Potential switcher - I'd appreciate advice

coalquay404

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 3, 2005
6
0
Hi all. I'm thinking about switching to a Mac but I've got a couple of questions I'd like to clear up before taking the plunge.

I'm starting a PhD in Cambridge next year and have decided to ditch my desktop and get a notebook. At the moment I have a really decent P4 desktop that mostly runs Linux (for work) but also some Windows. Apart from email, internet browsing, iTunes, and typing documents in LaTeX my main requirements from a computer are that it be able to run Matlab 7 and Mathematica 5.x.

Since I'm going to the UK I don't want to bring my desktop with me. I'm interested in getting a 14" iBook or a 15" PowerBook but I'm a bit nervous about the following things:

1) The iBook seems a good bet but the 1024x768 resolution would *really* piss me off. Am I right in thinking that the video card in the new iBook will only run at 1024x768 even if plugged in to an external screen?

2) The 15" PowerBook looks really sweet. The screen in particular seems much better than that on the iBook, but I'm nervous about spending that much extra money when the current PowerBooks seem to be coming to the end of a product cycle. Is it worth waiting until November to find out what happens in Paris?

3) Speed. As I said earlier, I absolutely need to be able to run Matlab and Mathematica. How fast are the PowerBook and iBook when compared to the Pentium M? Apple seem to ask for an awful lot of money for a system that could be whipped by a similarly priced Intel notebook.

4) Apple's RAM prices are ludicrous. How easy is it to upgrade the RAM in the PB/iB after buying?

My apologies if these questions have been asked before, but I'm really anxious not to waste money.
 

Plymouthbreezer

macrumors 601
Feb 27, 2005
4,238
77
Massachusetts
coalquay404 said:
Hi all. I'm thinking about switching to a Mac but I've got a couple of questions I'd like to clear up before taking the plunge.

I'm starting a PhD in Cambridge next year and have decided to ditch my desktop and get a notebook. At the moment I have a really decent P4 desktop that mostly runs Linux (for work) but also some Windows. Apart from email, internet browsing, iTunes, and typing documents in LaTeX my main requirements from a computer are that it be able to run Matlab 7 and Mathematica 5.x.

Since I'm going to the UK I don't want to bring my desktop with me. I'm interested in getting a 14" iBook or a 15" PowerBook but I'm a bit nervous about the following things:

1) The iBook seems a good bet but the 1024x768 resolution would *really* piss me off. Am I right in thinking that the video card in the new iBook will only run at 1024x768 even if plugged in to an external screen?

2) The 15" PowerBook looks really sweet. The screen in particular seems much better than that on the iBook, but I'm nervous about spending that much extra money when the current PowerBooks seem to be coming to the end of a product cycle. Is it worth waiting until November to find out what happens in Paris?

3) Speed. As I said earlier, I absolutely need to be able to run Matlab and Mathematica. How fast are the PowerBook and iBook when compared to the Pentium M? Apple seem to ask for an awful lot of money for a system that could be whipped by a similarly priced Intel notebook.

4) Apple's RAM prices are ludicrous. How easy is it to upgrade the RAM in the PB/iB after buying?

My apologies if these questions have been asked before, but I'm really anxious not to waste money.
1) Not sure...

2) Remember, if you buy a PowerBook now, it will still be the same great PowerBook in a year regardless of new models introduced between the time you buy it, and then.

3) The PowerBooks are speed-demons . Don't let the GHz rating fool you. The PB will probably be faster then your P4.

4) There are plenty of placed to buy Apple compatible RAM aftermarket... The install is fairly easy and straightforward.
 

Hattig

macrumors 65816
Jan 3, 2003
1,432
50
London, UK
If you will be doing a lot of visualisation, then the Powerbook sounds like a better option to me. I'd hang on to see if an update happens though.

I'm just outside Cambridge myself. You should enjoy being here. Which college are you going to be at?
 

coalquay404

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 3, 2005
6
0
Cheers for the advice. I think I'll hang on a bit and see if an update happens before committing to the purchase.

@Hattig: I've been offered a place at St. John's. To be honest I don't really know that much about the college system at Cambridge so I chose based solely on which had the nicest photograph in the prospectus. Pathetic, I know. My girlfriend's going to be in Hughes Hall, so we'll have the scenery (St. John's) and good food (Hughes). I'm actually due to pop over at the weekend to look at some apartments - I can't wait to see the place.
 

Hattig

macrumors 65816
Jan 3, 2003
1,432
50
London, UK
coalquay404 said:
Cheers for the advice. I think I'll hang on a bit and see if an update happens before committing to the purchase.

@Hattig: I've been offered a place at St. John's. To be honest I don't really know that much about the college system at Cambridge so I chose based solely on which had the nicest photograph in the prospectus. Pathetic, I know. My girlfriend's going to be in Hughes Hall, so we'll have the scenery (St. John's) and good food (Hughes). I'm actually due to pop over at the weekend to look at some apartments - I can't wait to see the place.
John's is a good college luckily, close to quite a few reasonable pubs too.

Hope you don't have a heart attack when you see the pricing of accomodation in cambridge though!
 

coalquay404

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 3, 2005
6
0
It doesn't seem all that expensive. We're looking to spend about £600 a month on somewhere decent. Believe it or not, that rent is really, really low by Dublin standards. The other half, being a Yank, is appalled at the price of accomodation though. :)
 

Plymouthbreezer

macrumors 601
Feb 27, 2005
4,238
77
Massachusetts
coalquay404 said:
Cheers for the advice. I think I'll hang on a bit and see if an update happens before committing to the purchase.

@Hattig: I've been offered a place at St. John's. To be honest I don't really know that much about the college system at Cambridge so I chose based solely on which had the nicest photograph in the prospectus. Pathetic, I know. My girlfriend's going to be in Hughes Hall, so we'll have the scenery (St. John's) and good food (Hughes). I'm actually due to pop over at the weekend to look at some apartments - I can't wait to see the place.
Happy to help. Feel free to ask any more questions. :)
 

ckeck

macrumors 6502a
Jul 29, 2005
711
62
Texas
Hattig said:
If you will be doing a lot of visualisation, then the Powerbook sounds like a better option to me. I'd hang on to see if an update happens though.

I'm just outside Cambridge myself. You should enjoy being here. Which college are you going to be at?
I WAS about to buy a PowerBook myself, but what updates are you expecting to happen and when?

Better video card? Better battery? Any info? Thanks...
 
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