Got into Grad School for IT, will my MBP manage?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ohla313, May 14, 2011.

  1. ohla313 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 24, 2010
    I just got accepted into grad school for the MSIST program and am wondering what I need my MBP to have or do to manage the work. I studied psychology as an undergrad so I am new to the coursework I'd expect from IT classes.

    I currently have a 2010 13" MBP with a 2.66 GHz C2D with 4GB of RAM and 160GB. I am not running out of space but am looking at an SSD later. Is my laptop capable of the work I will be doing in my classes? I plan to purchase an external monitor as I would like the extra screen real estate. ACDs aren't cheap..

  2. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Congrats on getting accepted to grad school!

    Same advice as for undergrads - contact your academic department and see what they recommend. Some schools have specific requirements, others don't really care. It's always a good idea to check first.
  3. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    I would think it would be fine

    I am managing more than well enough in grad school with a 2009 white mb
  4. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    Congratulations on getting into graduate school!

    This is great advice.

    I cannot stress how important it is to also contact graduate students in the department and ask them what they are using before you go there in the fall. This will give you an opportunity to prepare yourself over the summer by making sure you have the appropriate hardware, software, and familiarity with it. Not only do departments sometimes have specific requirements, but your seniors will have invaluable advice for succeeding (I am a PhD candidate, and I have benefitted greatly from the expert advice of fellow graduate students).

    Get in touch with the department secretary, your advisor, or the director of graduate studies for names of people to contact if they are not listed on the department website.
  5. HawaiiMacAddict macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2006
    On one of my Macs of course
    I second dukebound85's comments. I am attending grad school at Hawaii Pacific University, still very much a Windows-centric school - at least for classes. Most of my professors have Macs, and many of that number don't mind me completing my assignments on my Mac and sending in my assignments in a Mac OS-native format (such as .pages, .key, etc...). That being said, there are still those group project that have to be done in Word 2007 (due to other classmates only using Windows), and the odd professor that insists on receiving work done in Windows format.

    To address those issues, I have taken advantage of the offerings for those in my field, Information Systems, and have downloaded a free copy of VMWare Fusion for Mac as well as Windows 7 Professional and Microsoft Project Professional 2010.

    I have a 2011 17" MacBook Pro (bought solely for the resolution and upgraded CPU and GPU), but with the mini-Display Port to VGA adapter, it hooks up with the campus' projector system with no problems. I can do any work I need on my MBP, regardless of OS required. I have a friend at work that's slowly getting me into Windows gaming, and I even have a Boot Camp partition with Windows 7 on it. Crysis runs OK, but not at full resolution.

    Overall, I'm very pleased with the way my MBP handles everything I throw at it. When I get more time, I'll continue with my iPhone programming (I currently only have four apps in the App Store), including the graphics work (Photoshop and Illustrator) required. As a matter of fact, I don't use my 27" iMac nearly as much as I used to, eschewing it more and more for the portability of my MBP.
  6. ohla313 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 24, 2010
    thank you everyone for your responses. very insightful! didn't think about asking the department oops. I think I will also try and get a copy of Parallels in case I need to run Windows too.
  7. j4g3rb0mb3d macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2010
    I'm an MIS major that will be graduating in the fall. I highly suggest making a Win7 partition. My school uses Microsoft Visio, Project, SQL... etc which is not available on OSX. While there are alternatives, the recommended software to use is really only for Windows environments, at least with my school. I tried to use alternative programs, but nothing really suffices, especially with Microsoft Project.

    Also, plenty of schools give you these programs for free to download. My school gave me Windows 7 Professional, Visio, and Project for free. If your school does that, you can expect an email from Microsoft with the information after you register for classes. Windows 7 runs great on my 13" MBP (2010).

    If you are serious about that SSD, install that before you install Windows 7. You don't want to burn a serial for no reason. During Windows 7's installation, it memorizes your computers hardware configuration and signatures, and if they don't match up when you go to reinstall, you'll be out a serial number. Make the SSD the first thing you do.

