Register FAQ / Rules Forum Spy Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Go Back   MacRumors Forums > Apple Hardware > Buying Tips and Advice

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old Jun 25, 2011, 08:53 PM   #1
MrPudding28
macrumors newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Mac vs PC for Computer Science

I am thinking of going into a computer science degree program when I go to college and I need to get a computer. I am trying to decide between two computers, the Alienware M14x and the 15" Macbook Pro.

The specs for the Alienware are:

PROCESSOR Intel® Core™ i7 2720QM 2.2GHz (3.3GHz w/Turbo Boost, 6MB Cache

OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate, 64bit, English

MEMORY 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz

VIDEO CARD 3.0GB DDR3 NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 555M using NVIDIA Optimus™ technology

HARD DRIVE 750GB 7200RPM SATA 3Gb/s

LCD PANEL 14.0" High Def+ (900p/1600x900) with WLED backlight

WIRELESS CARDS Intel® Advanced-N WiFi Link 6205 a/g/n 2x2 MIMO Technology

INTERNAL OPTICAL DRIVE 8x SuperMulti DVD±R/RW Slot Load Optical Drive

SOUND OPTIONS Soundblaster® X-Fi™ Hi Def Audio - Software Enabled

BLUETOOTH Internal Bluetooth 3.0

WARRANTY AND SERVICE 3 Year Advanced Plan

Total Cost: $2408

Spec for Macbook Pro 15"

2.2GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7
8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB
500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
MacBook Pro 15-inch Glossy Widescreen Display
Backlit Keyboard (English) & User's Guide
AppleCare Protection Plan for MacBook Pro - Auto-enroll

Total cost (Student discount + 7% MS Tax) $2587.26

Both of these computers have the same processor. They both have the same amount of memory, but the Alienware is 1600mhz vs Mac 1333mhz. I need a hdd at 7200rpm and the Alienware has a 750gb vs Mac 500gb. They both have the same type of disc drive. The Mac only has 1gb of video RAM whilst the Alienware has 3gb.

I know that the Mac has lesser specs and is more expensive, but I like how almost every aspect of OS X has a polished look to it, such as all of the icons are smooth and look sleek.

I will most likely go with the Alienware if I would have to buy a copy of Windows 7 to do either Parallels or Duel-Boot for the computer science software, because I don't want to spend more if I don't have to. I don't know if I would have to use Windows for the programming part of the computer science courses. I would snap up a Macbook immediately if I would only need Linux to do the programming and the like.

If Linux would be the only thing I need, then how much of the hdd should I partition for Linux so I can run all of the software?

If anyone has taken a computer science courses and could tell me what they used, what the rest of the students used, what programs they used, and how compatible a Mac would be for the software that was used it would be very beneficial.

I know that Macs are expensive because only Apple makes them and they can charge whatever the want, but the price for the hardware like the memory and the lack of choice for the video card, and how Apple won't ever seem to get a blu-ray drive. Also what is up with how Apple won't offer a 750gb 7200rpm hdd when you can easily fit one in the case?

I would like some impartial opinions (even though I'm on a Mac forum) for how well both of these machines could hold up In a computer science classroom.

p.s I'm sorry if this is in the wrong section, because I couldn't find a more appropriate place.

-MrP
MrPudding28 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:01 PM   #2
awer25
macrumors 6502a
 
awer25's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Macbook.

-It supports 1600MHz RAM too.
-Windows is only $29 with a student discount - possibly free depending on your school.
-It runs Windows too
- MBP is lighter and gets better battery life
- Go hi-res - when you're coding you'll want to get as much on the screen as possible
- Buy an 8GB RAM kit yourself and save $100
- Get a Squaretrade warranty - it's one of the best rated warranties in the country and has accidental protection, so when you drop it or spill a drink on it, it's covered.
- The M14x doesn't offer a Blu-Ray drive either
- You can sell your OEM Apple drive for more than the cost of a new 750GB 7200RPM drive.
- Your major will change.


That said, you can get a substantially similar M14x for $1700 if you just don't max everything out.

