Future Engineering Student Thinking of Switching

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by cwillie, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. cwillie, Mar 2, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011

    cwillie macrumors newbie

    Mar 2, 2011
    I have been accepted into Mechanical Engineering for the fall of 2011 and I am starting to look into laptops. I have used Windows all my life, except for some iBook G4s at my public school. A few people I know have Macbooks and Macbook Pros and I really do like the design. I expect that I will be running some CAD software, which would have to be done in Windows via BootCamp. I like the portability of the 13" (I would use an external monitor with it at my desk), but I don't like that they are underpowered in comparison to the 15" (dual vs quad core).
    I have a few questions:
    1) Is a Mac a good choice for an engineering student given that there are some programs that are only available for Windows?

    2) Would you recommend a 13" (high end model) or 15"?

    3) Anything else that I should be aware of?

    Thank you for your help.

    edit: Sorry I am new to these forums, I just noticed the Buying Tips section that I should have posted this under. Sorry about that, I suspect this will get moved, but I don't think I am able to do it myself.
  2. Hreyo25 macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2009
    I am currently a mechanical engineering student using a 15 in macbook pro and I love it. The majority of my work is with excel and now that autocad came out for mac it makes it a lot easier to run it. If you are thinking about doing a alot of CAD work definetely go for the 15in.
  3. melterx12 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 22, 2010
    Windows runs just as well on a macbook as any other laptop of similar specs. the difference is in the build quality (aluminum unibody) which is why I think even windows users should buy a macbook instead of a dell/vaio/etc.

    I would recommend the low end 13" if you plan on taking it to school with you alot, or the low end 15" if you don't. the high end 13" is not worth the price difference.
  4. kbrink111 macrumors member

    Feb 3, 2011
    IC, Iowa
    As a Junior in engineering, I have never encountered any serious problems. I currently have a 2008 MBP 15" that's still doing everything I need (although I couldn't resist the urge to update), so the 13 inch would probably suffice. I've used Bootcamp for school related things very rarely. In fact, I've probably used Linux more than Windows in my time.
  5. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    dont worry about software as
    1) you wont be able to afford it
    2) you will have labs that run it and are much faster than your computer if you could run it

    As far as a computer, you will only really need an office package really

    I got through mech engineering with an emac back in the day fwiw
  6. kbrink111 macrumors member

    Feb 3, 2011
    IC, Iowa

    Very true.
  7. JoeG4 macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2002
    Bay Area, Ca.
  8. iDisk macrumors 6502a


    Jan 2, 2010
    Menlo Park, CA
    Be a software engineer man, dive into some pthreads or posix.

    i've always wanted to get into hyper-threading programming with algorithms mmmmmmmmmmhmmmm.

    heck if I had time I would love to dive deep into unix programming and really crack that shell. Communication, Concurrency, and threads
  9. hayduke macrumors 65816


    Mar 8, 2005
    is a state of mind.
    Ha! I asked myself this question in 1992 when I was in a similar situation re: engineering school. At that time I was already a Mac user (LC II!!) and I was wondering if I needed to switch to Windows. I never did switch and I'm still a Mac user today.

    A mac will be fine. Most of the academic software you'll likely need to run (compilers, SPICE, Matlab/Octave/Python, etc) will be available on either platform and the software that is really expensive and only runs on PCs (or Linux) will be available in the labs.
  10. cwillie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 2, 2011
    How much of a portability sacrifice do you make going from 13" to 15"? Do you find that the 15" is still small/light enough that it is still worth taking to class?

    Are you suggesting the 15in for the improved graphics or the increased screen real estate? I have an external monitor so I am not worried about real estate, but I was concerned with the onboard Intel graphics being able to run CAD well.

    So the improved processor doesn't have much of a noticeable effect?
  11. mulo, Mar 3, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011

    mulo macrumors 68020


    Aug 22, 2010
    Behind you
    the low 15" is a waste of money too, the graphics card is crap in comparison the the 2.2Ghz version.
    the AMD Radeon HD 6490M is vastly inferior to the AMD Radeon HD 6750M, it is even inferior to the 330M in last years model.
  12. e5volcano macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2010
    I think for an engineering student you should get a Lenovo Thinkpad instead
  13. mulo macrumors 68020


    Aug 22, 2010
    Behind you
    ill have to give you some credit, your pretty brave for saying that on a mac forum :D
  14. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    Having gone through engineering school for a couple of degrees, I'd definitely buy the 13. It'll be fine, and if you have something that really needs more screen real estate you can use an external display.