    Also, Windows uses up your battery MUCH faster. Be sure to bring your power cable with you if you plan on using it for 3 hours or more.
  8. ohla313 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 24, 2010
    sorry to resurrect a fairly old thread..but I gave it some thought and I can't afford an SSD at the moment so will stick with my stock 160GB HDD drive for now.

    I was thinking of buying an external hard drive I can carry with me that solely has Windows on it. Can Parallels allow me to keep a copy of Windows on it? Also what kind of connection would be speediest? USB or Firewire?

    Any suggestions in external drives or external enclosure and hard drive combos?

    Thank you!!
  9. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    For pretty much any but the really big tools there are OSX versions but it often takes more work to get them working. Windows stuff always comes with installers and simple install routines. In Unix you often have to find some tutorial. Don't expect some App you drop into the application folder and be done with it. That works only for some editors but most of the IT stuff is different. If you know your way around terminal you will rarely if ever need Windows even if they do use Windows stuff in the classes.
    Many things are also Java which obviously is a none issue.

    As for MS Word. I would recommend it and also it is very useful to have some Windows 7 installed just in case to save you time in case something just doesn't work out in OSX. If you have to write a paper in a group Word 2007 and 2010 have great features that make combining and formating a 10min job for a 50 page paper. But if just one person works with Open Office, or just the Office 2008 or 2011, the unfortunate person who has to put together the pieces spends a truly unnecessary long time on this task.
    Everybody with Word 2007 and everybody knows the basic stuff like tagging headlines, pictures, tables properly is simply the best and most convenient solution. I always hated the people that (didn't say beforehand) used some thing else and made us for simple papers sometimes spend more time correcting, formatting, combining the stuff than for actually writing it.
  10. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    160g isn't going to be enough. You need to cough up a few bucks and get a much larger hard drive. Heck, coming from a 160 you'll even see a bit of a performance boost too. There are tons of solid options under $100 that will boost your space and performance.

    Don't use a USB enclosure you'll have some serious performance issues. Plus, that little USB cable is the only thing keeping your computer running. Jiggle that and all the work you've done goes away. I wouldn't do it.
  11. Sgt93 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 31, 2010
    Yep. Run parallels on her to run windows programs (Project 2007 etc) and you will be fine. Maybe a larger hard drive as I have a 250GB in mine that is about maxed out.
  12. fibrizo macrumors 6502


    Jan 23, 2009
    Odd question... how did you end up with 160gb for the HD? even the 2010 base model 13 inch with 2.4ghz c2d had 250gb.... and the 2.66 came with 320gb. Did you have a HD problem and downgrade to a smaller drive?
  13. mobilehavoc macrumors 6502


    Jun 30, 2007
    Word of warning, I'm using a 15" 2011 MBP for an MS in Comp Sci and have Parallels with VMs for both Linux and Windows. However, depending on if you're going to do any programming, the VMs may yield weird results compared to a normal OS installed on the hardware. In those cases you may want to have a Boot Camp partition for Windows/Linux or whatever.
  14. kgeier82 macrumors 65816

    Feb 18, 2008
    I graduated from grad school last year. My focus was IS. I can tell u that any computer made in the last 6 years will be fine for u writing papers and surfing the net for sources. Any decent grad school will have hardware on campus for you to use, should you need it. I did do some virtualization, in which the 4gb of ram came in handy. Good luck, just wait for your case study.

    If u intend on vm'ing from an external, at least use FireWire.
  15. ohla313 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 24, 2010
    Would a FireWire enclosure be better? I really am not too keen on creating a partition as I don't want to stain my MBP with Windows ;)

    I purchased the 2009 13" base model and sold it when I bought the 2010 13" 2.66 GHz model. I sold the 2009 with a new drive and kept the stock 160GB. I didn't like how the stock drive in the 2010 was noisy so I put in the 160 since it is so quiet. I found a 750GB version of the drive and am not sure if it will be just as quiet?

    What are the advantages of Boot Camp over VM? I know Boot Camp means access to one OS at a time and VM can let you use Windows programs in OS X though.


