Macbook Pro for university studies

GeorgeGee

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 2, 2014
3
0
My situation:
I'm a Computer Science student and I'm looking to get a Macbook Pro.
I am unsure whether to get the 13" Retina or the 15" Retina.

What I'll be using it for (in order of how demanding I expect them to be):
  • running virtual machine(s) (only one at a time)
  • running IDEs, text editors, compilers
  • making notes in lectures
It's worth noting that I'll be using a virtual machine and IDEs/compilers at the same time.

My problem:
  • I'm unsure whether I will really make use of a quad core (15"), but I'm unsure whether a dual core (13") will really cut it.
  • I'm unsure if 8GB of RAM will be enough for when I'm running a Virtual Machine (with IDEs/compilers at the same time).
  • I want it to last for my entire studies and a bit after that, so I want it to be future-proof.

:)
 

awests

macrumors regular
Jul 24, 2014
171
10
Bay Area, CA
My situation:
I'm a Computer Science student and I'm looking to get a Macbook Pro.
I am unsure whether to get the 13" Retina or the 15" Retina.

What I'll be using it for (in order of how demanding I expect them to be):
  • running virtual machine(s) (only one at a time)
  • running IDEs, text editors, compilers
  • making notes in lectures
It's worth noting that I'll be using a virtual machine and IDEs/compilers at the same time.

My problem:
  • I'm unsure whether I will really make use of a quad core (15"), but I'm unsure whether a dual core (13") will really cut it.
  • I'm unsure if 8GB of RAM will be enough for when I'm running a Virtual Machine (with IDEs/compilers at the same time).
  • I want it to last for my entire studies and a bit after that, so I want it to be future-proof.

:)
I can't speak on the VM requirements, but I also have a 15" MBP (early 2011) and it just is too big for large study hall desks. So much that its too big to take notes on during lectures.
 

GeorgeGee

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 2, 2014
3
0
I can't speak on the VM requirements, but I also have a 15" MBP (early 2011) and it just is too big for large study hall desks. So much that its too big to take notes on during lectures.
I have friends with the 15" (2013) and they get along just fine at my university, so that's not a factor I'm considering, thanks though :)
 

MuGeN PoWeR

macrumors 68030
Jun 29, 2011
2,665
655
i am also in the same situation as yours. also a CS student and also looking to buy a MBP. just confused whether to buy a 13.3 retina or a little used/refurbished 15.4 i think 15.4 is too big.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,984
5,492
The 13" with 8GB will be absolutely sufficient for your described needs. However, the 15" is likely to be faster and smoother.
 

brroy

macrumors newbie
Oct 3, 2014
6
0
I went to University for 4 years with my mid 2009 2.8ghz (core 2 duo) Macbook Pro 15". It was no problem to lug around, a pleasure compared to any PC laptops of the time...although I would invest in a hefty case! It was in fact too big for many lecture hall flip tables, and using it on my lap was impossible without torching my scrotum (anyone who knows about the processors in these will relate, I burned myself many times).


I would highly highly recommend a 13" for your studies. I recently upgraded to a 13 2.6ghz 8gb 128gb base model retina. It really doesn't feel any less usable. And the 15 isn't much better for photo editing or video editing, it's just too small. The battery life in the 13" retina is what made my decision easy. Then HDMI into my 40inch TV, or 22inch external for work.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,653
6,846
My suggestion:

Get the 13" model and use the $$$ you save (vis-a-vis the 15") to buy an external display instead. You can get very usable 27" IPS displays starting in the low $200 range (they will be 1920x1080, but still clear and clean).

Having that second display will prove much more useful that having 2" extra on the Macbook.

Insofar as CPU power is concerned, there doesn't seem to be much difference between the 2.6ghz rMBP and the 2.8ghz rMBP -- more "money" than "power".

The 256gb drive may be worth paying extra for, but the upcharge for the 512gb flash seems excessive (at least to me).

I'll -guess- that 8gb of RAM will do. Perhaps others will comment more on that.
 

556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
1,928
1,669
The 15" quad core will compile things faster and the bigger screen will be nice to have when programming, reading multiple documents, etc.

The 13" will compile things just fine though, and will be easier to lug around and fit on university desks. I do a lot of compiling on a dual core Sandy Bridge i7 and it is plenty fast. The newer CPUs in the Retina are even better. That said, the dual core models will always be behind the quads in this area so you may want to consider the 15".
 

