Student seeking for help

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by chemicalmy, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. chemicalmy, Jul 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2014

    chemicalmy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    #1
    So here I am, a college student looking for a portable computer . I seeked the internet for advice and they said Macbooks are the best all around laptops, so I thought what the heck I could use a new OS.
    I'm a windows user all my life and I currently have a decent PC on my dorm (my high end pc is at my home)..
    And I'm currently looking for a laptop I can carry around and replace my desktop as much as possible.

    I'm a 2nd year engineering student and I video edit for our school projects, here I ask, what Macbook should I buy?

    What I'll do with it (Highest to lowest) : Browsing the web, streaming/watching 1080p videos, typing documents, editing 1080p videos for our projects and some light gaming like Skyrim, I don't play online games(I know I can use my desktop)

    My Budget: As expected, a college student such as myself can only fork out a 1100$ which is Php50000(in our currency ) or so. I guess my I can ask my mom to bump my budget by a 100$ or so

    I can't buy on amazon knowing I live on the Philippines, which has no amazon like website (as far as I know)

    If I'm going to buy a macbook it would be my first apple product other than ipod classic (which I absolutely adored)

    I'm thinking of getting 8gbs of ram if my budget allows it, and I have 3Tb of external hard drive so I don't need a larger storage space.

    For now, I'm leaning on a Macbook air for its portability and whatnot

    Thank you for reading, and an advanced thank you for the answers and suggestions.

    Edit: I forgot to add that we will be programming next semester, can a Mac program? If so, can the created program be used on a PC?
     
  2. cruisin, Jul 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2014

    cruisin macrumors 6502a

    cruisin

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #2
    For browsing the web, streaming/watching 1080p videos, and typing documents you will be fine using any modern laptop and likely most of the older ones as well. For editing 1080p videos all of the recent tablets and phones can do some editing so most laptops will be great for this, it just depends how quickly the final movie will be created.

    People are happy with Skyrim on a 2012 MacBook Air which has Intel HD 4000 graphics. The newer Air is HD 5000 so if you buy this one you will be ok. I assume you will be getting an Air based on your budget. If you have access to Apple's refurbished section, you might get a good deal plus you can buy extra warranty for these models.

    Remember that some games need Windows (like Skyrim) so that will eat into your 128GB standard storage. OSX needs about 10GB, Windows 7 needs about 15GB and Windows 8 needs even more apparently. Plus apps for school and games. Maybe check how much your Windows and games take up currently.

    The classic question of how much ram you need is complicated as modern OSX (10.9 and above) will compress part of your ram to give you more ram. If you only use 2-3 applications at the same time 4GB should be fine.

    Macs can do programming, the question is what does your school demand? If it is the common programming languages (C, Java, Python, etc.) then you will be fine but sometimes the professor will ask you to use a specific application or use Windows. I believe most engineers learn C or C++, for which you can use the machine of your choice.

    For assignments your professor will usually ask for the code (for seeing your actual work) and then compile on their own computer (to see if you did the assignment correctly). No professor wants to see just the finished assignment. Code always works on all machines because the compiler makes the actual program from the code you give it. There are many reasons why programs (compiled code) will not run on multiple operating systems unless you spend the time to make then do this. Java is nice because it does some of this for you so for many programs you can run them everywhere.

    If you can, check out the 11" and 13" models in store to see which screen you like more. Some people prefer a bigger screen, especially if they have always used big screens.

    My previous laptop was a basic Windows 7 laptop with 3GB of ram. I had no problem programming but a few games had problems. Sometimes it was slow when I had too many things running at the same time, but it was great. The SSD I added improved it a lot, and all new MacBooks come with SSDs.

    Good luck!
     
  3. chemicalmy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    #3
    I humbly thank you for your reply cruisin.

    I only said editing 1080p videos because the videos made by my S4 is on 1080p thus some of my friends' laptop lags when we create our projects. I hope this won't happen, maybe I can accept that it'll lag a little but not all the time like my friend's laptop.

    I was intrigued by your reply saying Windows 7 OS. Believe me I am not new or "a noob" in layman's term when it comes to technology. I did a lot of programming in my high school days, used linux like ubuntu or backtrack because of curiosity. But I, a used to be "hater" when it comes to OS X, feels confused that you can dual boot on a Mac. I'm not new to dual booting, in fact I've already done it. But what irks me is that I believed that Mac is a very closed OS, leaving no space for cracks, keygens and whatnot. I would be happy to know if I can run windows applications like the new Microsoft Word. Or maybe I'll use a virtual os loader like VMware, which I find quite lagging when it comes to loading OS when I used it.

    Regarding the space, I hope I can use my external hard drives when it comes to storing pictures and movies and with the USB 3.0 I guess it'll be fast and it'll copy in a zip so I don't mind the extra luggage. Maybe I can use that Windows games or apps in a partition of my drive which I will be happy to remove and connect when the time comes for me to use it.

