MBP For Computer Science

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by boredterry, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. boredterry macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2010
    Hi all,

    I have a series of questions for y'all to answer -- hope you don't mind.

    1) Given that I will be majoring in Computer Science, which model of the 15" MBP do you think will be best? (Besides coursework, I will most likely not be playing graphics-heavy games.)

    2) There are currently three options for a screen: Glossy, HiRes Glossy and HiRes AntiGlare - which would you recommend and why?

    3) For those courses that may require the use of Windows, which method do you think would be best to get Windows on a Mac -- Boot Camp, Parallels or VMWare? (And I guess additionally, what are the pros and cons of each?)

    4) What additional software and/or utilities would you recommend besides iWork/MS Office?

    5) AppleCare: Good investment? How about additional outside accidental insurance, like SquareTrade or SafeWare?

    EDIT: 6) How easy is a HD swap if I do it myself?

    Thanks for all your help! This will be my first Mac, so I'm... well, really looking forward to reading all your responses and finally getting my hands on one! :) (And of course, if you think I shouldn't get a MBP, I'd love to hear your replies as well. Everything helps at this point!)
  2. Sankersizzle macrumors 6502a


    Jun 5, 2010
    1) hey bud. i'm a third year computing science major and i just got my first mac (last month) as well! i went with the 17" i5 and i like it a lot. from what i've seen in my computing studies so far is that the 2.4GHz i5 will be cool if you're not going to be doing any heavy duty stuff. the most computer intensive things i've done mostly involve moving huge files about and renderings stuff, but that's few and far between. i don't know if you should consider the i7, it's not that much of a step up from the 2.53 GHz i5, and since you won't be using graphically intensive programs a lot the extra VRAM would probably not come into play. knowing computing academics, i would save the money and put it towards a faster hard drive.

    2) i can honestly say once you look at the glossy vs hi res glossy, you will not be able to look at the stock panel the same way ever again. the hi res is just better looking, and you can squeeze more programs into the screen space, which is a big deal in university level computing (as i found out with my old 1440x900 laptop. a big part of the reason i went for a 17" was the extra stuff i could cram into the screen). as for the anti glare, that's up to you really. people who like graphic design on photoshopping like it, and it helps a lot when you're outside which comes into play when you wanna sit under a tree and compute on campus. i just turn up my brightness and my problems go away, but to each is own. i suggest you check out the differences in an apple store before you buy. but again, go for the hi res, you'll probably regret it if you don't when you see one that IS hi res.

    3. i boot camp, and i've never ran into any problems. never tried the others!

    4. STEAM!

    5. to me it was a no brainer, i came here after i got the apple care and read stories about how a 3 year old macbook would fall off a table and apple would replace it under apple care. i normally don't consider extended warranties, but i got it in this instance because of the extra peace of mind it provides. do note that sometimes computers that are out of warranty without apple care get fixed for free by apple anyways.... (my girlfriend took her two year old macbook pro which has been beat up pretty bad in for a faulty fan and they fixed it for free, no apple care.

    6. welcome to the club.
  3. exoram macrumors newbie

    May 9, 2008
    I guess its fitting that i am answering this as i just graduated with a major in computer science and used Apple all 4 years.

    1) Okay even though i bought a macbook pro right after i graduated and am LOVING IT. i would highly recommend the AIR. I say this because you are going to need to bring your laptop to libraries your TA's Offices other students apartments/dorms, starbucks/coffee shops. It will become an extension of you and as nice as it is to have power, your going to very quickly want convenience and functionality. Something easy to bring with you!

    But that being said if your still set on a macbook pro i would recommend the i5 and 4gigs of ram.

    2) This is an easy one, if your going with the mbp then definitely get the no glare. Looking at code with a glare will give you a headache. I am partial to the high res.

    3) I have used 2 of 3. I had a java course in which the professor loved to use jBuilder as the IDE. vmware actually worked like a charm in the macbook air. It was nice b/c i could switch back in to mac whenever i needed to.
    Bootcamp is also nice, but you have restart your computer to switch in and out of. Also your going to notice some odd mouse scrolling issues in Bootcamp. Its possible these have since been fixed with a driver update, but i just remember being really annoying with scrolling.

