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[I strongly agree this is totally very opinionated question, thus narrators feel free to vote to close it if you feel it is right, but I find endless pros and cons on the Internet, I've decided to ask the community here.]

Surface Pro 6 or Macbook Pro for Data Scientist Job?

About 8 years ago I was a Windows user. The most annoying part was that it was a quite unstable. It is noted that I was not a developer or a data scientist back then. Anyways, I moved to Mac OSx both at work during my PhD studies since it was a better choice for doing Computational Physics. I totally felt great with such a smooth, stable OS that allows access to Linux kernel as well, and eventually I bought a Macbook Pro for my personal use.

At present I am about to start my new role in industry as Data Scientist. The whole team is based on Microsoft, even very few developers in the team using the latest Surface Pro 6. They give me a choice of either Surface Pro 6 or Macbook Pro, although I felt it was implied they would rather me going with Surface Pro 6 (still I can choose!). The configues will be exactly the same as I wish, so this wouldn't matter.

Obviously I am leaning towards Macbook Pro as I have been with for some time now and am quite efficient and productive. Nevertheless, majority of other employees are Windows-base, and I feel if I go with Mac I would be an outlier.

At the same I am not feeling completely stranger around Windows and I am not totally blind! In fact recently I hear in the news a lot about Microsoft drastic changes naming: incorporating Linux kernel starting from end of this month (would be so sure if it would work as the Mac one though) in Windows 10 Pro, Visual Studio Code is a product of Microsoft that has been gaining lots of interest and I am using and loving it and perhaps would run even more smoother in Windows machine than Mac, and not that it is very relevant but Widows acquired GitHub. it is worth to mention that I will have GPU if I go with Surface Pro 6, and has a nice touchscreen feature too!

I guess I still looking for an actual use case, where someone did in fact had such a transition recently, and would appreciate sharing your thoughts and feedbacks.

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    $\begingroup$ I just transitioned from Windows only to a dual boot Windows/Linux setup. I left the Windows ecosystem because of how much more difficult it was to install particular packages that were much easier to install on a Unix based system (a lot of packages for example require installation of a bunch of Visual Studio extensions which I never intended to use, though you might get more benefit out of these perhaps?). Also, no forking on Windows (as far as I know) is annoying, though nitpicky. Finally, all of the forced updates at the worst possible times (despite disabling update manager) ... $\endgroup$
    – aranglol
    Jun 13, 2019 at 4:23
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    $\begingroup$ pushed me over the edge. That being said, at your workplace you guys will probably be working in Python/R/SQL through stuff like Spark maybe and so does it really matter what OS you use? I suppose for stuff like forking there might be some compatibility issues, in which case it would probably be better if you use what everyone else uses at your workplace. I doubt learning Windows will take you that much more time, though I also predict you growing frustrated as do a lot of people who do heavy computational work on their computer. I'd also like to add that the GPU... $\endgroup$
    – aranglol
    Jun 13, 2019 at 4:27
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    $\begingroup$ ...is probably not going to be all that useful unless it's a higher end card. Even then, chances are you will be turning to AWS/Google Compute/Azure for those kinds of tasks where GPU's are needed (i.e. deep learning) rather than using a relatively slower card. $\endgroup$
    – aranglol
    Jun 13, 2019 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot for your comments. You have some key messages. I am also afraid that I may have some team-integration issues if I go solo with Linux (Mac) system. At the same time I am aware that I will lose all nice unix command like smooth functionalities that I am so used to! Windows by nature pushes you to click actions. And that hassle to get packages installed in Windows you mentioned now worries me too. In Linux machines it is a super convenient!! Oh man... $\endgroup$ Jun 13, 2019 at 6:26
  • $\begingroup$ I voted to close, as this is a very opinionated formulation of the question. Plus the title target a very narrow choice of hardware. However, I think the question can be partly salvaged if you ask about main limitations of a given OS / main differences between OS on a more specific problem. $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2020 at 12:40

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Although once asked I knew this was a very subjective question, and I was not looking for specific yes or no, but rather hearing the community's experience, here now I would like the share the following short conclusion for those that might have to make a similar decision.

  • Golden Rule is Majority Voting What I do mean by that is that it is best to be aligned with other team members and the companies's IT support. If majority or all are Windows based, then one should go for that, and vice versa for Linux, otherwise you are on your own and will suck up much of your time to get certain things up and running (printer driver etc.).
  • Minor Differences I have witnessed minor differences actually. I have to admit that I do miss Linux terminal. Windows has been trying so hard to integrate a proper terminal, but so far all solutions like Windows PowerShell or cmd or Ubuntu terminal for Windows or even Anaconda Prompt doesn't give that freedom and experience one have with Linux kernel. The rest is pretty much the same, and there has been no really big issue for me migrating from Mac OSx to Surface Pro 6.
  • Hardware/Software Stability: For long I have been biased that Mac OSx is the most stable OS one could experience, perhaps due to terrible past experience working with Windows (Win 98, XP, 2000 etc.). Although still typical issues remain, which is true to all OSs, I have to say that Windows there days is a super reliable system comparable to Mac OS if not better, you know for daily tasks (I am not bench-marking anything here) and not causing dramas. For the Hardware, honestly if we account for Hardware for Price comparison, Windows wins. It is far more powerful better CPU, RAM, Graphics, Storage for the price you pay. I would get a much lower performing Mac OSx, and nothing is worst that having worried about 250 GM storage you have, while you can get a double or tripple space easily in a Windows equivalent machines. Certainly if price is not a concern, one should not be concerned about this as well. Last but not least, since we are comparing Hardware, I have to mention I am loving my touchable Surface Pro 6 display, and one can detach the screen to turn it to a Tablet which is awesome, and the screen itself is so durable, in contrast to a super sensitive Mac screens. Please note I am not advocating for Windows, just stating facts and sharing personal experience using both.

In case over long period of time, these facts change, I will get back to this post and update again my personal high-level experience.

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