Apple Computer for Programming

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Randizzledante, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. Randizzledante macrumors regular


    May 21, 2011
    Hey there everyone. So in just a few weeks I'm going to be (hopefully) starting a long and prosperous career as a programmer.

    Unfortunately, due to several strange circumstances, I don't actually have a computer right now. And a computer might help with, you know...computing.

    Anyway, my main goal is to program for the iPhone/iPad/Mac so obviously an Apple computer would be perfect. What would you all recommend? My budget is probably a max of $2,000 but lower would be even better.

    I've heard screen real estate is a huge issue for programmers. iMac? MacMini + Extra Displays? MBP + Display?

    Any help is appreciated! :D
  2. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Get a 21" iMac and only that. In the weeks to come as you get further into your programming classes you can better assess what else you might need. Don't go splurging on a bunch of crap thinking it will make anything easier for you. If you are totally new to programming you'll be using such simple basic stuff that spending a bunch of money on hardware will more or less be a waste. If anything get a used Mac Mini and Monitor. You won't be needing a lot of horsepower to begin with.
  3. MrCheeto macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Unless you're doing any serious tasks such as Adobe suite programs, extensive HD-video editing, or 3D graphics work, the 13" MacBook Air is perfect.

    The 13" has a screen resolution of 1440x900, which is equal to most 15". This means you can display as much as most 15" laptops on a device that's less than 0.7" thin and is as easy to carry as a filled paper folder. Yes, really.

    MacBook Air's are also the most affordable Apple portables.
  4. Randizzledante thread starter macrumors regular


    May 21, 2011
    Great advice, yeah I am absolutely a beginner and quite frankly want to spend as little money as possible. I'll definitely look into both of those options, they sound pretty solid to me. Should I go refurb? Or will student discount be the equivalent on something new?


    That's certainly not a bad idea, I do kind of like the ability to take it with me on the go. Would you recommend an external display to hook in to for when I'm at home?
  5. MrCheeto macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Refurbs are a great option, since they include a hardware warranty.

    Any display you like will connect to your Mac. It's a matter of preference. I personally put DPI above all else.
  6. Randizzledante thread starter macrumors regular


    May 21, 2011
    Sure, makes sense to me. I think I do actually have an extra monitor laying around somewhere. Don't remember the exact resolution but it's fairly new so I will definitely utilize that.

    The price for either a 13" MBP or a 21.5" iMac are nearly the same at ~$1000 (lowest end model for me) so I'm kinda going back and forth between those two right now. If I can end up finding that monitor, maybe I will just go with MBP. Ah decisions :)
  7. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    Just a note, since I'm in the same boat as you (actually, a bit ahead)...

    The people above are absolutely right in that you don't need horsepower. You will likely begin with Java and Eclipse. My PowerBook G4 1.5 GHz handles that fine. A bit slow, but fine.

    But I'll add something to consider.

    First, a short lecture: while going to school, internships/co-ops are absolutely ESSENTIAL for your future. I can't emphasize that enough. Get as many as you can. If you have to choose between graduating sooner or getting an internship, absolutely pick the internship. Don't even think about it.

    Okay, so when you go on internships, it'll likely be in different parts of the country. You'll likely live in an apartment or the like, and you will probably want a computer with you. Dragging an iMac all over the place is a PAIN. Yes, I speak from experience. A PAIN.

    So... I'll recommend that you get something lighter, if you get my drift.
  8. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Unless you're already a software developer or have a vast programming background, I'd take a second to think about whether it's a smart idea to invest in a $1000-$2000 purchase. Developing an App... at least a good one... is an extremely arduous task. I mean, yeah, you can whip one up in less than hour that may serve a particular purpose, but that doesn't mean it's good. The App development scene has exploded in recent years and you're competing against people who have done this for their whole lives, for companies, and against giant corporations who have entered the game as well.

    I only say that because it sounds as if you're just starting. You haven't mentioned too much about your career opportunity (i.e. is it by yourself or with a startup company or with a well established corporation, etc), so I figured it was worth mentioning. Now don't get me wrong, anythings possible and those that put their heart into can make it a long way, but it's easy to give up.

    And that segues into my advice, which may or may not be applicable. Consider going with an older model or refurb. At least this way, if you don't follow through, it's not a huge loss. Programming doesn't take much computational power at all, so anything within the last few years would serve just fine.

    And don't forget the money that goes on top of developing apps - the developer cost, maybe investing in a device to test with, the 30% Apple takes out of your sales, etc.

    Now if you're getting a computer for personal reasons or money isn't an issue, then yeah, knock yourself out. I'd personally go Macbook Air with an external monitor. You want lots of screen real estate when programming and that 13in MBA hits the nail on the head when it comes to resolution and portability. Then while you're at home (or wherever), a 24in+ monitor is crucial.

    //background- 2 semesters of object oriented programming, currently learning assembly and hdl, novice-level experience with Android and iPhone development. Studying to be an electrical engineer though, so it's mainly just for fun and on the side.
  9. Randizzledante thread starter macrumors regular


    May 21, 2011
    Great recommendations again guys, as always all input is appreciated.

    Sorry for any lack of detail, i'll try to be more specific. I've been in school for 2 years now heading towards an MIS/IT degree. Unfortunately, it also took 2 years to figure out that is precisely NOT what I do.

    So I, literally, am just starting. I'll be taking classes and graduating with a CS degree. Yes, I know it will be difficult. Not sure how to prove it over a forum, but I am a smart guy :) and have always been obsessed with technology. And making apps eventually is definitely part of my goal, but my main goal right now is to just learn and become a good programmer. Anywho, back to the point at hand:

    I must admit, a 13" MBA w/ my 24" monitor is starting to sounds like a really good deal. Refurb is $200 off as well so that'll be helpful. Maybe I will save that iMac purchase for down the road!

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