Computer Science Student - Macbook or Macbook Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by oliF, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. oliF macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    #1
    Hi guys,

    I wonder if anyone could offer some advice. I'm a computer science student at a UK university and about to buy myself my first Apple computer. I have read countless reviews and advice about when to buy (updates, redesigns, etc) and I basically figure that whenever you buy there will always be something just around the corner that could prevent you from taking the leap...

    So being a student I dont have that much cash, and I'm definately going to take advantage of the HE store, but right now i'm at a loss as to if I go for the black MB or the baseline MBP.

    I'll be using it for all my uni coursework - programming, essay writing and presentations, as well as general everyday multitasking use (music, internet, uni work in the background, chatting to friends, etc...)

    Do I go for the baseline MBP which i know will suit my needs, or would the blackbook be just as good?

    I'll want to have windows running on it with VMware to start with too, which i'd probably be using at the same time.. but i'm not a big gamer - just for those few apps.

    Any help or advice would be welcome and really appriciated!

    Cheers,

    Oli
     
  2. archesdevil macrumors 6502

    archesdevil

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    #2
    This is my very humble opinion.

    You are going to get a lot of MBP owners telling you the MBP is the best and, you are going to get a lot of BlackBook owners telling you the BlackBook is the best. Honestly, if you are not going to run any graphic intensive programs, mainly 3-D graphics rendering, than the MacBook would be your best choice. Sure, there are upgrades on the MBP such as the backlit keyboard and added screen size but, the MacBook has just as good of a processor and in un-customized models a bigger hard drive.

    Frankly, you could even save more money by buying the white MacBook and upgrading the hard drive and ram yourself.
     
  3. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816

    digitalnicotine

    Joined:
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    USA
    #3
    I'm a MBP owner, and my advice is to get a MB unless you plan on gaming or doing graphics intensive tasks. I realize you may prefer the blackbook over the white macbook, so whichever will do fine. Good luck to you! :)
     
  4. richard.mac macrumors 603

    richard.mac

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    #4
    for the stuff that you will be using your Mac for it sounds like a MacBook will suit you fine. the MacBook and the MacBook Pro have similar specs and the main difference is the MacBook Pro has 1GB extra of stock RAM and a dedicated graphics card while the MacBook has integrated graphics.

    you said that you dont game that much so this is pretty much the decider between a MacBook and MacBook Pro . the MacBook will play some games in Windows but usually older and less graphics intensive ones while a MacBook Pro will play most of the latest Windows games. keep in mind that the MacBook's integrated graphics is decent and only has 112MB less video RAM.

    as your a computer science student you may not care but the MacBook has a glossy screen whereas the MacBook Pro gives you a choice of either glossy or matte.

    also if you dont mind the white and are not dead set on the black i would get the top ranged white MacBook and upgrage its hard drive on the Apple store and then buy third party RAM. i recommend macsales.com.

    here are the differences that i outlined in anther thread. (model MB113LL/A is the baseline MacBook Pro & MB403LL/A is the top ranged white MacBook) if the backlit keyboard, aluminium casing, firewire 800, bigger stock hard drive, 1Gb extra RAM (can always get 3rd party) & 15" screen attract you then buy the MacBook Pro but if you dont need these then buy a MacBook its much cheaper. keep in mind you can always buy a mini DVI-VGA adapter for the MacBook and then use a larger screen while at your desk. im thinking of selling my MacBook Pro and purchasing a MacBook just for its portability as i think the MacBook Pro is too big. but thats just me.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  5. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #5
    The MBP has advantages over the MB such as:
    - Bigger screen
    - Matte screen option
    - Backlit keyboard
    - Better keyboard (IMHO)
    - More ports such as an ExpressCard slot and FW800.
    - Dedicated graphics card

    If these things are not important to you, then the MB can provide a good solution. Plus you can save some funds this way.

    What about the cheapest white MB, then then upgrade in a year or two? By then you better know what you will need/want for the rest of your college days.
     
