Computer Science Major

BigManOnCampus

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 21, 2010
19
0
Alright, so here is the situation, I am going to college next year with a major in computer science. I have been doing a lot of research on which laptop to get but I just keep going back to the 15" MacBook Pro... It just looks so darn good. Not only does it look good but it actually exceeds many of the requirements for recommended specs of a laptop for my major at the university website.

I have also been looking and I am seeing a lot from both sides. Many people are saying that a MBP would be terrible for computer science and the Think Pad is a better option but others have also said that it works perfectly. I just cant trust anyone because the internet is infested with haters and fan boys. Now I know that many of you are probably fan boys but what do you all think?
 

Bucknut

macrumors newbie
Aug 9, 2009
18
0
Ahhh I was a computer sci major once, then I decided I would rather drill into my own head.

You could always get the mac and run windows on it as well.
 

wafl iron

macrumors regular
Nov 16, 2007
183
0
as a computer science major, the only thing you'll need your mac for is Terminal.app

and maybe x11

is terminal.app worth 1,999?
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,956
509
Just install VMWare or Parallels and Windows 7 for any Windows-specific requirements.

It will be really handy to be able to drop to a shell and experience command-line *nix.
 

Bill Gates

macrumors 68030
Jun 21, 2006
2,500
14
127.0.0.1
Almost any computer you could buy would probably work fine. Even a netbook would most likely suffice, so a MacBook Pro will work wonderfully. Just be aware that depending on what IDE you are allowed or required to use you may have to run Windows on it as well.
 

Bucknut

macrumors newbie
Aug 9, 2009
18
0
Almost any computer you could buy would probably work fine. Even a netbook would most likely suffice, so a MacBook Pro will work wonderfully. Just be aware that depending on what IDE you are allowed or required to use you may have to run Windows on it as well.
You need some power when you go to compile your code, so a netbook would struggle at times.
 

Bill Gates

macrumors 68030
Jun 21, 2006
2,500
14
127.0.0.1
You need some power when you go to compile your code, so a netbook would struggle at times.
I highly doubt that any computer science major is going to be compiling large enough projects that would make a netbook choke. Also, if he does have to compile something big, any decent university is going to have a server farm which can be used for that purpose. Regardless, my mention of a netbook was only for illustrative purposes. The OP is looking at the MacBook Pro.
 

BigManOnCampus

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 21, 2010
19
0
Well the department website said that 2GB of memory would be more than enough. So I just figure that since the MBP has 4GB I could partition the memory and give windows quite a bit through bootcamp. Would this be fine?
 

Bill Gates

macrumors 68030
Jun 21, 2006
2,500
14
127.0.0.1
Well the department website said that 2GB of memory would be more than enough. So I just figure that since the MBP has 4GB I could partition the memory and give windows quite a bit through bootcamp. Would this be fine?
You have some reading to do. :eek:

When you're using Boot Camp you are booted directly into Windows. Ergo, you will have access to all 4GB of RAM since OS X won't be running. If you are using virtualization you could designate 2GB to the guest operating system, but if you actually want the best performance possible, there is a delicate balance between too little and too much RAM, and 2GB may actually be too much for the guest. Depending on what solution you choose, the default settings have typically been configured for a good balance between host and guest, but you may want to increase the memory slightly to aid in performance during compilation and other RAM-intensive activities.
 

BigManOnCampus

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 21, 2010
19
0
Wow... you're starting from absolute zero, aren't you?
Well jeez give me a break I'm new to mac... I don't really actually know how the macs work and how the memory gets split up for the virtual machine and what not.

But hey you probably maybe kind of understood what I was asking.. Sooooo...
 

neal.young

macrumors member
Jul 9, 2009
77
0
Irvine, California
I'm also going to college next year (University of British Columbia or UC Irvine), as an economics or CS major, and I'm getting a 17'' MacBook Pro with an anti-glare screen as a high school grad present from my parents. The high resolution screen is great for both having multiple code windows open at one time or being able to view both a web page and a word processor simultaneously while doing research and writing a paper. The high resolution screen is also nice because you won't need to bring a separate monitor to fill up space in an already cramped dorm room, as the 17'' model has the same resolution as most 24'' desktop displays. If you really want the 15'' model, getting the high-resolution screen will give you most of the benefits of the 17'' model. A MacBook will also be the only notebook that can run Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, which could be important if you need to run software that is not cross-platform, but still prefer the Mac experience.
 

JimAtLaw

macrumors 6502
Sep 26, 2006
274
12
Bay Area, CA
Wow... you're starting from absolute zero, aren't you?
Ouch. You're not wrong, but ouch - perhaps he just doesn't realize that Boot Camp is not virtualization.

OP, a MacBook, even a regular MacBook, would do fine for absolutely anything you will need - you can download gcc and other basic compiler tools for it, and compile and test your work without difficulty before uploading and recompiling and retesting on whatever server they make you use at school. Windows would also serve you just fine, but then you'd have to use that taking notes, etc., and if you prefer OS X (or just the Mac's physical design), no one will fault you.

But you may want to pick up some introductory programming texts and work through them before you get there - in any decent CS program, the best students will know a lot of this stuff before they arrive and some of them will already be working in the field (I know I did), and starting from zero will put you at a disadvantage.
 

godrifle

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2003
256
108
Fort Thomas, KY
I work in the a college where we offer computer science undergrad and graduate programs. I wholeheartedly endorse using a Mac for CS work, since:

a) it's the only system that can run any major (and almost any minor) OS you throw at it;
b) it's the only platform you can use to develop for iPhone;
c) web development study-flow is brilliant as Apache/PHP are built in.

