Advice: commuting to college

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Demon Hunter, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. Demon Hunter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    I'm a college student and I can't decide what to invest in... a Mac Pro or MacBook Pro? I know "laptop" is the first word that pops into your head, but here's the thing--I live at home.

    My commute to downtown Minneapolis takes about two hours each day. That's 10 hours/week! It really sucks. But more importantly I have to decide where to study. Do I take the bus home or go to the library until 9 or 10pm?

    You should also know that my university has some very nice computer labs--my favorite is full of G5s and Cinema Displays--and I love to study on campus.

    I have a budget of about $4k. This system needs to last 5 years or more. My thoughts:

    17" MBP
    • presentations
    • lecture notes with audio
    • burden to carry, fragile/theft
    • dual screens at home

    2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
    160GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
    SuperDrive 8x (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    MacBook Pro 17-inch Widescreen Display
    Apple Cinema HD Display (23" flat panel)
    Backlit Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
    Accessory Kit
    AppleCare Protection Plan for MacBook Pro/PowerBook (w/or w/o Display) - Auto-enroll


    Mac Pro
    • better for gaming (read: WoW)
    • SUPER future-proof
    • higher resale

    Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
    2GB (4 x 512MB)
    160GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
    NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB (single-link DVI/dual-link DVI)
    Apple Cinema HD Display (23" flat panel)
    Two 16x SuperDrives
    Both Bluetooth 2.0+EDR and AirPort Extreme
    Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple wireless Mighty Mouse - U.S. English
    Mac OS X - U.S. English
    AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Pro/Power Mac (w/or w/o Display) - Auto-enroll


    It's hard to justify the tower because I know I'll use it for gaming. In theory, having a laptop would encourage me to study. iMac/MacBook is an option, but I'd rather have one machine, and I need the horsepower.

    Also, my dad said that if the Mac Pro doesn't work out, his business may be able to purchase it from me as their dual G4 is quite long in the tooth.
  2. Boxer macrumors regular

    Jun 28, 2006
    Overland Park Kansas
    Sounds like you have a very good dilema on your hands. Either way you come away with a very nice piece of machinery. I would say the laptop. Since you will be in college, and you may do your fair share of presentations, and moving around campus. Plus the lappy is great for sitting in that nice lazy boy recliner when you are drained from a day of class/studying. Then again since you are spending so much money, the Mac Pro would be nice because like you said the resale would be better, and it is feaking fast and great for gamin. I still vote for the lappy based on the above opinions.
  3. katie ta achoo macrumors G3

    May 2, 2005
    Get the laptop! Searchable notes are a GODSEND when writing papers! :):)
  4. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Do you use a laptop at school? I'll have to reserve a seat just for the MBP. Lol. :D
  5. mopppish macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2005
    OK, besides gaming, what do you need so much power for?
    According to many posters, WoW runs great on a MBP. Even the 2.16 one.
    The C2D MBP's blaze, man.
    And many 5 year old macs are still in use, even if they're slow.
    No matter how fast of a mac you buy now, it's going to seem long in the tooth in 5 years time regardless.
    No 5 year old mac runs games great.
    I would definitely opt for a 15" MBP if I were you. Laptops are sweet in college and 17" is HUGE! What do you need 2 extra inches of screen in class for that you can't wait to do until you get home to your ACD?
    Then spend the cash you save on something else useful.
    Like tuition.
    And bus fare.
    Perhaps rent (move to the city, for crying out loud!)
  6. miniguu macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2005
    First question: How do you take your notes?
    If you plan to type, then the laptop is a no brainer. It's also useful to have all your "stuff" (music, data, pictures, whatever) in one place.

    Study habits: Laptop would be better if you plan on not being in the labs/home to study all the time. If you're the kind who likes change in environment or to study at starbucks, then go for the lappie.
    The 15 is a nice size for school, big enough to use without an external and small enough to be portable. Check out the sizes at the Apple store to be sure though. You might even want to wait till after you get the MBP to get the external. I found my 2005fpw to be kinda superfluous after I got my 15". I guess if you want the applecare on both, then it's up to you.
    WoW does run very nicely on my 2.16.

    What are your computing needs? (apart from gaming)
    The Mac Pro is a hefty machine with loads of computing power. Do you need it all?

    Ok..I think it's pretty obvious what my choice for you is :D
  7. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    I definitely have no need for a Quad Xeon (which is why I was also considering the 2.0 GHz downgrade)... I'm with everyone else wishing for a headless Conroe Mac. But I digress...

    I do video editing, Photoshop, iLife, word processing (who doesn't?), e-mail... I would probably be fine with a C2D. I'm leaning towards the laptop. :)
  8. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Haha, you're probably right--I like having two full pages side by side for writing papers and such--is the 15" enough for that? I'll have to find out at the Apple Store.

    Thanks for your advice everyone. :)
  9. Sdashiki macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens
    the fact you noted WoW in your notes...

    makes me believe you arent THAT serious about school.

    :D :D :D
  10. mr_matalino macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2005
    Ask yourself how often you will take the computer outside of your house. If it's more than you think...get the MBP. If not, get the tower. Quad-core might be too much and it's always nice to have the portablity! :)
  11. katie ta achoo macrumors G3

    May 2, 2005
    I use a 15" powerbook in lecture. in my lecture hall, it has the seats with the fold-up desks and a power outlet in the arm rest (not that I use it). It's really, really nice. Since you're a student, you can also get Office w/ the nifty word notebook.

