Advice for a Graduate Student

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by culb0743, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. culb0743 macrumors member

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    Feb 24, 2013
    #1
    I spend A LOT of time working at my current laptop, which is currently giving me headaches. I've decided to replace it with a MacBook Pro, but I'm uncertain as to which model. I do a lot of research that involves reading & annotating PDF files. Its typical for me to spend 8-10 hours per day in MS Word. I will have to do some minor video editing for the next two years. I do quite a few Power Point Presentations as well. I've come close to ordering the 15" rMBP with base processor, base SSD capacity, configured with 16 gb of RAM several times. But that's really pushing my budget. Is this overkill? What would be a reasonable model that would best fit my needs but not need replaced in five or so years. I have longevity concerns regarding the 8gbs max of RAM in the cMBP and 13" fMBP models. I know that the cMBP 15s are user upgradable to 16, but I don't want to mess around with that. Additionally, I've never worked with less than a 15" display. Finally, I've never used OS; Windows my entire life. (My Retina iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch impressed me so much that I'm sold on the "user experience") Is it a rough transition? I cant afford to take time off to attend a seminar at the Apple store. Recommendations Please. SSD is a must have and portability isn't a factor.
     
  2. BeeJee macrumors 6502

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    Long Island/North Jersey
    #2
    Get that. OSX is easy to learn as long as you're not computer illiterate, might take a month to figure every little thing out but that's at most.
     
  3. MacKid macrumors 6502

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    Jan 1, 2003
    #3
    Yes, that model is massive overkill for word processing and PDFs.

    What does 'minor video editing' consist of? Unless you're married to the idea of a 15-inch screen, I'd suggest you consider the 13" cMBP.
     
  4. culb0743 thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 24, 2013
    #4
    Clinical evaluation; basically I record my interaction with a subject and present it to colleagues to evaluate/ critique. Not really editing but rather transferring the file to a media platform for playback.
     
  5. MacKid macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Well, if cost isn't a major concern, then purchasing the rMBP wouldn't exactly be a mistake, but if you'd like to save $600, a cMBP with the same 256 SSD would be more than potent enough, and will still last years down the road.

    I also think you'd appreciate the integrated optical drive, as I know academia can be slow to change its technological ways, and I imagine you still come across a CD or DVD once in a while?
     
  6. drewfus macrumors 6502

    drewfus

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    Bloomington, IL
    #6
    I'm working on my PhD at the moment and have kind of the same deal with lots of reading/annotating/OCRing PDF files. Also, I'm running SPSS for statistical analyses, as well as using my computer to record interviews for other side research studies that I'm doing. This, in addition to writing and PowerPoint Presentations, of course.

    I have a 13" Retina MacBook Pro with a dual core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB ssd. I opted for it because of the better display, since I spend a lot of time at my computer, and because I really don't have a constant need for the CD/DVD drive. I bought an external SuperDrive just in case...but since I bought it, I've used it twice.

    I definitely like this size better because of it being lighter and having a smaller footprint. I think that for your usage, you could consider a 13" model. Honestly, 16GB of RAM for what you're doing is probably way more than you'd need, but that's just in my opinion. If you like having a bigger screen, than the 15" would be better of course, but I'm not sure if you have an external monitor you plug into (since you mentioned that portability isn't a factor). I see my computer taking me through my dissertation without a problem.

    If you like the 15, but price is what's worrying you, consider looking into the refurbished section of the Apple Online Store. I got my machine refurbished, and there's no difference between it and a brand new machine. You'd definitely save some money going that route.

    Good luck!
     
  7. xShane macrumors 6502a

    xShane

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    Nov 2, 2012
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    #7
    I agree. I think a 15" rMBP with a dedicated GPU and 16GB RAM is overkill for what the OP intends on doing. He can save heaps by buying a cMBP (13" or 15"), getting the base HDD and RAM, and manually installing 16GB RAM for roughly $80 and a 3rd party SSD.
     
