MacBook or MacBook Pro for Computer Science

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dundermifflin, May 27, 2009.

  1. dundermifflin macrumors newbie

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    May 27, 2009
    #1
    I will be attending university in September for Computer Science and was wondering what people recommend. Should I go for the 13'' MacBook 2.4GHz or the 15'' MacBook Pro 2.4GHz? $400 difference with the education discount. Is the larger screen and better graphics card worth it? Also should I update the 2 GB of ram to 4 GB or no?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. parapup macrumors 65816

    parapup

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    Oct 31, 2006
    #2
    Screen size - bigger the better, however it is ultimately for you to decide based upon what you intend to do. If you are going to use IDEs and stuff or are going to create complex documents big screen is absolutely a pleasure.

    RAM is cheap now a days - go for 4Gb. If you can live with the smaller and slightly inferior MacBook display rest should be irrelevant - the graphics card on the Unibody Macbook (9400M) has plenty of juice if you are not into heavy gaming.

    Also get a 7200 RPM HDD - it makes a noticeable difference.
     
  3. EX1127 macrumors 6502

    EX1127

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    #3
    I would suggest looking up your colleges base requirements if they have any of them. I have a MacBook Pro because my base requirements were to high for the plain MacBook
     
  4. bobbleheadbob macrumors 6502a

    bobbleheadbob

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    #4
    MBP. I think you'll appreciate the bigger screen in the long run.
     
  5. dundermifflin thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 27, 2009
    #5
    The suggested specs for my school are as follows:
    2.0 or greater GHz 32-bit (x86) processor
    120 GB hard drive
    2 GB of system memory
    128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)

    My guess is these are absolute minimum requirements because a 2.0 GHz processor and 2 GB of ram (TO ME) don't sound like a lot. But maybe not
    Thank you so much for everyones input so far!
     
  6. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

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    Location:
    London, UK
    #6
    It depends on what you want to do with your machine. To be honest, you're likely not going to be doing any kind of 3D modelling on your course so course wise, you don't need the improved graphics. Basically, unless you plan on gaming, the MacBook Pro would likely be overkill. I'm guessing most of what you will be doing will be coding and general 2D work.

    Then the other factor, as mentioned, is screen real estate. You say the difference is $400. Well, you can get a Dell 24" display for $299, perfect for when you want the extra desk space in your room. Leaving you $100 to spend on 4GB of RAM from Crucial for $67.98 and a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter for $29 and enough change to spare for a beer, or a coffee depending on your taste.

    As parapup said, a 7200rpm would be a good idea too (third party of course). You can get a 320GB 7200rpm 2.5" drive for $79.99 or a 500GB 7200rpm 2.5" drive for $129.99. Get yourself a cheapo 2.5" external hard drive case from eBay and you can use your original 250GB drive as an external drive for extra portable storage.
     
  7. bstreiff macrumors regular

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    Feb 14, 2008
    Location:
    Austin, TX, USA
    #7
    I used a MacBook. Not completely through college, though; when I started I had Sony Vaio (a poor choice, since it had no end of hardware problems. Well, actually, it ended. That's why I bought the MacBook...)

    Both of the laptops I had were 13" widescreen displays though, and that wasn't too bothersome. Also remember that, if you're going to be carrying it around with you from class to class or anything like that, how heavy your laptop is should be taken into consideration... an extra pound in your bag can make a huge difference on how much your back likes you.

    I also had/have a desktop machine (Mac mini) with a 22" 1680x1050 Dell monitor that I used for longer coding sessions, so that eased the burden; You may want to consider pairing a lightweight laptop with a larger display.

    Also, if you're going to upgrade the RAM, do it yourself. Apple charges way too much for it. :)
     
  8. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816

    Unprocessed1

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    Jun 23, 2008
    #8
    If you major is computer science, definitely go for the MBP.
     
  9. dundermifflin thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 27, 2009
    #9
    Don't want to quote any specific reply because everything is so helpful! I never really thought of weight! That's very true.. I'm thinking I might go with the MB! I'll have to sleep on it though. Any ideas about good places to get RAM? I live in Canada so that might play a factor as I know some websites charge ridiculous shipping fees here. Would they sell RAM at Best Buy?
     
  10. EX1127 macrumors 6502

    EX1127

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    #10
    They might have it wouldn't hurt to look before hand. That just depends on your store more or less
     
  11. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #11
    Why?

    If you don't need the extras that a MBP provides, then save your precious pennies for beer. The MacBook is more than enough. You could always buy a cheap Dell screen for extra screen real estate when not on the go. The extra portability of a MB is great when you are shuffling between classes with a hangover.

    Buy your RAM from www.canadaram.com. He never let me down.
     
  12. parapup macrumors 65816

    parapup

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    Oct 31, 2006
    #12
    My next door BestBuy sells RAM - not the cheapest price you will find online but reasonable given you get instant gratification!

