'Book for a graduate science student.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by gdavid, May 3, 2004.

  1. gdavid macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2004
    I am going to be starting a PhD in chemistry soon and will buy an ibook or powerbook to do some of my work on. Portability is important to me so I'll probably be looking at the 12inch models. The 12inch powerbook is the most expensive I can afford. I don't need DVD burning capabilities and will probably install bluetooth, airport and extra RAM on whichever I get. Mainly I will use it for wordprocessing, internet, powerpoint, number crunching and graphing, chemical drawing applications and maybe some crystal structure stuff. Currently I don't have a computer so this would be for work and home.

    I know the powerbook is the better computer but I don't want to spend heaps on the powerbook if I don't need it and I don't want to waste money on the ibook if its not a good investment for my purposes. I would like to know if there is anyone out there who does similar stuff on a portable and what they are using and just generally what everyone else thinks about which I should get.

  2. thehuncamunca macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2003
    the powerbook 12 inch is probably your best bet considering you want the wireless options. the dual display is also a nice plus if you're working with large excel spreadsheets and the likes

  3. virividox macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    I'd get the powerbook over the ibook due to its power and longer usability imo. but the line is very fine between the top end ibook and powerbook.

    just not blue tooth comes standard with powerbooks and cannot be added on if you dont get it when you order unless you buy a usb dongle
  4. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a


    Jul 31, 2003
    Sydney, Australia
    First up, Bluetooth and AirPort Extreme are standard on the 12" PowerBook, but are options on the 12" iBook. Make sure you factor those costs in when you're comparing the 12" iBook. Secondly, the 12" iBook has a standard 30GB hard drive, while the PowerBook has 60GB as standard. 30GB is not a lot these days...with Mac OS X and iLife '04 installed, that will eat a pretty decent portion of your hard drive straight away. Once you start to add a few major applications like MS Office and even a moderately sized music collection, that doesn't leave much space for future growth or data storage. You mention that you don't have a computer at home already, so it's not like you can get around this issue by only keeping your MP3 collection or non-essential documents on a desktop machine somewhere else. Possibly factor in a larger hard drive if you choose the 12" iBook also.

    Apart from that, if you're interested in doing some number crunching, then neither the 1GHz G4 in the iBook or the 1.33GHz G4 in the PowerBook will be a really stellar performer (of course it depends on the type of code you're running, if it's AltiVec optimised, etc etc), but that extra 33% of core CPU clock speed in the PowerBook certainly won't hurt. The PowerBook also runs on a 167MHz front-side bus, versus 133MHz for the iBook. I would expect the new model 12" PowerBook to be a noticeably faster performer for number crunching apps over the iBook.

    Finally, if you're doing modelling, chemical drawing or crystal structure displays, it's likely your apps will use OpenGL, or that you may want to hook your notebook up to a large external display for a better view of things. The 64MB nVidia GeForce FX5200 in the PowerBook will again be of benefit here over the 32MB Radeon 9200 in the iBook. 64MB of VRAM will be VERY useful if you start running in a dual-display setup with your notebook, especially at higher resolutions on the external screen (note also that you can't do proper screen-spanning to an external display with the iBook, unless you load an unsupported firmware hack. The iBook officially only supports screen mirroring).

    OK, so I think by this stage it might be obvious my bias is towards the PowerBook :) Although the 12" iBook and the 12" PowerBook have similar dimensions and screen sizes (obviously), you get a lot more computer in the standard package with the PowerBook. 33% faster CPU clock speed, faster FSB, double the hard drive size, Bluetooth, AirPort Extreme, audio-in jack (important if you want to mess around with GarageBand, but otherwise not too much of an issue), mini-DVI out (hook straight into an external DVI-equipped LCD screen with the supplied dongle), plus what I belive is a better keyboard too.

    OK...I just headed over to the Australian Apple Store and did some price comparisons. To bring the iBook up to a 60GB hard drive, AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth spec raises the price from AU$1695 to AU$2037. You need to decide if the higher CPU speed, faster GPU with more video RAM, DVI-out port, audio-in jack, and aluminium finish and keyboard construction of the PowerBook are worth the AU$562 between the $2037 12" iBook and the $2599 12" PowerBook.

    If Apple NZ's rules are anything like Apple Australia's, you should be entitled to a 10% educational discount if you are a PhD student, but the discount rate may be different in NZ. Something to factor into your calculations also.

    Over to you :)
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Yep, I'd get the 12" Powerbook. I'm a postgrad student in Physics, and although I don't chemistry or physics data processing on my computer (weird, eh? Its all done on school computers using old DOS-based or basic Windows programs), I still enjoy knowing that my laptop will still be good enough for what I do in 3 years time, possibly longer.

    Anyway, Airport and Bluetooth are included, and the Educational discount from Apple is a must. I saved $300 Cdn/AUD that way.
  6. gdavid thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2004
    Thanks for all your replys, they've been very helpful. The discount for students in NZ sucks, i.e $50 off the 12inch powerbook, but if I can buy it through a university research account I can get 10% off so hopefully I can organise that somehow. We don't have an online education store and on the online store we do have you can't even do built to order configurations.

Share This Page