MacBook Pro for a Computer Science student

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dvir971, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. dvir971 macrumors regular

    dvir971

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Location:
    Israel
    #1
    Hello,
    I’m starting university in a few months and I plan on buying a new laptop. I wanted to purchase a MacBook Pro for years and I think of doing it now, but I’m not sure how it works out with the university courses.
    I’m doing a combined degree of something with CS, my background is more from the other subject and CS is pretty new to me so sorry if it’s a little stupid but I need to ask-
    Many people complain about the closed Apple ecosystem and all that, I know most coders like using Windows, Linux, etc. and I know I’m taking a risk receiving a biased answer here - but will having a MacBook limit me in the Computer Science courses for some reason and I better buy another PC for now, or it’s completly fine and I won’t feel any downside?

    Thanks
     
  2. leman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #2
    MacOS is a Unix-certified system and is compatible with any open-source developer tools you might use in your studies. It’s based in large in open-source software and much of its operating system code is open source as well. It supports advanced automation tools and is suitable for all kind of development tasks - from web (for which it’s one of most popular platforms) to nicge speciazed tasks.

    If you want to become a skilled, flexible programmer, it’s either Mac or Linux. Windows I can’t recommend unless you want to focus specifically on Windows.

    P.S. people who complain about closed Apple ecosystem have no clue what they are talking about. Being standard Unix, macOS is much more open to software than Windows for example.
     
  3. dvir971 thread starter macrumors regular

    dvir971

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Location:
    Israel
    #3
    Thanks for they reply!
    One more question if I may add- the Touchbar gimmick itself aside, does it worth putting the extra dollars to buy the TouchBar version, performance wise?
     
  4. icymountain macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    #4
    I have been doing research in CS for close to 20 years now (time flies...), and been using Macs for 14 years now.
    First, as said above Macos is a Unix OS, so most of what you would do under Linux, you do it almost the same on Macos.
    Second, if you like to have a development environment that you fully control (like I do), VMs are very useful. In practice, most of my programming is done under Linux VMs for the sake of convenience.

    I have not been using Windows for a very long time, so I can definitely not compare. All I will say is that in the CS conferences I attend, half of people use a Mac, and the almost all the other half a PC running Linux. Very, very few use Windows.
     
  5. exogeneity macrumors member

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    Mar 3, 2018
  6. James3000 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2015
    #6
    I recently finished my CS degree and bought a MacBook Pro for the final year. My one regret about it is I never bought one at the start of the degree.

    It won’t limit you at all and in the absolute worst case scenario you can always install Windows on it anyway, so it’s really giving you all the options.
     
  7. leman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #7
    I’d wait until June - new Mac laptops will most likely be released before or during the WWDC. If you need to buy now, any MBP will do the trick. The 15” is substantially faster, but it probably won’t really matter for your purpose...
     
  8. smallcoffee macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2014
    Location:
    North America
    #8
    Software Engineer here. Most people who write code prefer Mac and Linux. Most new open source projects that come out are Linux first, and by extension Mac slightly later.

    Having a Windows computer would actually be far more limiting than having a Mac would. Linux Systems are nice if you want to save some money, but you’ll typically have to tinker with them.

    Get a Mac
    --- Post Merged, Apr 22, 2018 ---
    IIRC the touchbar version has a spec bump right? It may be worth it for that. Compare the two. The touchbar is a gimmick I guess, Touch ID is very nice.
     
  9. alecgold macrumors 65816

    alecgold

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2007
    Location:
    NLD
    #9
    +1, spot on IMHO.
    And if you need to run windows there is always boot camp or virtualization for testing etc it’s easier as you can clone a clean install and throw it away after tinkering and testing.
    I’ve got the 15” 2017 model and it’s significant faster in some respects as the non-touch bar. Then again, it’s much pricier as well, so if you can get away with it it saves serious money.
     
  10. smallcoffee macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2014
    Location:
    North America
    #10
    Yea - I would also just guess that if you're a college student you probably will be ok with the non-touchbar version to get you through school for 4 years.
     
  11. psingh01 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #11
    Having a Mac will not hinder you in anyway and frankly I think it is the better option for a student just for battery life alone! You shouldn’t have any reason to need windows specific software. This was even true 20 years ago when I was a student and had far fewer options.

    Where I work people have the option for a windows laptop or a MacBookPro for development. MBPs have become a very popular option since being introduced. If it’s good enough for a professional environment then it’s more than fine for school.

    The few occasions where I do need to use windows, I have VMware fusion for that. There are also free alternatives for that like virtualbox.

    Unless you also want to play games on your laptop....a Mac won’t limit you.
     
  12. jerryk, Apr 22, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018

    jerryk macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2011
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #12
    You will be fine with a MacBook Pro. They are standard issues at most companies here in the Silicon Valley.

    Just remember to get used to using shell scripts and command line utilities.

    And if you do end up on Windows be sure to install the Linux subsystem for Windows. That will get Ubuntu with a good shell and command line utilities.
     
