Best Macbook for university?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by robby.500, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. robby.500 macrumors newbie

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    Jun 11, 2011
    #1
    I'm currently looking to buy a Macbook for a university engineering program and I'm debating between the soon to be refreshed Macbook Air's or the Macbook Pro's. Any thoughts?
     
  2. 42streetsdown macrumors 6502a

    42streetsdown

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    #2
    Are you going to have to use Inventor? If so there isn't a Mac version as of yet, so you'd have to duel boot Windows. This might be a problem for the smaller SSD of the Air.
     
  3. robby.500 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    I'm not sure, but wouldn't you be able to use parrallels?
     
  4. 42streetsdown macrumors 6502a

    42streetsdown

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    #4
    Yes you could. I'm just saying it'll take up more disk space.
    I personally don't like virtualization though. It's slower and takes a ton of resources.

    In the end it's a preference thing. The Air is going to be more portable, but is not going to have to same power per dollar as the pro.

    I see in your sig that you have an iMac so maybe portability is the way to go, and you can do the more intensive tasks on your desktop.
     
  5. LAS.mac macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Yes, for sure you'll be able to use Parallels. Although I don't know what Inventor is, MBA can now be equipped with a maximum of 256 Gb SSD. I think that plenty for more than 80% of people (my iMac has only 175 Gb filled of its 1Tb. And I have about 7 years of work on it).

    Maybe people using Inventor need more space?
     
  6. LAS.mac macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I use Parallels mainly for Excel 2003 and VBA support. My partition has 10 Gb for win XP. And my macros run faster under Parallels 4/Win XP Pro/ Excel 2003, than on a new Dell with win 7 and the same Excel 2003.
     
  7. robby.500 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Yeah I know I don't know what Inventor is either
     
  8. 42streetsdown macrumors 6502a

    42streetsdown

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    #8
    Inventor is a Computer Aided Design program, and it's one of many in that type. The reason i mentioned it was because it's currently windows only (but may have mac compatibility in the future) so the comment was more on the size of Windows. I've always had to have at least a 20 GB boot camp partition.

    lol it wasn't as useful of a comment as i thought it was.
    The thing you should be weighing is power and portability.
     
  9. robby.500 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Is it graphically intense? If it is would it be better to run it on the AMD graphics on the MBP's instead of the integrated Intel 3000 on the new MBA's?
     
  10. 42streetsdown macrumors 6502a

    42streetsdown

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    #10
    Hm maybe it's gotten a lot better sense i last used it two years ago lol
     
  11. 42streetsdown macrumors 6502a

    42streetsdown

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    #11
    CAD programs usually aren't too bad. Your average 3D game is going to be worse.
     
  12. vespoli macrumors member

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    Jun 25, 2009
    #12
    until you start to do some 3-d rendering or serious mathmatically intensive programming, not the mention streaming HD Netflix. :p
     
  13. 42streetsdown macrumors 6502a

    42streetsdown

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    #13
    it looks like he's got an iMac though so he can do intense stuff on the desktop.
     
  14. futabasan macrumors newbie

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    Jun 2, 2011
    #14
    How about the typing experience on the MBA? As uni students we got to type a lot of essays (at least I do). It seems that the MCP would be more comfortable than the MBA after long hours (say 4+ hours).

    Nonetheless, wait for the new Air... Got to see what it has to offer!
     
  15. leftywamumonkey macrumors 6502a

    leftywamumonkey

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    #15
    I would think the MBP 13" or 15" would be a better option as of right now. You can go up to 8GB memory and have a larger capacity storage device. If you don't need the storage, you could always just buy an SSD. The option to increase the ram to a larger amount and the large capacity would be better for running Windows on your machine. But, you should wait to see what the new MBAs would offer.
     
  16. robby.500 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #16
    The iMac will not be following me to university, my Dad has dibs
     
  17. rovitotv macrumors member

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    #17
    If you have an iMac or other computer then the MBA would be perfect class computer

    If you have a iMac or other computer than the MBA will be the perfect classroom computers. I would think the MBA would do 90% of what you need maybe even run the Inventor software you are talking about. For my graduate school in Computer Science (2005) I would have loved a MBA type computer. You can always use a bigger/faster computer when you have to but the Air should cover a large percentage of the tasks. This is going to be a difficult choice so I would think about it and make a pro/con list for each model.
     
  18. michaelz macrumors regular

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    #18
    MBA 13" 4gb, 256gb ssd is the only one you should get.
     
  19. newbiemacguy128 macrumors regular

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    #19
    Go with either the 13in MBA or the 15in MBP, depending on what you want to do. I recently graduated with a biology degree and One thing I learned is 1280x800 resolution SUCKS to work on when your writing papers. Sure you got expose and spaces, but it just didn't do it for me when I had 10+ windows open. For me, productivity increases with more screen real estate. More time working instead of fiddling with windows.

