Buying a Mac for College

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mac59874, May 16, 2011.

  1. mac59874 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2011
    #1
    I'm in the market to buy a new Mac computer for college in the fall and just can't make up my mind. I already own a 17" MBP mid 2009 and it works okay, but it's starting to get slower. I've been contemplating whether or not buying an iMac for college would be feasible. I'm going to be a Computer Science major and much of it wouldn't rely on a fast CPU. I'm not in a crunch for money I've got a budget of close to $2,000. I've considered the 21.5 inch iMac with the ssd and hdd but can't decide if the i7 would be worth it, also what amount of RAM. That said, I don't know if buying a desktop for college would be worth it if I'm somewhere else around campus. Any help would be appreciated, thanks in advance.
     
  2. Reevsaj macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #2
    A 2009 17 MBP should be plenty fast for your needs. Try wiping the disk, reinstalling OS X, and upgrading the RAM.
     
  3. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Location:
    Sacramento
    #3
    Sounds like a waste/.

    Why not just drop some ram and a SSD into the MBP?

    $100 for 8 gigs and whatever size you need for SSD.
     
  4. Dresevski macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 6, 2011
    Location:
    Minnesnowda
    #4
    Do that for pretty cheap. Then if you still feel the need for speed get an iMac. My friend in computer science got an iMac instead of a MBP like the rest of us and I was jealous throughout my college career until now...because I got a new iMac. I'm in engineering and rarely take my computer to class. There are labs that you'll use on campus instead of your own so it makes more sense to have a nice desktop in your room. Make your own decision on the processor but if since you're down on your speed with a 2 year old laptop you should get the i7. Don't pay Apple for the RAM, instead order it elsewhere (the same way you'll need to for your laptop) and install it in 35 seconds
     
  5. RoelJuun macrumors 6502

    RoelJuun

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    Aug 31, 2010
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #5
    What about adding a SSD… they cost less than $2000 most of the time.
     
  6. patp77 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2007
    #6
    I'm not sure which model 17" you have but I doubt it's slow because of the computer itself after only 2 years. You may have some things slowing it down but nothing that a good cleanup couldn't fix for you. As others have mentioned, I would probably save the $2000 and spend it on something else.

    If anything, I would consider getting a decent size monitor and keyboard/mouse to plug your laptop into when you are at home if you want a larger visible surface to work on. A decent 25"+ will run you around $300 and most mouse/keyboard combos can be had for under $100.

    I would also contemplate adding RAM (roughly $100 for 8GB) if you use a lot of RAM intensive applications or if you tend to have a lot of open applications. Lastly, I would highly recommend an SSD if you just want your laptop to feel snappier when you turn it on and launch applications. For around $250 you can get a 128GB SSD which should have enough space for your needs. It won't make the applications run any faster but everything will feel more responsive. Then, invest in an external 1TB+ for media files and you'll have a laptop feeling like new for under $900 which will also meet your home needs.

    Some of the things mentioned above may not really suit your needs but without knowing what you use the laptop for, it's impossible to provide accurate recommendations.
     
  7. laurenrp macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
    #7
    To be honest, I'm a sophomore at a big research university and I haven't seen a single person with a desktop.. some have external monitors. It's more practical to have a notebook, just for the portability. If you're CS, you'll be bringing it to class a lot. I'm in science and math and I have to program on my own computer in class sometimes. the 2009 should be good for you, i got a 2010 15 in i5 and it will keep me going until the end of school for sure. Don't get the dektop or a new laptop just for "tech coveting", only if you really need it, and as a student, i really think a desktop is less practical than a notebook!
     
  8. mrfoof82, May 16, 2011
    Last edited: May 16, 2011

    mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Location:
    Lawton, OK
    #8
    RAM isn't something you have to do now. That can always be done later. Do you use 4GB now? No? Wait. It'll only get cheaper. If you don't want to DIY it, you'll probably have a friend that will install it in exchange for a pizza.

    Things like the hard disk and CPU are more important choices, because the HDD can be intimidating for most to upgrade, and the CPU isn't a simple upgrade for most people. Look at your current storage to forecast what you'll think you'll be consuming in 2 to 3 years. If you really miscalculate storage, Thunderbolt will have you covered for external expansion (if not FireWire 800 or USB2).

    In terms of display size, the difference between the 21.5" and the 27.0" is this -- instead of two A4 pieces of paper side by side at 100%, you can have three side by side at 95%. It can be a great productivity boon if you have a real need for it.