  6. archesdevil macrumors 6502

    archesdevil

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    Apr 2, 2008
    #6
    Just to follow up, the new Penryn 2.4 Blackbook is currently sold with 2GB of ram and a 250GB hard drive. The base model MBP is sold with 2GB ram and 200GB hard drive.
     
  7. skye12 macrumors 65816

    skye12

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    Location:
    Austin, Tx
    #7
    I highly recommend the 2.4ghz white MB. I just got one and it is
    really fast imo. I don't "game" or do lrg photoshop
    type stuff.

    I ordered a 4mb kit from Other World Computing for $89.95 just to
    max her out.
     
  8. richard.mac macrumors 603

    richard.mac

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    #8
    keep in mind the cheapest MacBook only has a combo drive (i.e. CD read/write & DVD read only). but if the OP doesnt plan on burning DVDs then this is a great option for its price.
     
  9. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #9
    Good point.
     
  10. oliF thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 14, 2008
    #10
    thank you all for the excellent advice! it's a bit more clear now as to which i go for!

    Just a quick question regarding the graphics memory, is there a noticable difference between the intergrated graphics of a macbook and the seperate graphics of the pro?

    thanks again!
     
  11. richard.mac macrumors 603

    richard.mac

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    #11
    yes for gaming and graphics intensive programs you would notice the difference. just make sure you check if the applications you will be using in your course are graphics intensive. if they are they will usually quote graphics cards and VRAM in the minimum requirements.

    but for everyday browsing, word processing, movies etc its not noticeable.
     
  12. Am3822 macrumors 6502

    Am3822

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    Groningen, The Netherlands
    #12
    Maybe the OP should consider getting a macbook and some decent external monitor (useful when coding/debugging software).
     
  13. beast macrumors member

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    Sep 13, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #13
    I personally would get MBP but that is because I prefer to work from a large screen.... it's really up to you whether you would be comfortable working on the smaller screen.
    If you are thinking about getting a blackbook, why not look the similarly specced 2.4 white macbook.... the hard drive is only a little bit smaller and with the money that you save, crucial will sell you 4gb of ram for £55
     
  14. Denali9 macrumors member

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    Jun 15, 2007
    #14

    You are paying too much for slowing down your computer, 4mb kit will really be fun ;)
     
  15. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816

    digitalnicotine

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    #15
    I doubt you'll notice this unless what your doing is graphics intensive.
     
  16. astudentis macrumors regular

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    Oct 7, 2007
    #16
    as a macbook owner and a science student here are my two cents:

    MB: good for carrying around, smaller size

    MBP: much nicer screen (if not going to travel alot (uses battery more) and have extra $ go for it + if u want to do any gaming); also seems more durable for the long run, (and u cant even notice the slightly more weight compared to MB)

    otherwise, cpu, ram, HD, standard are pretty much same at their configs... for my use atleast (i.e. movies, music, office)

    why i bought a MB, because i have an alternative comp. for things i suggested a MBP can do...
     
  17. fuzzielitlpanda macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 24, 2008
    #17
    I was in the Apple store for two hours messing with all the laptops until I decided on the mid-level MB. Like others have mentioned, the major difference between the MB and MBP is the dedicated graphics card. unless you plan to do any gaming or graphics work, the MB integrated graphics is just fine for day to day use. Also, the smaller 13" size definitely helps in portability. I felt that the 15" was too large to be carrying around comfortably.
     
  18. brn2ski00 macrumors 68020

    brn2ski00

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    Aug 16, 2007
    #18
    When I did my CS degree back in 2001 - 2005 I used a PB G4 1.33 Mhz. It was great, I did all my assignments in every language (Java, C, C++, Perl, even C++ GLUT!).

    I would say get the MBP because that was comparable to my PB. You are clearly techy and want the latest and greatest, so go with the best on the market now. You won't have to get a new machine every couple years.
     
  19. wh!plash macrumors member

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    Location:
    Sarasota, Fl
    #19
    I disagree completely. I finished my CS degree with a 1ghz Powerbook too. That was a different era though in the world of Mac.

    Nowadays, both the MB and MBP are Core2 Duo machines. Both perfectly capable, and in fact more similar than they are different. Sure, in the days of the G4 Powerbook vs iBook G3, that line was clear cut. Not so now.

