Make the Apple Switch?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by wingad, Mar 22, 2008.

  1. wingad macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2008
    MN / WI area
    I am making yet another 'should I buy the macbook pro' thread (sorry...):

    I am starting as a graduate student in a Ph.D. program for Electrical Engineering this fall. I currently own a Gateway laptop that was a high school graduation gift but was actually purchased in December 2004. So it was 6 months old when I got it and knowing my parents it was a closeout model to begin with. Needless to say, I am definitely purchasing a new computer before September. I have been convicting a macbook pro ever since the switch from powerpc cpu's.

    What I am not:
    * A computer gamer (I play minesweeper and checkers not half life and dragon lord games)
    * A graphic designer or movie producer
    * A business traveler
    * A rich white kid
    * An ipod owner
    * A prior Mac owner (I've used OS10 some, but never owned a machine that ran it)

    What I am:
    * A poor white kid (as such I don't get minority based financial assistance when going to school, or any aid really)
    * A student
    * A knowledgeable computer user
    * A WinXP and Linux user

    ok, so what I need is a computer that will be able to handle simulations and to do programming on. I am going to be doing classroom work initially, but graduate school is about research. It seems that most people in research and electrical engineering keep a macbook pro. Linux machines are also popular.

    I have for a while just assumed that I was going to get a 15" macbook pro, but I am beginning to question that. A couple concerns:

    1) The price. I've read about Thinkpad being an acceptable alternative. Remember I dont care about OS10, I've never used it, so the software doesn't justify the price. How 'bout iLife? doesn't interest me, or at least I have no reason to be interested in it yet.

    2) Do I even need a laptop? I've always just assumed laptop, is a desktop really a better computer?

    Reasons I do want it:

    * It has the power to get the job done
    * Everyone else has it. Not to fit in, but if everyone has one, there must be a good reason right?
    * Performance, battery life, solid build, compact and light, the little features (back lit keyboard, etc...)
    * It is pretty

    I am looking for some comments on my need for this computer. All of the threads that I read are about graphic artists and related professionals / students or video gamers. I am a natural sciences student with only a passive interest in those things, so is the macbook pro still for me?

    Also with these purchases is the never ending and perpetually annoying 'buy it now or wait' questions. I think there is no question that I will be waiting until either the next revision or August comes and it is time for school to start. I am wondering why though, that people don't seem to stress that the new chipset is going to include support for DDR3? My current laptop uses DDR RAM and it is quite a limitation as everywhere it is DDR2 that is being sold. I cannot upgrade my memory unless I want to add 512MB for over 100$ . I would hate to buy DDR2 right when that was to be obsolete and get stuck in the same situation again. Is DDR3 not that great of an addition or why is it that almost no one sites this as a selling point for the Montevina. Also most critics point to the fact that Montevina will only offer minor performance increases, totally neglecting any increased hardware support except maybe WiMax.
  2. e12a macrumors 68000


    Oct 28, 2006
    I would say a Thinkpad is better for your needs. Getting a Macbook Pro just because of iLife (even if it was good), which seems like it could be a determining factor for you is not a good reason in my opinion. I'm not sure of the latest models, but old Thinkpads had a little LED light built into the top of the LCD display and illuminated the keyboard that way. ;)
  3. wingad thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2008
    MN / WI area
    Mac Software

    No, I was saying that I am not attached to the software. From what I have read, people seem to justify the purchase because of the superior software, and I was telling how this wouldn't apply to me as the software that I'll be using is not published by Apple and I am not interested in the stuff that is published by them.
  4. asmallchild macrumors regular

    Nov 25, 2007
    Asking on behalf of the OP, how good is the MBP at being "future proof"?

    One of the reasons why I eschewed the MBA is because it's currently Apple's slowest laptop and would be unlikely to make it through 4 years of graduate school education. (At least not without significant compromises)

    The OP has mentioned he's owned his last system for quite a while and can't afford to be swapping computers left and right so "future proofing" (if there's such a thing) could really play a role in the purchase decision.