Quote:
PROCESSOR Intel® Core™ i7 2630QM 2.0GHz (2.9GHz w/Turbo Boost, 6MB Cache)
OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit, English
MEMORY 6GB DDR3 at 1333MHz
VIDEO CARD 1.5GB DDR3 NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 555M using NVIDIA Optimus™ technology
HARD DRIVE 500GB 7200RPM SATA 3Gb/s
WARRANTY AND SERVICE 3 Year Advanced Plan
__________________
Late 2013 13" rMBP | 4.9GHz i7 Hackintosh, 16GB RAM, GTX 780 Ti GPU, SSD | iPad Air LTE 32GB | 32GB iPhone 5S

Last edited by awer25; Jun 25, 2011 at 09:13 PM.
awer25 is offline   1 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:04 PM   #3
lindstedt56
macrumors regular
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Get the mac, alienware has a bad failure rate and are much clunkier. A macbook pro would last much longer then an alienware. Every college is different, you should call them and check out what they require. Your computer science program will probally have a program that allows you to pick up a windows lisence for very cheap or free.
lindstedt56 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:07 PM   #4
Scippy
macrumors regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Somewhere
Also, what's the battery life on the alienware compared to the macbook pro?
Scippy is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:07 PM   #5
maflynn
Moderator
 
maflynn's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Boston
It really boils down to how are you going to use the laptop and what apps you're planning on running.

The majority of replies here will be pro-apple, given that you posted this question on a Mac site. Conversely if you posted this on a windows forum, you'll get people stating that the alienware pc is better.

Ultimate its up to you. Is the alienware as light as the MBP? The last time I looked at alienware, they had some pretty hefty laptops. I'd hate to be lugging them around. I'm not sure if this model you have fits that category.

Pick the model that best fits your needs and budget.
__________________
~Mike Flynn
maflynn is offline   4 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:09 PM   #6
MrPudding28
Thread Starter
macrumors newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by awer25 View Post
Macbook.

-It supports 1600MHz RAM too.
-Windows is only $29 with a student discount - possibly free depending on your school.
-It runs Windows too
- Buy an 8GB RAM kit yourself and save $100
- Get a Squaretrade warranty - it's one of the best rated warranties in the country and has accidental protection, so when you drop it or spill a drink on it, it's covered.
- You can sell your OEM Apple drive for more than the cost of a new 750GB 7200RPM drive.
- Your major will change.
I haven't been able to see a student discount for the Windows OS disc could you paste a link?

Also how do I obtain a Squaretrade warranty?

Will people be willing to pay more for a hard drive that is like any other, but has a little Apple on it?

Should I skip out on the Applecare and just get the Squaretrade?
MrPudding28 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:10 PM   #7
lindstedt56
macrumors regular
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scippy View Post
Also, what's the battery life on the alienware compared to the macbook pro?
Macbook pro wins by a long shot
lindstedt56 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:12 PM   #8
balamw
Moderator
 
balamw's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: New England, USA
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrPudding28 View Post
I haven't been able to see a student discount for the Windows OS disc could you paste a link?
http://www.microsoft.com/student/en/...s/default.aspx

Your school may have a better deal even free via MSDNAA.

B
__________________
MBA (13" 1.7 GHz 128GB), UMBP (15" SD 2.8 GHz), UMB (13" 2.4 GHz), iMac (17" Yonah), 32GB iPad 3 WiFi+LTE, 64 GB iPad WiFi, 32 GB iPhone 5, Airport Extreme
balamw is online now   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:14 PM   #9
MrPudding28
Thread Starter
macrumors newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindstedt56 View Post
Macbook pro wins by a long shot

Featuring NVIDIA® Optimus™ technology and weighing less than 7 lbs.2, the Alienware M14x is capable of up to 6 hours of battery life.
MrPudding28 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:16 PM   #10
awer25
macrumors 6502a
 
awer25's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrPudding28 View Post
I haven't been able to see a student discount for the Windows OS disc could you paste a link?
Link
Also how do I obtain a Squaretrade warranty?
www.squaretrade.com, and keep an eye open for 20-25% discounts. ADH coverage is the accidental add-on.
Will people be willing to pay more for a hard drive that is like any other, but has a little Apple on it?
Yes