    4)quicksilver - its a must have. Vmware/parallels i actually hear parallels is better but i have never used it. and last but not least i would say iStat.

    5) Applecare is all you need.

    6) I have always thought the same thing but doing it with an SSD. Alot of the threads make it sound okay to do. Not too easy but not that bad either.

    Goodluck with your Mac!
  4. Cool Runnings macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2010
    That statement is so false. AC is a warranty not an accidental cover/insurance. Apple is very picky with computers that have a dent etc and often denies repair even if the problem don´t have anything to do with the dent. Any accident voids warranty...
  5. toffa813 macrumors regular

    May 10, 2007
    In terms of screen, I was trying to watch a movie on my standard res glossy in the car today on the way to orientation and with the sun coming in the window and I will say that it sucked. I kinda wish I got the antiglare because I don't think that this will work well outside, except on a cloudy day. But overall I still love it and I do prefer the black frame around the screen to the silver.

    And I highly recommend BetterTouchTool. It allows you to create custom trackpad gestures and it wins. Period.
  6. bigjobby macrumors 65816

    Apr 7, 2010
    London, UK
    1. Base 2.4GHz should do the job.

    2. DEFINITELY(!), go for antiglare for reasons already mentioned. I would recommend the hi-res display, but otherwise you can use 'spaces' to increase your 'virtual' real estate.

    3. Any of VM apps will do but you might want to bootcamp later if there are any apps that doesn't like running under VM. Have some cash reserves for future RAM upgrade should you need it.

    4. DO NOT get Mac Office 2008! Office 2011 is coming out and is looking alot better and robust. If coursework requests .doc format, sometimes Open Office saved .doc's do not look exactly like Word .doc when saved. So its always wise to check your output on Word before handing in the final copy. Can't speak for iWork but checking your output (if you're not creating from MS Office) should be best practice.

    5. Applecare is a good idea (but you have 1 year to get it after date of the purchase) for piece of mind. No use thinking in hindsight if things go wrong 2-3 years down the road.

    Use your Apple Higher Education discount.
    Enquire at your college/uni if they have a academic volume licence for Windows so you can get the OS for free. Don't think they'll have a volume licence for Office but there's no harm in asking.
    Cash reserve for Applecare and any RAM or HD upgrades.
  7. whalebiologist macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2010
    3rd year CS major here as well.

    1) Get the i5 if you can't afford the i7, otherwise get the i7. For CS, you will not need the best processor, you might be shaving a few microseconds off of compile times.

    2) Hires antiglare. Hires because you can NEVER have enough screen space when coding. Get the antiglare because staring at black text on a white screen for hours on end really ****s your eyes on a glossy screen (my first macbook was glossy). Get a mini displayport to DVI adapter and get a 22+ inch monitor as well. It will seriously be one of the best investments you will make doing CS.

    3) Boot camp definately. If you ever have to write a program that uses a mouse, Parallels and VMWare will fail horribly. I'm looking at you, OpenGL.

    4) Get used to Xcode.

    5) Very good investment. I doubt you will need extra insurance.

    6) Easy as pie.
  8. The ArchAngel macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2008
    Just finished my master's in infosec, so not wholly CS, but at least a partial mix of CS, ECE, and business/policy. You can't go wrong with a MBP for college. I would get a 15" MBP w/ the high-res antiglare option and an external display any day before recommending a 17" machine. You'll be hauling that damn thing at all hours of the night in your bag, scrunching between people in lecture halls, and sitting on the floor against a wall with the thing, do yourself a favor and don't get the 17" option. If you get a nice external display (like the 24" ACD on my desk at the moment), you can have the extra room when you get back to your dorm to work.

