New school laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by GuntherS, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. GuntherS macrumors member

    Sep 6, 2007
    Hello everyone,

    I'm looking for a new laptop for school. I'm studying computer-science in Belgium and the laptop-offers this years are the following:

    HP 8510p: 15.4" (1680x1050), 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 8x DVD+/-RW Drive, ATI HD2600, 160GB 7200RPM, 3 years next-business-day warranty, Vista Ultimate.

    Apple MacBook: 13.3" (1280x800), 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, Combo Drive, Intel GMA X3100 (144MB), 120GB 5400RPM, 3 years AppleCare, Leopard

    Now, the HP costs €810 and the MacBook costs €1050. The HP is a lot cheaper than the MacBook and it's more powerfull, but on the other hand, I really love OS X and Apple in general.
    The laptop will be used in school everyday for programming (Java, C#, VB.Net, SQL), internetbrowsing, creating/viewing presentations & documents and working in virtual machines for Linux & SQL Server. For some software I'll need Windows like Visual Studio 2008, CaseTalk,...

    I know the most people would recommend the MacBook because it's an Apple related forum, but I hope some people can help me out with some advice. Will the MacBook be capable for all these things or should I stick with the HP?

  2. techlover828 macrumors 68020


    Jun 28, 2007
    well one thing is that the macbook's going to be a lot more portable. Also, it will run windows just as well as the hp, the only advantage to the hp is the dedicated video card, but it doesn't seem like your going to be doing any editing, just coding. You'll be good with either, but the macbooks going to treat you a lot better and you'll always be able to go back to os x.
  3. pjrobertson macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2007
    Performance-wise, you'll get just as much out of the MB as the HP.
    (Under the hood the MB is probably better; more L2 cache, faster clock speed, faster RAM sclock speed etc.)

    If you're going to be programming, then I expect most programmes you'll be using will be Windows only. You can use Bootcamp to boot into Windows and use them, but that's not as easy.

    Remember than Mac OS X is Unix so you'll probably be able to do the SQL stuff from within terminal.

    It's a tough decision. Remember you can get a student discount (I'm not sure if you've already taken that into account) and you'll probably be able to get a free iPod Touch if you wait for the 'back to school' deal to come to Europe.
  4. techlover828 macrumors 68020


    Jun 28, 2007
    Oh ya I forgot about that, if you sell the ipod touch that's going to knock off another ~$220 or whatever that is in €s
  5. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    I do a lot of coding and I use mac. My computer is in my signature but here is my setup (as I use visual studio 2008 as well):

    My mac partition I have netbeans as my IDE but I prefer using VMWare Fusion to create a virtual xp machine and run my Visual Studio. With Mac, you can utilize "Spaces" and have one space for your windows virtual machine, and one for your mac. When your back in your dorm room you can have an external monitor in extended desktop mode and have one desktop windows, one mac.

    I do game programming so all of my graphics applications are on mac and with vmware everything integrates really well. I can literally just drag my mouse into the virtual machines window and do what I want in there. Its a great system.

    Kind of wordy but I hope this helps.
  6. amusiccale macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2007
    Size is probably your biggest consideration. I don't know how the laptops compare in weight--the macbook always seems a little heavier than it looks--but a little bit of size makes a different carrying it (in favor of the macbook) or when you're looking at the screen (in favor of the HP). If you play games, the intel GMA is going to hold you back as well. If you want to resist the temptation to play games, that may be a positive :)
  7. GuntherS thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 6, 2007
    Wow, thank you all for the quick replies. :)

    @ techlover828: Sometimes I'll also be using Photoshop but I don't use it that often so the MacBook should be capable for that.

    @ pjrobertson: Yep, but maybe I'll use VMware Fusion so I don't need to reboot all the time. I don't know if we can also get the free iPod Touch because it's the school that buys all the laptops. I'll contact the school about that!

    @ chrono1081: I'll also use NetBeans and Eclipse (both available for Mac) and like you said, I can use Visual Studio 2008 in VMware Fusion.

    A disadvantage of this MacBook is the Combo Drive.. I guess I should use a portable external harddrive and burn my DVD's with my iMac at home.
    For programming it's also nice to have a lot of screen estate and that's a positive aspect for the HP.. It's still difficult..

    @ amusiccale: The laptop will not be used for gaming. When I want games, I'll buy a PS3 or something ;)
  8. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    It seems that if you're going to be programming for Windows you should really just buy a Windows laptop, especially when a more powerful one will cost you less than a MacBook. It really makes no sense to go down the convoluted route of trying to get things working in a VM when you could just run them natively on a much cheaper piece of hardware.
  9. GuntherS thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 6, 2007
    Thanks for your opinion. That's what I thought in the first place, but when I think about it, when I use BootCamp for my Windows apps, I also run them natively.

    I have another question: Can you install 4GB of memory in this MacBook? Will OS X recognize it and use the full 4GB? I know Windows needs the 64-bit version but I don't know how Leopard handles this.

    Again, thanks to all :)
  10. techlover828 macrumors 68020


    Jun 28, 2007
    yes, both this laptop and os x can handle 4gb no problem.

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