Potential switcher looking for help (and possibly a nudge to part with my cash! :-P)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by cossie, Aug 8, 2006.

  1. cossie macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2006
    Hi Everyone!

    I'm starting into the first term of an MSc in October and i need a new
    laptop, i currently own a rather banged up (3 harddrive replacements!)
    and old (almost 5 years now) Dell Inspiron.

    Initially, i was completely taken by the looks of the Macbooks - damn
    they are just so gorgeous! - then with the technical specs aswell as
    some of the ingenuity - the magnetic power supply for one thing! -
    and from what i've read OS X is fantastic :cool:

    However, as another year of student life awaits me i want to get the
    best value for money.

    My course will require a huge amount of C programming, MATLAB work,
    giving presentations and (obviously) writing up my thesis.

    I'm also a bit of a musician and i want to be able to record what i play
    on to my laptop, i currently use Fruity Loops (if anyone has heard of it)
    and it just isn't the same. Garageband is quite an interesting suite!

    I have an xbox for playing games, so that isn't a factor.

    What my main points for a laptop are:

    * decent processor (i can live with a mediocre one!)
    * _loads_ of RAM, preferably 4gb (for the future) but 2gb is still good
    * long battery life (preferably over 3.5 hours)
    * ultra connective (wireless, gigabit ethernet, bluetooth, etc)
    * plenty of USB 2.0 ports
    * s-video out (would be nice, but not essential)

    I have a degree in Software Engineering so a great deal of my previous
    coding experiences have been Windows based - predominantly java -
    with some C/C++ in a Win32 environment.

    My question would be, would anyone recommend an MB or MBP for some
    one in my situation?

    I'd be very grateful for any adivce, i've searched through the forums
    and i'm still reading people's posts, however i felt it would be better to
    ask my own question in the hope of cutting to the chase!
  2. extraextra macrumors 68000


    Jun 29, 2006
    If a 17" MBP isn't too big, I'd go for that. You get 3 USB ports and FW 800, it's screen is big enough to run all your apps nicely.
  3. jbusc macrumors member

    May 21, 2006
    The plain macbook is an excellent value for any student, especially if you're ok with the integrated graphics.

    I just loaded my white macbook 2.0ghz with 2GB of 3rd party ram and it runs beautifully.

    As for software development you can run eclipse for java/c/c++ like you might be running now, or you can run apple's excellent Xcode for java, c, and c++ (though the learning curve is a little steep)

    If you've done any unix work, Mac OS X will be a software developer's dream; a full unix workstation you can carry around with you!
  4. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030


    Apr 14, 2006
    Clemson, SC
    I'd say that since money is a factor (ain't it always for us students! :p), the MB should suit your needs. I don't know much about the coding, so someone else would have to comment on it with reference to that, but as for performance alone, you'll be amazed - especially once you load up that 2.0GHz with 2 gigs of RAM. It only has 2 USB ports, though, but you could get a hub. OR if you want more screen and more USB ports, perhaps get a dell monitor? the '07s have 4 ports on 'em. I'm sure there are other makers out there with the same feature, I just don't know 'em off hand (this is of course assuming that 2 USB ports will suit you okay on the go, and you need more for when you're at home).

    Good luck!
  5. Lollypop macrumors 6502a


    Sep 13, 2004
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    I guess it depends on the level of C++, I tutored a first year C++ course, the lecturer was a linux buff and the entire course was presented in a cross platform friendly fashion so the students could work in windows, I could check their code and XCode and forward it for spotcheck for him in linux. IF money is no issue and space isnt at a premium go for a 17inch macbook pro, the only reason the macbook IMO doesnt really fit your criteria would be the svideo and the few usb ports... :eek:
  6. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

    Aug 27, 2003
    For an S-video out on an MB or MBP, use a mini-DVI to video adapter (MB) or a DVI to video adapter for the (MBP). Should be $19.

    Everything else is pretty much covered. Maybe get a hub for more USB2 ports. No problem recommending a Macbook here.
  7. reflex macrumors 6502a

    May 19, 2002
    For this I would recommend a big screen, so the MBP. However, you could also buy an extra screen, keyboard and mouse and hook that up to the MB if you really have to do a lot of programming.

    That's what I intend to do anyway. I've been programming on a 13" widescreen laptop when away for the past 2 years and lately I don't really like that anymore (compared to the dual 19" screens on my desk).

    I know FL and I know for a fact that in about a month it will be partly developed on either a MB or MBP ... be it in Windows though. So if you're wondering if a MB will be good enough for music programs, I can assure you that it will.

    As for your actual question, the MB should be good enough for your needs, but be sure you're getting all the screen space that you'll need to program.
  8. cossie thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2006
    Thank you all for your advice, i really appreciate it! :)

    What i'm thinking of doing, if i can afford it, is getting a large flat panel monitor to use when my laptop is parked at my desk - 19" probably - as I'm currently using a 15" with my Dell...and it's a struggle to write code for any length of time really.

    From the looks of things a 19" monitor would cost me less than going for a 17" MBP, and then i'll just load it with RAM :D

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