Laptop or desktop for university?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by 66217, Feb 21, 2006.

  1. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    I have been thinking about buying the MacBook Pro or the iMac(intel), since they were announced. I decided to wait till summer (I am entering university, so I will have the disccount), and hopefully there would be cheapper intel macs.

    But I need help in deciding if I buy a laptop or a desktop. I mean, is it really necesary the laptop for university?

    What do you reccomend?
  2. livingfortoday macrumors 68030

    Nov 17, 2004
    The Msp
    I preferred having a desktop when I was in my undergrad years, just because it was unecessary to have the laptop around with me, and I could get more bang for my buck with the desktop. Now that I'm in grad school, I'd appreciate having a better laptop, but only something ultra-portable (like a 12" Powerbook), while still using the desktop for heavy number crunching.

    You'll find that laptops are mainly good for note taking and things like that, but if you do any heavier computing, you're probably gonna want a desktop. That's just my opinion, of course, other people with better laptops may disagree.
  3. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    In the earlier years, I didn't need much power so I was fine with just the laptop (iBook) and I'm glad. There's something cool about being able to study wherever you want, even if it's at home. I've since bought an iMac which is great in terms of the extra power but if I had to choose one (and I'm still studying), then I'd take the iBook. I love working in bed. :cool:

    Of course, you'll be wanting wireless internet next, if you don't already have it. :p
  4. munckee macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    I bought a laptop for college. Never took the thing out of the dorm room. Vowed I would never buy another laptop.

    Fastfoward a few years, and I'm about to purchase my second laptop in a row.

    Long story short, get the desktop now and put the money into something top of the line that will last you all four years. Plan on upgrading then with whichever seems more sensible for your next step in life.
  5. QuarterSwede macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I would get a laptop (MacBook Pro or whatever comes out in the near future). When I was living in a dorm space was precious and my desktop ate too much of it up. Trust me, laptops are the way to go in university/college. They are so versatile and who needs a desktop when you have a dual core processor in your laptop now a days? Desktops are on the way out in my opinion. I won't buy one again.

    I honestly can't think of a good reason to get a desktop. Today's laptops are easily as capable and offer much more flexibility.
  6. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    That's exactly my concern. I'm afraid of spending $700 more, when I wont be using a lot my laptop. When desktops are cheaper and more powerful.

    I will stay at my house, the university is near my home. So I wont have the dorm space problems.
    But it is still true that a laptop would be able to make everything I want. I don't make anything that needs that much power.
  7. QuarterSwede macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    My 12" 1.5GHz PowerBook G4 is plenty powerful for me. It only really needs a little help when going through my rather large iPhoto collection but even the G5's had some trouble with big libraries. A Dual Core MacBook Pro will have absolutely no problem and will be at least as fast as a higher end P4.

    The real bottleneck would be the hard drive speed but I don't even notice the difference in OS X. Windows on the other hand would be a different story.

    Also, you would be able to take it to class to take notes if that works for you (personally I have to actually write things down to remember them).

    And I suppose the only reason not to get one would be the cost. If you aren't going to take it anywhere and since space obviously isn't a concern then an iMac would be adequate. I just find the portability of a 12" PowerBook easily worth it for me as I can use it on the couch while watching TV with my folks or take it to my fiancee's house or to a friends or to the local cafe just to get away.
  8. cwedl macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2003
    I'm at University and am glad I have a laptop. I can go into the library, where I have wireless, this is good because when on the universities domain I get access to journals etc. however I could use VPN to get this. I like move around with my laptop. everybody I know has a laptop, apart from 2 people! they wish they had a laptop though. seriously GET A LAPTOP. If you are working on group presentations etc you may want a laptop for powerpoint/keynote etc!
  9. thedude110 macrumors 68020


    Jun 13, 2005
    Because Universities have become so overwhelmingly wireless, a laptop is the way to go. If you have the money, a MacBook Pro would be perfect. If not, an iBook will serve you very well.

    If you do get a laptop, make sure you find a way to secure it (even if you don't plan to live on campus initially). When I ITed on a college campus, we had a real rash of laptop thefts ...

    And no, I wasn't the thief. :p
  10. cwedl macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2003
    lol - we have the same problem at Southampton University. Loads of theft. I look funny carrying my powerbook into the toilets.
  11. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    Do you have a personal preference at all?

    In fact, my first year in college, I didn't envy the people worrying about laptop locks and all that. :p (But you said you'd be living at home anyway.)

    Still, I prefer the comfort of an actual separated keyboard, mouse, and a big display. That said, I prefer to compute on my 20" iMac G5, but I still have a 12" iBook G4 for on the go computing (can't live without Mac OS X). :eek:
  12. itgoesbuzz macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2005
    royal oak, mi
    Came into college with a desktop, by the time my sophmore yr ended i felt that having a laptop would help. bought a powerbook and left my desktop at home and my parents use it.

    The desktop had more power but now i can take my papers with me and work on them whenever i want, and its easier for me to take notes in certain classes on my machine rather than writing. Most of my classes are chemistry and physiology though, so i cant really take notes for those on here. But for classes like history and my survey course on terrorism its great.

