Best Computer for Mechanical Engineering?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ashley, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. ashley macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    I have a friend who's entering into college with a major in mechanical engineering.

    What's the best laptop for a mechanical engineering student? --- By best I mean best $$ value along with longevity.

    Here's what we're thinking so far:

    1. Macbook - seems great ($$$!) , but the graphics card might not be good enough for the 3D work, right?

    2. MBP - better graphics, but more expensive compared to the VAIO

    3. VAIO - less expensive than the MBP ... but it's not a Mac. :)

    The VAIO in question is: $1,993

    FE Series - VGN-FE690
    15.4" X-Brite Hi Color - 1280x800
    Intel Core Duo Processor T2500 (2 GHz)
    100 GB HD - 5400 RPM
    512 MB RAM (256x2) --- bumped up with 1 GB RAM from 3rd party
    NVIDIA GeForce Go 7600 graphics
    Wireless LAN and bluetooth
    3 year on-site service plan + accidental damage plan
    Windows XP Professional

    Similar MBP: $2,253

    15.4 in screen - 1440x900
    TI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor 128MB of GDDR3 on 2.0GHz configuration
    Intel Core Duo (2.0 GHz)
    100 GB HD - 5400 RPM
    512 MB RAM (x1) --- bumped up with 1 GB RAM from third party
    ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor, dual link DVI support, 128MB of GDDR3
    Wireless and bluetooth
    + buying Windows XP from school

    BUT if a Macbook would work that would be great! (and save $500)

    Thanks in advance!

  2. ®îçhå®? macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2006
    I would go for the MBP. i think that the graphics card is better and the resolution on the screen is better.
    And its an Apple as you said. So much better
  3. generik macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2005
    Are you buying the MBP with the EDU pricing? 2.2K sounds quite steep, I remember its pricing being quite competitive, especially with the Vaio.
  4. ashley thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    Yes, that's the edu price base model with a 100 GB HD and Applecare (cause the Vaio price has warranty included), then adding in the extra $100 for 3rd party RAM.
  5. Star Destroyer macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2006
    I am in Civil Engineering at University (in Canada) and unfortunetly alot of the programs that your friend will end up using cant run on macs unless you get something to run windows on...

    Yea thats teh truth, all of the programs are super expensive like AutoCAD AND CADKEY, and modelling programs like that, i doubt s/he will buy on thier own since they are like 500$ a program so teh school supplies what you need, and they usually dont get Mac versions.. unless the school uses macs. (mine doesnt)

    I use my Mac for typing up the written parts of projects, and i do all the analysis and drawings either at school on thier machines, or on my PC at home.. Yes it sucks, but have your friend talk to a professor first because you might never get anything Mac compatible...
  6. Steven1621 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2003
  7. ashley thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006

    Yeah, if he got the Mac he'd definitely install Windows.

    But - StarDestroyer - what are the specs of the computer you use? What kind of graphics card and RAM would be the best? (as far as best $$ for longevity) We know what the school suggests, and what sales people suggest, but the opinion of someone who's actually IN the field would be good.
  8. x704 macrumors regular


    Apr 15, 2006

    I just wanted to say that for CAD work Concepts 2D/3D/unlimited have very attractive and competive pricing for their CAD programs. I have the demo 2D version and am planning on buying the unlimited student version for $200, compared to like $2000-$3000 for the non-student. and for student pricing I work in a machine shop and their 2D CAD looks really good.
  9. MattyMac macrumors 68000


    Oct 6, 2005
    Im a civil engineer and I use a powerbook...go with the macbook!

    However, many engineering programs wont work on a mac...he should know this though.
  10. purelithium macrumors 6502


    May 28, 2006
    Kingston, Canada
    Go with the largest resolution/Screen possible. You will need it when drawing in AutoCAD(I just finished First Year Mech Eng in college, but switched to E-Commerce).

    Make sure you get something rugged I suggest a Thinkpad.

    Graphics shouldn't matter much, as a lot of the 3d modelling programs that Colleges use aren't taxing on the video solution.

    I had a Thinkpad R51 with a Mobility Radeon 9000 and it did fine for me in AutoCad, SolidEdge, CATIA, etc... The Macbook's Intel GMA950 is supposedly marginally better than the Ati.

    But really, you want to buy as much computer as you can afford. That way you'll be somewhat Futureproof.

    In the end the decision is up to you, we can only offer our input. Goodluck in your Program!
  11. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    I am going into my 4th year in mechanical engineering and I have been using a 1ghz emac all along. I was able to run the most up to date version of ProEngineer, which is a cad program on my compter via virtual pc. It was slow which was to be expected but would work.

    I would reccomend the macbook and get a cheap display if your friend wants more screen space.

    Granted, most programs needed may not even be availiable for your friend to put on his computer and will be forced to use the school's labs anyway due to the lisencing situation.

    Personally, I myself am thinking about getting a macbook for this upcoming year since I will need the portability.

    Hope this helps

    But, if money isn't an issue, I'd go with a mbp. To me, it seems the price is quite steep from the mb to mbp with a few upgrades in some places, aka bigger screen and gpu and combined with saving for tuition, the mb makes more sense for me personally.

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