    Oh, and regarding virtualization, I'm personally a VMWare Fusion fan. Not that I have an issue with boot camp, as it seems to certainly be the way to go if you want to do any serious gaming, but if you get yourself 8GB of RAM, it's so easy to just roll VMs for Windows/Linux usage. I did pretty much every day for grad school and I was just fine.
  9. ooo macrumors 6502

    Nov 23, 2007
    CS Graduate.

    1) The base 15" should be fine. I've seen people go by with a 13". I myself used an iMac 2.0ghz and a MBA first gen.

    2) Definitely the high res. The extra screen resolution is great. Your choice between the antiglare or the glossy. Antiglare would probably really benefit me right now as I'm sitting behind a window, but I just love the quality of the glossy.

    3) You'll definitely need windows or linux depending on what classes you take. I say go with VMWARE / Parallels. With 4gbs of ram it should be fine. 8GB would be ideal though.

    4) Huge list. TextMate (IDE for development), Transmit (FTP Client, there are free alternatives), Alfred of QuickSilver (launcher), Cloud App (quick file / screen sharing), DropBox (syncing files / backup)... many more

    5) AppleCare is a definite yes.

    6) Very easy to replace a hard drive. Unscrew the screws on the back and then the hard drive is exposed.
  10. JacaByte macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2009
    1. Base 2.4 GHz i5 should be plenty

    2. To me it doesn't matter, I chose the glossy because A) it's cheaper and B) it has a high color gamut.

    3. Boot camp; the i5 processor can handle running Windows in a VM, but it's slow, saps battery life like the dickens, and is not as good an experience overall as running Windows under boot camp. Besides, it doesn't take that long to switch between them, just over a minute with the stock 320 GB Hitachi on my MBP.

    4. Dropbox, BetterTouchTool, (you'll never be able to go back to a regular trackpad) Typinator, gfxCardStatus, smcFanControl, Bean, Chrome and X-Chat Aqua.

    5. I did not invest in AppleCare. I may be an idiot, but we'll see.

    6. The HD is very easy to swap out. I recommend buying your own OEM drive from an outlet such as Newegg.com and replacing the drive yourself to save money instead of upgrading the hard drive when you buy it, BTO.
  11. cryer macrumors regular

    May 3, 2010
    So coding on a glossy screen for hours was no problem for you?
  12. Gok macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2010
    I posted that post before I saw this topic. I read whole thread but I still have some questions on my mind. Someone, answer my questions too please. :)

    Take Care.
  13. brianfast macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2010
  14. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    That statement is false. The coating on glossy screens make colors pop more and appear to have more contrast, but that has absolutely ZERO to do with color gamut, which is based on the capabilities of the actual display panel. As such, the actual color gamut between the hi-res glossy and the hi-res matte display (which likely use identical display panels, save for the screen coating) would be technically identical.

    To the OP: this decision should be based on preference. There are good reasons to opt for the hi-res display option, as it gives me more desktop real estate to work with - there's no arguing that point. But between the matte and glossy options, it's best to go to an Apple Store (if there's one in your area) and compare the two. I personally prefer matte screens, but everyone is different.
  15. Animalk macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2007
    Montreal Canada
    I did my entire CS degree in the bottom line MBP on my signature. Never had a single issue except sometimes the glossy screen would reflect the lights on the ceiling too much.

    The 15" is the perfect size and I would recommend you take the high resolution option if you have the budget for it.

    The low end processor is more than capable of handling everything you will throw at it during your program. My MBP has been subject to numerous sessions of full throttle computing (in terms of processor usage and memory usage) that lasted several days without rest. Zero problems and it is the best computer I've ever owned.

    Me and my MBP have been through so much together that I've grown very attached to it and though it's starting to feel long in the tooth compared to my other machines, I would never even entertain the thought of upgrading to a newer model while its still working and doing everything I need it to in good time. It's still quite fast compared to alot of new computers out there now.

    3.5 years on and I am loving using it everyday. It's on 24/7 and is my main computer even though have much higher performance machines.

    Go for it and don't look back. I wish you many years of happy computing and good luck on your CS degree!

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