Latop or Desktop for college?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by job, Dec 3, 2003.

  1. job macrumors 68040


    Jan 25, 2002
    in transit
    Should I get a laptop or a desktop for college?

    I'm leaving for college next year, but I wanted to hear what everyone thinks.

    I'm honstly considering a desktop over a laptop, simply because the desktop has more raw speed and the option to upgrade in the future.
  2. TheFallGuy macrumors member


    Aug 20, 2003
    If you feel like you want to be cool and take your computer to all of your classes then get a laptop. If you think you will have more power with a desktop, then get one of those.

    I use my laptop for everything. I lug it around and it allows me to use it while I wait for some of my professors (late for their appointments, etc). Do you really think you will be taking your computer with you everywhere you go? (This is something you'll have to consider)

    Personally, I went with the laptop for portability and I absolutely love it. (Course now I have to worry about theft and dropping it and damaging it, etc.)
  3. krimson macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2003
    Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia
    im going back to finish school next year, ill probably get a PB or an iBook, depending on my financial situation..

    it's a good habit to type out your notes in class, if your professor allows it.. and now that more and more colleges allow you to use the power sockets, it makes it so much easier.

    You might want to take into account your major as well...
  4. GroundLoop macrumors 68000


    Mar 21, 2003
    If I were you, I would definitely get a laptop, especially if you think you will be doing a lot of group work. I had a desktop in undergrad and a laptop in grad school. The laptop definitely made life a whole lot easier.

  5. advres Guest


    Oct 3, 2003
    I had a deskop for the first two years of college. The last two I got a powerbook. I wished I went with it right from the getgo. I don't know what kind of student discount Apple gives if you are in high school but I always got great deals education discounts because of college. I dunno, look into it.

    i use my powerbook for everything. Only thing I wish I had a desktop for was rendering effects. Im too broke to afford more RAM.
  6. cr2sh macrumors 68030


    May 28, 2002
    In a year.. wow, thats a long time. We'll have a g5 powerbook by then.. (crosses fingers). Honestly it has a lot to do with how much youre willing to spend..

    I never found a laptop to be that useful in college.. a great idea, but christ my dorm wasn't that far away. If you're commuting.. yeh, get a laptop. If not, wait for the dual 3GHz g5!
  7. Elenita macrumors member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Your study abroad plans may affect this decision.

    If you think you might spend time abroad (or if you know you will), it may be better to get a laptop so you can take it with you. The same logic applies if you think you'll be doing summer internships away from home.

    But, if you do get a laptop, don't forget to get a security lock too. Hopefully, you won't need it, but you can never be too safe with your investment.

    Good luck with applications and everything!
  8. job thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 25, 2002
    in transit
    Thanks for all the comments! How did the Powerbooks help in college? Did you guys take them to class to take notes, etc? I'm actually considering a tower, but I'd still like to hear from people who use and used Powerbooks in college.'s still a ways off, but I'm saving now, just in case. ;) My budget will max out at around $3500 give or take. I've priced out a very nice dual 1.8G5 tower at around that amount, so I'm hoping Apple's educational prices stay the same. I'm also planning on keeping this computer for as long as I can, so it's going to have to last me 5+ years which makes me favor a desktop more.

    That's been my attitude ever since the G5s were released. While it might be nice to be able to take your computer wherever you go, I don't think I'll need to. I'm thinking about majoring in Economics or International Studies, depending on where I go. Honestly, theft also plays a little bit in my decision. A laptop seems very easy to steal, unless you have a security cable.
  9. job thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 25, 2002
    in transit
    That is a very good point. I never even thought of that. I am considering studying abroad, especially if I decide to major in International Studies (at the University of Chicago for example.)

    Thanks for bringing that up. :)
  10. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040


    Apr 21, 2003
    washington dc
    get a nice desktop and buy and old pismo to lug around to classes. your desktop will have far better performance in your room, where you most likely want it. and an old pb is perfect for word-processing and checking email- all you would really need it for. i have an old imac in my dorm room and i carry an old pismo around with me when i need it. both running panther. its a perfect world. :D
  11. rjstanford macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Unless you're realistically going to be doing a lot of rendering, etc - I'd save the money, get a loaded 12" iBook (1GB of memory bought from non-Apple sources and the 60gb 7200rpm hard drive will both make for HUGE performance gains - ebay the original HD) for $1,750 or so. Then in 2 more years, buy a really great notebook that's close to as fast as that dual 1.8 you're looking at with the remaining $1,750.

