i5 or i7 for college student

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by antonisz, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. antonisz macrumors newbie

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    Jul 11, 2013
    #1
    Hello, MacRumors

    I have been looking all over, reading every article I could find, and asking everyone I could think of.


    I am majoring in Biomedical Sciences and Pre medicine. I am looking to buy a MBA and I am uncertain of what core to buy. I know that the i7 has better performance, but at the cost of battery life.

    This is probably one of the most first world problems I've ever had, but I don't know what to choose.

    My dad said go with the i7, since it's only 140 dollars. But I'm concerned about what others have said about battery. I will probably keep it plugged in 75% of the time anyways.

    Most of what I do is keep tabs open while using office, but most of that matters about how much RAM you have.

    I don't really know what programs I'll be using in my major.

    I just don't want to buy the i5 and then regret not getting the i7, or buy i7 and be disappointed in battery.

    Thanks!
     
  2. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

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    #2
  3. Jefe's MacAir macrumors 6502

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    #3
    x2.
     
  4. antonisz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Thanks guy! I get pretty neurotic when buying stuff lol!
     
  5. InfinitiG macrumors 6502

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    Jun 22, 2010
    #5
    these threads are funny

    "for college student"

    "Biomedical Sciences and Pre medicine"

    OP you forgot to post your 4 year course plan, we need to know all your classes before we can recommend i5 or i7 :D

    A 5 year old mac will easily fulfill your college needs and more
     
  6. antonisz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    True!

    http://undergrad-catalog.buffalo.edu/academicprograms/bms_degrees.shtml
     
  7. mattferg macrumors 6502

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    May 27, 2013
    #7
    Don't get the i7 unless you really have money to burn - the guy recommending you to read the anandtech review, if you read it it actually shows that the i7 in most situations has minimal performance gains.

    For most people, the i7 is a waste of $140 you could be spending on other stuff as a student.
     
  8. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

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    #8
    Which review did YOU read? :rolleyes:

    "If you need more performance however, the 1.7GHz Core i7 upgrade (4650U) delivers. In most situations you get more than a 20% increase in performance..."
     
  9. mattferg macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Eeeeeeexxccepppt that he was comparing a fully specc'd model to the base model. The 20% performance gains are for the whole system - double ram, double SSD speeds.
     
  10. Suraj R. macrumors regular

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    #10
    As far as I remember, the i7 model that he used in the test had the 8 GB of RAM and the 256 or 512 GB SSD. Twice the RAM definitely has an effect, and the 256/512 SSDs are slightly faster than the base 128.
     
  11. mattferg macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Yup, exactly what I was saying :) Remove those improvements and it's a lot less than 20% for the CPU. Add in that it costs $140 and makes your fans run more often, isn't faster in gaming or overall use, and the i5 starts to seem a lot better :) Especially for students, that's $140 lost on booze!
     
  12. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #12
    no kidding

    People always act like college is demanding on a computer. It isn't

    You can get by with the base models easily

    I say go with the i5 and save the money
     
  13. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

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    #13
    And he said "Thankfully none of my tests show substantial scaling with memory capacity beyond 4GB so that shouldn't be a huge deal. Both SSDs are the same Samsung PCIe based solution...."

    You can try to rationalize it all you want. At idle both consume the same voltage, the difference being that the i7 is clocked faster and is more powerful than the i5. Period. Whether that is worth $150 for you, that is another story.
     
  14. Suraj R. macrumors regular

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    #14
    Haha yeah! I'm only a high school student (going into 10th in September) and I was contemplating getting the i7 at first. Then I realized for that money I could get a 23" 1080p monitor (which I did) and I was set.

    I still do sometimes look back and question if I should have gotten the i7 but really, it wouldn't have had a huge impact on me. I'm perfectly fine with my i5.
     
  15. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #15
    I got the 11'' i5/4/256 model. I'm running at least 1 VM with 1GB of RAM, Xcode, iTunes playing music, Mail, 10+ Safari tabs, FCPX rendering in background, a couple of Terminal windows with SSH and SFTP, Matlab and some other programs. No lag. The i7 is unnecessary in my opinion. It isn't going to magically make your computer feel faster UNLESS you are consistently pushing the i5 to its limits. I'm doing all of the above and it still shows unused CPU cycles. I think storage is more important than an i7. 128GB gets filled up pretty quickly.

