MacBook Air for Software Engineering college?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by superiska123, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. superiska123 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2014
    #1
    Hi everyone, I am starting college in the fall and I am considering buying a 2015/17 MBA, since I would be able to get it for a pretty low price. My question is whether the MBA is powerful enough to get me through college (or at least half of it)? I currently have a 2011 13" MBP base model with 4GB of RAM and 320 GB's of storage, and it really is starting to show it's age.

    I am looking to buy a laptop with 8GBs of RAM, 256GB's of storage and a 13" screen, but I am also unsure whether to get an i7 or an i5 processor.

    Additionally, would the MBA's display be inferior to my MBP? I have read somewhere online that the colors are worse, but is it something I would notice?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who replies, I know you get lots of messages like this :D

    P.S. If it helps, and you don't mind going through it, this is the curriculum for my undergraduate studies: www.ftn.uns.ac.rs/n1782412678/software-engineering-and-information-technologies
     
  2. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    Location:
    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    #2
    What you need to find out, are what applications will you need to use, and are they supported on a Mac.
     
  3. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #3
    Thanks for the reply, AlliFlowers! As far as I have checked, most if not all of them will run on a mac, and I absolutely wouldn't mind dual booting Windows for the possible few that don't. I have also talked to some friends who are already enrolled at the same college, and they said that I should be fine. I just really don't want to give up the mac experience, to be honest :)
     
  4. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    Jan 1, 2011
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    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    #4
    Just make sure you can use a lab computer "in case." Dual booting on an Air is not a great experience. Windows takes up a lot of space.

    I have a nephew that is starting his senior year that finally got a Mac. But he's not in engineering. My other nephew is starting his freshman year in engineering and he's happy with Windows. But he's also been interning for over a year now with a civil engineering firm - where they don't use Macs.
     
  5. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #5
    That's good to know, and I'll definitely keep that in mind. I know that we have lots of computers available at the faculty. And also, to be honest, my parents do own a very decent Windows PC which I would probably be able to use a little if needed.

    Once again, thanks!
     
  6. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502

    cincygolfgrrl

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    #6
    If your friends are using Macs in the same or similar engineering classes you'll be taking and they say you should be fine, follow their lead.

    The MBA has a good non-retina screen that shows all the colors and will serve all your needs, just like your current MBP. Some will claim in 2018 that only retina is acceptable. That's a statement that is only true for them, not everyone needs retina.
     
  7. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #7
    Cool, thanks! That's what I figured as well. Honestly, retina looks great, but my MBP screen looks really good to me too until I compare them side by side :D

    What do you think about the power of the MBA? Do you think the i5 would be powerful enough, or should I go for the i7?
     
  8. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502

    cincygolfgrrl

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    #8
    I'd like to have an opinion, but I don't because I have no idea what software you'd be using. CAD? I think RAM is more important than the difference between the two processors.
     
  9. Expobill Suspended

    Expobill

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    May 30, 2018
    #9
    i really love my MBA from 2010 and do a lot of photo editing, graphic design along with the internets and music playing via AirTunes-wifi-airport (forgot what that is called today in 2018) without any trouble. the feel of the keyboard and portability make computing and life easier. I seen a lot of MBA on campus at UW more than other MacBooks.
    when you become a gazillionaire, get the pro
     
  10. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #10
    Well, we’ll be programming in Python, C++, Java, UML, SQL and using Matlab and Eclipse. It’s a software-only course, we won’t be doing anything directly related to hardware. Thanks in advance for the reply!
    --- Post Merged, Aug 15, 2018 ---
    Thanks for this post, it really made me laugh out loud at the end!
     
  11. psingh01 macrumors 65816

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    Apr 19, 2004
    #11
    The Air will be fine. Honestly, even your current Mac will be fine for most things. The air's screen sucks in comparison to a retina but its still a decent screen. Compared to non-retinas it isn't so bad.

    You aren't going to be given anything to do in school that will require a crazy powerful computer unless its like 3d animation type thing. Even then it is more of an elective. I know, I studied computer engineering 20 yrs ago and work as a software engineer now. I currently use all the software you listed minus Matlab. My old 2013 Air can handle it all easily and probably can for years to come if I wanted to. I've even run VMware on it but that pushes it a little.
     
  12. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #12
    Thank you very very much for this reply, it's exactly the kind of reply I was hoping to get :)
     
  13. lolasher macrumors newbie

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    Aug 1, 2014
    #13
    I study Computer Science and have Air 13 with i5, its fast enough to use Visual Studio in virtual machine at least for small projects so no need for Bootcamp. Earlier I had MBP 15 2011 with i7 and Air feels just a little bit slower, but its good trade-off for lighter computer. If your MBP is in good shape you may consider upgrading RAM and SSD, but its better to buy new device, because it no longer receives software updates.
     
  14. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #14
    Thanks for the reply! I have considered upgrading the RAM and SSD, but if I upgrade both, I can get a used Air for the same price...
    P.S. Do you think an i7 Air would make a big difference?
     
  15. lolasher macrumors newbie

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    Aug 1, 2014
    #15
    Of course it would be faster but I don't think it's worth it.
     
  16. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #16
    Yes, I thought so, too. Thank you very much for the replies, it’s really good to hear from someone who is actually studying in the same field as I am :)
     
  17. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #17
    So, I just wanted to write a little update:

    In the end, I bought a 2015 MacBook Air with an i5 processor, 8 gigs of RAM and 256 GB's of storage. I am extremely happy with it, it is so much faster than my old MBP from 2011. Overall, I'm really really impressed so far, and I got it at a very good price.

    Thanks once again to everyone who answered my question!
     
  18. apple_iBoy macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 28, 2003
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #18
    I'm an engineering professor.
    We have a combined computer/electrical engineering department. I've never seen a Mac in use there.
    We have a computer science department, where every faculty member is on a mac, every lab is full of macs, etc.
    I don't know enough about how software engineering departments fall on that spectrum to give advice. But if Windows is needed, and you're thinking of dual booting, I might spring for a MacBook Pro.

    [edit] just realized OP updated. Good for you for making your choice, and good luck with your program!
     
  19. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #19
    Thanks either way, it’s still nice to hear a different opinion! The thing that really made my decision easier was that I found out a lot of my professors actually use Macs, so I figured I could use one as well :D
     
  20. Pugly macrumors regular

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    Jun 7, 2016
    #20
    Good to read that it works for you. They really are more useful than public perception/marketing would lead you to believe.
     
  21. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #21
    Yes, definitely! I am sure some people need a newer/faster device but the Air is more than enough for me right now :D
     
  22. Tozovac macrumors 65816

    Tozovac

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    Jun 12, 2014
    #22
    Just buy a cable and large monitor for a 2 screen “retina” experience!
    Or buy an iPad Pro and the Duet app to also display on the iPad for a 2 or 3 screen retina experience.
     
  23. superiska123 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    #23
    Thanks for the tip! I already had an old display lying around, so using that atm and it works great so far :D
     

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22 August 15, 2018