    Thank you everyone for the helpful responses. Which would be better off: getting an external hard drive and putting it in a FireWire enclosure for Boot Camp/VM or creating a partition on a 750GB hard drive?
  16. red stapler, May 22, 2011
    Last edited: May 22, 2011

    red stapler macrumors newbie

    May 22, 2011
    I have a 15" 2011 MBP and noticed issues with my VMs as well.

    It turns out that it was an issue with running OSX in 64bit. Try rebooting in 32bit (holding the numbers 3 & 2 during boot) and see if it makes a difference.

    If you do notice an improvement (I sure did), you can set it to automatically start in 32bit by default. (

    You're on the right track with the differences of Boot Camp vs. VM. I personally don't see an advantage of using Boot Camp over VMs other than resource allocation. Meaning, If you're in Boot Camp, you'll be able to take full advantage of the processor and memory.

    Using VMs have the advantage of being able to setup virtual (duh) OS's that you can use for testing, dummy servers and what not, without having to switch back and forth. You could easily setup a Windows or *NIX environment. It's a great way to learn how to take advantage of the command line, ssh and whatever tools you might be using in your course work.

    Hope that helps!
  17. ohla313 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 24, 2010
    when running a VM will I have to do all those hassling service pack updates etc? Same for boot camp?
  18. Sgt93 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 31, 2010
    Of course! You can't miss out on the full Windows experience! Lol. I feel like every day that I use windows there is some update. Gotta love it.....for an IT program at least lol.
  19. red stapler macrumors newbie

    May 22, 2011
    Really, you don't HAVE too... but why wouldn't you? Unless there is an update that will conflict with anything that you're doing, I don't see any reason not to do it. That's just my opinion though.

    I am sure your 13" will do just fine. I have a 2010 13" and it runs like a champ. I even run VMs on it with *NIX environments - no problem. I recently just got a 2011 15" i7 and it blows my 13" out of the water. :eek:
  20. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    If you don't install it bootcamp fashion all it takes is some space which can be partially saved if you strip it down of unnecessary features first with RT7 lite.
    It would be only a file like the iphoto library.

    As far as space goes. IT stuff usually doesn't need to much space. If I take away all media stuff (pictures,music, movies) I guess I am down to 40 GB or something. The biggest program ever I installed was on Windows Oracle BI datewarehousing tools with something around 15GB. But that is huge everything else is usually around 10-300mb. Currently I work with a Cassandra (Cloud Database) which is on its own about 16MB. Data and Editors not included but if you need huge amounts of testing data you won't work on your little personal notebook but on some VM on a server.

    Musik and stuff fills up a hdd rather quick though. With Media & Windows I couldn't imagine to be fine with a 128GB SSD alone.
  21. ohla313 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 24, 2010
    That just made me kick myself again for not waiting for the 2011 update. Will a C2D be able to handle this? Feel like I bought ancient technology...

    Is RT7 a recommended route? So this is an alternative to VM and BootCamp?
  22. ohla313 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 24, 2010
    I did some research and decided to go kind of full out.

    Take my internal Hitachi 160GB and put it in FireWire external enclosure to boot to Snow Leopard.
    Get a 320GB Hitachi and make it the internal and put Lion when it comes out.
    Take my spare Seagate 320GB drive and put it in an external enclosure to boot to Windows.

    The question is, what type of FireWire enclosure should I get? I'm looking for cheap and durable. I saw an acomdata enclosure on amazon for $25. Also is 400 and 800 a big difference in speed? the 400 is cheaper than the 800..

  23. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    No RT7 lite like vlite for Vista is only some tool with which you can manipulate the win7.iso before installing it. Like integrate service packs, updates, special drivers but also remove unnecessary drivers and features. It just can help you shrink Windows to a smaller size.
    The shrunken Windows still has to run in a VM or bootcamp. It is only a Windows that takes less space because it only offers what you actually need and not just about everything anybody might possibly need.
    vlite showed up when people wanted to install Windows on the first netbooks(asus Eee) which offered very little space for the OS install. It is not necessary if you don't want to keep the Windows partition as small as possible.
  24. red stapler macrumors newbie

    May 22, 2011
    The Core2Duo should do you just fine.

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