Buying A MacBook Pro Retina For University?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Astroblu, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. Astroblu macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2012
    #1
    I'll be going to university in a couple years and will need to buy a new computer for my studies. I currently have a late 2008 MacBook with aluminium unibody. For what I do at the moment, it's only just sufficient. It tends to get quite slow at times with only 4GB of ram and a CPU of only 2GHz. It has lasted quite well, except I'm not expecting it to remain at a usable performance level for long.

    I use my current laptop for hours everyday, therefore the new laptop I would get would also be used well. The course I will most likely be taking at University will be computer science and programming related, which may require CPU intensive tasks. I've used OS X for a long time with Windows on a bootcamp partition, although I have a thorough understanding of both systems, I definitely prefer OS X hands down.

    This leads me to a bit of confusion. If I needed to get a laptop for University, a MacBook would be my first choice. This is because of the overall build of the laptop and system. It gives me the opportunity to access both main operating systems which could be useful for cross platform development and understanding at a later stage.

    I came to these forums to discuss this because on other forums people may be biased towards Windows because they have never experience an Apple computer for themselves and it is impossible to discuss with them because of their ignorance. People on here may also be biased towards mac, but they understand what I mean when I say that I like OS X.

    This laptop will most likely last me a long time and get me through my university course and further, I need something that will be worth the money and be a suitable choice. The only issue I have is the extreme price of the laptop compared to a Windows alternative, it hard trying to justify the high price of the retina macbook for a university entrant student. My family is averagely rich, we are not extremely well off but not too bad either. My parents will not be able to fully pay for my laptop but may contribute slightly. I need to know if getting this will be the right decision for a university entry student, I'm not sure how hard it will be with expenses and living costs and I don't want to regret buying one and always be in debt. I also don't want to get a Windows computer and regret it also because of how much I hate it and want to use OS X and have the nice feeling of using a mac. I know it would sound stupid to a Windows user, but after using a mac, it doesn't feel right having a Windows computer, there is something that feels good about owning a mac.

    Sorry it's so long, I wanted to explain thoroughly the situation I'm in because it's a serious decision I need to make. If I do decide to go with the retina macbook, I need to start saving and maybe sell things now so I can have enough to go towards it.

    Too long;Didn't read: I need a laptop for university, studying digital science related subject, would prefer a retina macbook, what should I do?
     
  2. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #2
    If you're going to be at a 4 year university the first year or two isn't going to require a rMBP. Keep your current machine and put an SSD and double the ram (if you can)?

    The idea I take with getting new machines is that they should last 5 years or so, and I tend to buy the mid-tier machine, best performance to value ratio.

    I'd put the rMBP at an upper-tier and probably overkill for any undergraduate program. Just because you have a really nice computer does that mean you have the expensive software to run on it? Probably not, but I'm sure the expensive computers in your computer lab will.

    No need to break the bank on your first year at school. I'm not saying "don't buy anything". But perhaps the rMBP isn't really needed.
     
  3. linds15 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Location:
    Great White North
    #3
    id wait to get a computer until you're off to school, in the meantime, double the ram, see how that goes, and maybe add an ssd, it should get you through until uni. you wont know what youll need until you know your program, no point in jumping the gun
     
  4. djtech42 macrumors 65816

    djtech42

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2012
    Location:
    West Chester, OH
    #4
    I have a 15" Retina MacBook Pro for college, and it is perfect. Expensive, but perfect. :D
     
  5. Astroblu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2012
    #5
    Just to clarify, I'm not going to buy a new computer until I would start university. I will be able to manage using my current laptop for a further 2 years probably. It may sound pathetic, but another reason why I'd like to get the retina macbook pro is that I've always wanted it and it would be a perfect computer, it would make me more motivated because I have something really exiting to work with. It would last me through my courses and maybe even after. It would definitely be used well. Although I do understand that the computer lap at the campus will be available and I may not need the retina macbook pro.

    I'm still not sure, any other comments?
     
  6. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Sunnyvale
    #6
    Nobody needs a retina screen. We have all managed just fine without it, and if money is tight, there is no need to overspend on a laptop as a student.

    Everyone has different priorities, and sometimes I find myself wanting to upgrade my 5 year old Mac but then I think of all the cool things I could get instead: a dirt bike, a short vacation, laser eye surgery... and I go ahead and get those things, and my 5 year old Mac just keeps on working (it got a second wind after an SSD upgrade).

    Unless you have to an unlimited supply of money, you have try and make sure that you spend it with the highest amount of enjoyment and benefit. It could be the rMBP, or it could be something else. Only you know the answer.

    P.S. I think one thing I've learned as I got a tiny bit older is that it's a lot less about what tools you use and a lot more about how you use them. In other words, don't stress over hardware too much.
     
  7. nolem macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    #7
    If you're 2 years away from the purchase start saving something each month now, put away $83/month for the next 24 and you'll have 2 grand ready to put towards a nice new MB Pro.
    IMO don't count out the MB Air, I just picked up a mid'13, 13 inch base model after my iPad wasn't cutting it for school and love it. Also in your case that means just ~$40/month to save for 2 years to get a new one.
    I understand the lure of a Pro though, I used to spring for them but them but then found better things to spend my money on.
     
