Computer for university

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by gameguy3001, May 8, 2007.

  1. gameguy3001 macrumors member

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    #1
    I'm going to university in the fall taking Computer Science for the first year. But I have some questions about when to get a new computer. I do want to wait till leopard comes out as well as LED backlighting.

    1) Should I get one this year or wait a year? I have a iMac G5 now, would that be able to handle he first year?

    2) I was thinking that a Macbook would work fine for going to school, am I correct or would it require a Macbook Pro?

    Any other advice you can give on what/when to get a computer would be great. If you have any advice on Computer Science, that would help as well. Thanks.
     
  2. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

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    Jul 20, 2006
    #2
    iMac G5 can handle your four year of undergraduate just fine. On your personal computer, you only need word processing, spreadsheet, and a presentation thing to last you however long.

    You don't really need macbook and certainly don't NEED macbook pro. It'd be nice to have, but it won't be required.

    I know you do computer science, but it's not like you will be writing and compiling on your computer most of the time anyway. Most likely it'll be on a server somewhere.
     
  3. GodBless macrumors 65816

    GodBless

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    #3
    I'd definitely recommend getting a Mac laptop so that you can work on your computer in class to take notes and have all of your computer files and your organized computer system with you whenever you need it and wherever you are on campus.

    A MacBook Pro is nice but if it might be too expensive for you--if it is then you will do just fine with a MacBook--if it isn't and you need a better more feature complete computer then go for the gold (the gold being the MacBook Pro). A laptop is a great choice for a college student--especially one majoring in Computer Science. :)
     
  4. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

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    #4
    I never understood what's with the misconceptions that Computer Science students needs better computer than the rest.

    It's not like chemistry students bring their own chemical, nor is it that medical school students bring in their own (not of themselves, of course) dead body to study anatomy, nor is it that chemical engineering students bring their hard hats to the reactor room.

    Why do computer science student need better computer?
     
  5. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #5
    A Macbook will compile code just fine and it's small, an MBP only gives a coder the advantage of a larger screen.
     
  6. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

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    #6
    Except the computer science students that I know, don't compile codes on their own computer. It's either in computer lab, or to a remote server.
     
  7. GodBless macrumors 65816

    GodBless

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    #7
    Laptops are portable and almost college student owns their own computer--people don't own dead bodies or hard hats nor are they easily portable so it would be less of an expectation for them to bring these things to class and they probably wouldn't benefit from bringing these things to class often. Plus I've never heard of safely carrying dangerous contents to class.

    Since Computer Science students can benefit from having their own computer that they use right there with them it only makes since that one would bring their laptop to class at least occasionally if not to every class session like some students do.
     
  8. GodBless macrumors 65816

    GodBless

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    #8
    Doing it on a computer lab computer would most-likely be slower than on a MacBook or a MacBook Pro.
     
  9. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #9
    I'm a Maths student and in the programming courses I have done this is true, but one of the things I like about my Mac is that I can test compile the code with gcc on my own machine and only submit it when its finished.
     
  10. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

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    #10
    Oh, I definitely agree with you on the fact that laptops are more suitable than desktops to most students. And it's probably important for most students to own a computer. What I wanted to point out is the fact that computer science students don't need better computer just because they are computer science majors.

    That's most likely not true. May I ask you what is your profession? In most of the engineering schools' computer lab I've been to, the speed of the machine is quite impressive. In addition, unless you are going to pirate the softwares for your program, you most likely will not be licensed. Which means you have to use computer lab, or remote server/terminal.
     
  11. irmongoose macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

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    #11
    The MacBook is nice and portable, great for taking to class and/or friend's room. In terms it having a smaller screen, you can always buy a separate monitor later - when you have the money- and run it as a dual-screen setup. It's a very capable machine, and as long as you're not a hardcore gamer or spend all your time rendering graphics, it should competently last for the full four years.



    irmongoose
     
  12. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

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    #12
    C and C++ is just one program computer science majors do. There are many more languages that the computer sciences majors do.

    Even in that, the compilers on Mac is not even close in performance (at least from what I've heard) to those in Windows and Linux. Now I'm not computer science major, but some arguments I've heard from my computer scientist and computer engineering colleagues are that there are not a lot of options (and esp not the good ones) of compilers in Mac.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't be getting a Macbook or Macbook Pro, I'm saying let's not misconceive ourselves about computer science students need a better computer, hence a Macbook Pro
     
  13. vintagetobes macrumors newbie

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    May 4, 2007
    #13
    He can run a macbook in bootcamp for that?
     
  14. jamesi macrumors 6502a

    jamesi

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    #14
    seriously think twice about getting a laptop, esp if you already have a nice desktop. most ppl i know at school who have laptops never take them to class. and they tend to be a major distraction in class if you decide to take them. esp if they have wireless...oh no. id just say your money and buy a new computer when you graduate. take notes by hand during lecture, will def help you remember better. G5s are still kicking these days
     
  15. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #15
    To keep this on topic.

    Unless you are doing graphics card programming (which I'm assuming you aren't) the advantages of an MBP over an MB is .16Ghz, a larger screen size, and as a disadvantage you have another $700 out of your pocket.

    If you like the larger screen then buy the MBP, but as the MB (I personally have a Core Duo MB) is pretty damn quick so the extra speed isn't really worth it.

    Therefore I think you should probably get the MB. Though I would upgrade the RAM to 2GB on whichever computer you buy.

    EDIT: I generally take my MB into Uni, but don't use it in class.
     
