Macbook for CS student

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by -Nick, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. -Nick macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2007
    Well, I'll be starting CS next year (University of Waterloo, woot), and I'm strongly considering a Macbook. It would be my first Mac. Actually, I think I'm pretty sold on it, I just need to put a few fears to rest.

    For those of you who have coding experience on a Mac, everything is 100% compatible, right? And is that 100% in OSX, or will I need to be switching over to XP time and again (which would be no real issue as I plan on installing XP anyway)? If I had the choice I'd rather that everything worked under the same OS. And on a side note, how is that whole XCode interface? It looks interesting.

    Another small issue. I'd say I'm a very casual gamer at this point. I like to play something occationally, but if I don't, its no big deal. And I'm perfectly okay with playing older games. I know it'll run Starcraft, but how would it handle Warcraft III, or NWN (original)? The GMA950 just concerns me a little.

    Also, how's the real life battery? About how much life do you get out of it, with general use? I'm wary of the 6 hours Apple has quoted. And as for the screen size, do you ever find that the 13.3" screen is too small? I've used a friends Macbook, and liked the screen, but after continuous use, do you ever wish it was bigger?

    Any other comments that might sway my decision? I want to be marketed to! lol
  2. Igantius macrumors 65816

    Apr 29, 2007
    No coding experience, so I'll neatly sidestep that one... :p

    There's quite a few threads about MB gaming, so it's worth doing a search - the situation is better than what you're probably thinking.

    As for battery life, have a look at this section of the Ars Technica MB review:

    It gets quoted a lot and pretty much all the info I've seen backs this view up. The review, btw, is well worth a read.

    As for the screen size, depends on what you're doing really - if I was typing, it wouldn't be a problem, video editing would be another story! But I would recommend an external monitor.

    There's quite a few threads about the relative merits on MBs, which would be worth checking out too - and there may answer quite a few questions, you've thought of and quite a few that you haven't.
  3. iW00t macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    Depends on your definition of 100% compatible. Obviously will not run on OSX. Although if your uni teaches you to program in standard C libraries or in Java, it will be absolutely just fine and dandy.
  4. Jiddick ExRex macrumors 65816

    Jiddick ExRex

    May 14, 2006
    Roskilde, DK
    Xcode is nothing to hooray on. The only thing you cannot compile is .NET frameworks like C#.

    C and other languages will work, you will just need to install the appropriate packages (and of course add them to you path).
  5. MacDonaldsd macrumors 65816


    Sep 8, 2005
    London , UK
    Im currently studying computer science and get on fine with just using mac os x.

    At university we mostly use linux do to programming.
  6. elithrar macrumors 6502


    May 31, 2007
    You'll be fine as long as you don't need to code .NET; in which can you can always get VMWare Fusion & run Windows or Linux for that on top of your OS X desktop (or natively, if you want to Boot Camp). I'm a Comp. Sci student, though I have a MBP; primarily for the larger screen when working with multiple documents & Photoshop (web design minor), and the better GPU for when I do game. Which isn't often these days, but I do like to play some CS:S, BG2 & Dawn of War during the breaks.

    WC3 will run on a GMA950 fine, NWN might struggle; it was/is a hog of a game, and even if you opt for the 2GB of RAM in your MB, it'll still be a little sluggish. It should do okay if you keep textures low and AA off, though.

    I can't say on the battery, but six hours is a really generous figure; I'd expect more around four if you're actually, you know, using the machine and have a few apps running (browser, editor, music, IM). I get around 3.5-4.5 hours out of my MBP.
  7. polevault139 macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2006
    I just got my blackbook on Saturday so I can at least give you some info on the battery life. I usually have Safari, iTunes, iChat, Mail, Quicksilver, and occasionally Photoshop CS running. With all of that I get around 5-5.5 hours. I turn off bluetooth and put the screen brightness about halfway down. I think I might be able to squeeze 6 hours out of it if the screen brightness was all the way down with no Airport or Bluetooth and had only one app running. So basically the 6 hours if if you don't want a very enjoyable computing experience. The battery life is still pretty good however.
  8. Dynamyk macrumors 6502a


    Jul 8, 2005
    Warcraft 3 runs perfectly :).