  8. culb0743 thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 24, 2013
    #8
    Thanks to all who replied. Right now I'm using a 1.8 GHz dual core notebook PC, with 2 GBs of ram I've had since 2008. Running Windows 7, it's just become laggy, but the main problem is the display intermittently going back. The only way to recover is a power down and restart; occasionally, I've lost unsaved work. Bouncing in and out of PDFs, It's nothing for me to have 12-15 Acrobat tabs (tabs?) running concurrently; I usually work with a similar amount of browser tabs open and several Office apps running as well. Considering my work requirements, I was hoping to upgrade to a quad core processor. Or would that not make for a noticeable difference; from what I gather, a lot of users wouldn't consider what I've described as multitasking. The dual core issue is the only reason I'm shying away from the 13 inch models. That and the fact, I've never used a smaller display size. To those who've made a similar transition, how much did the downsize in screen real estate impact workflow? I don't have an external monitor, I just stopped traveling with a laptop since I got an iPad. To MS Office users, do I need to budget for Office for Mac or can I get by using the slightly less expensive iWork suite? I've heard MS Office described as being "all pixelated" on a Retina display.
     
  9. Applefanboy8153, Feb 25, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013

    Applefanboy8153 macrumors regular

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    Sep 3, 2012
    #9
    I have been using an imac for a year now and before that I had 3 pcs. The transition was so easy and then icloud worked perfectly with my mac and ipad. After going through all the posts I think a 13.3 inch macbook pro retina with 256gb ssd and 8 gb ram should be perfect. Also iwork is just like ms office and much more user friendly (I never used numbers though). And 8GB ram is way more than capable of handling 20 tabs on a browser and adobe reader. I am a student so I do a lot of reading on my mac. It never lags even with 10 tabs open on chrome. I watch youtube vids, chat on fb, facetime and watch movies simultaneously. And my mac never lags. Also quad core is for gamers and video editing so unless you wanna save a couple of seconds on booting time I really dont think you need a quad core cpu. I am facing the same dilema as you only that whether I should buy a mbpr or mba. Hope this helps. Edit: If you want to take into account portablity then a bumped up MacBook air 13 inch with 8 gb ram, 256gb ssd and a i7 processor should be much much more than capable, should last for at least another 4 to 5 years for the uses listed. Also in mac osx 10 a dual core processor is treated as a quad core one so you'll technically have a nearly quad core experience.
    :apple:
     
  10. MacKid, Feb 25, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013

    MacKid macrumors 6502

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    #10
    There will be no discernible difference between a dual-core and quad-core processor. In some situations the dual-core can actually be faster, especially for the kinds of tasks you do often (opening applications and documents, surfing the web).

    The Retina MacBook Pros have a few options to take advantage of their high pixel density, that can let you simulate larger resolutions in order to gain some screen real estate. The Office suite was updated for Retina compatibility last September.

    In my opinion, the apex of value for you would be an upgraded 13-inch classic MacBook Pro, but if you want a 15" Retina - and it really seems like you're begging for someone to talk you into one :rolleyes: - you should just get what you really want so that you can be happy with how it feels to you, and not just what it is.
     
  11. Daniel L macrumors 6502

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    Sep 15, 2009
    #11
    Retina display will be great for looking at text all day but I don't think Adobe has updated Acrobat with a retina update yet.

    I'd still go for the 15" rMBP with 16GB RAM. The transition to OS X is easy.
     
  12. kensic macrumors 6502

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    Jan 11, 2013
    #12
    if money is what you're concerning most then get a windows version of the almost the same specs for half the price.

    and as for the specs. its wayyyyy over kill.

    and how long it will last? that is up to you and how you treat it.
     
  13. Commy1 macrumors 6502a

    Commy1

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    Feb 25, 2013
    #13
    I'm a student also and I think that that is a bit much. I agree 15" is a great option, I am starting now to wish I had one myself.
    However I purchased my second hand and fixed it all up myself with a new SSD, optical caddy, new ram, etc It's a perfect little computer.
    I know it's risky to buy second hand from people but I was careful and examined it pretty thoroughly, but you might consider refurbished from Apple, it'll cut the cost a bit.
     
  14. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #14
    For your usage, you don't really need 16GB. Also, a MacBook Air or the 13" retina model would still offer enough power for you at a reduced price. However, the HiDPI display is amazing when working with text (I tell you this a a fellow grad student). If you can stretch it, I'd suggest that you get the base 15" rMBP. Otherwise, a 13" rMBP.
     
