Pro vs Air/ Comp Sci Majors decision

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bbaileyga, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. bbaileyga macrumors newbie

    Aug 10, 2015
    Okay SO I am fairly positive that this thread has been explored and I apologize in advance if some of you consider this spam but I wanted a fresh take on this.

    I have two kids headed towards careers in Computer Science. Both have grown up using OS X and have no desire to shift away from that Environment. What I am looking for is for any Comp Sci/ Comp Eng Majors out there to give me some feedback Is it possible to complete a four year degree in a technology major with out Windows ? As a profession is tech Consultant I know that it's most like going to involve some type of VDI or VM but for the majority of the classes in coding is it possible to do this on a MAC ? Will they need the horse power of a Macbook pro or can it be accomplished with a Macbook Air?
  2. marioman38 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    Elk Grove, CA
    My brother just graduated with his Bachelors in Computer Science from University of Washington in June. He used a Macbook Pro for the first half, then switched to a Macbook Air. He would use the school computer lab if he ever needed windows. He would dual boot Mac OS and Linux on his laptop. Someone else can chime in with more specifics, but I would say especially if you have VMWare or Parallels, its easily doable.
  3. CreatorCode macrumors regular


    Apr 15, 2015
    If you're studying computer science (as opposed to, say, Management Information Systems) you definitely want to be on a Unix-like platform. You could argue that Linux would be the preferred platform; I'd argue that OS X is preferable because it's more usable for non-CS coursework (and non-course work.)

    Windows? Good lord, no, not for computer science. Windows is for business majors and gamers. You could study computer science using nothing but Windows, but it's likely extra work.

    And regardless of major, you can always dual- or triple-boot. (Which is worth noting in case they switch majors.)
  4. s0nicpr0s macrumors regular


    Sep 1, 2010
    I'm currently working towards a Bachelors in CS, and for most things I used a Mac, even when programming in C++. You do need to switch to Windows every once in a while, but that was few and far between, generally just testing code. I even did my Windows Command Line class directly on Mac (no boot camp/VMs for me).

    The Macbook Air will get the job done just fine processing wise, although the higher resolution of the Pro is a nice little perk for staring at text all day. The extra horsepower behind the pro will be useful if they are going to need a VM though.
  5. TechLion macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2015
    I am a current CS student. You do use windows applications from time to time, specifically, Visual Studio. Also, in a Comp Eng course I took I had to use software that was only available on Windows. I am graduating this fall so I did in fact go through my entire education using primarily OS X so it can be done.

    In those situations where you must use Windows apps, as previously mentioned, your kids can always use school computers (might be a slight inconvenience). I don't care much for the VM's, from my experience they were incredibly sluggish and just made coding a bit of a pain. I have done a dual boat where performance was much improved over the VM but on a laptop I did find switching between OS X keyboard/mouse input and Windows to be a bit annoying but when hooked up to an external display I have no complaints. I do love the convenience of having a unix based system, I use terminal ALL of the time, partly out of necessity but also out of preference.

    In regards to the MBA vs MBP I can't speak on it in too much detail. I have never owned a MBA. If the campus is large and your kids will be commuting on foot the extra weight of the MBP may prove to be very uncomfortable. Personally, I hated carrying around my MacBooks I thought they were too heavy for me. However, if this is intended to be the only computer they use for the next four years then you might want to consider a Pro with better specs. Although, I have not recently reviewed the latest MBA so spec wise it may be on the same level of the MBP you're considering.
  6. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Get the pro coding will be much nicer and easier on the eyes with the pin sharpness of a retina screen. To be honest the pro's screen is worth it over the air every day of the week for me, without even thinking about anything else.
  7. dogbait macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2005
    London, England
    I've used both a MBP and MBA for day to day work. Both work fine running Windows in VMware or Parallels provided you have 8GB RAM or more.

    For CompSci courses you do sometimes need Windows for some of the courses. It really does vary between Universities and courses though. Either way get 8GB of RAM if you can afford it since the MacBooks do not allow this to be upgraded later.

    Regarding Air vs Pro, get the Pro if you really like the Retina display or if you need the speed and extra ports.
  8. djk29a macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2013
    Coincidentally, I graduated from the same CSE program a little over 10 years ago and the situation is probably unchanged - better now actually if any change. When I was working on a Titanium Powerbook for a while, I had to cross-compile stuff for PowerPC all the time and try to avoid getting embroiled in the Fink v. DarwinPorts debate. Most of the other Unix neckbeard guys did just fine going the non-Windows route.

    If you need Windows, UW offers students free copies of Windows thanks to the relationship with Microsoft. You're supposed to delete it after you graduate, but I'd be surprised if MS ever audited alumni much over it. So don't buy a copy of Windows or Office.

    The few courses that needed Visual Studio at UW CSE were graphics and perhaps a couple capstone courses. I don't think I'd need much more in the way of Windows stuff.

    If I was going to school now, I'd still opt for a Macbook Pro primarily because the screen size is so much better when you're staying up late and have to look at a ton of text. Sure, we can just hook up external monitors potentially, but it's just another random hassle that you don't want to deal with when it's 3 am and you're trying to debug a segfault and you can barely remember your gdb shortcuts.

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