For a Computer Science Student

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Meitou, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. Meitou macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2012
    I'm going to be getting my first mac tomorrow. Probably the i5 or i7 13'inch Macbook Pro. Still unsure of which one to pick. I know that the i7 has a overall performance boost compared to the i5 but is it worth the extra 300 dollars? I know the i7 comes with 8gb of ram compared to the i5's 4 gb of ram which saves me roughly 60 dollars.
  2. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Ram for a 13" macbook pro can be purchased separately. 8GB won't cost you more than $50. In terms of performance, aside from the lack of usb3, a 2011 15" would be faster than either by both cpu and gpu standards. If you're worried that performance will be inadequate, you might as well step up to one of those instead or even trade up a year from now. I don't think $300 more on the 13" buys you that much if you're on a tight budget.
  3. Meitou, Sep 2, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012

    Meitou thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2012
    How is the The Air compared to the MBP. My cousin keeps pushing me to get the Air because of the SSD and the Higher Resolution. I don't care about the SSD because I can simply upgrade the MBP and still have it hybrid with a HDD
  4. philosopherdog macrumors 6502a


    Dec 29, 2008
    The Air is nice, but not the most rugged machine given its thinness. I got rid of mine after the 2nd screen replacement caused by it just bring in my bag. The i7 is probably not worth the upgrade price, but maybe if you're compiling it might make a difference. Thing that I was going to say is that bear in mind that the release of the 13 inch retina is imminent. That would probably be your best bet. If you can't wait I would get the 13 inch and upgrade the ram yourself, and either put an ssd on it, or mod it by replacing the optical drive with an ssd and leave the other drive for storage. I'm pretty sure you can do that with the 13 inch. Good luck with your studies.

  5. A Hebrew macrumors 6502a

    A Hebrew

    Jan 7, 2012
    The Air is not a computer for someone who likes upgrading. What you get with it is what you get pretty much. For longevity you should get the 13" MBP. Once it starts getting slow you can upgrade to 16gb RAM and an SSD.

    The optical drive and Ethernet port might come in handy too at times.
  6. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    I'm a Computer Engineering student and I recently went from MBP to MBA. Unless you need the extra ports (Ethernet, FireWire) and SuperDrive, I'd say go for the MBA. It's nice to be able to upgrade but you lug around stuff that you normally don't use. My base model 13" MBA easily keeps up with all of the advanced coding that I do (C#, C++, C, Java, MySQL, Ruby, Perl, PHP, Python, etc.).
  7. jacekwo macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2007
    CS Student

    Being a CS major under grad and getting a masters in CS, I think I would have a different perspective. I think that the fallacy of the computers described above is the screen size first and foremost. I currently write iOS apps (as do most people) and having a screen that is 15" is tight (I currently use a 15" MBP i7). My favorite machine was the 17", but that seems out of budget.

    I would recommend getting a machine that can have some hook ups (I think that memory sticks and CD's can be pretty important) as well as having a second screen connected when needed.

    On a more important note other than screen real estate, I think that the answer to this question is Ram Ram Ram. The difference between 4 and 8 gigs is night and day. On day one that I got my current computer, I ordered 8 gigs from OWC and cant imagine going back...
  8. jamesr19, Sep 6, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012

    jamesr19 macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2009
    I 100% agree - I'm a CS student too. The MBA is a superior solution to MBP if you're looking at a 13" laptop.

    I'm so happy I switched to MBA. The SSD makes up for the reduced processing power. The new MBA is cheaply upgradable to 8GB RAM. I would go with 256GB+ if you plan on using it as your primary machine.

    The main advantage of the MBA, for me, is the weight . You will probably take the laptop to every lecture & lab and having a laptop that is almost half the weight makes the walk to uni much easier. I sometimes even worry that I might've forgotten it!

    The 13" MBA also has a higher res display which is a big advantage when coding. (I also recommend the app Divvy so that you can put code on one side of the screen and documentation on the other). The only Mac better for this would be the retina MBP which will allow you to run at 1920x1200 at times (a lot of my friends are moving to the rMBP).

    I went for the i7 (2011 13") and am not sure if it is necessary, but it was a choice I wanted to make for the future.
  9. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    There isn't that much of a performance loss. It's not significant enough to be a deciding factor. Most people can get by just fine with 128GB, if you have a rather large iTunes/iPhoto library, either clean it up a bit or store it on an external HD. I really like the increase screen resolution and how light it is while still having over 90% of the power of the 13" MBP.
  10. Briax macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2011
    As a CS student myself - I think you should seriously consider a 15" Macbook! The screen on that 13" is simply just too small to have more than 1 window open (pr. desktop). The high res 15" macbook pro is a really good choice.
  11. macrumors 68000

    May 25, 2012
    I use a 13inch 2011 pro and a 24 inch asus monitor and I still dont have enough screen room.

    I really wouldn’t recommend any laptop for programming but out of the two you are asking about I would say the air since it has a little bit better resolution for the size.

    I myself am moving to the imac as soon as possible.
  12. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    Did you use a sleeve? I haven't had any screen issues with my air but in my bag it is always in my waterfield sleeve.

    As for the OP, I did my CS degree at NC State with a 1st gen macbook. Now I use an 11" Macbook Air.

    I would recommend the 13" Air. Performance will be a little better on the Pro, but IMO not enough to justify the extra weight plus lower screen density. My biggest complaint about the Macbook I had was the 1280x800 screen, and I still can't believe that Apple still uses this resolution 5 years later on their "pro" machine when the Air has 1440x900.

    So basically I would go for the Air because of the SSD and better screen resolution. If you are using eclipse you will be glad you have the extra screen space...
  13. adildacoolset macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2011
    Lusaka, Zambia(If you know where it is)
    The thing is that you'd need to be soooooo RIIIIICH!!!! Maybe if estate is a priority, the 2011 17" can be very good contender. Upgradeable hard drive, upgradeable RAM to 16GB as well. But what do I know, I don't take CS :D
  14. jamesr19 macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2009
    If you're looking for more screen-space check out a USB->DVI adapter. I run two 24" Asus 1920x1200 from my MBA ( It runs smoothly while coding, the only thing it struggled with was animating between spaces.

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