  8. Astroblu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2012
    #8
    As mentioned in my first post, I will be doing a computer science/programming related course and I'm not sure a notebook with a 1.3GHz i5 processor will cut it. Although the campus will provide a computer lab, I would still need a computer more capable than just being able to produce a text document. I'm not criticising the MacBook Air, it's a great compact notebook for general use, but I look at is as sort of a downgrade from my current machine in terms of performance. (If they were both in new condition)

    I live in New Zealand so these laptops have GST (tax) put onto them and are still expensive even with a student discount. Without AppleCare it would be $3224 USD for the top version of the MacBook Pro Retina 15".
     
  9. cupcakes2000 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #9
    If your computer is what you spend a large majority of your time on, spend the money on the one you want!

    If it's a secondary thing that you just 'have to use' then don't worry so much.

    I suspect you're in the first category there... and anyway, I think you already know the answer to your own question!
     
  10. Asuriyan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Location:
    Indiana
    #10
    The i5 in the Air is roughly three times as powerful as the Core 2 Duo in your current machine. The i7 in the 15" Retina is four times as powerful.

    It's more than capable of some number crunching. CPU is not the limiting factor for very many users. I know gamers with $400 current-gen video cards that still use Core 2 Quads.
     
  11. themwhite3 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2013
    Location:
    Valparaiso, In
    #11
    I got a 15" rmbp for graduation. I love using it for school. It does everything it needs to in the blink of an eye. I recommend getting one if you have the funds to afford.
     
  12. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Sunnyvale
    #12
    It depends on what kind of programming you will be doing, but I suspect for the purposes of a university course even the lowly i5 will be plenty enough. Computer science and programming are not CPU intensive tasks, not much more resource hungry then word processing, to be honest. I'm a software developer and I do everything on a Core 2 Duo, FFS. My photography hobby is a lot more demanding from my laptop than my paid work.

    Now if you are going to be developing OpenGL games, going 3D renderings and what not, then you need the best you can get your hands on.
     
  13. GimmeSlack12, Oct 10, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013

    GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #13
    What do you do at the moment?

    Wait you're still 2 years away from University? It is silly to be talking about this right now. In two years you'll want a 4k MBP, not a Retina.

    This sounds like what I said to my Dad when I was 14-15 and was begging for a Power Mac 7500. It was a lame reason then, and it's a lame reason now.
     
  14. kierans1000 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Location:
    Redlands, Ca
    #14
    You are going to university in two years? Who knows what the price point for rMBP will be then. My major isin't computing intensive, so my 2010 13" MBP works just fine, and if I need anything more, I can use one of the computer labs. Someone else made a good point that, if you break the bank on the hardware, you might not be able to get the expensive software you need. For example, the stats program for a class I took last quarter costs like $400. So, when I needed it, I used a university computer. So then, what is the point of a really expensive computer if you have to use the university's computer to do all the heavy computing you broke the bank getting in the first place?
    As a side note, people always think retro (like yours) mac laptops are dope. If I had one, I would use it until it broke. Also a piece of advice, I really wish I had a 15" screen. That way you can easily have two docs or a doc/webpage displayed full size on the screen at the same time. Really valuable for writing papers ect.
     
  15. Astroblu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2012
    #15
    Yea, the idea of stating the MacBook Pro Retina is because it's the top model of the MacBooks, when it comes for me to buy one, it would probably be the current equivalent.

    Although my main intention will be for university (a computer science/programming related course), I also use Photoshop and After Effects quite regularly.

    It is a lame reason, I do admit. Although this reply above kind of sums up why I want it so much over another laptop:
    Game development is my current interest for the course, however this may change and I might just want to do general software development. I'm not entirely sure yet, but it would be good to have the power if needed.

    This and the extremely high cost are the two main points that are making me hesitant about getting a rMBP for university.
     
  16. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    #16
    Most people doing undergraduate studies use something like notepad to program in, or slightly something better. The programs you will make will run in command prompt and look like dos text programs, seriously!

    Save up for a computer if you want, but don't use computer science as an excuse for a good one. Get a retina if you want to play games, get a big screen laptop or a desktop if you want to code.
     
  17. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Sunnyvale
    #17
    While I agree with the second part of your post, the first one may not be very accurate. Nobody uses notepad to program in! Depending on the language(s) your university will be using to teach, students use at least an editor like TextMate (or Window/Linux equivalents) to take advantage of syntax highlighting, and maybe even a full blown IDE like Eclipse. Some universities even offer courses in iOS development, so you'd be working in Xcode, not notepad.

    As an aside, if you want to be able to afford a high end computer (and a high end car, and frequent vacations...), you better start working. The beauty of something like computer science and software development is that in many cases employers don't care all that much about your degree, they don't mind if you're still working on it but have experience to make you eligible for a job. You can start working on software while still in university, it's more useful for your career and pays better than irrelevant low-skilled jobs many students take on part time. It also helps ensure that your skills are relevant, as few universities offer courses on cutting edge stuff that you may have to learn for real world projects.
     
  18. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #18
    Then this is a decision you need to make in about 20 months' time.

    In two years, Apple could be the world-leading manufacturer of washing machines, the must-have computer for university might be a TwitterPad 800 running SteamSoft GNU/Windows 12 and you could be enrolling in the Serjey Brin Virtual University of Beijing from your bedroom via Google Glass.


    OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating the pace of change somewhat, but its certainly time for Apple to completely change their laptop line-up and pricing. Complete disappearance of non-retina MacBooks, partial merging of MacBook Pro and Air lines, iOS/OS X convergence etc. are all feasible on that timescale.

    So the only sensible advice now is (a) maybe start saving and (b) if you have spare cash then a RAM upgrade and a SSD might keep your existing MBP viable until then.
     

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