Should I skip out on the Applecare and just get the Squaretrade?
Yes
Integrated answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrPudding28 View Post
Featuring NVIDIA® Optimus™ technology and weighing less than 7 lbs.2, the Alienware M14x is capable of up to 6 hours of battery life.
Just an FYI - I've owned a LOT of laptops (although this 2011 MBP is my first Mac) and I've always found Windows battery life numbers to be greatly exaggerated. If it says "Up to 6 hours", count on 4 MAX, 3 more likely. The MBP though says 7 hours and I get between 5-7 hours consistently.

I updated my original list too btw.
__________________
Late 2013 13" rMBP | 4.9GHz i7 Hackintosh, 16GB RAM, GTX 780 Ti GPU, SSD | iPad Air LTE 32GB | 32GB iPhone 5S

Last edited by Mitthrawnuruodo; Jun 26, 2011 at 08:25 AM. Reason: Merging posts, please use MULTIQUOTE and/or EDIT...
awer25 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:23 PM   #11
balamw
Moderator
 
balamw's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: New England, USA
OP check if your school and department are part of MSDNAA http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/academic/bb250591

B
__________________
MBA (13" 1.7 GHz 128GB), UMBP (15" SD 2.8 GHz), UMB (13" 2.4 GHz), iMac (17" Yonah), 32GB iPad 3 WiFi+LTE, 64 GB iPad WiFi, 32 GB iPhone 5, Airport Extreme
balamw is online now   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:28 PM   #12
MrPudding28
Thread Starter
macrumors newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by balamw View Post
OP check if your school and department are part of MSDNAA http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/academic/bb250591

B
Yeah, it seems that that Southern Miss is a member of the MSDN Academic Alliance
MrPudding28 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:34 PM   #13
lixuelai
macrumors 6502a
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
OSX would be better for compsci. I switched to OSX during college because it is basically Unix which is what all the labs ran. I you go with the Alienware I suggest you dual boot Linux and code on Linux.
lixuelai is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:43 PM   #14
MrPudding28
Thread Starter
macrumors newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by lixuelai View Post
OSX would be better for compsci. I switched to OSX during college because it is basically Unix which is what all the labs ran. I you go with the Alienware I suggest you dual boot Linux and code on Linux.
Does basically being Unix allow it to run the necessary software on OSX?
MrPudding28 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:50 PM   #15
awer25
macrumors 6502a
 
awer25's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
If you're looking to save some money, you can always get this Dell XPS 17 for only $999 with coupon code B2X9T6F5PF9DFF. $1500 saved goes a long way in college

Quote:
Intel® Core™ i7-2630QM
Genuine Windows® Home Premium, 64-Bit, English
2 Year Premium Hardware Service
NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 550M 1GB graphics with Optimus
8GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3 Memory
56 WHr 6-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery
640GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive
17.3" FHD (1080p) with 2.0MP HD Webcam
Tray Load Blu-ray Disc BD-Combo
Intel® Centrino® Wireless-N 1000
JBL 2.1 Speakers with Waves Maxx Audio 3
__________________
Late 2013 13" rMBP | 4.9GHz i7 Hackintosh, 16GB RAM, GTX 780 Ti GPU, SSD | iPad Air LTE 32GB | 32GB iPhone 5S
awer25 is offline   -1 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 09:54 PM   #16
MrPudding28
Thread Starter
macrumors newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
It seems to me now that a Mac Laptop is the best portable platform, but I will be assembling a pc for gaming.
MrPudding28 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 10:01 PM   #17
Jason Beck
macrumors 68000
 
Jason Beck's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Cedar City, Utah
Send a message via MSN to Jason Beck
I would probably get a PC to start this. Okay so a lot of people use Mac.. But in the business world and home, a lot of people use PC. If you are getting a computer science degree you would probably want the PC knowledge of hardware and software. Upgrading, managing your bios and all the intricate settings, as well as more about how the hardware works. Unless you can plunk down money for a Mac Pro, you won't have this real world knowledge of PC's. Even then the Mac Pro isn't a PC.