  13. macjunk(ie) macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    #13
    I am back to school this year after a long hiatus.
    My take: it does not matter. This is true especially if you do not have an OS preference.
    Neither Windows is limiting nor Mac. A bunch of Computer Science Ph.D students I know use Windows.

    This works because most of your development could be done in VMs.
    So don't think either of the OSs' as limiting.

    There is a lot of hate on Windows (I hate it too) but the fact of the matter is many billion dollar corporations use Windows to develop software that runs on Unix servers.

    Now if you are talking about Linux as your sole OS, then I think you might hit upon non-dev related 'limitations'. Again these can be overcome by using a VM but in certain cases it can be more of an irritant cause most mainstream software is not available on Linux. For e.g., Tableau is not but this can be overcome by running a VM in Linux. But my university has got this weird app to connect to the uni's wifi and that app is only available on Windows and Mac.

    You could also spend a few hours to familiarize yourself with Vagrant to manage VMs via a command line interface.

    The advantage right now if you choose Windows is better hardware.
    Almost all my classmates having the Touchbar model have been without their laptops for a week or two to get their keyboards serviced and I am not exaggerating! So if you have to (I mean absolutely have to) have a Mac, wait till June and see if Apple does something about their crummy keyboards.

    A personal take: last month, my 2015 MBP's SSD conked out. I had to leave it at the Apple Store for freaking 3 weeks to get it repaired. And the worst part..it was 1 week out of AppleCare so it cost me $$$ to get it repaired as well. Since I could not be without my laptop for 3 weeks, I spent 750US on a Thinkpad T470 with warranty till 2020. Loaded Manjaro Linux on it and runs like a charm. The best part of course is that if anything like the SSD or RAM breaks down, it will not take 3 weeks to repair it. This will not be my main laptop though cause most of my software is on Mac OSX only.
     
  14. smallcoffee macrumors 65816

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    #14
    "The advantage right now if you choose Windows is better hardware."

    Cheaper hardware maybe. Better is certainly up for debate.

    I largely agree with your other points that neither Windows or macOS is likely to be limiting in the program - but if you want to do more development and play with new open-source software the day it comes out or a few weeks after it comes out, you're better off with macOS or Linux. Windows is definitely limiting in that respect.
     
  15. macjunk(ie) macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    #15
    The new open source argument is neutralized if you are open to working in VMs. This has been the case for most of my corporate, and now academic, career.

    I will argue better hardware exists in the Windows ecosystem where my definition of better hardware is not how it looks but rather how purposeful and resourceful it is.
    Apple’s laptops today look the best of the lot but suffers from low repair ability and a handicapped keyboard in the form of low travel and touch bar ( strictly my opinion and from the point of view of a programmer married to application shortcuts)

    The disadvantage is that the windows ecosystem is crowded and it can be difficult choosing the right machine. I have largely narrowed down my choices to Thinkpads and Dell Precisions.
     
  16. jeremiah256 macrumors 65816

    jeremiah256

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Location:
    Southern California
    #16
    Apple had revenues of a little less than $88.3B, first quarter 2018. Of that, a little less than $6.9B, or 7.8% came from Macs. I doubt the Mac Mini is 5% of the Mac portion of revenues.

    They may not kill it, but it'll only get updated when it has no negative impact to the bottom line. If Apple can update the CPU, add 8GBs RAM, and a 128GB SSD and keep the price the same, they'll do it, otherwise, they may only do the minimum to keep the product alive.
     
  17. smallcoffee macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2014
    Location:
    North America
    #17
    Yeah but then you have to work with virtual machines and that’s largely a pain no matter how easy the tooling is. If I’m a time-crunched student I want everything to just work. We use Vagrant and Virtual Box and they work fine but I never use on my personal machine.
     
  18. macjunk(ie) macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    #18
    All the more reason to use a VM actually. For e.g., we were working with a fault injection tool that required different C compilers and the sort. Some folks did that on OSX directly and messed up other apps completely. They spent quite some time getting things back to normal. The others in the class simply worked on a VM that completely isolated OSX/Windows from breaking changes.

    That is an advantage of using a VM. It completely isolates your dev environment. The disadvantage of course is that it is resource intensive. After all, you are running a full blown OS in there. This can be mitigated to a certain extent if you are using a quad core with plenty of RAM.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 23, 2018 ---
    By the way, I would only recommend a Windows system (and installing Linux on it) if and only if you do not need/want OSX and apps running on OSX. I want specific apps on OSX; so I would not use a Linux machine as my primary OS.
     
  19. smallcoffee macrumors 65816

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    Oct 15, 2014
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    North America
    #19
    Yes I understand the pros and cons. I use them for work. But for a college student I don’t think they’re necessary.
     
  20. 960design macrumors 68030

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    Apr 17, 2012
    Location:
    Destin, FL
    #20
    I use a MacBookPro15 for the largest majority of my development work.
     

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