  12. Elenita macrumors member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Washington, DC
    You're welcome :) I'm an international affairs major with a Powerbook (and taking lots of econ classes, to boot) so I'm glad to be of help.

    As for how the Powerbooks helped... if you're the sort to get easily distracted in a dorm room (and I'm not saying that you are or anything), it's nice to able to take a laptop to the library with you. It's true that most universities have adequate computer access in the libraries now (thank god!), but it's not the same as having your own computer with you, you know?

    Also... a lot of my econ/poli sci professors now post their lectures online beforehand. It's nice to be able to download the file, and edit the professor's notes while they're lecturing to reflect your needs and learning style.

    Laptops are also useful during brainstorm sessions or group projects (e.g., policy papers, Powerpoint or Keynote presentations, etc.).

    Hope this is helpful.
  13. Kwyjibo macrumors 68040


    Nov 5, 2002
    So far I haven't seen many, if any people at my univ with laptops during lectures. I goto a large school 37k .... i don't even know what the policies are for that but i don't ask either. That being said i got the 12" powerbook for college. I'm currently a freshman, I like having the laptop because i secretly hooked up wifi in my dorm, nice for the convienence doesn't go very far but I like it for lounging on the bed or showing people something in another room.

    i don't think i'll ever have the posture to take it to class, my orientation leader stressed that notebooks are for notes .... meaning paper notebooks and i think i'll cling to that plus it just doesn't seem natural for me to do many things right on the notebook like math notes ...

    also realize that if you study abroad internet access may be limited. Most people i know who study aborad for less than a full year are rarely online fyi
  14. ethernet76 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2003
    Desktop or Laptop

    I got the powerbook this fall. This is my third year in college and I was chained to my desk with my desktop.

    Sometimes it's hard to use your computer under certain conditions (roommate has friends over, extremely late at night). There are others, but it's really different for each situation.

    Most importantly though you have to look at what you're going to be using the computer for. Are you really ever going to max out the CPU? Unless you're doing advance graphics design work using CAD i think you'll find that you'd be better off saving your money and getting a mid-level laptop.

    You also have to consider what the department recommends. Which might be a PC instead of a mac. Check for wireless availablity on campus, or plans to develop a wirless network in the near future.

    Also, are you a gamer? What do you really want to do with your computer? What do you see yourself doing most with it?

    These are all questions you need to seriously consider before making your purchase. I'm all for Macs, but if halfway through the program they require you to buy a PC laptop you'll be screwing yourself into a corner by getting a mac.

    I got a powerbook because it did what I do best, Journalism.
  15. Elenita macrumors member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Washington, DC
    True. But at the same time, it's not just about internet use. Being able to have your own computer to save papers, photos, the MP3s of the new local band you fall in love with, etc. is a huge asset. You can't really do that when you're using the computer labs of your host university all the time. Theoretically, I suppose you could burn all that stuff to CD's, but that's assuming two things: that your host university has CD burners, and you don't mind the inconvenience of carrying your digital camera and/or CD's with you when you go to the library.
  16. Gymnut macrumors 68000


    Apr 18, 2003
    If I could do college again I'd have purchased a laptop. The dorm I was in had only two elevators to service 12 floors or approximately 200 people. The nightmare of moving in and out was horrific with my B&W G3 with the matching monitor. Certainly a desktop is much more future proof and the debate between the two rests solely on your needs and what comprimises you are willing to make. A lot of campuses have moved to Wi-Fi so staying connected to the internet will never be a problem when moving about campus. The only qualm that I had with portables were their battery lives and their high prone to being thiefed by unscrupulous individuals. Despite knowing everyone living around you, you never really know do you?
  17. Phatpat macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2003
    Washington DC
    I got a powerbook, my friend got a g5. You can go either way and be happy. I personally like the ability to take my computer places out of the dorm to get work done. 1.25ghz has been plenty of power for me up to this point, and I use the powerbook for plenty of games in addition to matlab, web design, and the typical internet and music stuff.
  18. bastardx macrumors member

    May 16, 2003
    Eugene, OR
    I actually have both, although that is because I worked an insane amount during the summer. I would say if you want mobility at all, get the laptop, you will be thanking yourself later for it. I got a Rev A 12" Pbook, and it is the more handy of the two computers when Computer Science deadlines are approaching and I need help with the current project. I can just bring the computer to office hours and show them right there what happens, and get some help with debugging and such. It saved my life on several occasions last year, although I also love the power of my 1.8 ghz G5, especially when I do multiple things at once, it runs so much smoother than my pbook, in spite of having less memory(512 vs 640). Although if you get a laptop and a lock for it, make sure that the end is rubberized, because otherwise you could damage the surface of the laptop, and that just doesn't look very nice.
  19. niter macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2003
    For my undergrad ed. I used a desktop, and I do not regret it one bit. I did not get a laptop until graduate school. Laptops are great, but I think it is important to have that "home base" waiting for you at home. It lets you get a cheaper laptop.
  20. job thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 25, 2002
    in transit
    Funny you should mention that. I actually am using an old original G3 laptop (233Mhz, 96MB RAM) as my primary machine for school and the college applications. I also had an old iMac DV but that's become my mother's work computer. I am considering taking the laptop to college as my mobile word processor, since MS Office 2001 runs perfectly on it.