    One of my friends is getting by just fine with a netbook. College isn't really that demanding...
     
  16. mattferg macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Yup, and you can rationalise spending $140 on a processor upgrade most people will never use the power of either. And one that doesn't add any performance in games either. I'm a technical design student and the i5 is more than enough for me.

    Yes, both SSDs might be the Samsung PCIe one HOWEVER the 256 and 512 run faster than the 128 because they have more chips. This has been shown in tests. Neeeeexxxt!
     
  17. kramjam macrumors 6502

    kramjam

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    #17
    i7 doesn't really seem necessary at all for your needs, I would recommend upgrading to the 8GB of RAM and bump up the storage, if needed.
     
  18. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

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    #18
    I appreciate your attempt at rationalizing the i5, but I'll stick to the advice of the professionals and my own observations. Thanks for playing though. :cool:
     
  19. Tarrou8 macrumors member

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    Jun 10, 2013
    #19
    This. Since you didn't specify any advanced computing requirements, the i5 with 8GB RAM and 256SSD will be perfect. Assuming this will be your primary computer and you will be using it for 4+ years (which your post seemed to imply). I would also highly recommend taking the Air everywhere and not just leaving it on your desk, since the whole point of the new Airs with Haswell is outstanding battery life.
     
  20. mattferg macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Sorry but if you read the article you linked, the writer himself said the i5 was fine for him and had more than enough power for what he needs.

    But feel free to waste your money. I'll enjoy my $140 on other things.

    I never even needed to play, you forfeited when you started arguing that college students needed i7s.
     
  21. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

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    #21
    Im not sure I understand what it is about college students that makes them unable to fully utilize the extra power of an i7. Im confused.

    And its not a waste if you use it and enjoy it. Not everyone has to give up something to spend $140. But to each his own.

    I would imagine that computer majors could definitely use the i7... :rolleyes:
     
  22. Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    I'm a PhD student in the biomedical sciences. For the OP I would recommend the i5. 100% sure you won't need anything more intensive for regular college courses. If you decide to do independent study in a lab you may need more power but probably very rarely.

    I myself am trying to figure out which processor is best but I have a particular usage case in mind (3D image analysis using imageJ) which I think the i7 may handle slightly better (although it will still be painful). Unless you are working with large data sets (think microarrays or proteomics etc.) or you are doing specialized microscopy work, or you are into crazy systems bio stuff I think you will be fine with the i5. If none of that made sense to you get the i5.

    To put things in perspective I was using an old 2009 Core 2 Duo (2.26 GHz 13" MBP) and the ONLY time I felt the processor wasn't fast enough during my PhD was the aforementioned 3D analysis.
     
  23. twoehr macrumors member

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    #23
    Technically speaking ZBoater is correct, but I'd still recommend an i5 to the OP

    To the OP, read the Anand article yourself IF you want to know if the i7 is more powerful, and by how much. If you want to know what to do, go to the next paragraph. The short of it is that there will be a 17-27% performance improvement with the i7 over the i5. Both systems were configured identically, except for the processor and memory, and it is stated that the memory difference is immaterial. Furthermore and reduction in battery life is solely dependent upon whether or not you use the extra power the i7 has available. In other words if your battery life were less with the i7 it means you actually were using it's extra power and it wasn't an unnecessary upgrade. The thermal differences parallel the CPU power consumption. 20% more power for 10% more money, that's called value, if you use it. (For more B-slapping on this subject, read this)

    BUT, you didn't ask if the i7 is better than the i5, you asked what YOU should do. Unless cost is no object (and usually "college student" and "cost no object" are mutually exclusive), I'd buy the 256 GB model and put $100 to the 8 GB men upgrade. Us the rest of your funds for accessories or dorm room libations (My roommate in college was Animal Science/Pre-Vet Med, you're gonna need them.). I'd only get the i7 if you want to try to make the MBA last your entire undergrad period, the so-called future proofing. (In reality you'll probably want to sell this in 3 years and buy something else, which means you'll probably not recover the upgrade cost.)
     
  24. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a

    iAppl3Fan

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