    Would a MBP be fairly "future proof" over the course of his graduate education considering the OP's needs? (He's already mentioned he's not a gamer or a big graphics designer)

    If not, I would say a desktop might fit the bill better if the OP isn't planning on being too mobile. I purchased a desktop for medical school myself (nearly done now) and if it weren't for upcoming interviews/away electives, I would still be happily typing on it.

    (I went for a MBP. I detailed my reasons above for not wanting a MBA. The regular MB was tossed out of consideration for cosmetic reasons. I highly disliked the black MB's ability to pick up greases and the potential for white MB's to become discolored with time)
  5. PDE macrumors 68020

    Nov 16, 2005
    If you don't care about the software or OS, then you should definitely choose the thinkpad. Unless you're attached to the MacOs and mac hardware, there's no reason to pay more.

    For me, the OS is what makes my computer work fun and hassle-free, so the choice is obvious. Thinkpads are nice though and built like tanks/
  6. e12a macrumors 68000


    Oct 28, 2006
    if software is not a benefit to you then a Thinkpad should work fine. You can get around a same spec-ed thinkpad for a lot less than a macbook pro.
  7. deadpixels macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2006
    Just because it'll take you far away from the Darkside ... the Mac should be your choice ;):D
  8. MacHipster macrumors 6502

    Sep 11, 2007
    It seems you don't need the portablitiy and it seems you don't really need a Mac in general. Just get a Windows machine. If you have little interest in OS X and are a "poor white kid", then stick with what you know and what you need.
  9. pionata macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2005
    Macs are much more reliable and they dont get viruses or that crap. The integrated softwares are neat & you can also boot windows on them. And if you can cash out the money, the MBP is the best laptop you can get. I wouldn't hesitate 1 sec!
  10. mstens macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2008
    For that matter, he's already using linux. It's got much of the same spyware/virus advantage and stability advantages. RHEL runs just fine and dandy on a thinkpad.
  11. wingad thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2008
    MN / WI area
    As mstens has said, macs aren't malware proof, they are only protected against those written to infect windows machines. In this capacity, linux accomplishes the same gain.

    As for the integrated softwares, from what I have seen they don't interest me that much.

    The bootcamp is what has made really want a macbook. I am also a user of VMware which VMware Fusion seems to be well integrated. I also hear good things about parallels.

    As for the last point about the mbp being the best laptop, that is what I am trying to determine. Is it really the best?
  12. NIPRING macrumors 6502

    Jan 19, 2008
    Waukesha WI
    Thinkpad for school...Macbook Pro for graduation:D
  13. switcher3365 macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2008
    I am black, and I finished my undergrad almost two years ago from an in-state university with $23,000 in student loans and only got $500 for being black, so we're not all floating around campuses for free. :) (A few people would say things like that when I was in school).

    If I were going back to school today and needed a new computer, I would not be typing this on a new Penryn MPB. I would be on a $600 Gateway or maybe a more powerful computer that was $1200 as opposed to $1799 (education discount) with the same processor as the current Mac. I wouldn't want to do the student loan and credit card thing again like I did with my undergrad. I've always had to go with the "el cheapo" computer options until now, because I am able to save money to buy things now. But then again, I was a music major, so I didn't really need a nasty computer like a computer science major would need.

    If you have a similar viewpoint and are willing to wait a little longer for a Mac, I would go for the cheaper option.
  14. heatmiser macrumors 68020

    Dec 6, 2007
    Not to pile on, but almost no one gets "minority based financial assistance" in college; what most people (white or black) get are financial aid packages, which are a result of your filing the FAFSA and CSS reports each spring and hoping the math works out in your favor after rushing your parents to file their tax returns each year. It's got nothing to do with your ethnic background, and everything to do with how much money the government thinks your family has. Thinking this way (minorities gettin' all the money!) does a disservice to the millions of poor kids (non-white and white alike) working their tails off in college every bit as hard as you did.

    Now that's out of the way, I'd get the Thinkpad unless you have an explicit desire (it's never a need) to run OS X. In grad school, you're not going to do any heavy lifting on your laptop (much like undergrad), so it really comes down to how much money you've got to spend and how badly you want a particular machine.
  15. wingad thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2008
    MN / WI area
    I disagree, but first I will clarify what my statement was meant to mean. I mean to say that I will be fronting the entire cost of my education so that cost is a crucial factor in the decision of a computer to purchase. The statement was made in contrast to the statement about not being 'a rich white kid' which in my experience has been the majority of Mac owners.