There's knowledge you need on the PC side of things, integral to your degree. You can learn a great deal about how hardware works in computers by getting a PC. I would go that route. You can learn a lot about Windows on a Mac but it still isn't a true PC. Consider hackintoshing a desktop. That will also teach you a grip about how OSX works.

That is just my opinion. If I was starting a computer science degree at this point I would want to know about the headaches on the PC side and resolutions before going into OSX.
__________________
32/freelance photographer/Canon
Jason Beck is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 10:51 PM   #18
Nuckinfuts
macrumors 6502
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Syracuse, NY
I use my mac for CS, going into my senior year (2nd year with the MBP). Developing on mac is easier at my school since most of my classes depend on gcc and I'm a Terminal junkie, probably my #2 most used app after Chrome.

For PC knowledge, install Bootcamp.
__________________
Mid-2010 Macbook Pro - 2.4Ghz C2D - 500GB Seagate 7200.4 & 8GB G.Skill 1066Mhz RAM
AMD Athlon X2 6400+ @ 3.2Ghz, 4GB RAM, nvidia 9800GTX+ with 512MB, Windows 7 x64... and an apple keyboard...
Nuckinfuts is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 25, 2011, 11:42 PM   #19
Dr Kevorkian94
macrumors 68020
 
Dr Kevorkian94's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: # 12 Grimmauld Place
Depending on your college, the computer science curriculam differs. As an example some add programming, and since most of the world uses pc's so it might just be easier. but I would say get a Mac because even if u need to run windows u can, even Mac os an windows at the same time if needed. Even the hardware is better usually so I would think a Mac is better all around.
__________________
The Artfull Dodger
Dr Kevorkian94 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 26, 2011, 07:37 AM   #20
nhcowboy1
macrumors 6502
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: NH
Just a heads up . . . all those helpful links posted earlier in this thread ("Windows for $29!") will not get you Windows for $29. What they'll get you, if you're a university student, is an UPGRADE from the Student Windows edition to the Professional Windows edition. Absolutely no use at all to someone looking to buy the Windows OS disk!
nhcowboy1 is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 26, 2011, 07:52 AM   #21
chrismacguy
macrumors 68000
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: United Kingdom
For Computer Science get a Mac. The Business and common usage argument holds no weight here at all, CS Departments dont care what the real world uses, and having a UNIX based terminal is a lot more useful. Im doing a CS Degree course right now, and guess what, not one of my lecturers uses Windows. Not one. They all either use Linux or Mac OS X. Windows has no place in CS courses, as it is useless and none of the tools youll need will be Windows only anyway. Also the BIOS etc is NOT computer science, that is IT, and has absolutely nothing to do with it. My Computer Science course doesn't do any IT at all because it just isnt relevant to a proper CS degree course.

Also, as a matter of course, no good CS program should be teaching you to code using Visual Studio/"Insert Windows only IDE" as its a pile of rubbish, or in fact using anything more than a text editor and a linker + compiler - Mac OS X and a Text Editor is a lot better coding practise and coding style enforcer than any IDE. (In fact I still write a lot of my course code on a PowerBook G3 from 2000 with Mac OS X 10.1 on it, as it means I cant get distracted as all I have is Terminal and TextEdit, which is all I need to get stuff done). Get a Mac, it will be a lot more useful in the long run as otherwise your PC will probably end up running Linux within the first year or two anyway, as nobody really uses Windows for serious CS, as its just not really up to it.
__________________
Mac Pro/2.8Ghz/12GB/1TB; MacBook Air 11"/1.4Ghz/2GB/64GB;
MB 2.1CD;iPad 16GB/3G.PB G4/1.67Ghz;eMac 700Mhz;PM G4/Dual 867Mhz, PM G4/450Mhz;iMac G3;iBook G3;iPods etc.
www.youtube.com/chrismacguy
chrismacguy is offline   2 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 26, 2011, 07:57 AM   #22
macsmurf
macrumors 65816
 
macsmurf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Depends on the courses. I would be very surprised if any of them depended on Windows. I'm a comp sci student but not in the US so I'm not familiar with the structure. I've never run anything that couldn't be run on Linux/OS X. Many other students and a lot of the faculty run OS X as well and the infrastructure is basically *nix-based anyway. But that's us