  15. Applefanboy8153 macrumors regular

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    Sep 3, 2012
    #15
    My sister is studying to become a doctor and it involves a lot of reading on her macbook pro retina. She also has an iPad (Mid 2012). According to her the Retina display is very clear and crisp and is totally great for her long reading sessions as she can easily read tiny fineprint by just zooming in. Also there are 2 threads for each core on a i5. However Mac OSX considers 1 thread as 1 core hence giving you a quad core experience. The Retina Display Mac is gonna save you about 600-700$. Also 16GB is like kind of an overkill dont you think? Also lugging around a 15 inch pro could be tedious. :apple:
     
  16. HardBall macrumors regular

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    Jan 10, 2006
    #16
    Honestly, for your usage scenario, a macbook air should be the perfect machine for you. Im a graduate student in computer science, and I have lived with an MBA for couple of years now, and jsut now im think about migrating to an MBP.

    Most of the coding,, compilation, test runs,and microarchitecutre simulation and stuff would be adequate. Granted, I always have a desktop workstation for anything that requires some heavy lifting, and ssh into it if I need to run something for a significant length of time. But for your scenario, you would be prfectly fine with an MBA, which is much more convenient in its formractor. There is no way that you would be able to fully utilize a top of the line rMBP 15.
     
  17. eljimberino macrumors member

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    Feb 13, 2013
    #17
    Personally I prefer the feel of the full body rMBP to the MBA. Sounds to me like a 15" base model rMBP is perfect for you if you're not moving around.

    You won't miss the miss money, but you may miss getting what you really wanted.
     
  18. culb0743 thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 24, 2013
    #18
    Thanks again to all who helped me come to the conclusion that 16GB of RAM wasn't a must have. Knowing about how OSX utilizes dual core processors is also worn me down on considering a 13 inch screen. I have one more question regarding software. As someone who cannot remember a day when they didn't use MS Office, should I plan on purchasing the Mac version? I like the idea of transitioning to the iWork suite, but have concerns about functionality. Do the iWork apps have near identical functionality to their MS Office equivalents or is it not even close? If I submit a .docx file generated in Pages, is it a seamless translation or do I need to worry about my professors having issues opening/accessing it in Word? I rely on templates a lot. Will the field codes generated in Word work in Pages?
     
  19. lixuelai macrumors 6502a

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  20. robvas macrumors 68020

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    Mar 29, 2009
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    USA
    #20
    Office on the Mac is slow and stinks compared to a PC. And all the features don't match up. Probably not a huge deal unless you're doing fancy stuff in Word or Excel.

    I would either run a VM with Windows + Office, or just use LibreOffice or OpenOffice directly on your Mac (this is what I do, I only use a VM for testing formatting of Outlook emails).
     
  21. culb0743 thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 24, 2013
    #21
    So Office for Mac is slow and buggy, but I'll need it (or some open variant); iWork is just isn't a viable alternative. I was really wanting to avoid running a Windows VM. And that's only because I don't have much time to spend tinkering with software. I've noticed many references to VMs since I've decided to go with Mac OS. Is setting one up time consuming? Does running a VM consume a lot of RAM or other resources?

    ----------
     
  22. robvas macrumors 68020

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    #22
    Only as much as you give it. They'll do fine with 1GB or so of RAM.

    Try LibreOffice first and see if that's enough for you
     
  23. drewfus macrumors 6502

    drewfus

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    Jul 3, 2006
    Location:
    Bloomington, IL
    #23
    I honestly haven't had any issues with MS Office 2011. I haven't encountered any bugs, nor have I noticed it running terribly slowly. I prefer iWork because it's more streamlined, but for my work at school, I have to use Office, and it's not been an issue. I wouldn't trust that everybody can open iWork files, or that exporting iWork files as Office files would be foolproof. Give Office 2011 a try. You may find that your University offers it to students for free...I know here at the University of Miami they do, and I suspect other schools may too.
     
  24. Applefanboy8153 macrumors regular

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    Sep 3, 2012
    #24
    I worked on ms office for over 9 years and then iwork was so easy and smooth, especially keynote. And then as you say that you have an ipad then your mac and ipad will be synced always via icloud. I have an imac and 2 ipads and I just have to pick up one of them and go no wires, and no syncing. Now I am planning to get a rmbp 13! So addicted to icloud.
     

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