Engineering Student -- Need laptop for school in 2 weeks

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by cmcg513, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. cmcg513 macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2011
    I am starting college on the 28th and i need to get a laptop. I am in a 3-2 program for physics and either mechanical or electrical engineering so i wouldn't be starting to use any graphics intensive modeling programs until my fourth year. My question is two fold. First off, should I get a MB pro 13inch now and expect to get a pc for engineering when the time comes? Or should I just stick with a mac and get parallels when the time comes? Secondly, if I go with the mac for all 5 years should i go with the $1199 ($1049 with my student discount) 13 inch MB pro or the $1799 ($1649 w/ student discount) 15 inch MB pro? Oh and should I go for the AppleCare 3yr warranty or a third party warranty provider like Safeware that covers accidental damage?

    Sorry for the 20Q guys but I appreciate any advice you can give.
  2. JacaByte, Aug 15, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011

    JacaByte macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2009
    I got a 2010 i5 15" MBP when they came out, and it worked very well with Autodesk's software. A friend of mine had a 2009 C2D 13" MBP that also handled Autodesk's Software adequately, but no where near as well as mine did. I resorted to using bootcamp with Windows 7 Pro however, I found Parallels to be too cumbersome to use efficiently.

    By itself a MBP can handle CADD software in Windows or OS X. If you are set on using Parallels, I'd go with the 15" MBP for the better processor. I also find the 15" form factor to be more ergonomically pleasing that the 13" form factor, but that's my personal opinion only.
  3. BAC5.2 macrumors regular

    May 16, 2011
    Get the 15". You won't regret the extra screen real estate, especially when working with large Excel files.
  4. Untouchab1e macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    If it wasnt for the ridiculous resolution on the MBP13, I would suggest getting that.. as it stands however, I would invest some money now and get a properly spec'ed MBP15.. Make sure you opt in for an SSD (either get it from Apple or buy a better SSD seperately). With this I can promise you that you wont need to replace your laptop at any point during your studies.. Beef it up with 8GB of RAM and you can run VM's as much as you want too ;)
  5. cmcg513 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2011

    Yea I think that the SSD and the extra Ram are both good ideas, but can that stuff be upgraded at a later date? I dont have the money for that right now.
  6. Untouchab1e macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    Yes, you can upgrade both RAM and storage any time you like.. ;)
  7. tinkori macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2011
    I have a slightly different suggestion. Get a mac book air (base 11.6 or 13) and build yourself a quad core sandy bridge desktop/server for cheap! The linux box pays off in engg (especially if you run Linux on it and do a lot of scientific programming stuff in matlab/scipy etc). A qcore system is 250 (motherboard+cpu) + 100 for 16GB RAM!!! + 50 for case and power supply + 100 for a SSD ~500 .... you will need a 24" monitor for <200 which you can use with your mac too ....

    Your total cost will be 1199 or 1299 (MBA) + 700 = 1900 or 2000. This way you have portability and power simultaneously.

  8. DrivenDaily macrumors newbie

    May 31, 2011
    I have to agree with tinkori.

    Having just spent the last six years in school (4 yr BS, 2 yr MS) for mechanical engineering I can tell you in all likelihood you'll be fine with a MBA. Personally I would rather have a maxed out MBA in whatever screen size you prefer considering how portable it is. I used a combo of a Dell Inspiron 8200 and a built AMD socket 939 X2 box for 3 years, and bought the MBP I have now my senior year of undergrad more because I wanted to consolidate to one machine rather than needed it performance wise. I was also sick of lugging around the 10+lb dual battery behemoth.

    If your school is like my undergrad, they may let you use the software for which they own a mass license on your personal machine if you need it for a class and would rather not go to the computer lab. Programs like MATLAB, AutoCAD, Solidworks, Pro/E, IDEAS, NX 6, Gambit/Fluent, OpenFoam, ANSYS etc all run great on my MBP, which the new MBA should run circles around.

    Schools like my grad university, do not let you do such things so you would be stuck using the computer lab anyways. You'd be better off saving some money and not getting a pro and using it on books, beer and late night food...just not in that order ;)
  9. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    As one who has a BSME and now in grad school, the base 13 mbp would be more than fine

    I got through my program on an emac my first 3 years of ME and then a base mb my last years. I now have a 09 mb in grad school and it is more than capable.

    Why pay for a premium you won't notice?
  10. ArmanUV macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2010
    I'm also a mech student and I went with 15". My brother has the 13" and I definitely don't recommend it for any kind of professional work. The screen real state is simply too small to handle anything besides simple browsing, etc.
    For $130 extra you can get the antiglare hi res screen option. it's definitely worth it.
  11. accessoriesguy macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2011
    Go for the 15in, not only do you get the extra screen real estate, more importantly you get the way better processor.

    you can always get the RAM or better hard drive later, but the 13 only has that built in intel 3000. AMD Radion GPU works marvels under high performance.

    You can always boot camp if you want sheer power, i personally use VMware Fussion, its in my opinion the best, but of course it eats RAM, and if you have Lion you may think of using 8GB RAM (that's what I got) especially if you want to do some cross platform awesomeness, like CS5 on OS X and windows 7 with visual studios, and Ubantu making me a milkshake :cool:
    [CS major]
  12. saberahul macrumors 68040

    Nov 6, 2008
    I run a lot of engineering apps on my MBP - no problems what so ever. Screen size may be an issue but thats personal preference. For me, anything over 13" is like carrying bricks in your bag (ya... I hate big laptops). As per my use, in the PhD program we're required to do a lot of simulations and CAD work as well as 3D work. I run solidworks, AutoCAD (you get this free from their site if you're a student so don't buy it), Google Sketchup, and design 2012 almost always at the same time and have had no performance issues what so ever. I notice issues when I run video chat in the background while I do all this work as the computer starts to lag then.
  13. Untouchab1e macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    Stop misleading people by stating that the with the 15" you get a "way better" processor. Its only real benefit is that the i7 in the 15" in quad core... In most situations, real life performance benefits are for the most part insignificant..


    Note that the comparison here is between the 13" high-end MBP and the 17" high-end MBP. Bear in mind the significant better graphics card solution in the 17"


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