Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by moochorBB, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. moochorBB macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2009
    I'm a graduate student in physics and am wondering if I should go with a MBP or a MB. I will be doing a fair amount of computational work, mathematica, matlab, origin, labview and what have you. just looking for some suggestions.
  2. Pika macrumors 68000


    Oct 5, 2008
  3. mankar4 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 23, 2007
    definitely mbp, i was a bioengineering student and a mb would never have run my simulation programs or matlab or solidworks or the like.
  4. jw2002 macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2008
    Since you probably care about processor power more than screen size, I would go with a MacBook. The Pro's don't really give all that much bump in performance. Why pay an extra $900 to go from a 2.4 GHz Macbook to a 2.53 GHz MacBook Pro? I don't see anything in the architecture of the MacBook Pro to suggest that it will solve linear systems or perform signal processing significantly faster than a MacBook. Matlab scripts really won't finish significantly faster on a MacBook Pro than on a MacBook. I would weigh the question of which Mac to get between one of the MacBooks and something like the 3.2 GHz 8-core Mac Pro monster depending on how you weigh the portability of a laptop against the raw power of the desktop machine.
  5. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Unless you're doing 3D rendering or gaming, you won't miss the Pro. The only place where it has a real performance boost is the graphics card. That's not going to help it crank numbers, so the MB will perform just as well - for less money and more portability.
  6. NC MacGuy macrumors 603

    NC MacGuy

    Feb 9, 2005
    The good side of the grass.
    They should both handle the tasks described equally. A 2.4 MB vs. a 2.4 MBP are identical processor-wise, bus speed, memory, etc. which is what your main needs would be. Graphics gets a bit different but don't think anything you described is graphics intensive. You probably need to evaluate what more you're looking for such as size and screen which are pretty much the only differences now beyond mentioned graphics.

    This had to be the plastic MB's. The new aluminum models are very capable.
  7. ethernet76 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2003
    The MB screen is too small to get real work done.

    The programs you listed function better on large screens.
  8. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    As a grad student doing lots of high powered computation myself, I'd say MBP definitely. Of course, the most intensive tasks will be submitted to the cluster anyway. MBP is excellent, though.
  9. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    I have to agree with the other party that said the CPU power in the MB 2.4 is the same as the low end MBP at 2.4 GHz and that is what is important for you. At the same time, I think it comes down to preference. The MBP has a 15.4" widescreen and is difficult to use easily in an airplane seat but easy to use at a desk or table in the library. However, the MB weighs less and is much better for portability.

    One more consideration. If you want ultimate portability, buy a MBA 2.0. The high-end MBA is a 1.86 GHz. Although the CPU is a little slower than the MB, it has double the L2 cache. The MBA 2.0 is a very capable Mac. It is the ultimate in portability and is the coolest Mac ever in my opinion.

    And, I guess on the other end of the spectrum is the 17" MBP. Not great for portability, but the display is amazing and the battery life lasts up to eight hours, according to Apple.

    Finally, with the smaller displays you can buy an external display and they become instant desktops. All of the new MB, MBA, and MBPs have mini display ports and can drive a 30" external display.

    All comes down to desired portability in my mind. All of them are capable Macs for your needs. Best wishes with your new Mac.
  10. moochorBB thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2009
    Thanks for all your replys...Im not too worried about portability and i would like the larger screen, though the 17" would be too large in my opinion. I am beginning to work on modeling some dynamical solid state systems and have looked into using openCL and with the additional graphics card it would be extremely useful...and before you say that i should be going with that 8 core Mac pro, because trust me i would love to, i need the portability of a laptop.
  11. mox123 macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2007
    i'm a physics PhD, and I have the Penryn classic MBP. I went from a powerbook G4 to a macbook earlier, hoping to save a few bucks. Eventually I had to switch back to the 15" form factor cuz the 13" screen was just too small to use. Granted the hardware of macbook was more than enough to run mathematica and CS4, the smaller screen was a pain to use especially when I needed to write papers using LaTeX and such; i always wanted to have the codes and output files on side-by-side, etc....it was also a pain in the butt when the screen size wasn't big enough for long codes to be displayed as single lines and instead must be wrapped around multiple lines...
  12. SecondDealer macrumors regular

    Feb 1, 2009
    MBP all the way, I thought about this same decision constantly before I bought my computer. Just think about the amount of time you will send staring at your computer screen, you don't want to regret not upgrading every time you hit the power button. :apple:
  13. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    Sounds like you have chosen the MBP. Consider the 2.4 GHz low end and upgrade the RAM yourself. Also, for $300 less than new, you can buy a refurbished from Apple.com. It has same one year warranty. Most of the people who buy them say they come like new only in brown box instead of fancy one. Congrats on your new Mac whichever way you go.
  14. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    The processor is the most important part, although I guess you can program to take advantage of graphics processors.

    I agree with both. I'm just finishing my physics Ph.D. and I had to do some programming for Monte Carlo simulations to be done on a cluster. I did it on my MacBook, but honestly, I always worked better with my laptop connected to my 20" Dell 1680x1050 screen. Exposé is nice, but it's not as convenient. All my work was sent to a linux cluster with around 60 CPU cores.

    In fact, perhaps you should consider the 17" MBP if you can afford it. Physically, it's not much larger than the 15", believe it or not. The 17" is obviously 2" larger (diagonally) than the 15", but the 17" MBP has a thinner black bezel around the edge of the screen, so the difference in size isn't as great as you'd expect.

    Scroll down a bit and click on "Gallery".

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