Laptop for CS major?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ElloM8, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. ElloM8 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2014
    #1
    Hello all! I was wondering whether a 13 inch mbp retina with 8gb ram, base i5 processor and 256 ssd would be enough for a future Computer science major. You see, I am a bit torn between the 13 inch and a Lenovo y50 I was looking at. I like the Lenovo's specs (860m graphics, 16gb ram, quad core i7), but am disappointed by the battery life, the screen (which is apparently really bad), and software issues (hit or miss drivers, bloatware). On the flip-side the MBP has a really nice screen, excellent battery life, ability to use multiple OS's, amazing build quality, customer service and reliability. It does however, lack the gaming ability, and the processing power. My main issue is those hardware specs, will they really make a difference for a CS major? I should note that I mostly a PC user but do have an old mac mini at home. Thanks for any help!!
     
  2. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #2
    If the screen size fits you then the 13" rmbp is a good choice.

    The only thing that buggs me about mine is the screen size, but I do carry it a lot and the 15" is to large for me.
     
  3. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    #3
    Honestly you won't need much as a CS major. Maybe at the most you will be running something like XCode or Visual Studio where having 4 or 8GB of RAM would be nice. Having a better video card doesn't really matter unless you also want to play games.

    I would however strongly recommend a retina Macbook Pro because of how nice text looks on these high resolution displays. Text is extremely sharp and readable even at smaller sizes, which gives you the option to fit a lot of code on screen at once if you want.
     
  4. bjett92 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    Indy, IN
    #4
    I'm coming up on my fourth year as a CS major. The 13" is fine with the retina display. You'll be able to fit a lot of text on that display while still maintaining readability. A Mac is the way to go for CS. You'll be spending a lot, aka most, of your time in Terminal. Having a Unix OS with a full bash shell is a huge plus, something Windows cannot match. OS X is all the good things about Linux with the polish and app ecosystem of a polished OS.
     
  5. ElloM8 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2014
    #5
    Thanks for all the replies! I probably will go towards the mac at this point. I was also wondering though, whether a dual boot of windows and mac os can be done on 256 gigs of space and also (on a side note) what the similarities between Mac OS/Unix/Linux are. I know this is a noob question, but I am still a little new to CS in general.
     
  6. bjett92 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    Indy, IN
    #6
    I'm not sure about the dual booting. It would most likely be a tight fit to get both operating systems on there with space for storage for each and scratch space.

    OS X is Unix. Linux is considered Unix-like in that it is very similar. You can basically consider Linux to also be a Unix operating system. The main benefit of this for CS majors is open access to a Bash shell. You'll quickly learn to love the shell. OS X and Linux are very similar in this regard, however OS X will give you a much more stable experience, polished user interface, and a wider variety of available applications. Windows is not Unix nor is it Unix-like. You won't have access to a Bash shell and often times you'll have issues working with some command-line tools and compilers. There are shell emulators available, but will undoubtedly run into more problems and headaches while developing on a Windows computer than Linux or OS X.
     
  7. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #7
    I would suggest a 15"

    More screen for more code.

    Then again you may want the portability of the 13" in which case I suggest getting an external monitor.
     
  8. duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    #8
    Usage patterns and requirements will vary from user to user, so only you can answer that question about 256GB being enough. However, I can offer my own anecdotal evidence from my own experience, and you can take that and see if it comes close to your situation.

    I don't do as much gaming as I used to, but if I did, I would definitely get the 512GB. Games take up a lot of space, and if you play 4 or 5 different games off and on, you probably don't want to be bothered with uninstalling/reinstalling one or more of them due to space constraints. With that in mind, 128GB/128GB for OS X/Windows (assuming a 50/50 split) won't leave you much on the Windows side, especially when a typical game can take up to 20GB or more of space after you include possible expansion packs, mods, etc.

    If that sounds like you, then get the 512GB.
     
  9. ElloM8 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2014
    #9
    Thanks for the help. I looked into the 15 and while I was impressed, the price was too steep. In terms disk space, I wont be doing any gaming besides minecraft so I think 256 gb should be fine. One thing I would like to know is whether AppleCare can be had for 4 years. I have heard that you can buy the extra 3 years of AppleCare near the end of the 1st year to extend it close to 4. Is this true?
     
