First time mac notebook buyer, being a Programmer

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Cue, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. Cue macrumors regular

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    #1
    Hello all,

    After doing some initial research over iBooks and pBooks, I made my mind to an iBook 12'.

    That was until I saw the following statement.

    I was hoping that I could just connect the iBook with my 17' TFT monitor and enjoy the 1280x1024 res. while at home, but now I'm a bit concerned whether or not the 16Mb of Ram are adequate.

    I will mainly do s/w development (using Eclipse, PostgreSQL, Tomcat) so paying 400 euros more for a pBook just dont cut it! :(

    So all is well so far with the iBook apart from that little detail. I was hoping that someone could enlighten me.

    Thanks in advance!

    PS. I dont mind postponing it till mid-summer (right after WWDC)
     
  2. therevolution macrumors 6502

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    May 12, 2003
    #2
    You can still do 1280x1024 with 16MB of video RAM. Is there a reason you need more? Do you do 3D/OpenGL type stuff?

    You don't mention it, so in case you didn't know, there's a screen spanning tool you'll have to use to enable spanning since Apple does not support that feature on the iBook. You can only do video mirroring by default.
     
  3. Cue thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    therevolution thanks for your reply!
    yeah Im aware of the spanning tool and that is what I was referring to.

    I wont do gfx programming or stuff like that. Just developing web apps, but I was just wondering if 16Mb is enough for Panther, or even Tiger when released in a couple of months time.

    Thats my only concern about the iBook. Other than that seems like a great notebook to have! :D
     
  4. madrobby macrumors regular

    madrobby

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    #4
    Video RAM will be fine, even with Tiger.

    You should get lots of extra RAM for this... :)

    Note the Eclipse page on ADC.
     
  5. Cue thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    ok thats one! :D, anyone else plz?


    yeap, thats the plan! ;)
     
  6. caveman_uk Guest

    caveman_uk

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    #6
    I tend to find the 12" screens a little claustrophobic for doing GUI's and would probably recommend a notebook with a bigger screen. Seeing as you're doing web development that's probably not so much of a problem.

    In your case I'd get an ibook and a ton of RAM.
     
  7. madrobby macrumors regular

    madrobby

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    #7
    One more thing... If you plan to use an external keyboard, which I would highly recommend for programming, and if you're switching over from Windows or Linux you should get DoubleCommand over at

    http://doublecommand.sourceforge.net/

    This allows you to remap the keyboard to work more like on a PC (like the home/end keys).
     
  8. Cue thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    Hey thanks for your overwhelming input!
    Im new to Macs and I appreciate any little detail you can give me :D

    True. The way Im thinking about it is while at home I can work on my 17" monitor no probs, while when going outside I dont mind doing some programming for a couple of hours on a 12" ;).

    As far as the Ram goes, I noticed that Crucial is selling 1Gb of Ram for around 300 euros compared to 500+ from Apple

    Thanks for the tip! I have a Logitech DiNovo for Notebooks, I believe that it should work with the Mac (its USB Cordless by the way)
     
  9. stevep macrumors 6502a

    stevep

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    #9
    In reply to the original question

    Memory in MB = (X-Resolution * Y-Resolution * Bits-Per-Pixel) / (8 * 1,048,576)
    eg:
    memory = 1280 x 1024 x 32 / (8 * 1048576) = 5 mB
    So an iBook will easily do what you want....
     
  10. cluthz macrumors 68040

    cluthz

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    #10
    Using two screens with a total of 32 mb VRAM isn't a problem at all, as long as you don't do opengl/3d work.

    People have used dual screens with OSX for years and a few years 32mb was max the max you could get.

    I'm programming quite abit myself and I always use two screens, one for programming and one for xTerminal/webbrowers/docs. I use a powerbook (64mb VRAM), but I have also borrowed an older powerbook with 32mb VRAM and the difference wasn't very noticable.

    You know that Java 1.5/5.0 isn't ready for macosx yet?
     
  11. madrobby macrumors regular

    madrobby

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    #11
  12. Cue thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    lol, nice one stevep! Im sure it can display the thing, I was just asking performance wise how it copes with all that funny visuals Panther (coming to Tiger) supports. ;)

    omg, no. :| so as far as I can see, I will definetely need to upgrade to Tiger for that.

    At least for now J2SE 5.0 doesn't play a major role in my development process.
     
  13. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #13
    Just one small comment: Apple do not put the # symbol on their keyboards (at least on the UK layout). It took me a while to find out where it is (you relaly need it for #include). It's alt-3.
     
  14. cluthz macrumors 68040

    cluthz

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    #14
    The ibook wil never display the "funny" visuals in Tiger, a better GPU is required for it. (nVidia Fx5200 or higher, or Ati Rad9600 or higher)
    For Quartz Extreme (Panther) you'll have absolutely no problems.

