Choosing the right Mac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ColemanKid, May 21, 2015.

  1. ColemanKid macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2015
    I'm 18 years old and graduating from high school this Sat. May 23. I plan to attend WVU next fall and intend to follow the course of study for Landscape Architecture and have hopes to one day become a golf course architect. How ever, before I make the trip up north this fall I would like to be equipped with the right laptop. I've always been an Apple loyalist and don't plan on changing.
    I need a computer that will work as hard as any college student would need, and I need it to be compatible with AutoCad and be capable of working on big projects. Money isn't a matter in this case because I need to have the best in my lap and know it'll last.
  2. placidity44 macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2015
    To be completely honest with you for what you use a computer for i'd recommend the 15 inch model but I'd recommend a refurbished machine. Apple's refurbs are essentially brand new just in a different box. I have clinical OCD with many things, condition of electronics being one of them, and all of the refurbs i've gotten have been in absolutely perfect condition. I've actually had better luck with refurbs than i've had brand new machines. Apple test's each and every one extensively whereas on the assembly line you can't thoroughly test every one. My 15" MacBook Pro Retina had 2 battery cycles when I bought it and was in perfect condition. Just a thought to save you some money. They come with the same warranty as new and has the same 14 day return policy. This isn't Dell's refurbished products. Apple has an extremely stringent refurbishment process. They are either brand new or have been returned within that 14 day window which Apple tests everything. Also sometimes you get lucky and get a configuration which is better than what you ordered. I ordered my MacBook Pro with 2.6GHz i7 and 8GB of ram and I got a 2.7GHz i7 with 16GB of ram for the same price! If you can live without force touch i'd recommend one of these models as they will more than do the job.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Since you plan to landscape architecture -- which I presume would benefit from having a lot of "display real estate" -- you might consider the 13" retina MacBook Pro (instead of the 15").

    Then, use the $$$ you save to buy a nice external display.

    You'll then have an easily-totable MacBook for carrying around, and plenty of screen space back in your room...
  4. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Are you using AutoCAD or Civil3D? Basically 2D or 3D CAD Package? And likely neither at this time because you're not deep into your major yet.

    You could always consider a (refurbished, possibly) 13" Air or 13" retina for now and in a couple of years when you're deep in your major, you can upgrade to a newer machine.

    As far as performance, even the 11" Air is capable of running AutoCAD just fine for 2D and even some 3D stuff. I do 2D cad and 3D sketchup modeling on my 2013 11" Air. Runs just fine.
  5. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Money no object then a top spec 15 inch retina macbook pro with dGPU but it won't be the lightest to carry around or the most user friendly on small lecture theatre desks.

    As others said an external display in your room may well be a must as well.

    Of course you could go with a retina imac in your room and an rMB for taking to class if money really is no object.
  6. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    What is your budget and how much do macbooks cost where you live?
  7. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Years ago I used various CAD programs that reaped their greatest benefit by having the best available CPU. I don't know if things have changed much such as ability to use multi-core and value of higher end video.

    Perhaps exploring AutoCad oriented sites and their forums would give a good indication of what makes for an ideal computer. As mentioned by others, screen real estate is something to consider and thus being able to couple your laptop to a larger monitor should be included in your planned purchase.
  8. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    I'd probably go for the base 15". It'll definitely be more powerful than anything in the school labs.

    I'm a civil Engineering Student, so my work flow will be different. You'll probably be using more a lot more 3D than ever will. Even still, the base model should be more than enough.
  9. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Thus my reasoning behind asking whether the OP knew if he was going to be using 2D or 3D. In theory a Pentium 4 could run 2D Cad just fine. My current home desktop is an old C2D from 06/07. It runs Civil 3D 2008 quite well. The nicer thing about higher end graphics for 2D is having anti-aliased line work. Multi-core and high end GPUs are really only necessary for 3D work. 2D Vector CAD graphics really aren't that demanding.

    Screen real estate is also important as is portability. A 13" would be great for back and forth to lecture halls and a big screen at the dorm would be nice for getting stuff done. (I run a single 24" at work)

    But this only takes into account actual coursework/CAD. Extra computing activities/ hobbies such as gaming would bring a whole new set of recommendations.
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Well said.

    I'll just say my first round with CAD was with a DOS based version of Generic CADD. The CPU didn't have a co-processor and to draw took time but to print a simple file took several hours on a dot matrix printer. When a 3rd party co-processor was introduced into the mix (floating point etc.), it brought everything down to a simple short wait. Just shows how things have changed considerably.
  11. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Well, I'm not *quite* that old. I cut my teeth on AutoCAD R14 and Microstation J, but I've heard stories. I can certainly appreciate how far we've come.
  12. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    From my PoV, I think it is most excellent that software like this is met with both the right technology (more powerful CPU's) and high availability/access to people these days.
  13. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    First - Apple do quite generous student discounts, so check that out.

    Second- if you haven't already done so, I'd always recommend doing a bit of fact-finding about the college and course before spending money. Its less likely nowadays that you'll hit the sort of Windows "closed shop" that was common in the past, but not impossible... not to mention mundane matters like, is your accommodation the sort of place where you'd be happy to leave a $2k laptop? Do you really need to arrive there with your shiny new laptop on day 1, or do you have an old laptop that would do for a few weeks until you find out what's what?

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