MacBook Pro for University (Physics)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by operte, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. operte macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2009

    I'll enter in University in September and I'll be taking a degree on Physics for the next couple of years. I already visited the faculty for a few days last year and I was glad to know that a large percentage of the students use Apple! :D
    I always wanted to switch and this is the perfect opportunity ;)

    I was thinking of buying a 13'' MacBook Pro but I have some doubts about the specs :\

    Is the 2.53Ghz version worth the extra money? Will the extra speed make a noticeable difference when working? One of the advantages of it is that both the disk and the memory are larger but if I bought the 2.26Ghz version I could buy more ram and more disk space from the store or even from third parties, which would be cheaper.

    What do you guys think?

    Thank you ;)
  2. JavaWizKid macrumors 6502a

    Sep 18, 2008
    Have you used a mac before? You said it is the perfect time to "switch". Maybe not if you aren't used to the OS and you will need to be doing work on it. You will pick it up quickly though :)
  3. tempusfugit macrumors 65816

    May 21, 2009
    I went all out and I don't really regret it.

    Was it absolutely necessary? probably not.

    do I care? no.

    are the improved specs nice for peace of mind? yes.

    will the computer run everything you need for a physics degree regardless of which you get? probably yes.

    We all know RAM and HD can be a cheaper upgrade if done by self, but the processor speed will obviously never be upgraded.....

    take into account also that with student discount you get $100 off the 2.53 and $50 off the 2.26.

    good luck on the decision. I love my 13"
  4. hilmarfk macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2009

    It took me 1 week to get used to OS X. And after that 1 week I realized that the money I spent on my Mac was possibly one of the wisest investments I've ever made !
  5. Branskins macrumors 65816

    Dec 8, 2008
    The 2.26 is 100 bucks off. I love my 13" too! Just bought it yesterday and it is amazing!
  6. operte thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2009
    Thank you for your answers.
    I'm not really worried about adapting to the new OS because I've used it several times and I really liked it.

    Between the 2.26 and the 2.53 the diference, with the student discount, is 235€. If I were to upgrade a 2.26's memory and disk I would save 100€ top. Maybe the diference is too little not to buy the 2.53 but another thing that I was thinking is if it would be best to have a faster processor (2.53) or a slower one (2.26) but upgrade to a disk with 7200rpm. What do you think?

    Also, do you recommend that I wait for the Snow Leopard to come out or should I take advantage of the iPod promotion?
  7. RainCityMacFan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 10, 2007
    Take advantage of the iPod promotion. An iPod touch is around $200 while Snow Leopard will be $30 (actually, $10 if you buy before September).

    From what I noticed, the difference isn't much but like other users have said, it's good for the peace of mind :)
  8. Hal1980 macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2009
    I don't think there is a lot of difference for your purposes between the 2.26 and the 2.53. Between those two, I would save the money. The only concern I would have is whether to spring for the 2.66 or higher.

    Some of the programs will work better in Windows (there is no VBA in excel right now, so some excel stuff you will need to do either in Bootcamp/VM or on another compute), and for intense monte carlo simulations, the extra processing and GPU will help both in Snow Leopard and in Bootcamp/VM. Also, the 2.8 has more L2 cache, which is also helpful for some of those types of programs.

    You will probably be more than fine with the 2.26, and could just do the more sophisticated excel and matlab stuff on another computer in school. But if you absolutely want the ability to do it on your own computer, you might consider upgrading to the 15" 2.66 or higher.

    Hope this helps and didn't further complicate your choices. You'll be happy regardless.
  9. operte thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2009
    Thank you, Hal :) Your response was really helpfull.

    I think I'll go with the 2.26Ghz because I have a more powerful machine at home where I can run the heaviest applications and simulations ;)

    Now I've got to decide if I should buy the 2.26Ghz with 4GB of ram and a bigger disk or if I should buy the basic 2.236Ghz version and buy memory and disk from third parties. I think I'll buy from third party because it will be cheaper and that way I can buy a disk with higher rotations. What do you think?
  10. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar

    My school focuses on windows programming since its the majority not to mention they program in direct X but ... I bought a mac anyway cause I absolutely love it. I can always run windows in a virtual machine or dual boot when the need arises.
  11. lixuelai macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2008
    Just do it yourself. It is always fun to crack something open ;)
  12. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    If your curriculum is a "standard" physics program, you're not going to need a computer for anything other than occasional Mathematica/MATLAB things, LaTeX, and maybe some programs via virtualization (PSPICE?). The vast majority of your work will be worked out most easily on a chalkboard or on a piece of paper.
  13. hiimcorbinlol macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2009
    im a biology major and i went all out and purchased the 17 inch for school.

    but i also dont own a desktop at home. :|

    Edit: did i mention i spend money very stupidly?
  14. LAS.mac macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2009
    If you add memory and upgrade the HD by yourself, you'll save for sure a couple of hundred bucks.
  15. jmnikricket macrumors member

    Jun 6, 2008
    There definitely is VBA support in the mac version of excel and I have used it extensively with no problems. Both matlab and excel will run slower than their windows counterparts on computers with similar specs. For undergrad programming though, the difference for most programs you write (if any) will be whether you get your answer in 2 seconds or 2.5 seconds. Any extensive simulations you run (I'm talking complex FEA sims which may take days of processing) you will want to have crunched by your campus cluster.

    Matlab also has a habit of running out of ram because its poorly optimized for os x, so imo, go with the slower processor and use the difference in cost on ram. The slowdown won't be noticeable unless you're comparing side-by-side, and you'll want to have 5 or 6 applications open at a time open while "doing" your homework and don't want to worry about out of memory errors.

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