    I had ordered from Crucial and had good experience - they ship to Canada for $13 I think - http://www.crucial.com/store/international_shipping.aspx .
     
  13. gr8tfly macrumors 603

    gr8tfly

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    #13
    Go with more screen real estate. The desired number and size of open windows is inversely proportional to the available display area. (or the actual is directly proportional.... depends on your POV and level of cynicism)

    If you can swing it, try for the 17". You have young eyes... ;) (he says while peering at his own 17" UB through bifocals :rolleyes:)
     
  14. parapup macrumors 65816

    parapup

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    Oct 31, 2006
    #14
    Truer words never said - you need the beer :)
     
  15. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816

    Unprocessed1

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    Jun 23, 2008
    #15
    The liquor money always seems to have a very short life span, regardless of the budget.

    Your macbook might be outdated in 3-4 years, whereas the MBP should still be formidable when you're done with university.

    I say get the MBP, and drink other people's beer.
     
  16. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #16
    I'm guessing Best Buy would be a bad choice since I think they overcharge.

    I know a lot of users on here have used CanadaRAM. The guy that works for or runs or owns the company, I forget, is a regular poster on here too. Crucial also ship to Canada I think, as linked above. I don't know what they charge for shipping though.

    One thing some people might come along and point out is that the graphics card in the MacBook doesn't technically have 128MB of dedicated graphics memory as per your university's requirements since it shares its memory with the system RAM. It takes 256MB away from your system RAM. While the fact that its integrated graphics might put you off, this RAM is DDR3 and is pretty darned fast already. Their minimum specification of a 128MB graphics card suggests a graphics card from a few years ago when 128MB was the norm on desktop cards. The integrated 9200m is faster than pretty much any dedicated graphics card from back in the day with 128MB.
     
  17. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

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    #17
    Although... if he were looking to spend $2799 on a 17" MBP then he'd probably be better off spending $999 on a 2.13GHz MacBook and $1799 on a 2.93GHz 24" iMac. He'd save a dollar and have a hell of a lot more value for money with portability *and* superb power and screen space when back in his room. Honestly, the 17" MBP is a really bad buy for most people.

    Why would a 2.4GHz MacBook be outdated in 3-4 years when a 2.4GHz MacBook Pro wouldn't be? The only difference in performance is the graphics card. In 3-4 years, the difference between an ancient 9400m and a 9600m GT will be negligible. Both would be pretty darned slow in 3D graphics. Honestly, it'll make little to no difference over a span of 3-4 years. If the MacBook still had Intel GMA graphics chips then the difference might be more noticeable in the long run but as it stands, its really not. I leave my MacBook Pro set to use the 9400m chip about 95% of the time. The only time I switch it to the 9600m chip is when I want to play a bit of WoW maxxed out at full res.
     
  18. dundermifflin thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 27, 2009
    #18
    So True! The 17'' is complete overkill for my case. Thank you so much for your opinion you really helped with my decision.
     
  19. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816

    Unprocessed1

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    Jun 23, 2008
    #19
    The graphics card is a very good point, but I think performance tests floating around the web have showed the 2.4 MBP does still have a moderate edge on the 2.4 MB in terms of overall performance, but it seems the MB will be more than fine for the OP.
     
  20. Airforcekid macrumors 65816

    Airforcekid

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    #20
    MacBook works now but in a few years I think the pro would fair better even in resale.
     
  21. dhuang macrumors member

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    Feb 9, 2009
    #21
    Gonna go ahead and repeat what I said to other potential CS students on MR...

    I am a CS student and web developer, and I just went from a SR MBP to a uMB.

    Love it already. The screen real estate doesn't disturb me that much since it isn't a major jump from 1280 -> 1440. Plus, I am already used to 1920 on my 24". Just as fast as my older MBP, if not faster. If I am working with Photoshop, I will use my external 24" since the uMB's screen isn't the best, nor big enough for my palettes (MBP wasn't comfortable either) .

    The major problem I had with the MBP was the size, I wanted something smaller, and the new uMB fit the bill. Its fabulous to carry around school, and *gasp* fits on the desks at my lecture hall and on the airplane with ease.

    I love the portability of it, and its great for barcamps, coding events, and meetings with clients. The MBP always felt a bit too large for me. Besides, all my coder friends have MBs, and now I can join them!
     
  22. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #22
    whatever you decide, get as much as RAM as you can fit in there (8 GB?)
     
  23. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #23
    Get the Macbook. You're just going to be using compilers anyway, and the difference between the MB/MBP will barely be noticeable.
     
  24. TRAG macrumors 6502

    TRAG

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    Jan 6, 2009
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    Louisiana, USA
    #24
    I say get the 2.4 MacBook and a nice display. It is the best thing to do for portability, performance and screen real estate. It's what I have.
     
  25. EX1127 macrumors 6502

    EX1127

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    Louisiana
    #25
    I carry my MBP with me everywhere on campus/ just about everywhere i go for me its not to much. Especially when i see other people lugging around huge window computers :D.
     

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