My MacBook Pro with Boot Camp

How to turn your MacBook in a great Windows laptop with Boot Camp

May 16, 2021 | Reading time 5 minutes

Back in 2015 I would have told you were insane putting Windows on a Mac with Boot Camp. A crime against humanity and the art of computing. I loved Mac and macOS and Windows was mediocre at. But things changed. Apple released and continued to build flawed MacBooks, and Microsoft rapidly improved Windows.

Fast forward to 2021. I have played with Windows in the past years, but moved back to the Mac when Apple released the improved 13″ MacBook Pro in spring 2020. Which turned out to be the last Intel version of this laptop. I loved it. It was fast and finally had a good (and reliable) keyboard again.

Then came macOS Big Sur. Without going into the details: I’m not a fan. Meanwhile I was still using Windows on the side and the ease of keyboard navigation started to grow on me. It does that better, and more consistent, than macOS. Windows even felt more snappy. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Mac, but Windows 10 has improved a lot since its release.

And now I’m here writing about how to boot camp your MacBook into Windows. It turns out that my Intel MacBook Pro from 2020 is an excellent Windows laptop. Who would have thought.

Installing Windows with Boot Camp

Now you know why I installed Windows on my MacBook Pro, lets look at how you do that. It’s easy thanks to Boot Camp. This is one of the best experiences I had with Apple Software. It creates a partition for you installing Windows and installs it. Even non-technical people can do this.

Download Windows 10

We start with downloading Windows 10. Choose the Windows version, your language and 64-bit download. Windows is downloaded to your Downloads folder.

Screenshot Select Windows edition
Select the Windows edition
Screenshot Select Windows language
Choose your preferred language
Screenshot Select Windows 64-bit
Select Windows 64-bit

Launch Boot Camp

Next up is opening Boot Camp. Before we do that, we unplug all unnecessary external devices like USB drives. We don’t need them because the Windows file is in the Downloads folder. Click Continue.

Screenshot Boot Camp Assistant in macOS

Boot Camp automatically selects the downloaded Windows file. You now choose the size of the Windows partition. Make sure you have enough space for Windows, because you can’t change this without fully reinstalling Windows. In my case I assigned 256 GB.

Screenshot Disk Utility in macOS

By clicking Install macOS creates the partition and installs Windows on it. This can take some time.

You can learn more about Boot Camp on Apples website.

After installing Windows

Once Windows is installed it guides you through the set up which is the same as on any other Windows computer. It also launches Boot Camp Assistant. Follow the steps for finishing the installation and ensuring everything works as it should. Even the Touch Bar works with the settings you have in macOS.

One thing that misses are the touchpad gestures for Windows, but you can fix that with a few clicks. Download Windows Precision Touchpad Implementation from GitHub or install it through Chocolatey.

Boom! Your good to go with a great Windows laptop.

Performance

This performance surprised me. My MacBook is actually faster running Windows than macOS Big Sur.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Apple removed Boot Camp from Apple Silicon M1 Macs. Did they test it, and did it perform better with Windows on ARM? I don’t know, I’m just guessing. All I know is that my MacBook Pro is faster with Windows than with macOS.

Booting up macOS takes up to 30 seconds. With Windows that’s constantly less than 15 seconds. That’s 50% faster! And the same goes with launching apps as you can see below. The time is measured in seconds.

App macOS Windows
Mail app 2.3 0.7
Calendar app 1.7 1.2
Notes 2.3 n/a
OneNote 8.0 1.0
Safari 3.4 n/a
Edge 7.7 0.9
Chrome 3.6 0.9
Affinity Designer 30.2 11.0
VS Code 2.8 2.8
FileZilla 1.9 1.3

One note regarding Affinity Designer. It launched way faster before updating to macOS Big Sur and version 1.9 and up of Affinity Designer. This makes me worry about that Intel Macs will age faster than they did before.

Battery life

A point of concern for me was battery life. I was afraid that it would be worse with Windows, because Apple “optimizes everything”. Nope. I didn’t measure it extensively, but it’s at least on par with the MacBook running macOS Big Sur.

Keyboard layout

One thing you should keep in mind is the keyboard layout. The Command/Windows key on Macs and Option/Alt are reversed compared to Windows. I tried both PowerToys and SharpKeys for altering this, but that didn’t work. It would also be inconvenient with an external keyboard which I use a lot at my desk. Besides, my mind sees Command as the Windows key and in practice I don’t make that many mistakes with hitting it.

What doesn’t work

Everything on the MacBook works except two things:

  • Windows doesn’t recognize the fingerprint reader. Probably due to settings by Apple.
  • Every now and then the laptop doesn’t automatically connect to WiFi after rebooting.

Both are small inconveniences, but no deal breakers for me.

Conclusion

I wish I installed Windows sooner on my MacBook. It makes a very good Windows laptop. It’s still early days, but I think it’s on par with my experience with the Surface Laptop.Today I used macOS for the first time in about a week on my MacBook and oh boy, it is slow compared to Windows.

If you have a MacBook and find it slow or if your done with being locked in the Apple ecosystem, try boot camp it with Windows. It may surprise you.

p.s. I wrote an article about Windows with tips and tricks for people who want to get more out of Windows.