Need some help making a Macbook Purchase decision

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by cabomhn, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. cabomhn macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2010
    Ok, so to start off, I'm a kid, so I cannot afford a $2000 laptop. I was accepted into Governer's honor school and my parents told me that they would be willing to dish out $500 towards a laptop for me, and if I wanted something more expensive I could pay the rest. Here is my criteria...

    - I'm going to school for an engineering degree, and I need a laptop that will be able to run engineering based programs throughout college

    - It's does need to be able to last most of the way through college.

    - I use photoshop a lot, needs to be able to run that no problem.

    - Can fit into a backpack

    So from that, I was looking at the Macbook pro 13"; my question for you is whether or not I need to buy the upgraded 13" to run the programs that I will need to use. Or if maybe you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them. Thanks!

  2. CJS7070 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 10, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Nah, get the base MBP 13" and maybe upgrade the RAM/HDD yourself.
  3. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    Are those engineering programs available for Mac OS X?

    Photoshop is available for Windows, so maybe a Windows laptop might be a better investment.
  4. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    Actually, you will be running most programs not on your laptop but through your labs. This is largely because of
    1) License of the programs won't allow you to put it on a personal computer
    2) the Lab computers will smoke any system you have so you would want to use them regardless

    Personally, I would SAVE your money and get the MB as it has the same performance specs really. It sounds like money may be an issue so why spend over 200 more?

    FWIW, when I did engineering as an undergrad, I used an emac for my first 3 years and a mb for my last 2 and that suited me more than adequately
  5. cabomhn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2010
    Well, I do use the GIMP a good portion as well, so that would be adequate as well with their Mac Version.

    And as far as the software, well now that I think about it, the laptop is more going to be used for heavy research; I will have to invest in a desktop for the more heavy duty programs.
  6. Perrumpo macrumors 68000


    Jul 12, 2008
    Yeah, if you need to run programs like MatLab or SolidWorks, etc, they aren't made for Mac, unfortunately. :(
  7. psingh01 macrumors 65816

    Apr 19, 2004
    I don't know what type of engineering degree you're going for, but I studied computer engineering 10-15yrs ago.

    The only special software we used was PSpice (for circuit design) and Matlab. I took an AutoCAD class which naturally required AutoCAD but they had this in the computer lab.

    Everything else was just MS Office for reports/presentations, nothing fancy. Of all my programming classes they never cared what software we used so long as the code worked. We would hand in the source files. Usually when we needed to design something on a specific type of system (like say Unix or Solaris) they would give us access school resources.

    Imo you can get a MacBook and be fine for the next 4 years of engineering classes. Things are even easier now considering you can run windows natively if necessary, that wasn't possible before with the PPC systems. The only reason I ever got the PowerBook and now MacBook Pro was cause I wanted the better video card to play games or do graphics programming (which was my interest and not required for classes).
  8. kny3twalker macrumors 65816


    Oct 25, 2009
    If you are set on getting a mac consider the $799 microcenter MacBook and maybe the $999 MacBook pro for it's more robust design. If neither are an option, just be patient or consider a thinkpad or latitude with the core i processors.
    I would not worry about whether software is available for osx as you can install windows using bootcamp and dual boot.
    If you will have to take many programming classes; get a mac cause Linux sucks by comparison.
  9. calvingsc macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2010
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    I think you're better off buying a brand new i5/i7 PC laptop that is out there now.

    I am in my final semester of my mechanical engineering degree in MTU, and all the engineering software such as 3D modelling (UGNX), FMEA (ALGOR) and other statistics and simulation software works on windows only.

    Right now, I run my engineering apps via Windows 7 on bootcamp. I use my OSX for digital photography editing (photoshop, bridge, etc).

    Since you're on a budget, you're better off spending $$ on a laptop that will give you the best performance for your main applications that you'll be using.

    I think it's pretty ridiculous to use a MBP while you're running Windows (bootcamp) all the time. That way, you don't need a Mac.

    Dell/HP and Lenovo offers a variety of i5/i7 laptops that are around the $1000 range.

    My advice is if you want to spend money wisely since you're in college, you don't need the MBP.
  10. mofunk macrumors 68020


    Aug 26, 2009
    I wouldn't get a Macbook only because you don't have enough ports and not as durable. Plus you are using this for high school and college, right? I would go with a refurbish Macbook Pro. You will save $100 more off the education discount for current models and 40% or more for previous models.

    Ask your family for money towards your purchase vs upcoming birthday/holiday gifts. Or B. Work in your neighborhood to earn money. I have a couple kids in my neighborhood who come by helping people clear out their lawns.

    If you need it sooner, ask your parents if they could sign up for the no pay for x-month plan and then you pay off on it.
  11. vant macrumors 65816

    Jul 1, 2009
    Uh, I'm sure you won't miss the SD card slot that the MB lacks over the MBP.

