Engineering / Computer Science Student

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by macgeek77, Dec 31, 2006.

  1. macgeek77 macrumors regular

    May 24, 2006
    Hello, I am an upcomming engineering and computer science student and I am in need of assistance selecting a new Macintosh notebook. Two questions:

    1) would I be better off getting the Macbook Pro over the Macbook?

    2) If I got the Macbook Pro, I only want the 15". Is it worth the extra $500 for double the video memory, double the RAM, and a slightly faster processor?
  2. mklos macrumors 68000


    Dec 4, 2002
    My house!
    Well do you really need graphics performance? If not then I'd just stick with the MacBook and get either the White or Black 2 GHz model and double the RAM if you plan on using Windows on it as well.

    Unless you want to game with it also, there's no real reason to upgrade the graphics on a MacBook Pro. The faster CPU might be nice if you plan on keeping it for quite a while, but any of the Core 2 Duo CPU's will last you quite a while, 2-2.33 GHz.
  3. T-Stex macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2006
    Hi. I'm a student majoring in Computer Science & Engineering as well. I'm one semester away from graduating, and have used Macs throughout all four years of school. I've never felt like I needed a machine that was all that powerful to complete any work I would do. I'm currently using a MacBook at school now. I think you'd be better off getting a MacBook, and saving the extra money for something else. If you can, I'd recommend getting an external display as well. Hope that helps.

    Out of curiousity, what school are you going to be attending?
  4. iW00t macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    It really depends on your course and school. Some programs have very heavy reliance on Winblows applications.
  5. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I'll be graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering after this semester, and I too have used Macs for the majority of that time (since I switched in '04). I have never wished for a Windows machine. You may have to use a lab computer now and then, but at least for me, even that's rare. The only lab computers I use at this point are Linux machines running software that is so expensive students can't get a personal copy even if they wanted to. Macs are better than Windows PCs for logging in remotely via SSH/X11 and using those machines, which is something I do regularly too.

    Until this summer I didn't have an Intel Mac nor any running Windows machine except for Virtual PC on my 1.33 GHz PowerBook. My main school machine is still my PowerBook and I don't run Windows on my iMac either. However, now that you can get Parallels for Windows apps anyway, there is absolutely no reason not to use a Mac in engineering school, and I think they actually provide a distinct advantage because of the UNIX nature of OS X.
  6. T-Stex macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2006
    Yeah. My school's program did nothing with Windows (thankfully), and was focused on using Linux. I didn't really use my computer for a whole lot, until I downloaded the Eclipse IDE, which made it really easy to write programs on both my Mac and the school's Linux computers.
  7. Mac'Mo macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2006
    i'd say that a MB should suffice for all the needs of a college student
  8. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2006
    I'd disagree, and say you should go with the MBP. I am a computer science major. Programming on the macbook would be annoying, with the small screen. You won't always want to be glued to a desk with an external monitor. The MBP is a much better size. Also, The video card would allow for more freedom in what you pursue, and do in your free time. The back lit keyboard would also be nice. I know from experience, it would be nice to have a back lit keyboard when programming late at night. I had a 12 inch powerbook- alone, it could not be my only computer. You should go with MBP.
  9. Compile 'em all macrumors 601

    Compile 'em all

    Apr 6, 2005
    My personal advice would be going with the mbp. I assume since you are a computer science student, you will be doing a lot of programming. In this case, the extra screen real estate you get from a mbp will be a huge plus when using an IDE.
  10. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I personally vote hold off getting either one. First thing you need to do is figure out what software you school will require you using. I know a lot of schools require a lot of work to be done in C++ and that is windows only and that is just programming side. Often when you get to higher levels in EE,CS and CompE the prof start requiring you to use some very specialized software that is windows only. Hell I know in higher level of EE you might run into a project that requires you to use very old school ports on your computer (com ports being the main one) and apple computer do not stand a chance in hell of having those but that rare and normally the trick is to do what my roommate did and that was pull out an old P3 laptop running windows 98.

    Biggest thing is to find out what you software you school is requiring you to use and that varies from school to school so people here saying I made it though that degree with a Mac are not going to be best people to listen though unless then went though the program at the college you are going 2.

    If you school does not use very much windows only software then Mac all the way. I would say get just a MB on the chance that you might need to buy a low end Window PC for you course work.
  11. firefoxnx macrumors member


    Dec 26, 2006
    thats easy. if u got the money get the mbp. being a student i would save every penny. use the student discount for a mb.
  12. droors macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2006
    I am a senior computer science major and recently bought a new MacBook (2.0 Ghz C2D / 2 GB RAM) solely for the purpose of programming. At my university all projects, based in C (gcc), C++ (g++) and Assembly Language (nasm), are compiled and tested on UNIX systems once they have been submitted for grading. As an alternative to connecting to my schools Linux servers via SSH, for a majority of my academic career I dealt with a dual-booting Windows and Linux. So when I was looking for a new laptop and Apple introduced its Intel-based processors, it made the most sense to buy a MacBook, install Xcode and enjoy the best Unix-based OS experience out there. Plus, whenever I have no other choice but to use Windows XP, it is no longer an issue.

    I would recommend you purchase a MacBook with as much RAM as possible. I prefer the its portability over the MBP since 15" is just too big to haul around campus all day and you need a gargantuan backpack in order carry the thing.

    However, if they announce the ultra-portable 12" MBP at MacWorld and you have the extra dough, go for it.
  13. cbougher macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I am a CS student and I bought a MBP. I also got Parallels for when I have to use windows. It is much lighter than a comparable windows PC. I have no problem carrying it around. It's lighter than many of my books :). I suggest you get the best computer you can afford though at this point I would wait for the leopard to come out to avoid the upgrade cost. Also if cost is a serious issue then instead of parallels you can get Q for the mac.
  14. T-Stex macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2006
    After reading the posts here, I'm going to stick with my recommendation that you go with the MacBook, and max out the RAM. I don't think that you'll really need the MacBook Pro, and the money you save can be used in much better areas. Unless you really want the larger screen size, the MacBook will be great for you, and if you do need the extra real estate, spend the money on an external monitor.

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