rMBP vs MacBook for Medical Student

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Cricketman, Jun 28, 2015.

  1. Cricketman, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015

    Cricketman macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2008
    Hello everyone!

    I hope everyone is doing well. I completed my undergraduate studies last semester and have been using a 2011 MBP for the last 4 years. I bought the stock model but upgraded the RAM myself from 4GB to 8GB on day 1. Since, I have had relatively no problems but I have had a swollen battery which I have replaced (not through apple) and also had my RAM fail and replaced.

    I am starting medical school in the fall and I am thinking of replacing my computer with a newer model so I do not have to worry about any problems for the next four years. Here are my uses:

    Streaming Lectures - I will be doing this for about 6 hours a day for the next two years. I really want to have an experience where I will have NO problems doing this, it really should be as smooth as possible. I will be playing it on 1.5x-2x speed.

    Reading and Annotating PDFs/PowerPoints - LARGE files with tons of pictures and text. I want to smoothly be able to work with image-heavy documents without lag or stuttering

    Web Browsing with many tabs

    Writing research papers in MS Word

    Music streaming through Apple Music/Spotify

    Web Browsing

    Streaming to Apple TV

    I am really attracted to the new MacBook for its form factor and battery life. However, I realize that it is an underpowered machine for the price. Honestly, I haven't used a USB thumb drive in forever (I keep losing them!) but I do like being able to transfer pictures from my MicroSD card on my Pro. This is something I only do very rarely, however, and I am sure i can find a work around.

    So will the MacBook suffice for me? Will it be able to easily manage the comparatively easy tasks (zero gaming, video or picture editing) WITHOUT hiccups? Can it last 4-5 years of quality usage AS MY PRIMARY MACHINE? Or should I go with the safe option in selecting the MacBook Pro? Is lack of magsafe a big deal - I think the magsafe port is genius and it saddens me that the new computer doesn't have this tech.

    Also, where can I get the best deal for this computer - Apple's 100$ off or BestBuy +edu+movers? I am comparing both base rMBP v rMB.

    I appreciate the help and any input. Thanks in advance!
  2. luqtotheman macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2012
    Fellow medical student here. I would stay away from the new macbook , it's essentially a iPad plus with a keyboard.

    I'd recommend upgrading the RAM on a rMBP. I usually have a lot of windows open because it's helpful since most material in medical school is electronic. PDFs, powerpoints, watching lectures, etc. So 8Gb minimum I'd say, I have 16 gb but I also game.

    I'd wait until the back to school discount. Show them your Student ID at the apple store and you get 100 off plus the promo. I wouldn't go cheap on the computer because its stressful have a computer breakdown during medical school, trust me a classmate had that happen to them. See this as an investment for your education and personal enjoyment.

    Hope that helps.
  3. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    I would say you'll probably struggle a bit with the rMB. It'll do what you want but it won't be supequick all the time and it'll probably be a bit sluggish with a lot of stuff going on at the same time.

    Go with the Pro in my opinion, I would suggest at least 256GB SSD though as 128Gb is pretty tight srorage wise.

    If you use a lot of large PDF's check out Skim as alternative PDF reader and annotation tool, it is light on resources and seems to be far better than preview and acrobat reader for me.

  4. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    At least wait for the second generation Macbook.
  5. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I think the Macbook will do everything you need - there are plenty of people - perhaps the majority of them - doing similar work on older computers that are much, much slower than the current Macbook.

    Still, I think the Macbook is best suited for the user who values portability over everything else. I own one, as it's my personal machine and I want to use it everywhere, and I will often travel with it while also carrying my work laptop. However, if I were to choose a single machine that had to do everything, I'd likely choose the Pro as it's not like it's not portable itself.

    So the real question you should be asking is how much you value that size and weight reduction? Is it valuable enough to you that you'd make the sacrifices it requires?
  6. fdmsua macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2015
    For long term use I would NOT recommend Apple's new MacBook. It looks gorgeous without a doubt and it's "light. years ahead" as described by apple but it really is too ahead, especially for students who will find the ports useful.

    The latest model of the MB air would fit your needs just fine if you're low on cash but if you're taking the mB air road i'd suggest you might as well get the highest/best model you could afford.

    However, it would be best (obviously) if you could go with the Pro, if you can. But don't buy the base model of the 13 inch because it's a joke. Use the advice I gave you with the Air, buy the best model you could afford. If you want a bigger screen real estate the 15 inch would suit your needs too, the base model will be more than enough based on the needs you listed above.
  7. tdhurst macrumors 68040


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
  8. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    That's what I'd say. We have one here, and it does what's needed from a computing POV, but the biggest plus is portability (and the screen).

    It's typically used and moved between two locations in our house. Charging can be annoying, but maybe we'll get another charger (if they're available . . . haven't checked). Synching an iPhone is annoying because . . . "where's the dongle?"

    These aren't show stoppers. They don't rise above the level of mild annoyances. But zhenya is right: if you value portability over everything, the rMP is a great choice. If you don't, then something like an rMBP has far fewer compromises.
  9. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    A friend of mine started at OHSU last fall, I told him to get the 15" rMBP and recommended the 512GB or larger SSD and 16GB of RAM (which wasn't "stock" on the larger 15" rMBPs at the time I bought mine - a late-2013 with the 1TB SSD; I kept running out of room with my previous 512GB drive, but that's me...).

    I also told him to buy two apps from the MAS - Essential Anatomy and Human Anatomy Atlas, both of which look fantastic on the Retina screen. As for "cheap" - buy a refurb Mac. I have a refurb 2012 Mini Server and refurb rMBP on my desk and they look and run perfectly - and my new-looking rMBP was reduced $700 from the retail cost. I also bought AppleCare for my rMBP from Amazon at $100 less than Apple's price. My friend bought a refurb 15" rMBP and she's really happy with it.