    Tiger is probably (hopefully) around the corner..
     
  15. caveman_uk Guest

    caveman_uk

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    #15
    Oh it's alt-3!!!! I usually switch to a US keymap type shift-3 ('£' on the UK keymap) which then gives me '#'. Alt-3 will be a lot quicker!
     
  16. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

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    #16
    Cue & therevolution,
    Just to clarify, you can span the iBook with this modification, but keep in mind that Cue was originally correct, the iBook cannot devote more than 16MB VRAM to any one screen when spanning. This also means that you cannot shut off the internal LCD display as in the true clamshell mode of the PowerBooks-- even when you want to use only one screen, if it is external, 16MB is it. This may or may not be meaningful, but I just wanted to make sure we're on the same page.
     
  17. Cue thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Yes, this is true. My main concern was wether or not the 16Mb is enough for the visuals of Panther & Tiger.

    I believe we have answered that already :)
     
  18. therevolution macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Yes, it will be enough. Tiger would use more if it was available, but it is not required. You will likely lose some of the "eye candy" effects, but that's all.
     
  19. stevep macrumors 6502a

    stevep

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    #19
    I'm not sure I understand a lot of what is being said here. We've already established that an iBook has plenty of vram to drive 2 displays at reasonable resolutions. Are you trying to say that it won't display the shrinking/expanding windows trick and the rotating cube when user-switching? If so I don't believe that. If that were true an iBook would have trouble playing a film on DVD. Or perhaps there are display features coming up in 10.4 that I don't know anything about - if so where is the evidence (not the same as rumour, conjecture or guesswork) that these features will require much faster video processing?

    Anyway, why do you want all those display tricks if you're programming? Maybe you really want a machine that will play demanding games at high res and max frame-rates. If thats the case then the initial question should maybe have mentioned it.

    Incidentally, if Tiger is really going to be so demanding, Apple have a slight problem as none of the current iBooks or the Mac mini will handle it......
     
  20. Cue thread starter macrumors regular

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    #20
    I just keep reading about Core Image.
    So my guess is (and thats what Im curious about) that there will be apps taking advantage of Core Image that the 16Mb of VGA Ram wont suffice.


    I never said I need them in the sense that I require them :) I just asked if Panther/Tiger will have trouble with 16Mb of VGA Ram ;).
    Just the visuals. I would hate to have a recently bought machine that its VGA is obsolete in the next OS upgrade. That's all.
     
  21. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

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    #21
    Although you may be able to get by with an iBook,
    you also metioned that you don't mind waiting a bit.

    With that in mind, I would consider saving a bit more for
    a PowerBook, so the tools of your trade are better suited
    for your work.

    If you can find a way to take advantage of either the education OR
    student developer discounts, I would go for the PowerBook.

    If that isn't possible, then I would consider the sale prices on the 1.33 GHz
    PowerBooks or the refurbs.
     
  22. Cue thread starter macrumors regular

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    #22
    FFTT thanks for your input. As I said earlier in my posts, the 400 additional euros just isnt justified for what I want to do with the notebook.

    I could get an extra 1Gb of Ram for that!

    That would be great, only that I live in Greece and the discount here is merely 5%. Not that much compared to the US AFAIK.
     
  23. gekko513 macrumors 603

    gekko513

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    Oct 16, 2003
    #23
    I'm a programmer and I have an older 12" PowerBook with 32MB of VRAM and until recently I used it with screen spanning and 1280x1024 on the external display.

    All Panther effects will work just fine, although Exposé isn't as smooth when 4 or more windows are open.

    I expect it to be similar with the Tiger effects. Some of the effects will not be as smooth or pretty, but the functionality will still be there. And if you lose some effects that are just pure eye candy it's not really a big loss for a programmer, is it? Unless of course you plan to use the effects in your programs.
     
  24. Xeem macrumors 6502a

    Xeem

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    Feb 2, 2005
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #24
    I'm typing this on a the original TiBook (400 mHz, 384 megs SDRAM, 8 MB Rage M3) thats using mirrored displays on Panther, and it runs it just fine on 4 MB/screen. Granted, all I really use it for is surfing the internet, occasional Photoshop use, and watching movies using VLC, but if it can run DIVX movies smoothly with its 8 megs of VRAM split than I'm sure a newer iBook will do just fine in heavier apps.

    Edit: I should probably mention that I'm pretty much always using a mirrored 1024*768.
     
  25. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

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    #25
    I suppose you might be better off with an iBook for light portable use,
    then save your extra money for a mini to work with your display at home.

    Then I'd put the 1 GB card in the mini and survive with 512 in the iBook.
     

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