MacBook or MacBook Pro for ArcGIS? How should I spec it out?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by f1slash, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. f1slash macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2009
    I am looking to take advantage of my student discount and purchase a new laptop to replace my iBook G4.

    Student discount for the 2.4ghz MacBook Pro 15" with 320gb HD and Applecare is £1280.

    A similarly spec'd MacBook 13" would be about £1062.

    I'm always on the go so there's no chance to get a separate screen for more real estate.

    The main reason for this purchase (aside from economic stimulus for someone else and economic distress for yours truly) is I need to run ArcGIS, Access, and Distance, which are unfortunately Windows-only. I'll probably also run Tinn-R and R too, but all other apps (Photochop, Lightroom, Office, etc.) will be run on the Mac side of things.

    I'm pretty sure I'll want to go for the bigger screen that the MBP offers, but is there anything else I should be looking for? What's the best way to run a Windows OS? Bootcamp/Parallels/VMWare? I will put as much aftermarket RAM in as I can afford to down the line, but to start things off I'll probably be running with 2gb :eek:

    Thanks in advance!

    BTW, I did a search and didn't find exactly what I was looking for. Please excuse me if this has already been answered somewhere else.
  2. f1slash thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2009
  3. steve2112 macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2009
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    If you can afford it, I would go for the MBP. Photoshop and Lightroom on the Mac side will need some processing power. I got curious and looked up the requirements for ArcGIS, and I have to admit I was suprised they were so low. (1.6gHz proc, 64MB graphics card). I figured a graphics program like ArcGIS would have higher specs. It seems like the MB would run this, but I feel better safe than sorry.

    As for the best way to run Windows...everyone has their own opinion. I like the Parallels/VMWare route. I like the fact that you can do snapshots, and if something gets hosed, you can roll back to that. I also like firing up the Windows stuff without the reboots and such. Bootcamp, however, is free and allows you to access the hardware fully, without the host OS overhead. I say if you can afford one of these, go for it. Just be careful what you run, though. From what I have experienced, Vista doesn't play well with only 1GB or so of RAM in a virtual environment.
  4. rathernot2 macrumors newbie

    Feb 20, 2009
    Def. Macbook Pro. Depending on the data you're using, spring for 2.4 GHZ model with aftermarket 4GB ram. The 15 inch LCD is always a plus. Since you're working on the go, the large screen will help you be more productive in ArcGIS environment. You'll want all the viewing area you can get.

    I worked on large ArcGIS project back in 2003/2004 for a large city, using P4 2.4 GHZ desktop. Merging, dissolving data took a day to complete. (using ESRI ArcGIS 9.1, when projections didn't work, we had to roll our own, and recreate maps from scratch).

    I would suggest running windows xp under bootcamp. You'll want all the dedicated cpu you can get when working on ArcGIS.
  5. f1slash thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2009
    Thanks for that. It's pretty much what I figured.... now, where's my credit card?

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