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Ciro16

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 14, 2024
2
0
Hello everyone,

I am currently in the market for a new MacBook (never had one) and would appreciate some advice on which model would best suit my needs. I have been using an HP laptop with an i5 7th gen processor, 16GB of RAM, and an 500Gb HDD for the past five years. It has served me well, but it’s time for an upgrade.

My Requirements:

  • Minimum Specs: 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, 13 inches screen
  • Usage: Intensive internet browsing (multiple tabs), managing epidemiological databases, multimedia tasks, and occasional Photoshop.
Background: I am a medical doctor and researcher, currently based in the US, although I am originally from Europe. I can utilize the Apple Education Discount, so I am looking for the best quality-for-value MacBook (used or new) that meets my needs.

Given these details, could you please recommend which MacBook model and configuration would be ideal for me? Additionally, if you feel that there is a comparable or better Windows-based laptop available for the same price, I would appreciate those suggestions as well.

Thank you in advance for your help!
 

Ciro16

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 14, 2024
2
0
Can you expand on this? By "managing", do you mean installing a database product on your laptop?
In my research, I use epidemiological databases to organize, analyze, and interpret large health-related datasets. These databases are typically extensive Excel files that contain patient demographics, disease incidence, ecc.

By "managing," I mean:

  • Data Entry and Organization
  • Data Cleaning
  • Data Analysis: Performing statistical analyses using Excel, R, and Stata.
  • Data Visualizatin
I do not install separate database products; I primarily use Excel for its data handling capabilities, complemented by R and Stata for more advanced epidemiological analysis.
 

smirking

macrumors 68040
Aug 31, 2003
3,763
3,741
Silicon Valley
If your 5 year old PC that has a HDD can even be usable for you, any model will work for you. If you want save money, you could just swap in an SSD for that HDD and get another year or two out of your PC.

But really, if I were buying a Mac based on your parameters, I'd target the screen size and resolution. Any Mac you get will have much higher resolution than your PC laptop.

I would just get a MacBook Air. You already said you wanted 16GB and 512GB storage so just decide if you want a 13" screen or a 15" screen.
 
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smirking

macrumors 68040
Aug 31, 2003
3,763
3,741
Silicon Valley
If you're going to use Excel heavily. You might want to stick to a PC. Excel isn't great on a Mac. Everything will work, but it'll be a bit slower than what you're used to.

Excel is probably the slowest program on my MBP and it never seems to matter how powerful of a Mac I'm running it on. It always leaves something to be desired. Quite frankly, none of the Microsoft programs are real great on a Mac and it's a Microsoft thing because the Office clones like Libre Office are actually quite snappy.
 

ipaqrat

macrumors 6502
Mar 28, 2017
308
329
You're probably already in the right gear space for your needs. You didn't describe your workloads, i.e., column counts and datatypes? How many rows and the relationship to file size? Index, disambiguate/deconflict masses of structured text? Search relational databases or flat indexed tables? Heavy iterative calculation sequences? Fold DNA? Model organic molecules? Visualize results from drug field tests? Machine learning? AI? Enhance static imagery x-ray, cat/pet? 3D models from scan slices? 3D print prostheses? 3D Print human face replacements using collagen and shark cartilage polysaccharides?

Will this laptop be completely personal, or will the network of a medical practice, or hospital were you have admitting privilege. Enterprise admin will want to install pile of HIPPA-sucking security agents.

  • You could get another Windows machine with a 13th gen i5, 16 gb ram, and 512 gb ssd - and hit the ground running. The Dell XPS 14 comes to mind. It's well regarded and stylish, if a bit gimmicky. You'll want Windows Professional, not Home.
  • Your use case, as described, lines up with the MacBook Air 13.6, M3, 16 gb ram and 512 ssd. The Mac will cost @ $200 to $400 for each spec uptick. MacOS is still patchy on a Windows Domain, after all these years.
  • Have you considered the Microsoft Surface Tablet (or Surface Book)? Spec for spec, they're really expensive. You'll need an i7. Combining its stylus capability with MS Office, CoPilot and OneNote, that thing might be a productivity beast.
My experience with MS Office diverges from @smirking; I like MS Office Mac. I find it fast, reliable and compatible, though there is no MS Access on a Mac (FileMaker Pro is better than Access, anyway).

Over the years, I found the Java-based Office "clones" will torpedo collaboration on anything really sophisticated. Same for MS Office' Web Apps, same for Apple's Pages, Numbers and Keynote). Just stick with MS Office; this is not a hill worth dying on.

Wherever you get MSOffice 365 now, you can also get it for a Mac. That said, OpenOffice can sometimes repair/recover some kinds of MS Office file corruption. Install OpenOffice just in case; the price is right, and you might love it.

Here's another consideration leaving the Wintel world... If you ever really NEED need your Mac to run a Windows app, you might think, "No prob, just get vmWare Fusion (now Free for personal use) and run a Windows 11 VM." However, be advised:
  • You'll need another 16 GB RAM.
  • On Apple M silicon, hypervisors such as Fusion, Parallels and VirtualBox, can virtualize only Windows ARM Edition, which doesn't support some apps, particularly graphics. You have to test.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,508
12,640
Most important question is:
Will the applications you have been using all along in Windows RUN on a Mac?

I'm under the impression that in the medical professions, PCs tend to dominate because they "have the software". I could be wrong.
 
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