    HD space could be an issue if your getting a MBA though. With Parallels, Starcraft II, and schoolwork i've racked up about 140GB worth of data (including photos and itunes - 10GB or so). I really don't think its worth it to upgrade to 256GB SSD, the price is just so high. i'd rather get the 15in MBP for a little more future proofing (and occasional gaming with sweet graphics, DIABLO3!). If you can deal with the space issue, MBA all the way.

    Weight and footprint wise, i'd say its not an argument imo. With careful planning, I leave my computer home if its not needed that day (i.e. A day where my only class is history). In fact, things like smartphones and laptops usually just distract me! If I unexpectedly need a computer, its usually short work, which is easily remedied by using the schools computers. The days I do need my computer, it usually involves hunkering down and not moving for hours at a time, so its really negligible that my computer weights X lbs, because I just carry it to one spot and sit. Seeing as your an engineering major, you won't be taking notes in class with your laptop either. Or at least, i'd strongly advise against it. Diagrams and such are always throwing me off when i'm trying to type notes :(.

    If your just going to use it for schoolwork (no gaming), I don't think power will be an issue. With the new SB processors in the MBA it'll be more then enough power for the majority of students. Unless there is a specific program that needs a quad core processor and a decent graphics card, I wouldn't bother. Also, do yourself a favor and get 4GB RAM if it doesn't become standard in the next MBA. It'll save you a bunch of headaches (especially if your gonna use Parallels or VMware).

    Is glare an issue? Some people it bugs the crap out of them, others it doesn't. Obviously, only the 15in and 17in MBP has an anti glare screen.

    Pretty much my thoughts of the perfect laptop after 5 years of undergraduate classes. Either way, its basically a pros and cons list of what you think matters to you. I've made mine and I got my perfect school computer (15in MBP), so I may be a little biased :p. I do secretly lust for a MBA just because its sexy though.
     
  20. KylePowers macrumors 68000

    KylePowers

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    #20
    As an upcoming 3rd year electrical engineering student (at a particularly highly regarded US institution of higher learning, mind you), I think my experience is fairly applicable.

    After I graduated high school, I swooped up (well, actually... received as a graduation gift), a spec'd out Sony Z. It was amazing (and still is); but to be honest, it just wasn't as worth it as I thought it'd be. Not that it didn't live up to my expectations - because it did -, I just didn't use it as much as I thought I would.

    First and foremost, most (>90%) of my professors didn't (and still don't, as I progress) allow laptops during their lectures. And for those that do, it's only a testament to how distracting laptops truly are. Sure, maybe you can take notes a lot faster (obviously, who can't type faster than they can write) on a laptop, but it's not nearly as effective on memory retention as hand-written notes (for the large majority of society, at least).

    Secondly - and going off of that -, much of the material you come across in engineering courses are damn near impossible to replicate easily, quickly, or efficiently on a laptop. Free body diagrams, mathematical equations, electronic circuits, almost everything you come in contact with is much more easily handled by a pencil and paper, than by your laptop.

    Thirdly, half the time you're using a computer, it's not even yours. For instance, I had weekly lab assignments for my programming courses, but those had to actually be done in a lab, on a university computer, in front of teaching assistants. Also, my school has a crap load of computers all across campus with special software and whatnot with hardware specifications that would blow away anyone's laptop (like spec'd out 27in iMacs and Mac Pros, for instance).

    So really, the only time you ever use your laptop is when you're taking a pr0n break between diff-eq problem sets ;)

    But really though, from my experience, I only ever used my laptop to view lecture slides at home, Google crap I didn't understand, submit online homework, write papers, and do weekly programming assignments (which weren't hardware demanding in the slightest). Other than those things, I'd Facebook, Twitter, watch Hulu/Netflix, and yupp... that was about it. That's my experience, at least.

    The point? Just get a laptop you want, because to be honest, it's one of the last things you'll be worrying about at college (first being the gender you're attracted to, second being partying, and third: trying to survive engineering) :)
     
  21. newbiemacguy128 macrumors regular

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    Jul 8, 2009
    #21
    The Vaio Z or the 15in MBP is for sure overkill for classwork, that's definitely true. As a young undergraduate though, I just think the extra power gives you a little more flexibility. Went through a series of hobbies throughout the years and a laptop with a little more power and HD space helped. Gaming, photography, transcoding videos, etc. I think maybe one or two more refreshes for the Air and it will be perfect...These issues don't necessarily make the Air a bad school computer, but a laptop isn't only a part of your academic life, but your personal life too. I'd like to know that my computer will be able to handle everything I throw at it.

    Of course...you could get the 13in MBP and get more HD space and a little more power, but I was REALLY hoping they'd throw in an anti-glare high resolution version.
     
  22. reclusive46 macrumors 65816

    reclusive46

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    Canada
    #22
    Thats is probably correct. Aswell since your going to have to bootcamp get a macbook pro. It'll serve you better in the long run.
     

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