College student needs help deciding between two MBPs

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mjk71, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. mjk71 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    #1
    I'm having a very tough time deciding on whether to get the high end 13" mbp, or the low end 15". I'm a junior studying computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. The scope of my work includes mostly programming in Java and C++, but I'd also like to begin developing applications for iOS in objective C and with my curriculum, some 3D modeling may eventually come up. I have plans, regardless of the laptop I choose, to upgrade to an SSD in the original slot, and replace the SuperDrive with an HDD in an optibay. While the 13" will be able to handle all of the above, I'm not entirely sold on it's graphics. I do deal, in some cases, with web design and image editing in Photoshop. I also like to watch movies on my laptop. I'm not a gamer, however. At least not on my computer. So, my question to you guys, is whether the 13" will be enough or my needs. All help is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  2. tmagman macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Location:
    Calgary AB
    #2
    I'm a junior as well studying computer science and business, so I'm in the same boat as you. Your thinking is very similar to my train of thought last year when I bought mine before I started school.

    Go 15". It's going to give you a little bit more power, but more than that, that extra screen real estate which I have found very very useful when programming in different development environments.

    The 15" is also available with the high-res anti-glare screen which I highly recommend hands down for university students. You're going to be sitting in lecture halls and rooms that are lit by fluorescent lights (and lots of them) which cause a ton of ceiling glare on the glossy screens. It's the best $130 upgrade you can do to a MBP, and I have had countless friends thank me for that advice (and a few regretting not) when buying their MBPs for school. (This will also add to your screen real estate for programming because of the higher pixel density, and movies will look better I find on the high-res anti-glare (cause its almost 1080horizontal)

    The SSD is definitely a good choice, check out the SATA IIIs from OCZ for the best ones on the market currently at more reasonable prices than some of the others. I would shy away from the opti-bay currently, as swapping the super-drive out does void your warranty. If you get a 120 or 240GB SSD and then have a FW800 or Thunderbolt drive (later on of course) at home for all of your other files (pictures,movies,expanded music collection,etc.), you will have ample space. (If I remove all my pictures and music, I only use around 50GB of the hard drive with my school and programming files including the OS. Adding my bootcamp partition in there I'm pushing around 90, but even then, still have tons of room).
     
  3. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2011
    Location:
    Tallahassee, Florida
    #3
    I agree. If you can get a 15 inch with a high res screen, go for that. The extra screen estate will help you when you're doing more than one thing at a time.

    Being a college student, I would suggest the 13 though for portability if you're going to be using it in lectures where you're sitting next to others.
     
  4. mjk71 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    #4
    Portability is definitely a concern, but screen space isn't. If it becomes a problem, I feel I can easily purchase an external monitor to redemy that problem. My concern lies with the aspects of the laptop I cannot improve myself, such as the 13" not having a dedicated graphics card and two less cores, but with what I'm doing, I'm not sure how much faster the 15" would even be.

    Ultimately, if screen space is the biggest concern, I may just go with the 13", and gradually perform upgrades as my budget allows. Also, about voiding the warranty, if I keep the SuperDrive, as well as the original harddrive if choose to upgrade with a third party SSD, how will apple be any the wiser if I just pop the original parts back in if a problem arises?
     
  5. FanBoyTroll macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2010
    #5
    Where do you do your work?

    If it's in the library, go for a 15". If it's in your dorm, think about the possibility of a 13" plus an external monitor.
     
  6. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2011
    Location:
    Tallahassee, Florida
    #6
    For what you're doing... I'm pretty sure dual cores will be fine. It's a dual core SNB processor... technically it has 4 virtual cores. But anyway, yea, for what you're doing, I don't think the graphics card will be a bottleneck (coding) nor the SNB processor. You'll see improvements with the 15 inch but you'll have less mobility and a higher price tag.
     
  7. rockyroad55 macrumors 601

    rockyroad55

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Location:
    Phila, PA
    #7
    I'd go for a 15" MBP based on your needs. You never know if you will need that power or not in the future. Rule of tech is buy the best you can afford. Well, that's the rule I use for my tech purchases anyway.
     
  8. Alaerian, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011

    Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    A barstool, Innis & Gunn in hand
    #8
    I disagree.
    What screen angle are you using? /rolleyes The only way you should find the glare so intense that it's unusable is if you are using a ridiculous screen angle. I've made it through many, many lecture and nonlecture classes with a glossy MacBook screen - no issues whatsoever
    Your rule isn't very good.

    OP, sounds like the 13" will suit you just fine, with the possibility of an external monitor down the road.
     
  9. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2011
    Location:
    Tallahassee, Florida
    #9
    Good God tell me you're joking. That kind of reckless spending is one of the reasons America is in the state it's in today.

    People have all of this money and they just spend it without trying to get what is BEST FOR THEM. They don't have a concept of value. I'm all for getting good stuff; I love high end electronics as much as the next guy, but I also know that I'm not going to spend extra when the baseline MBP is good enough for me.

    People who just get the best with what they can (in your terms) lack intelligence and, inevitably, will negatively impact their lives or people around them sooner or later.
     
  10. Icy1007 macrumors 6502a

    Icy1007

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH
    #10
    The 15" is far from heavy or bulky. Compared to other companies' 15" the 15" MBP is tiny.

    I have a high-end 15", but it's the same size as the low-end 15". I used my 15" last year (semester) during my Computer Science courses. My lectures during my last semester were made up of about 12-15 students. Glare was a non-issue. The quad core processor helped a ton in my security courses.

    I would highly recommend the 15" over the 13".

    13" is too small, 17" is too big. 15" is just right. ;)
     
  11. Aaron from KY macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    Location:
    Northern Kentucky
    #11
    I take it you mean to only spend what you can but get the best that you can for your money.

    I'd say look at the Apple refurbished, they have the high end 13" for $1269, the low-end 13" for $1019 and the low end 15" for $1529 or $1649 with the high-res anti-glare screen. They update the store like every other day, so if you don't see those, wait a day or two and they'll usually be back. US Dollars by the way.
     
  12. tmagman macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Location:
    Calgary AB
    #12
    Sorry for the social narrative- but its actually cause they buy the best that they CAN'T afford.
     

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