I would personally go for a Macbook Air when the i5s come out and a large external monitor (at least "24). Specs aren't really that important but screen resolution and portability is.
macsmurf is offline   0 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 26, 2011, 08:00 AM   #23
eljanitor
macrumors 6502
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Go with the Macbook. You may get some crap from your fellow classmates. Then again they don't realize that it runs that precious slow super vulnerable Windows 7 just like any other computer out there, exactly how any Intel machine would.

Some of your professors may act like you brought some kind of evil abomination into their class, and you will most likely be met with responses to Mac questions with the following: "I don't know anything about Mac computers the rest of the world uses PC's, sorry I cant help you." Translation: I cannot get a job in the real world anymore working in MIS/IT because I lack the knowledge to do so, so I teach a class where I can feel superior to my students who I can lord over.

You will be happier in the long run choosing the Mac. It also doesn't matter how new the computer is that you choose, by graduation time it will most likely be underpowered, and you'll want a newer computer at that time anyways.

Best wishes to you in your future plans.
eljanitor is offline   -2 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 26, 2011, 08:05 AM   #24
macsmurf
macrumors 65816
 
macsmurf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by eljanitor View Post
Go with the Macbook. You may get some crap from your fellow classmates.
[...]
Some of your professors may act like you brought some kind of evil abomination into their class
Not really. People who actually know stuff about computers have a fairly healthy attitude towards operating systems and know that neither Windows not OS X is crap.

If you want religion, go with a vi(m) vs. emacs discussion instead
macsmurf is offline   1 Reply With Quote
Old Jun 26, 2011, 08:09 AM   #25
balamw
Moderator
 
balamw's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: New England, USA
Quote:
Originally Posted by nhcowboy1 View Post
Just a heads up . . . all those helpful links posted earlier in this thread ("Windows for $29!") will not get you Windows for $29. What they'll get you, if you're a university student, is an UPGRADE from the Student Windows edition to the Professional Windows edition. Absolutely no use at all to someone looking to buy the Windows OS disk!
Actually it's technically an upgrade from Windows XP or Vista to 7, but it can and has been used successfully to install Windows on many Macs.

MSDNAA makes this moot though, because (depending on the school's participation in it) MSDNAA should be give the OP access to download any MS OS for free or much lower than US$29. These also tend not to be "upgrade" licenses.

B
__________________
MBA (13" 1.7 GHz 128GB), UMBP (15" SD 2.8 GHz), UMB (13" 2.4 GHz), iMac (17" Yonah), 32GB iPad 3 WiFi+LTE, 64 GB iPad WiFi, 32 GB iPhone 5, Airport Extreme
balamw is online now   0 Reply With Quote

Reply
MacRumors Forums > Apple Hardware > Buying Tips and Advice

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Similar Threads
thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
IST vs Computer Science Squilly Community Discussion 39 Sep 6, 2014 02:12 PM
MBA for Computer Science sflomenb MacBook Air 5 Jun 11, 2013 04:49 PM
Computer Science Degree? TheAngusBurger Mac Programming 22 Apr 29, 2013 07:38 PM
Computer Science Squilly Community Discussion 42 Jan 8, 2013 01:11 PM
Computer Science major hudsonab MacBook Air 12 Jul 1, 2012 01:37 PM

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:05 PM.

Mac Rumors | Mac | iPhone | iPhone Game Reviews | iPhone Apps

Mobile Version | Fixed | Fluid | Fluid HD
Copyright 2002-2013, MacRumors.com, LLC