    If i could do it over, id prob. just get a laptop. Since i got mine I have been more efficient.
  13. macOSX-tastic macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2005
    At the Airport. UK
    i bought a Powerbook 15" (sig) for uni last year, in august. when you are living as far away from home as i do, (6+hours) it becomes invaluble to have a laptop, as i usually take my work home with me.....the flexibility is also great, when ive had to work in groups its just easier to take the work to them.....i do miss the power of a desktop, but then again, ive got pretty good specs on this, and i plan to use it for a couple of years yet......if youg et a laptop, make sure you do some decent upgrading. this machine hasnt let me down since i bought it.

  14. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    This topic is covered ad nauseum and at the risk of generalizing, you probably know the answer already. Perhaps there are exceptions but no classes require students to bring in computer to the classroom. And unlike traditional desktop computers, iMacs demand little desk space and weighs little enough not to be a big bother when moving it semester after semester. Dollar for dollar, iMacs provide greater bang (e.g., cheaper per GHz, larger and faster standard hard disk, bigger and higher resolution LCD).

    That said, notebooks have benefits iMacs can't match.
    1. Ability to compute anywhere, such as classrooms, library, and classmate's place. If you are the sort that prefers to study in the dorm room, this may not be significant, but if you anticipate lots of group studies or prefers the library scene, notebooks can be invaluable.
    2. Most universities have Wi-Fi coverage just about everywhere (browsing the Internet in the classroom can be nice diversion as well as study aid).
  15. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    WOW thanks for the advice.

    After reading all of them, it seems a laptop is the best choice.
    Now the only problem is to get my mom to help me buying the MacBook Pro.;)

    Do you think that by the summer (maybe till christmas:( ) there would be a cheaper intel mac, or that the MacBook Pro would get cheaper?
    Because spending on a MacBook Pro would mean being in debt with my Mom for a long time.
    And I really want an intel one.

    Thanks again for the help.
  16. Dr. J macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2006
    I could have made it through college without a laptop. If I could only have one or the other, I would buy the laptop.
  17. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    Sorry for not reading all the other threads. I werent able to find one about this (I really didn't searched that much thougt:eek: ).
  18. bill4588 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 2, 2006
    Kennesaw, GA
    Intel iBooks are rumored to be released within the next few months so I'd wait to see what those are like. I'm in the same exact situation as you but can't afford to get anything over 1k. Before I make any decision I'm gonna wait and see what the intel iBook are like.
  19. cycocelica macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2005
    Redmond, WA
    Being at University myself, I am very glad that I have a laptop. A lot of times I get tired of writing notes and find that typing is much more comfortable. Plus, when my roommate decides to be loud, I can just go to the library and study there. Plus, if I have to meet up with someone and we need a computer, I am glad again to have a laptop. If you dont think you will be needing outside of your room, just get a desktop. But personally I would get a laptop.
  20. T-Stex macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2006
    I think you'll be making the right choice with the laptop. Now, assuming you're going to go with that, I'd wait and get the iBook replacement. You'll be able to save a bunch of money over going with the MacBook Pro, and unless you're going to film school, or something where you'll be using your computer for really intense stuff, you probably won't see much of a difference. Wait until Apple has the back-to-school sale, and you'll be able to get a great deal on the iBook's replacement.
  21. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    The new iBooks would be with intel, I suppose. Aren't they?:confused:
  22. crazydreaming macrumors 6502a


    Apr 17, 2005
    Salt Lake City, UT -Westminster College
    If you are going to be living at home and commuting, I definately reccomend a laptop. That way when you have down time between classes you'll have your own computer to use instead of one of the school's.

    I'm a second semester college student with a laptop (see sig) and loving it. I work all over the place, not just my desk. Plus it's great being able to take it with you for weekend trips and things.
  23. T-Stex macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2006
    I think it's safe to say that they'll probably have either the Intel Core Solo or Intel Core Duo in them, when they're released.
  24. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Just to say what's already been said:

    These days, laptops are the way to go. Campus-wide wireless networks give you the freedom to go wherever you want. Work at the library, in a science lab, at the dining hall or coffee shop, outside, etc. If you have to work in small groups, it's easier if everyone has a laptop and can get online at the same time in the same place (though you can obviously only take care of yourself in this area...others will be responsible for purchasing their own laptops :D ). When I entered college ten years ago, the vast majority of people had desktops, in part due to the large price differential between laptops and desktops, but also due to the lack of other driving factors (Wireless network...what's that?). As prices of computers in general have come down, and the desktop/laptop price gap has shrunk, laptops have become far more popular on-campus. Unless you need to do really high-end things that require the maximum performance available today, go with a laptop.
  25. Leareth macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2004
    Laptop is the way to go at University.
    If you really need the processing power of a desktop buy one and get an older 12" iBook, being able to take notes in class, work in the coffee shops between classes, reference right in the library and work on stuff during the long commutes on the bus ( some of our city buses you can get wireless) is fantastic.
    I have an iMac G5 and two PB's now, all get used, my PB goes to school/work with me everyday. iMac is for the iPhoto stuff and watching movies.

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