    I've got a 15 MBP now and I know that it would get left behind.
  15. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    1)Yes, I'm in mechanical engineering myself and use my older 15'' all the time. Matlab, maple, pro/e, solidworks, autocad, you name it, it runs it like a champ.

    2)if you're actually going to do CAD, the more screen real estate, the better, I'd steer clear of the 13'', unless you plan on using an eternal monitor, the resolution just doesn't cut it for me.

    3)I just saw you comment on portability, just think on this, the 15'' MBP is the 15'' with the smallest footprint, it isn't much bigger than the 13'', and honestly, if the 1lb difference bothers you, hit the gym.
  16. jayo123456 macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    I'm a senior eng student.

    Got rid of a 15"...too cumbersome and unnecessary imo.

    13" pro or 13" air is best.

    oh, and don't let anyone talk you out of getting a mac. You'll regret it for the next four years. BELIVE ME, YOU WILL. I'd say 35%+ students on campus got macbook. They all love it. The other 65% that don't got one, reallly want one but won't admit it.
  17. grahamnp macrumors 6502a

    Jun 4, 2008
    I was already a Mac user when I became an engineering student (I then switched but that's besides the point) so I didn't really have a choice. To be honest, engineering is probably the most Mac unfriendly study choice, the only program I used that was Mac compatible is Matlab and that runs much slower than on Windows. However if you are prepared to use Bootcamp, the Mac is a much more pleasant computer to use in general. When using generic software (Word, Pages, Excel etc), I find the Mac nicer to get work done with.
  18. DarwinOSX macrumors 65816

    Nov 3, 2009
    Why. Better yet why would you post that yet give no reason?

    Lenovo's are not the same quality as IBM Thinkpads. I had three IBM Thinkpads for work and two Lenovo Thinkpads, one of which I am using now. Much lower quality parts and materials as well as service and support.
  19. DarwinOSX macrumors 65816

    Nov 3, 2009
    Some of use remember when Autocad first came out for the Mac in the late 80's or early 90's. ;) I think it went away in the mid-90s so was gone 15 years or so.
  20. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    what you use the first 2-3 years doesn't matter. after that, you'll need Windows, either because you'll be working in groups where everyone else has Windows (Office cross-platform compatibility stinks), or for CAD.

    no one uses AutoCAD.

    also, the specs won't matter for the most part.
  21. JoeG4 macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2002
    Bay Area, Ca.
    As a dude with a set of cinema displays at his desk and a 1920x1080 laptop.. I used to own a MacBook. Using a ****** little 1280x800 screen to me is like pulling teeth and stuff. UGH HATED IT. I wanted to sell that machine shortly after I got it, and I finally did 2 years later. Such an annoying little thing. !!!!!!

    I know some people are all like OMG THE 13" IS PERFECTION! ANYONE THAT USES BIGGER IS A MORON! I think the opposite ;)
  22. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2010
    I graduated last year with a degree in mechanical engineering.

    I did probably 95% of my CAD or otherwise intensive work in a computer lab on campus, because

    1. the computers were significantly better in terms of software availability and hardware
    2. several labs had dual screen 21" monitors
    3. most often I had group projects

    I almost never used my actual computer for anything during that time. I had both a windows desktop and laptop during the course of college (got my 13" mbp after starting grad school). I used it exclusively now. I technically am in Mechanical Engineering still I guess.

    I would not get a different brand computer again and probably would purchase a 15" widescreen MBP if I could talk to my prior to college self. If you want to do ANY sort of CAD you are going to want the extra screen real estate. Many of those programs have huge amounts of wasted screen space for expansive menus, etc. You will be frustrated trying to do that on 1280x800.

    But then again, I never used my own laptop really for that sort of thing and primarily did CAD work on the computers on campus like I said before.

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