GeorgeGee

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 2, 2014
3
0
My suggestion:

Get the 13" model and use the $$$ you save (vis-a-vis the 15") to buy an external display instead. You can get very usable 27" IPS displays starting in the low $200 range (they will be 1920x1080, but still clear and clean).

Having that second display will prove much more useful that having 2" extra on the Macbook.

Insofar as CPU power is concerned, there doesn't seem to be much difference between the 2.6ghz rMBP and the 2.8ghz rMBP -- more "money" than "power".

The 256gb drive may be worth paying extra for, but the upcharge for the 512gb flash seems excessive (at least to me).

I'll -guess- that 8gb of RAM will do. Perhaps others will comment more on that.
The difference is rather large - it's dual core in 13" vs. quad core in 15". :/

----------

I went to University for 4 years with my mid 2009 2.8ghz (core 2 duo) Macbook Pro 15". It was no problem to lug around, a pleasure compared to any PC laptops of the time...although I would invest in a hefty case! It was in fact too big for many lecture hall flip tables, and using it on my lap was impossible without torching my scrotum (anyone who knows about the processors in these will relate, I burned myself many times).


I would highly highly recommend a 13" for your studies. I recently upgraded to a 13 2.6ghz 8gb 128gb base model retina. It really doesn't feel any less usable. And the 15 isn't much better for photo editing or video editing, it's just too small. The battery life in the 13" retina is what made my decision easy. Then HDMI into my 40inch TV, or 22inch external for work.
The difference in battery life is very little, and I can't imagine that the few extra cm makes that much of a difference in terms of space consumption:

13"
  • Up to 9 hours wireless web
  • Height: 1.8 cm (0.71 inches)
  • Width: 31.4 cm (12.35 inches)
  • Depth: 21.9 cm (8.62 inches)
  • Weight: 1.57 kg (3.46 pounds)

15"
  • Up to 8 hours wireless web
  • Height: 1.8 cm (0.71 inches)
  • Width: 35.89 cm (14.13 inches)
  • Depth: 24.71 cm (9.73 inches)
  • Weight: 2.02 kg (4.46 pounds)
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
231
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
The difference is rather large - it's dual core in 13" vs. quad core in 15". :/

----------



The difference in battery life is very little, and I can't imagine that the few extra cm makes that much of a difference in terms of space consumption:

13"
  • Up to 9 hours wireless web
  • Height: 1.8 cm (0.71 inches)
  • Width: 31.4 cm (12.35 inches)
  • Depth: 21.9 cm (8.62 inches)
  • Weight: 1.57 kg (3.46 pounds)

15"
  • Up to 8 hours wireless web
  • Height: 1.8 cm (0.71 inches)
  • Width: 35.89 cm (14.13 inches)
  • Depth: 24.71 cm (9.73 inches)
  • Weight: 2.02 kg (4.46 pounds)
Go for the 15", because the 13" is crippled by its lack of a quad core processor for running VMs.

I use a 15" rMBP myself for classroom usage as well and don't find it too big.
 

paolo-

macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2008
831
1
I'm not a CS major but I don't believe the compile times for most of your projects will be too long even on a 13" MBP. Of course 4 cores is nice but it might not do a whole lot for you. I think it only comes down to display size. I love my 15" rMBP because of the amount of stuff that can fit on the screen. With the resolution set to mimic 1920x1200 you can get a lot of stuff on there. One of my gripe when writing code is to be stuck scrolling all of the place so this is nice. Also since the screen is wide enough you can easily fit 2 windows side by side and for most code 3 windows of code might fit. Which is handy if you're working on several files at once or if you need to look up reference material or type out an assignment at the same time. 15" is fine for most classrooms, those that have dinky little movable side tablets don't work much better with 13" or 15". While I'm at it I'll state that their a horrible invention especially when writing mid-terms as a left handed person. :mad:

Mind you, the 13" will absolutely get the job done. As others have mentioned if money is tight, I'd get the 13" and put some money towards a nice home setup with a large screen to plug into, mouse and keyboard and some decent speakers.

Also, I find future proofing a bit of a silly concept. I believe your better off getting a good deal now (even considering used computers) and updating sooner than overpaying now and trying to live out a clunk o' junk in a few year.
 
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