MBA for Undergrad?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by pvbwerjr, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. pvbwerjr macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2010
    Basically, I do not own a computer to myself, and have been wanting a nice laptop to take to college for the next 4 years. I do not do any photo/video editing and plan to major in the sciences (physics). For MS Office 2011 and the occasional presentation, basically standard uni work, would the MBA be sufficient? If not, I have the option of tagging a 27" iMac for the dorm as home base in addition. What would be the best combo if MBA is not enough standalone? And no, I do not have strength issues, but I really like the form of the MBA and the fast SSD, HD screen, and battery.
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    I'd get a MBP. Physics can get demanding, and frankly the Air is for people who just want to log in to facebook in an airport.

    ~former Physics student
  3. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    MBA 2.13/4GB/256

    It's light. It's bright. And despite what you just read, it will do heavy lifting.
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    If you knew anything about computing requirements in Physics, especially in the upper levels, you wouldn't make this statement. I wouldn't think about anything less than an i5 if it has to last for 4 years anyways.
  5. hachre macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2007
    It will be enough :)

    If you need to run Windows side by side with Mac OS later on (maybe some Windows only Physics programs) you should get 4GB of RAM though!
  6. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level

    You have labs for the heavy lifting dealing with software that you can't get personal licenses for on your own machine.

    Speaking as a former mech engr student who managed on an emac, a mba will be fine

    I do wonder if you think those that bought a mbp earlier this year with a core2duo now need to suddenly return them for an i5 model lol
  7. wentwj macrumors regular

    Sep 6, 2006
    Because no one was able to do physics before the advent of the i5.
  8. cherry su macrumors 65816

    cherry su

    Feb 28, 2008
    This should be fine. I'm a compsci major at MIT and still rocking on my 15" first gen MacBook Pro. Then again I have access to a server farm with 12-core i7s each with 48GB RAM. :)
  9. C64 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2008
    You are so full of it :')

    OP, the Air will be more than sufficient for your usage. Just make sure to go for 4GB though; 2GB might not be enough in a year or two from now.
  10. jb1280 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2009
    For an undergraduate student who anticipates holding onto a machine for the duration of his/her bachelor's degree, I would have to say the Macbook Pro. 4-5 years is a long time to be holding onto a machine that has zero possibility of being upgraded.
  11. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Completely irrelevant. Nice one.

    Depends on what kind of work you're doing. Mechanical Engineering tends to be much more workstation-based than Physics, just due to the nature of the discipline.

    Interesting statement, given that your experience with Physics is likely limited to entering in answers to MasteringPhysics for a 101 class.
  12. tigres macrumors 68040


    Aug 31, 2007
    Land of the Free-Waiting for Term Limits
    I think the Air is good for Overgrads and Undergrads:D
  13. C64 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2008
    Please inform us which kind of CPU intensive software OP will be using that can only run on an mobile or desktop i5/i7 processor? And if this software needs so much power in 2010, imagine what it'll need in 4 years! Won't a MBP be just as outdated and underpowered at that point? And will all his fellow students also be required to buy the latest hardware?
  14. citron230 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 17, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    I am in my last year of undergrad at UC San Diego and I purchased a 13" MBA 128GB last night to replace my 13" MBP 2.53GHz. I plan using this MBA for law school next year as well.
  15. kuwisdelu macrumors 65816

    Jan 13, 2008
    When I was a physics student, my heaviest work I did consisted of SSH-ing into the schools Linux clusters and running simulations remotely. This is what the graduate students and post-docs with whom I was working also did. Most of the other science departments operated the same way. The MBA and OS X would be perfect for that.

    I'm sure other students probably did more locally intensive work, but I never did. Certainly not for classes. At worst, you may have to run some code that will take a bit longer to execute for you.

    I'd make sure to go for a bigger SSD than the base 64 GB, though, in case you need to run Windows, install a bunch of big apps you need for class, etc.
  16. sbehr macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2008
    Agreed. No need at all to buy the heavy machinery yourself when you can SSH (or even just traipse over to a lab for a nice walk and change of scenery :)). I say go for the Air. I would even recommend getting the 11.6" one with 128GB SSD/4GB RAM/1.6 GHz C2D. I checked it out for a good while at an Apple store today, and the experience was excellent (the one I tried had less RAM and the slower C2D processor, too).
  17. ItsJustafnPhone macrumors 6502a

    Jul 26, 2010
    honestly I would get a MBP

    For undergrad you want one laptop/desktop to last you the entire time

    The MBA is nice but the MBP is built like a tank comparatively

    add to that more ports, more expandability, etc etc

    Before you start school go up to your parents and simply say this

    " I need a computer that will last me the entire 4 years, and give me no problems so that I can study and not worry about my computer

    what you want to do is buy the MBP with the fastest proccessor available and enough ram so you dont have to upgrade.

    That should allow it to last 4 years without it feeling slow

    I had my desktop at school for 5 years, well worth the initial investment ( built it myself with the fastest parts available at the time)
  18. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008
    ItsJustafnPhone gives very good advice here!

    JMO: Get the MBA only if you're jonesing to score points with the coeds. Opssss.......... forgot you were a physics major. No need to worry about the coeds. ;). Sorry, that comes from personal experience in these classes.

    cheers for whatever you get
  19. bouncer1 macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2010
    haha, lol, very well put.

    Get the air undergrad you won't regret it. Your back will thank you and I won't tell you what else will thank you from the pull power of these new airs...:D
  20. andyd409 macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2010
    Lots of ideas here.

    Several say "Get the MBA"

    Some say "Get the most features on an MBP " to last 4 or 5 years.

    I wonder about a laptop in daily use, carried around in a backpack lasting 4 or 5 years.

    So why not get an MBA for about $1400 (edu discount with Applecare) instead of a MBP for about $2800 (edu discount Applecare).

    Then in 2 years replace the $1400 MBA with another $1400 computer which may be as powerful as the $2800 MBP.

    You've spent the same $2800 but you have the latest technology every 2 years.

    Just MHO, YMMV

  21. bouncer1 macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2010
    The macbook air might end up being even pricier than the pro if you add to that the cost of the condoms. :D
  22. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    I like andyd409's suggestion.

    4 years is a long time with computers, and two cheaper machines will leave you on a faster platform for the last part of your degree than buying the 'mother of all machines' now.

    I'd also worry about the reliability of a laptop that gets carried 'round every day - and I'd be paranoid about security. Carrying my only platform 'round all day? Rather you than me.

    I'd have a think about some alternate options. iPad + iMac might be a good move - especially with a bluetooth keyboard the iPad is fantastic for data entry on the go (and that 10 hour battery is amazing). It's a hardy machine, and small/light enough not to cramp your style (I know you say you don't have strength issues, but carrying a MBP everywhere will get old pretty soon).

    With your main computer back in your room (the iMac) it would be a lot more likely to last the 4 years. A big screen is nice for watching movies etc. too.
  23. bouncer1 macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2010
    Come on miles you were pwned, admit it, and take it in stride.
  24. jeznav macrumors 6502

    Aug 10, 2007
    Theres better physics using OpenCL. ;)
  25. ItsJustafnPhone macrumors 6502a

    Jul 26, 2010

    but both machines are going to be subpar

    I would rather have a machine that is fast for two years, and then just normal for the next two years

    add to that the extra ports, larger monitor, stronger build quality, easier expandability, proven track record ( we don't have any idea if the MBA has any kind of hardware problems, too soon right now) only having to buy insurance for one machine, etc etc

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