    Thats about $200 in savings right there.

    I'd get a regular MB if I were you.
  12. LucidPsychosis macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2010
    Knoxville, TN
    Congrats on getting into Governor's School. Incidentally, I got into Governor's School for this Summer too. My parents are also helping me pay for a new laptop, and I'm waiting on the 2010 MBP refresh. I'd suggest you do the same.
  13. Ninakix macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2010
    It really depends... A lot of the programs will be done on lab computers, but I know at least at my school they offer students copies of CAD to run on their computers. While you can still use the school's computers to do the work, it's nice to have it on your laptop. And CAD is sort of a beast. Though my friend tells me he's been able to run it on his tiny netbook...
    Also, a lot of those programs require Windows, so you may need to get a copy of windows and run parallels or whatever.
  14. cabomhn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2010
    Thanks for so many of the helpful responses everyone! As far as money, If I save now, I make about $200 a week at my work, but half has to go towards savings, so it is still possible to get the MBP.

    Ok, so I'm kind of new to the whole Mac computer scene couple questions....

    I know that you can make a windows partition, but do you have to buy a special Mac version of windows? Or will a normal windows work?

    Another question, so the engineering based programs like CAD, will they have to be a Mac based software to run on the windows partition? Or can they be the normal windows software to run on the partition?

    I'm sorry if I'm asking somewhat dumb questions, I'm still new to the idea of a mac. :)

    Ok, I know this is a Mac Forum, but if you had my conditions, and the two prices were both reasonable, which would be better, the low end 13" macbook pro, or this Sony Vaio?

  15. calvingsc macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2010
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    The Sony Vaio specs looks great. I'd get that anytime over the MBP. However I do feel 13incher is a bit small for doing CAD. I'd get at least 14"-15"+ screen.

    To answer your question about Windows on a Mac. You will use an ordinary Windows installation disc (XP/Vista/7) 32/64 bit. You will use a Mac app called Bootcamp to do the installation.

    In that Windows partition, you run the partition just like any ordinary Windows computer. There is no need for Mac version of the engineering software.
  16. BigTroll macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2010
    you could get a used macbook on ebay for under 500, even the original macbook pros are sometimes below and only a bit above 500.
  17. cabomhn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2010
    Yah, I am leaning toward the sony now, it has the 16" screen and great specs, I'll decide soon enough. Thanks for the help!
  18. p1ngputts macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2010
    My buddy was in Aerospace Engineering at PSU and used a Dell. I think any computer will suit your needs.

    edit: he turned down a job from NASA this summer
  19. calvingsc macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2010
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  20. kny3twalker macrumors 65816


    Oct 25, 2009
  21. calvingsc macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2010
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    It's not the best built laptop in the market, but it does have a good spec sheet.
  22. pengytek macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2010
    That software that you will end up using in college depends on which engineering discipline you're going for. Generally most of your software will run in windows only. If you get a mac basically you'd use mac for everyday use but when you need to run an engineering program you'd load up windows. Personally I wouldn't recommend getting a mac in your case unless you're familiar with it and prefer it over windows. It's not like it can't or shouldn't be done, just a matter of personal preference. A lot of college campuses are now trying to advocate tablet pcs but I don't really see it going anywhere.

    While most college campuses have computer labs that have all the software loaded on it, some places require you to purchase a software package or have an optional software package you can get. This is nice convenience because you can do your work anywhere instead of being limited to a few rooms on campus.

    One other thing, take a look at the extended warranty and see how much it costs and if it's within your budget. In-home service is great when you're in college and you have important projects with deadlines you have to work on. Of course if you end up buying a mac and there's an Apple store around that's great too. Nothing is worse than having your computer die on you in the middle of a project and your warranty has run out or if you have to mail your laptop for service and wait a week for it to come back.
  23. kny3twalker macrumors 65816


    Oct 25, 2009
    Well I would think anyone looking at macs is either married to osx cause of the software they use or when looking for a new computer looks at the big picture which includes build quality and not just specs. I suppose there are also those that just want to be trendy or are computer illiterate as well, but I doubt they visit here much.
  24. JacaByte macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2009
    Not true; Autodesk will let you register a student account at their website under the school you're going to and let you download their software for free and allow you to use student licenses for 365 days. These licenses are also easy to renew, by the way.

    Also not true. Don't make the mistake of thinking all schools have the budget to ditch their hardware and buy brand spanking new stuff with Core i7s every year; my school only has machines with Dual Xeons in them, which were top of the line 2 years ago. Today a laptop with a Core i7 could easily match or surpass that.

    I think this is the route the OP should take, given that Photoshop and GIMP will run better on a MBP under OS X than in Windows 7. (I think this is the case, I haven't had experience with this)
  25. cabomhn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2010
    Ok, here is my last question...

    This computer...


    Or a regular macbook for around the same price?


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