    Not every minority gets financial assistance, but a large portion of financial assistance does go to minorities, however. Also, there are minorities that are not black. Financial assistance in the form of scholarships almost always has some stipulation about preference going to minority students with some being exclusive. This is not a bad thing, just a limiting factor for some without any minority status. I personally know some minority students (they happen to be Latino) that do get scholarships based on their ethnicity yet are far better off than me. They had even attended prep schools.

    As for the last point about heavy lifting. This is precisely my concern. I will be running simulations and doing computational research. Simulations involved monitoring numerous physical quantities and their interactions that can be processor and memory intensive.

    Also, could anyone address the importance of the upgrade to DDR3 RAM? Is this going to be truly irrelevant and a santa rosa chipset will do just fine?
  16. itsallinurhead macrumors 6502


    Apr 23, 2007
    Southern California
    Maybe you should be smart enough for merit-based financial aid? :rolleyes: Or blame something else on a minority!
  17. heatmiser macrumors 68020

    Dec 6, 2007
    The majority of *government*-funded financial assistance is need-based, and not race-based. The FAFSA (which is used by private and public colleges to determine federal funding) cares about your tax returns, not about your melanin count. If you can prove otherwise, please do so.

    Of course! I never said there weren't.

    Once again, this is false. If you can prove otherwise, please do so. If you can't, it would be great if you didn't repeat it as if it were a given truth.

    It also isn't true, which makes it a limiting factor for people looking for scapegoats.

    Such scholarships, however, are not the primary source of financial assistance for the majority of students, white or not. Once again, most people who get aid of any kind from the federal government get it by filling out the FAFSA and mailing in their parent's tax returns. This has nothing to do with race. Private scholarships from corporations and private citizens are another matter; there, one can find scholarships for almost anything. But federal financial assistance is based on income, and not on ethnicity.

    If this is your concern, get a desktop. Heavy lifting isn't something to be done on a laptop; it's something students will use computer labs or desktops for.
  18. mstens macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Well, regarding the DDR3 potential. I'm not convinced it's a huge player... yet. Even the Thinkpad will be running DDR2 right now anyway (exact same spec'd sodimms too, which.. well they (lenovo)want the same price as apple does :eek: ) Anyway, a T61p widescreen, spec'd as close as I can figure to a 2.4 base MBP.. on sale right now, runs $1,400.50. About $400 less than you can pick up a MBP with the student discount (if I recall correctly). Good luck with your decision :)
  19. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    You should get a PC, there is no reason for you to have a mac, installing linux, to run linux and paying extra for softwear just seems dumb. Better yet, get a toughbook
  20. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Thinkpads are durable, can take falls, etc.

    MBPs, not really. They are fragile and easily damaged.

    It's more of a take care of your computer and the MBP will be a good purchase. If you're not a careful person, go for the Thinkpad. However I have seen the new T61s and the left side of the screen bezel is wider than the right?
  21. ogacon macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2008
    Minnesota - Twin Cities
    my suggestion... because it seems as you are defending against EVERY person telling you NOT to get a Mac, get a Mac. You clearly WANT one, you just want people here to tell you its a good choice, you want that reassurance its a good choice. I'll tell you.. it IS a good choice if you want to pay a few more dollars for a much better running ( and prettier) computer.

  22. wingad thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2008
    MN / WI area
    Thank you for the off topic banter which I will continue to address despite my acknowledgment only prolonging it further:

    Actually I am smart enough (3.9 GPA, physics/mathematics double major finishing both together in only 3 years). I am in fact the Outstanding Senior Award winner from my college (given to one student graduating that year from the entire college). From this I have received no funds however. I have received other merit based scholarships but they cannot dent the cost of tuition let alone housing and related expenses. I pay for everything myself (I also work 4 jobs on campus totaling over 20 hours a week while being a full time student). Further, I never blamed anything on any minorities. If you could point to were I did, I'll be glad to clarify any miscommunication. I have, however, never resented any minority and only stated that options like those available to some minority students, were not going to be available to me simply to make the point that price would be an important factor. You may actually be surprised to know that I am quite socialist in ideology, though that will probably get me in more trouble in this hostile environment. Oh, and I have voluntarily taken 5 separate courses on minority and foreign culture (not talking about language classes either).