    Keep in mind that some universities offer Office at no cost, and MS also offers a subscription to Office 365 that's deeply discounted with an edu email address.
  10. Cricketman thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2008
    Running out of room on a 512GB? Typically how big are med school files? I'm not planning on keeping much apart from work on this laptop, so i was hoping to mange with 128GB if I went with the Pro or 256 on the rMB. My school offers a cloud solution for some files so i'm sure I can keep some there too.

    I don't think 15" is practical for me personally... i'd find that too big to lug around! And not cost effective for me at all either.

    Thanks for info on the apps. I got the essential anatomy mobile iOS app, i'll look into it for the Mac as well
  11. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    I hate being "that guy,"(and I'm very pro-apple) but - have you looked at a Surface Pro 3?

    I really think for now, it's the best option for students.

    The pen is amazing, and having OneNote sync automatically to where ever it's installed (I have it on my iPhone and iPad mini) is incredibly helpful.

    I'm paperless now (and I tried for years with the iPad), and have access to all my electronic notebooks - even if I'm out somewhere unexpected with just my phone.

    Being able to annotate/fill out and save PDFs directly on your device, is just brilliant.

    At least go to a Best Buy and play with the pen and OneNote. Experiment with it, because none of the guys there showed me how to get to ruled paper and how to enable pinch to zoom (which is disabled by default I think, but writing without it is somewhat awkward.)

    Being able to draw out anatomy structures and pathways is much more helpful than simply looking at the PDF's.

    And the Essential Anatomy app is in the windows store as well, in fact on sale for $10 or so until sometime in July.
  12. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    I'm the one who was running out of space with my 512GB drive, not my friend, sorry for not being clear - I had my iTunes library, some video files (I use FCP and Premier/After Effects for fun projects), and some other graphics and used special low-profile SD cards to juggle files - then figured out I could just buy the 1TB SSD and not need any additional storage options at less money. My friend seems fine with 512GB - she's too busy to play anyway!

    Regarding your SSD space concern, my friend had the same concern. I related that by the time you're spending time optimizing your drive contents or buying SD cards to offload files you've spent more than the cost of a larger SSD. She also knocked off about $500 by buying a refurb from Apple's Store. FWIW, peruse AppleInsider's web site - they have links and deal to/with resellers that might get you more Mac for the budget you have.

    Funny about the 15" being too large! I owned the last 17" MBP and really, really miss it. But, I'm 6'7" and my friend is 6'2" - we think the 13-inch laptops are toys, size-wize. I ordered a latte today, and it's like my laptop consideration - your "large" is my "normal" and your "normal" is just too small for me! I don't even notice the weight difference. :D
  13. Cricketman thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2008
    Thanks for your suggestion! And thanks for actually suggesting something non apple, helps to have that perspective too.

    I have looked at the Surface pro and i think its awesome! But i am way too invested in the apple eco system fo change... And nothing has really caused me to have reason to switch either (my experience has been phenomenal).
  14. jweinraub macrumors 6502


    Jun 26, 2007
    Sol III
    Running out of room on a 512? I am still premed (a year to go) and my drive had zero bytes yesterday morning. So I will definitely need the "upgrade" to a TB before I go. And I just deleted a lot of current text books to make room.
  15. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    text books don't take up that much space even big PDF's are not that big HD space wise, so what have you got yours filled up with??
  16. Cricketman thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2008
    I finished my undergrad/pre med studies using well under using 320GB HDD. Included tons of family pictures as well
  17. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    I just looked back at my posts, and the others. I'm dating myself now - we used Mac Plus and HP Vectras for our lab work at the university, although we also had a then-new Cray mainframe to tap into for more hardcore work. My Powerbook 140c had a 40MB (that's MB, not GB drive), and my Centris 650 had a (gasp!) 80MB hard drive, and we all carried around 2-3 floppies - one for the Macs for our papers, and 1 or 2 for our CAD/CAM work. And then there's the punch cards I used in Fortran/Pascal for an HP mainframe. No "what's a floppy" comments, please, it already hurt to write that... :D Ya'll have no idea how good you've got it now!

    I remember how heavy just my thermodynamics book was - but my mom was a nurse for 30 years and I still borrow her Gray's Anatomy (1970 ed) from time to time, and I can't imagine lugging around books anymore. I'm too old now! Cheers!
  18. Cricketman thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2008
    Another possible situation - is it worth it to purchase a Retina MacBook and KEEP my 2011 MBP too? Or should I just stop complicating things and just get a Pro
  19. Cricketman thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2008
    Update (for anyone who may be interested): Purchased an rMBP and cannot be happier!
  20. Even Longer macrumors 6502

    Even Longer

    Dec 12, 2012
    Head of a pin
    Congrats! I did the same - got the 13" rMBP as main machine, but for business and replaced both: my cumbersome rMBP 15" (2013, Nvidia 750) and the my lightweight SP3 with it.

    El Capitan on it is a BEAST: driving a 4K display so buttery smooth, that it actually reminded me about the long forgotten feeling, why I bought my first Mac back then.
  21. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Also the answer is moot, given that the OP purchased a rMBP - and enjoy it - that is a superb computer - my advice would have been firstly, to steer away from the rMB - it is underpowered for the pice charged and doubtless, future models and iterations will offer a considerable improvement, and secondly, if portability is an issue, get a MBA.

    In 2013, I got a maxed out (8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD) 13" MBA and have to say that it is a superb computer; I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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