    Battery life really depends, but it's not hard to find a plug in a university in my experiences :)
  9. -Nick thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2007
    Sweet, thanks for all the info.

    As for coding languages, Ill be using Scheme for the first bit, and then Java/C++, not sure what else though. Though I don't think I'll be using any of the.NET programs, so I should be fine on that front. And I do have an LCD I could use an an external monitor, so I guess that fear was a little unfounded.

    This might be a little off topic, but in transferring data form my PC to Macbook, is it possible to transfer all of my iTunes data? Not just songs, but the playlists, rating, and play counts too? I don't know why, but I really love the play counts, despite their serving of no real purpose.
  10. Anorak macrumors regular


    May 29, 2007
    Another Waterloo student, nice! I'm in 3rd year at Waterloo, studying CS as well.

    From my experience, it's best to do most of your work on campus, as the labs are pretty decent and fast for the work that we do (all UNIX/Linux-based). Working from home involves either connecting up to the school network (SSH, telnet, etc.), which is simple, but can be slow, or transferring over files to your UW account when you want to submit your assignments.

    Though I never did Scheme (it was being phased out when I entered year one), a roommate of mine did and he didn't enjoy it - then again, he's more of a Math guy than a CS guy.
  11. Animalk macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2007
    Montreal Canada
    I am in almost done my CS degree here at Concordia university in Montreal and I am using a MacBook Pro.

    Programming on the mac is a mixed bag. Some things will need almost no adjustments coming from windows or linux/unix. But you will often find yourself scratching your head why your code isn't doing what you think it should on the mac. Many libraries have been "optimized" by apple and often do not behave the same way.

    I just finished an OpenGl project using C++. While C++ was no problem whatsoever, opengl was quite the headache on the mac. The depth buffer needed one more line of code to work then on Visual Studio. Don't ask me why. Also the way you apply textures on mac is very different. I was using glaux library in windows which is basically what everyone uses but mac doesn't have a version of glaux. So i had to look around for a mac equivalent which i still haven't found.

    So its not so bad, but beware.
  12. -Nick thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2007
    Well, I think I'll be starting in CS135. I took CS all through high school, but I really don't think my teacher taught the subject that well. So I figure I might as well take 135 and get a good base to build on.

    Well, I'll be living in residence for the first year (despite being a Waterloo native :) ) so assignment submission shouldn't be a huge issue. Though would you say that the campus and CS programs are pretty Mac-friendly overall? It's good to meet someone who's got UW experience here!
  13. Anorak macrumors regular


    May 29, 2007
    Quick note: most assignments are submitted electronically, so it doesn't matter where you live. :p

    I started with CS 133 (middle option), since I wasn't sure how much my high school prepared me for UW at the time - the course was simple, but it was a good introduction.

    UW has Mac labs, Unix labs, Windows labs, Linux labs, and other labs that are only available to upper year CS students, so yes, I'd say the campus is friendly towards most operating systems. The whole campus is wireless-enabled, so connecting to the internet on campus is a breeze, regardless of what you have. I know a few of the guys in my year have Macs, some have Windows machines, and some dual-boot Windows and Linux on their laptops.

    I'm actually buying a MacBook Pro at the end of August. :D

    Let me know if you have any other questions.
  14. shipdestroyer macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2007
    New Hampshire
    Part of me wishes I didn't get mine--we did all our first year programming in VS.NET and had to submit compiled Windows .exes for assignments.

    However, I also needed a computer for practically everything else you'd need a computer for: writing, movies, internet, music, etc. I probably could have gone without it, but the year would have sucked.
  15. -Nick thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2007
    That's too bad. But I know Ill only be using Scheme and Java for the first year, so at least I wouldn't have to worry about that happening.
  16. shipdestroyer macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2007
    New Hampshire
    It wasn't too bad, but booting between Windows and OS X constantly was a bit annoying. Looks like Parallels and VMware are coming along, though, so this may not a big problem anymore.

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