    These are loans, money you have to pay back, so I am more concerned about paying my school bills with this money than accruing other expenses. And you are correct, this is government funds where I was speaking of scholarships.

    I can prove it. I work for the mathematics department and am in charge of receiving scholarship application. I have seen our criteria for being awarded the scholarships. Also try registering for any of the online scholarship search engines. They will probe you for any hint of minority status, from race to sex to sexual orientation, because that is where the available funds are at. Further, I have yet to see you offer any proof of your claims that my statements are false. Just because you are the first to play the "that is false" card does not make you correct.

    Not the primary source of income for the majority? I will agree. In fact I have never disagreed nor stated anything to the opposition. That is why I don't understand why you prefaced that statement with 'however' as if to draw a contradiction to something that I said, but in actuality did not say. My point was, however, that those scholarships could supplement the purchase of a new computer.

    Again, I wasn't talking about federal assistance. I never once brought it up. It is a red herring that you brought up to make points on an issue I was never commenting on. As you did state, the private scholarships that I was talking about can be for anything, many addressing a minority status being favored. I further never said this was a negative. All I was saying by what was a one line comment is that I cannot expect to have very much disposable income that may be the result of being the beneficiary of some scholarship.

    One final comment on all of this: This entire discussion is almost entirely irrelevant to the purpose of this thread. I am disappointed that it has been made such a big deal. All I wanted was to demonstrate that I will not suddenly have any extra money that could be used to better finance an expensive purchase. I do have enough money to buy a MBP, but in doing so I will significantly decrease my savings account, so I want to make it the right decision if I do.

    Thank you. This is the kind of perspective that I was looking for. As I stated in my initial concerns, I had originally taken for granted that I would be getting a MBP, but I have come to question that because a desktop may be better suited. I will still be a student and space and portability are both still commodities, thus I am seeking some guidance on what the best solution is for a compromise between price, functionality, and usability.
  23. wingad thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2008
    MN / WI area
    Say what? I have never defended anything except for when people do suggest that I get a mac because of the superior software. To those people I have said that the software is not important to me. So this is in fact a complete contradiction to what you were saying. And there is the whole hating minorities that I have had to defend as being not true.

    I am personally leaning towards the thinkpad.

    yeah, I don't know at all where you got that.
  24. ogacon macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2008
    Minnesota - Twin Cities
    I guess I'm dumb sorry... if software is not a problem, then listen to EVERYONE UP THERE WHOS BEEN SAYING "Get thinkpad then, if software is not a problem" You can obviously live with windows still... only God knows how. But, if it makes you happy, thats good :)

    Mac for software
    ThinkPad for Windows and a few saved bucks
  25. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    To the original poster, Im in a similar situation as you and heres what I did:

    I am going to school for computer science with a focus in math and programming (exciting huh! :p ) I too had no need for fancy graphics and things (even though I enjoy photoshop in my space time)

    The reason I got a mac was because:

    1. OSX does not have the countless problems vista has (file transfer speeds, constant freeze ups, memory detection, etc). I cant have those type of errors for the work I do.

    2. Macs come with everything I need pre-installed or at least available on disk. (an IDE for example). Windows comes with lots of junk you don't need (free trial of AOL!). I dont want to sound like Im bashing windows but that junk is unnecessary.

    3. I needed a computer that can properly detect the amount of ram it has for the simulations I will be running. (Vista can only detect 3 - 3.5gb, with service pack 1 it will "see" more ram but it cannot utilize it unless you go with a 64 bit vista).

    4. OSX just integrates everything so well and from what I used of it its virtually hassle free and I am a lot more productive on them then I am a windows machine. I will still run windows XP Pro on my mac when I get it since a few programs I need are windows only and I do windows programming but everything else will be used in my mac :)

    I hope this helps, those are the reasons that made me take the plunge.

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