As iPhone/iPad development courses mature in our programs, students without Macs find themselves in a quandary. Conversely, in other programming courses (Java, Python, Ruby, PHP, shell scripting) Mac users are fully capable and in many cases have a head start as a majority of those run-times are pre-installed.

Although our CS program doesn't focus on business application programming like visual basic, students with Macs have no problems there due to the ability to run Windows in dual boot or a virtual container.

Regarding the cost of obtaining Windows for use on a Mac, our school offers student licenses for under $20, and in some programs, for free.

Good luck with your studies. I hope you gain knowledge and have a blast doing so!
 

jahman

macrumors regular
Feb 12, 2010
130
1
UK
As the other posters have said, a Macbook Pro covers all your operating system bases which is pretty cool. Get a 17" though, you'll appreciate the extra screen real estate for coding.

Cheers,

jahman
 

gagaliya

macrumors 6502
Feb 24, 2010
280
16
one (graduated) comp sci to another, get the macbook pro 15", it will be plenty powerful and small enough to carry. Also iphone sdk is gaining popularity almost exponentially each day and development can only be done on a mac, objective-c is also a fun language to learn and contrast with the standard java/c.

If you want a "for dummy" guide, here's what i would do...

1) get the cheapest base model i5 mbp 15" , replace the hdd with intel x-25m 160GB ssd. Total $2200

2) Install bootcamp/windows 7 on it, partition it to be around 100GB windows, 60GB mac os

3) Do all your regular c/java development/homework on windows 7, use mac os for browsing, mail, sensitive info etc.. and of course iphone sdk development.

So you have the best of both worlds, and a nice looking laptop to carry around to impress the only girl in your comp sci class ;)




Alright, so here is the situation, I am going to college next year with a major in computer science. I have been doing a lot of research on which laptop to get but I just keep going back to the 15" MacBook Pro... It just looks so darn good. Not only does it look good but it actually exceeds many of the requirements for recommended specs of a laptop for my major at the university website.

I have also been looking and I am seeing a lot from both sides. Many people are saying that a MBP would be terrible for computer science and the Think Pad is a better option but others have also said that it works perfectly. I just cant trust anyone because the internet is infested with haters and fan boys. Now I know that many of you are probably fan boys but what do you all think?
 

gumbyx84

macrumors 6502
Dec 7, 2008
487
0
NOTE: I am writing this as a fellow CS major (having graduated in 2009)

I bought a MBP during my senior year of college and have to say that it worked wonderfully for my needs. XCode is a great development environment that can handle just about everything your professors can throw at it. The only thing I ran into problems with was some specific open-source graphical IDEs for a few scripting languages I had to work with (scheme and javaCC comes to mind). You will find command-line and *nix tools that you can use as alternatives though. Everything else you will need is OS and platform independent. I would recommend getting VMWare Fusion to so you can have easy access to Windows * as it might be needed if your school/professors require you to use a Windows only IDE or development suite. It is the most stable VM software on the market and you can usually get it on the cheap (if not free) through your school. If you can't get it from your school and don't want to spend the money on it, look into VirtualBox, a free alternative.

PS DO NOT BUY RAM FROM APPLE!! Go with the default memory for the MBP and buy the RAM you need online. I saved over $100 buying 4GB of RAM for my MBP on NewEgg instead of Apple.

PSS As a CS major, definetly look into Fink. Its a command-line tool that allows for installation of some *nix software from a private repository. Its an easy way to find some of the "extra" you might need.

Edit extra: Don't buy a SSD unless you really think you need it. For someone of your usage level, you will not find any major performance gains that would make the cost worth-while. Just buy a 500GB HD (do buy it from Apple unless its standard; cheaper to buy it elsewhere like the RAM) and use the extra money you saved on more RAM. You will see a bigger performance boost from that.
 

mikeo007

macrumors 65816
Mar 18, 2010
1,373
122
Wow... you're starting from absolute zero, aren't you?
Haha snap...partition the RAM eh...

So I'm going to have to go with the minority and say that a Macbook is too much computer for a comp sci major. Like others have said, your labs are going to be full of much more powerful machines, and you're going to end up doing a fair share of collaboration work. There were very few Macs in my comp sci department, mostly because they were just too expensive for university students. Especially since it's either an all or nothing thing...you could get a cheapo netbook, or $500 laptop to do all your research and note taking, or you buy a high end machine capable of high speed compiling, rendering, or whatever else your working on. A macbook (pro) doesn't fall into either of these categories. They're not cheap, and if you go for the high end, you're paying a small fortune for processing power that should only cost a fraction of that.
 

gumbyx84

macrumors 6502
Dec 7, 2008
487
0
.......
Like others have said, your labs are going to be full of much more powerful machines, and you're going to end up doing a fair share of collaboration work. ......
This is not always true. My school actually had done away with computer labs and now provides students with laptops (the cost of which is added to tuition). He could refuse the laptop and use the tuition refund to get the MBP (which is close to what I actually did myself).
 

wafl iron

macrumors regular
Nov 16, 2007
183
0
have had my cs degree for 5 years now and can say that the powerbook g4 12inch that i bought during my time there was a sound investment

and happens to be the machine i am making this post from :)
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.