    I really want this purchase to last me 4~5 years like my iMac has. That's the main reason my budget is so high and why I'm willing to splurge. I won't actually be buying until next August or thereabouts, i.e. right before I go to college, so we'll see what Apple has to offer.

    Probably not, but I am expecting the purchase to last me a few years, so while current programs may not max out a G5, programs in the future might. Also consider I'm planning on buying next year, so there might be a chance for dual 3Ghz towers. Who knows. :)

    Thankfully, all of the colleges I'm applying to support both Mac and PCs, so I'm safe there. While I enjoy the occasional round of Ghost Recon or Warcraft, I haven't had the hardware in years to play anything which might also influence my decision.

    That's my plan too. I've got two summer jobs lined up already and I plan on working as much as I can. Thankfully, both jobs will allow me to hang out with my friends as well, so I won't miss out on having some fun (lifeguard and swim instructor.)
  21. Kingsnapped macrumors 6502a


    Oct 16, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I am in the same position. I'm going to college next year for broadcasting, so that means a lot of work with FCE. I'm ordering my 15 inch albook within a week. I was planning on an iMac, but after seeing the size of the dorm, and the idea of WiFi, I decided on the Albook. I'm planning on brining an Airport to the dorms, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Between that and the provided WiFi scattered through the campus, I'm looking foreward to taking my studies away from the closet I'll be calling my home.
  22. sjcaguy macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2003
    Laptop Laptop Laptop

    I'm a college senior right now. Trust me, get a laptop.

    No one has mentioned this part in-depth (someone said something above about moving into the building), but think about the fact that as a college student, you're essentially moving several times a year.

    You move when you go to start the year.

    You'll probably go home for winter break, which is roughly a month long at most colleges. You can't stay in the dorms during those breaks, so then you're without your computer or you're stucking shipping it home or trusting the airlines to check it.

    You'll probably go home or go somewhere for internships/work during the summers, which means you'll take all your stuff with you or put it in storage. Do you really want to lug a desktop home with you for the summer and then bring it back?

    Life in college is much more nomadic and mobile than you may think. You basically never live in the same place for All the arguments about studying are good, but in some way you have to consider the transience of your lifestyle during college.

    (of course, these are all meaningless points if you're going to move off-campus, get a house with friends and stay there during all your breaks)

    Think about how often you'll be going home and how long those visits will be.
  23. filmmaker2002 macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2003
    I bought my Powerbook my senior year of high school and have been using a Powerbook since. I have a desktop as well, but ever since I got the new 1.25 Ghz 15", I barely ever use the tower. I'm in my second year of college, and my Powerbook goes EVERYWHERE with me. use it at work, to take notes in class, to show clients progress on their video projects, I can grab it at a moments notice and ALL my stuff comes with me. GET THE POWERBOOK for pete's sake. They are just as fast as desktops for taking notes, surfing the web, and even playing some games (Radeon 9600 ROCKS!) AND it's portable...I don't think there is ANY question whatsoever. TRUST ME!!!!
  24. Toeknee macrumors regular


    Sep 24, 2003
    San Antonio, Texas
    RIGHT ON FILMMAKER! I absolutely love my powerbook as well, it goes everywhere I go. Yeah go ahead and get the laptop they are super light (not so much the 17" but what do u expect? :) ), and the battery life on them are pretty good if you know how to conserve the battery well. Not only are power sockets readily available at my College but they have ethernet jacks all over campus that I can just plug in to the net anytime I want. Not to mention the looks that you get when you take your computer out and everyone is like "whoa thats one sleek computer!" or "i've never seen anything like that before!"
  25. thehuncamunca macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2003
    i ended up getting a desktop 2 yrs ago and regret it now
    when you only have the one desk it really hogs up the space
    you can't take it to the library or other places to work on projects with friends and you have very little desk space to work on since the mointor speakers keyboard mouse etc take up most of the desk

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