  10. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    #10
    Have you looked at Apple's refurbished section? They just like getting a new Macbook (including the same warranty and ability to add AppleCare) with some pretty nice discounts sometimes::

    http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac/macbook_pro/


    As far as I know, purchasing AppleCare gives you coverage for 3 years from the purchase date. You can buy AppleCare any time before your 1 year warranty runs out:

    https://www.apple.com/support/products/mac.html
     
  11. Sifinity macrumors 6502

    Sifinity

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    #11
    i just bought the 750m 2014 15' and coming from a 13' cmb i wish there was a quad-core 13' retina , damn this thing is big lol , there is so much more portability with a 13' .

    P.S : Computer Engineering Major here
     
  12. ElloM8 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2014
    #12
    Apparently there are laptops that are similar to a 13 inch retina like this one
    http://www.engadget.com/2014/06/06/gigabyte-aorus-x3-plus/
    and the razer blade 14. Issue is, they are both as expensive as a 15 inch mbp! I would have liked to see one too, but I think the dual core 13 inch should serve me well now.
     
  13. Sifinity macrumors 6502

    Sifinity

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
  14. nexus4life macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2014
    #14
    You do sacrifice the gaming chip in most of the macbook lineup, but you can still play most games on fair - good settings. I think immediately after purchase and through the entire time you own it, you'll be completely satisfied with the build quality, beautiful screen, and more than capable ssd/processing power. Considering you said you only really play mine craft, you're already set.
     
  15. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #15
    You don't need any processing power for doing your computer science degree. A Macbook Air would be already an overkill, as far as processing demands go. One of the best programmers in the word is still using an antiquated Core 2 Duo ;)

    So with that concern out of the way, you should rather pick a laptop based on utility. The 13" rMBP is very nice for working (excellent screen for text, excellent keyboard), but as you already know yourself, if lacks the gaming ability (although its still more than enough for Minecraft). But regardless of what you will pick, I strongly recommend you to use a Unix-based OS (OS X or Linux). I find Windows borderline unusable for programming, unless of course you are developing using the Microsoft toolchain.
     
  16. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a

    SarcasticJoe

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2013
    Location:
    Finland
    #16
    The Blade is actually a lot closer to the 15" Pro than the 13" model... It's about the same thickness (literally a difference of 0.01 inches) and the much bigger bezel's around the screen means that it's about the same weight and there's less than 0.5 inch difference in both width and depth.

    Don't be fooled by the "14" in the name, it's pretty much the same size as the 15" Pro.

    As for the complaints about not enough processing power, I'm a Computer Engineering postgrad and I can't say the CPU the current 13" machines would have ever been a bottleneck for me. The only case where I really needed something the 13" Pro can't offer was in a GPGPU programming course where we ended up running our CUDA programs on a university cluster machine with a bunch of Nvidia Quadro GPU's.

    The only actual bottleneck I've run into has been compile times for slightly larger projects on mechanical HDD's. The first time I compiled a slightly bigger project on my machine after installing an SSD my immediate reaction was something along the lines of "Holy ****... You can compile stuff THIS fast on an SSD?". Fast SSD's have been standard equipment in Apple's "retina" machines since they first on appeared in 2012 and the SSD's in their current lineup are incredibly fast PCIe ones.
     
  17. ElloM8 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2014
    #17
    Thanks again! Also, I know I have asked a lot, but I would like to know whether the MS Office 2011 for Mac I use on my MacMini can be used on the mbp. I am not opposed to iWork but I am used to using MS office.
     
  18. Sifinity macrumors 6502

    Sifinity

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    #18
    of course ms office works works on mbp , i also prefer MS office over iWork cause the auto grammar correct is a lottttt better on MS than i work
     
  19. rrl macrumors 6502

    rrl

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    #19
    For a CS major, no. For a gamer, probably.
     
  20. lorax3 macrumors regular

    lorax3

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    #20
    FTFY :cool:
     
  21. taedouni macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Location:
    California
    #21
    I'm a CS major and I recommend getting the 15" MBP.
    +More screen estate (you can scale it pretty high if you want)
    +16GB of RAM
    +i7 quad core processor
    +Iris Pro Graphics (better than what the 13" versions come with)


    If you're studying CS then there's a good chance that you will need to have Linux and Windows installed. There's no need to do bootcamp for them (that would waste a lot of storage space), you can use something like Parallels or VMWare Fusion to run them on the Mac OSX (that's where the i7 and the 16GB of RAM will come in handy).


    In my opinion it's better to spend a little extra on something that will last you a full 4 years versus spending a little less only to regret getting it and selling it in 2 years or so and spending more money to get a laptop that you need.
     
  22. Geminist macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    #22
    A 13 inch rMBP + 23/27 inch monitor + keyboard and mouse? I'm a very happy man with this combination.
     

Share This Page