 5 examples of softwares that we noticed previously we find that mac has terrible results in terms of mechanical software compatibility.

Most mechanical software programs aren’t supported by mac M1 chips, you always have to install an intermediate program or BootCamp to windows operating systems.

or the last solution which is running some software by could service but is useless.

3 – affordability

mac computers especially laptops are getting more affordable each year. If we compare between mac and Pc or windows we find apple becoming more competitive about the price.

we gathered the best laptops and famous laptops by students and here in the table below the prices difference.

Business laptops

Macbook Air

ThinkPad x1 carbon

MacBook pro 13

XPS 13

Microsoft laptop studio

Hp elite dragonfly


starting at







As we can see MacBook become the cheaper laptop among the other windows versions. That is to say, it is cheaper by 30% than hp laptops or windows studio laptops.

So apple becomes more competitive about pricing which is a good advantage to count.

4 comfort and portability

In the comfort and portability test between mac and PC we will study 4 aspects:

  • design
  • weight
  • battery
  • noise


mac comptuer or laptops have good and pretty designs they have slim and finner product. Most apple or mac computers have an excellent appearance.

Apple always focuses on simplicity they don’t complex and put a lot of stuff in their designs. they keep a design more dynamic.


when we talk about weight we talk about comfort, so made for you as a mechanical engineer student a detailed comparison between the best and famous mac and windows laptops.

In addition, we compared also the charger weight. So to know how much weight you put in the backpack. you will find the all results in the table below.


ThinkPad x1 carbon

xps 13

Hp dragonfly 

Macbook air

Macbook pro 13inch

Microsoft studio surface

Device weight 







Charger weight 














MacBook is lightweight but the bad thing about them is their charger, is heavy compared to other windows laptops. But if you don’t pick a charger with you it won’t be a problem in this case.

But in general, there is no bigger difference between mac or Pc in terms of weight for a mechanical engineering student.


we also made a test between mac laptops and windows laptops in 2 cases:

  • in intensive use running software like cad or Matlab
  • playing video games

So there are the results that we found in our tests:

and here is what we found in gaming tests:

Business laptops

ThinkPad x1 carbon

XPS 13

Microsoft laptop studio

MacBook pro 13

Hp elite dragonfly

Battery life

4h 10min

2h 50min

1h 59min

5h 1min

4h 05min


if you are a mechanical engineer who doesn’t love noisy laptops we made this test for you to compare between mac and windows laptops and here are the results.

Macbook Air

 Mackbook pro

XPS 13

Windows laptop studio

ThinkPad x1 carbon

Hp dragonfly


0 dB

26 dB

35 dB

37 dB

40 db

45 dB

So if you want to have a quiet laptop there is no doubt that MacBook is the quiet or silent laptop to choose from, especially MacBook air it is completely silent it doesn’t have a fan.

you can watch this video to see more information about this subject.


to sum up, having a mac instead of a PC comptuer is not a good thing for a mechanical engineer even of its hardware’s powerfulness, but what is matter to have a powerful mac that doesn’t support the majority of mechanical engineering software that students need.

So it is recommendable to have PC if you think to use it for mechanical engineering, it is the best and wise decision to choose.

you could read this article is mechanical engineering fun? 9 important facts


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.