    You're a student. Losing your work can be a big deal. Ensure you have some money in your budget for an external disk or a Time Capsule for backups via Time Machine. If disaster strikes, you will never stop thanking yourself. Keep your most vital stuff "off-site" via a USB flash drive, and/or a DropBox account, in the unfortunate event of a dorm room break-in where your stuff gets nicked.

    Make sure you take advantage of any student discounts and the back-to-school promotion as well. If you're replacing your MBP, sell it to offset the cost of any new hardware you buy -- resale value of Apple hardware is phenomenal.
     
  9. TallManNY macrumors 601

    TallManNY

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    #9
    I'd think that there are bunch of times you will want to work in the library, the cafeteria, lounges, cafes, or even bring it to class. I can't imagine not having a laptop as a student these days. So you are going to want both. The new iMacs won't be that much faster than what you have now for most of what you do. Seems like a little bit of a waste of money to me.

    Always upgrade memory before moving onto a new machine. Memory upgrades are almost always a nice value performance boost. Try it on your MBP before you get the iMac. As I said, you will be keeping the notebooking and using it a lot, so it isn't wasted money to upgrade it.
     
  10. iRobby macrumors 6502a

    iRobby

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL USA
    #10
    I have DropBox and initially thought i could use it as a backup source as well but isn't the answer to that no since it syncs auto so meaning if the files get erased on the your hard drive or a crashed system then since it disappears on the iMac then doesn't it get erased on Dropbox site as well? Therefore not a backup utility?
     
  11. mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Location:
    Lawton, OK
    #11
    Dropbox does not do that. Otherwise multi-computer sync would not work. You can restore from it. Through the web interface.

    However I'm not recommending DropBox as a primary backup. You want both an on-site and an offsite. For onsite he should use Time Machine to an external disk or Time Capsule. For offsite, DropBox is an option for his most important data (as is CrashPlan, Carbonite, Mozy, etc.). That's why I say he should consider a Time Machine disk as part of his budget. Time Machine will also get him the ability to recover changes, in addition to things going missing.
     
  12. panzer06 macrumors 68030

    panzer06

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    Kilrath
    #12
    Nothing ever gets deleted on Dropbox (at least mine has never gotten to that point). It keeps all versions and deletions that can be restored through the web interface.

    Cheers,
     
  13. iRobby macrumors 6502a

    iRobby

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL USA
    #13
    I would simply use Time Capsule then but all the reiews for it are horrendous. I need to find an external drive anyway to transfer iTunes. Just not sure which type to get. USB flash drives aren't big ernough so I guess I'll be looking for an external drive :confused:
     
  14. mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Location:
    Lawton, OK
    #14
    Time Capsule mostly stinks if you're using it as an external disk for sharing stuff over a network (NAS). Yes, it's not quick (which is why it stinks as a NAS). But for backups, it does the job. I maintain about 800GB of backup data on a 2TB model just fine over 802.11n.

    External hard drives are fine. 2.5" disks can be bus powered while 3.5" disks require wall wart power adapters. DIYing is cheap for USB2 ($25-35 for an enclosure, plus the disk), though enclosures are considerably more expensive for FireWire 800 ($75 for an enclosure, plus the disk). Or you can buy something off the shelf (where there is a premium over DIY).
     
  15. iRobby macrumors 6502a

    iRobby

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL USA
    #15
    Actually you brought up a good idea I'd love to utilize that firewire port. isis that standard for external drives. Sorry for newbie question. I never used one before. Like I said before I should have backed up all along but never have. But since I need an external drive to transfer files from my PC to the iMac I guess I'll start then.
     
  16. mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Location:
    Lawton, OK
    #16
    FireWire 800 is a great option, but not common. Off-the-shelf drive/enclosure bundles that use it will be premium priced, and standalone enclosures (where you put in your own drive) will be premium priced as well. If you go to a store, you'll mostly find USB2 drives which are usually a bit slower than even FireWire 400 drives in the real world, and you probably won't fire FireWire 800 drives on the shelves outside of Apple stores.

    FW800 had its thunder taken from it in the regular computing world by eSATA. Thunderbolt will handily outstrip eSATA, but devices aren't yet to market. In both the eSATA and Thunderbolt cases, you need either top-tier SSDs or arrays of disks (or solid state drives) to really utilize the bandwidth those technologies provide.
     

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