  16. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #16
    yea i agree you dont need a laptop for college. i went my first 3 years with my emac and got myself a macbook last summer. honestly i usually just keep it hooked up to an external monitor and rarely move it from my desk

    at my school, the engineering computers are uber fast with at least 4+gigs of ram in each one (they are sun workstations)

    i would assume cs would have a similar situation. keep in mind these labs have software that you cant run on your laptop due to licensing.

    granted it is alot easier moving my mb than my emac when i did want to move it lol

    since thge imac and mb are about the same, id say get the mb but thats my choice (as i dont game or anything)
     
  17. ready2switch macrumors 6502

    ready2switch

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    #17
    Some people have gone off on tangents (or just not bothered to read your questions).

    To answer:

    1) Your G5 iMac will definitely be able to handle your first year, and likely 2nd year. Take notes by hand in class and do your work on your iMac or in the CS lab (which you'll have to do anyway for some things no matter what you have). Remember, it's not like you'll be sitting at your computer doing code during lecture. You'll also have lots of Gen Ed classes your first year, not hard core CS classes.

    2.) when you do decide to replace your iMac, a Macbook will be great. I see no reason (unless you get into heavy graphics programming like someone else said) for you to need a MBP. From the sounds of it, you're at least a year out, so the Macbook should be stellar by then (with all the upgrades due by that time).
     
  18. portent macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    bearbo, I'm not trying to pick on you, but I strongly disagree with just about everything you've said.

    My background (and the basis for my disagreement): I have a four-year university degree in computer science.
    During the course of my study, everything that I did was compiled first on my workstation. It's much easier and faster to test on your own machine than to copy your code to a server, or to work using a remote session. I'd say 98% of your compiling will be done on your machine.

    Oftentimes, your machine will be running a server, for testing purposes.
    CS is a broad field. There are literally hundreds of different reasons why a CS student would require a very powerful computer. Here are some:
    1. Interpreted environments: Many interesting languages are not compiled into native code. They're interpreted or exist only in a virtual machine, which adds a huge amount of overhead.
    2. Graphics, visualization, and 3D: Game development, virtual reality, and technical visualization are all part of computer science. These are very demanding applications, and absolutely require cutting-edge computers.
    3. Obscure problems: your assignments may include lots of demanding computation just to demonstrate concepts. Your professors may deliberately assign you to use an NP-hard algorithm, or to test the efficiency of a variety of schedulers. Speed and optimization (and the lack thereof) may be the entire point of the discussion.
    By and large, they are the same. Most CS programs use a lot of open-source software these days. You'll be running the same code, compiled with the same compiler (GCC, or even the Java compiler) as the students using Linux or Windows.

    Anyway, bearbo, my point is this: CS is a big field, and you're trying to put it in a very small box. There are some CS students for whom a regular MacBook provides plenty of speed. There are others who need 8-core Mac Pros to do thier work. What you've heard and what you think is a very small slice of the truth.
     
  19. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #19
    Maybe wait until you are in school to see what your needs will be.

    In the interim, you can continue using your current iMac G5 which is a good computer.
     
  20. Mr.Texor macrumors regular

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    Apr 20, 2007
    #20
    I agree with everything portent said (I also have a 4 year university degree in CS).

    I'll say that if you have the money, get a Macbook. Also, learn to love the terminal. I remember when I was in college, we would just ssh to the remote server to compile, etc.
     
  21. SpookTheHamster macrumors 65816

    SpookTheHamster

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    #21
    I rarely see students at my uni using a laptop outside of their room, and usually they're not even doing work. The premium you pay for the portability could be put to better use buying a full size computer and a second hand laptop. I have my iMac in my room, and my old 12" Powerbook has been to the library twice this year. I normally only use my laptop when I'm on my bed watching a film on my iMac.

    A lot of the students I know with laptops want a desktop as well, and very few students I know with desktops use or want laptops.
     
  22. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

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    #22
    I happen to speak with the chair of the computer science department earlier this afternoon. I was told that all there curriculum is designed for the students to do everything on the school's computer lab, which is open 24/7. If even that is an inconvenience, they have a remote terminal setup, which students can use. The connection to the remote terminal, which I use on a daily basis, is fast enough that it feels like you are on that machine directly, even half way across the US (this is for connection speed, and from my own experience).

    He said that there is really no need for students to do work on their own computer, and majority of the students decided that it's easier to work in the computer lab (and some use the remote terminal). He also happen to mention that the compilers available for Mac, are not the best of the herd.

    There you have it. You might be one of the rare students that decided doing everything on your computer is easier for you, but chances are the OP isn't.

    And please don't give me the "you don't know ANYTHING' about the computer science field". It is not appreciated. I may not know every detail, but I think I have a good general feeling about it. I have taken many courses in my school's computer science department (and hence happened to befriend with the chair), and many of my friends are doing computer science and computer engineering.
     
  23. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

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    #23
    You agreed with Potent, who said he would compile everything on his own computer, yet you say you would just use SSH to the remote server to compile?

    You, sir, are contradicting yourself.
     
  24. Mr.Texor macrumors regular

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    #24

    hehe, you dont have to get all defensive because I dont agree with you. usually, I would do everything on my own computer.. then ssh to the remote server to compile and make sure it compiles with no problem. I guess I should have explained better..
     
  25. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #25
    its not that big of a deal. i know many a people who have way more capable machines than they need. just get one and be happy with it if you really want one. although your g5 would suffice easily but it's always fun getting a new computer!
     

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