    The middle-of-the-road Macbook is just as capable as the Pro, save for the video card.

    I've got a MBP myself, but my company gets a shipment of 52 macbooks per week. I deal with them everyday, and you really can't beat it as far as 'bang for the buck'. In fact, in most cases I'd be hard pressed to recommend the MBP considering the price jump. I've actually stopped buying MBP's for employees here, because theres not enough difference to justify it at all (save for a few specific users).

    Use the extra cash instead to max out your RAM and get a 24" screen to go along with it (hint: Dell lcds are made by LG, the same people who make Apple's lcds)
     
  20. brn2ski00 macrumors 68020

    brn2ski00

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    #20
    Dude, you completely misread what I said. I said the PB was comparable to the MBP of today. So with my logic: I wanted the best at the time for my CS degree and I recommend the best for today's CS degree. Especially if the CS student gets into graphics and animation, he/she will want that dedicated GPU. Feel me?
     
  21. wh!plash macrumors member

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    Sarasota, Fl
    #21
    Yes, i understand what you're saying. But still, there was a much bigger difference back then between the Powerbook/iBook than there is now with the Macbook/MBP.

    Example: My old 15" Powerbook had a screen resolution of 1280x854 while the iBooks were 1024x768 no matter if you had the 12" or 14".

    Nowadays, the regular Macbook is 1280x800. Sure, my MBP is higher, but the Macbook doesn't feel as crippled as the old iBook did.

    I'm just saying the gap between the two machines has narrowed quite a bit.

    The chassis on the macbook is better than the MBP now too. The magnetic/spring latch on the MBP is getting really old now, compared to the magnetic latch on the regular macbook.

    The plastic is also quite a bit more durable for everyday use. I've seen too many people drop/hit their PB or MBP case and get a huge dent in it that doesnt come out. Get a dent in the corner near one of your jacks, and all the sudden the metal is buckled and you can't plug in your AC or something. Awesome, lets strip the machine down to bare metal and use some pliers to straighten it out and reassemble just so you can charge your battery...

    Not trying to diss you in any way, just saying the Macbook is a much nicer machine compared to its 'pro' counterpart than the iBook was back in the day.
     
  22. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

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    #22
    For the last two posters:
    I think wh!plash is talking "specs" and brn2ski00 is talking "cool factor".

    I have a mid model white MB. Its great.
    I like big screens, so I tend to want a MBP or a 17" MBP.
     
  23. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #23
    WAAAIIIT!!!

    No one asked WHAT he was specializing in in Computer Science?

    I myself specialize in game creation and need the MBP because I need a graphics card that can handle some advanced effects that I am always learning to create.

    Now, here is my take. You will be coding a LOT. What I would suggest is if you want a good machine that you wont have to upgrade until after college, go with the macbook pro. You will have a larger screen which is great for coding, and I agree with whoever else said to get an external monitor to go with it. Use it in extended desktop mode so you have two screens.

    If you are just going to be coding business applications and nothing graphics intensive then you could go with a macbook as well and I'm sure it will be fine for you, but if you want to create games go the mbp route. I have maya 2008, Logic pro, Corel Painter X, Adobe Master Collection, Visual Studio (in boot camp) and NetBeans IDE (for when I want to code in Mac OS which is always) loaded onto my macbook pro and I use all of them. I know a standard macbook will struggle with larger files in some of these programs so for me the choice was mbp which lets me work in everything with no problems.

    If after this you are still undecided I would suggest the mac book route only if you are tight on funds. Its better to buy a macbook and a warranty and have a computer thats covered then to spend all your money on a MBP.

    If you are not tight on funds go MBP. You never know when you may need the extra power. Why pay for something twice when you can get it the first time?
     
  24. brn2ski00 macrumors 68020

    brn2ski00

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    #24
    My point exactly.
     
  25. soms macrumors 6502

    soms

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    Seattle
    #25
    As someone posted above, if you want it to last you through college and be able to have some wiggle room in case you need the extra power for games or design, then I say get the MBP.
     

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