    If I were you, I'd get the 15" MBP and a biggerer display. you don't need a screen that big in class, do ya?
  12. sikkinixx macrumors 68020


    Jul 10, 2005
    Rocketing through the sky!
    I was inthe same boat as you, cept I didn't need as much horsepower. I got a 12" Powerbook (now a macbook :D) and couldnt be happier. Taking notes on a laptop rocks. Just make sure you turn off wifi...I am in Econ class right now and not getting much done :D:D:D
  13. miniguu macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2005
    I usually have two word or omnioutliner docs side by side. It's pretty doable. You'll have to play a bit with the width and maybe have word at 125%, but it's not much trouble.
  14. breakfastcrew macrumors 6502

    Jul 28, 2006
    Explain to me how you can have 4 k to throw around and go to college???
  15. backsidetailsli macrumors 65816


    Aug 1, 2006
  16. extraextra macrumors 68000


    Jun 29, 2006
    I'd go with the middle 15" Macbook Pro and a cinema display (or any other one). Laptops are so unbelievably useful at college.

    I wouldn't get the 17" because in lecture halls, seating sometimes tends to be cramped and if people need to get by, or if you need to take something out of your bag you have to shuffle the laptop around (possibly dropping it) and do a balancing act. Classroom desks aren't exactly spacious either, FWIW.
  17. ero87 macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2006
    New York City

    Get a MacBook.

    you do not need to spend $3000 on a computer for college. I do all of the stuff you do, plus Garageband, on my iMac G5 with 1 Gb RAM and it's very smooth and fast.

    The only thing that this doesn't help is the WoW. but otherwise, $3,700!?!? overkill.
  18. likeavaliant macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2006
    i'm a visual communication design major and they require a macbook pro for portability and projects. the programs we will run are the exact same as you. minus video editing. you will have enough power in a macbook pro to treat you real well. also, my friend plays WoW on his all the time and it moves very smoothly. i too commute, and I've gone the entire semester without my computer and it gets old not being able to get to your computer after a while. i live 15 minutes from campus, i would be lost if i had to go 2 hours to get to my computer. it's just not the same on a dell in the computer lab... (obviously)

    i will also let it be known that i will be ordering my mbp next week.
  19. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030


    Apr 14, 2006
    Clemson, SC
    i DEFINITELY wouldn't go with the 17" as a commuter.. i only live 10 minutes from campus and sometimes i hate carting around the 15".. can't imagine a 17".. not to mention, you wouldn't believe how many close calls i've had with someone sliding into the row in a lecture hall and nearly bumping my lappy to the floor.. a 17" would be even more obtrusive.

    I'd opt for a 15" and a bigger external display for at home. it'll be plenty screen real estate on the go, and a much better bang for your buck (plus "re-usable" if/when you upgrade).
  20. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2003
    Don't get the 17 inch book. Get either the 15 MBP or Macbook. If you really really really don't need any gaming power other than to play WOW the Macbook will rock. I always recommend the MBP over the MB just for features. The MBP will allow for more gaming longer into your five year plan. You would hate the commute with the 17. This is where the MB will beat anything on the Mac market. This is why everyone pines for the 12 Macbook Pro which will probably never show up. I love the 15 inch MBP but when I get on a plane I wish it were smaller. You can get a nice 15 MBP edu price for $2400 so that leaves a lot left over for a nice external monitor, case, etc.
  21. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    I'm trying to quit. :)

    The 12" was one of Apple's best, IMO. I regret selling mine... wait, it had a G4... nevermind. :D

    Some is borrowed, but most is from working 20 hours/week as a System Administrator.

    I really do like the MacBook, in fact I'm typing on one now. I bought it to try while waiting for the C2D MBPs. At least it discourages me from playing games. :eek:

    Congrats on your purchase. And yes, it sucks. I was living in the city until just recently, so I haven't had much of a chance to look for a new place.

    Do you use a backpack? I can imagine... some of my psychology lectures have hundreds of people!
  22. Veritas&Equitas macrumors 68000


    Oct 31, 2005
    Twin Cities, MN
    Demon, you're at the U? Where do you live that you have to commute 2 hours to school? Brainerd? Albert Lea? That is painful that you have to drive that far...I'm at law school in St. Paul, but I only have to drive 15 minutes :D
  23. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030


    Apr 14, 2006
    Clemson, SC
    Yeah, I definitely use a backpack. I paired it with a sleeve, and that works out well.. but start adding in books and GC supplies and things get heavy, lol.

    And yeah, my psych class last fall had something like 300 people in it.. :eek: squeezing bodies past you is quite scary! lol
  24. x86isslow macrumors 6502a

    Aug 10, 2003
    I can't imagine carrying a bigger laptop than a 12" to class. The desks are tiny! I'd recommend a loaded 2 foot iMac and a used iBook for taking notes- OmniOutliner isn't very resource heavy.

    Though I don't recall you mentioning what subject you're studying. I'm History/Linguistics, so I'm not exactly rendering video or something on my laptop. YMMV
  25. ero87 macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2006
    New York City
    haha a "2-foot iMac", i guess they are that big now! funny concept.

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