    I have a feeling I need a good amount of oomph and power when it comes to rams. I daily browse the Internet with my Chrome browser and after a few hours I surprise myself that I already have a dozen of tabs, 40 tabs or less. Some even playing videos, not normal videos, HD ones. So I guess I need 8gbs of ram knowing I can't add later but my desktop PC here in my dorm has only 2 sticks of 2gb ram but it works flawlessly. So I cannot still fathom what amount I should use. 4gbs seems to be enough but it lags some times.

    For the programming part I guess we will use C and C++. A programming language I'm quite familiar of. I only asked that question because it's ny first time having an OS X based system.

    I know that my budget seems a little constricted but that's the obly money I saved with my student allowance. Or maybe I should wait until December, I could resist the urge to buy one and wait for a sale to come by (I hopw there's a store in my country where they will have one) . I guess my ceiling price is 1200$ when it comes to laptops. I need the extra money for food and other stuff I migh need at the school.

    Once again I thank you for your reply., and thank you for reading and answering the questions I asked and will ask. I appreciate your replies my previous post as well as this one. Good day.
     
  4. jg321 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    Based on what you've said about tabs and how you use the machine, I'd get 8GB RAM. Also the fact you can't upgrade at a later date.

    Storage should be ok if you have an external like you say, and you're prepared to have it connected a lot of the time. I'm not, and want everything in one place, so got the 256GB. Saying that, an upgrade is possible later on, however I'm not sure how practical at the min.

    What are you doing about backups?
     
  5. chemicalmy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    #5
    What about backups? I apologise but I have no idea what you're talking about. As a PC user I haven't made a backup for my PC since I made it myself. I guess I really don't care about those stufd. Are there any advantages and disadvantages in using one? And if possible can you use an external hard drive both in Windows and Mac?

    Thanks for your reply
     
  6. cruisin, Jul 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2014

    cruisin macrumors 6502a

    cruisin

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #6
    I believe most computers lag during the export (the creating), but they should be fine for the editing. Both CPU and the ram are important. So if you want the ram, consider the CPU if you do a lot of editing.

    I have no idea where you are going with the sentence. All OSX does is warn you that the application is unsigned by the app store. So you go right click > open and you can run every app.

    Office has a special version called Office for Mac which lags the Widows side by one year (Office 2010 -> Office 2011). For emulating Windows, you definitely want the 8GB ram, but consider Parallels which has better games support than VMWare.

    Currently my Chrome bowser with 20 tabs says it uses 1.3GB of ram along with 17.2GB of virtual memory. With Chrome needing over 1GB for itself, it is was easy to see why 2GB lagged sometimes. 4 will be enough, but 8 is not that expensive that you will regret the purchase.

    IF you install Xcode command line tools, you can program C right from the terminal (Macs version of command line). There are also IDE apps available if you need them. You can use full Xcode, but it takes more effort for me to use for C than other IDEs.

    One warning, Windows uses 2 ASCII characters to write a newline character while OSX and Linux use only 1. I don't know if you will be affected by this, but I was. This only affects txt files when they were created on Windows and you try to read the file in C on OSX. And the other way as well. It is a simple fix, but it was confusing for me at first.

    Apple offers student pricing, and this can amount to 10% off or so. And now they are giving $100 gift cards if you buy a Mac now for school. Check first if any of this applies to you. It is a good discount. Also the difference between 2013 and 1014 Airs is the CPU changed from 1.3GHz to 1.4GHz. So if you looked at refurbished models the 2014 model is barely faster. Apple online education store: http://store.apple.com/ph-k12
     
  7. cruisin macrumors 6502a

    cruisin

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #7
    Backups

    For small increases of space there is the PNY StorEDGE and similar devices you can look for. They sell a micro SD adaptor to put into your Mac that allows you to use any micro SD card as extra space and also stick out very little. Many people keep their iTunes library on it to save space, for example. I don't know how it handles apps.

    For backups I have 2 levels. I use Google Drive and put all my documents in there. So they get backed up instantly to the minute and when I switch to Windows they instantly show up in that Google Drive. This is the easiest solution for really important things that I cannot lose. And this works everywhere you have internet so you don't need a extra drive plugged in all the time.

    For regular backups, I use the wireless Time Capsule. It does a backup of the whole machine every hour, so if it ever dies or breaks I bring in another one and in a few hours everything is back. This was helpful when my MacBook died.

    Any USB hard dive you add can become a backup. Setup Time Machine (Apples backup) and it will backup to that drive every hour anytime it is connected. A bonus is it stores versions, so you can get a file as it existed before you made a change or accidentally deleted something, hence the name. I use the wireless option because I needed the router and I dislike plugging in a drive every time.
     
  8. chemicalmy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    #8
    Are backups really that necessary? I've lived all my life with me just backing up my documents and photos (I take a lot of photographs with my DSLR. I won't say I'm a photographer buf I do most of the package) to my Dropbox account. But I only backup when I'm installing a new Custom ROM for my phone. It's not really that much of an importance in Windows 8 in my point of view. But I'll be glad when someone tells me otherwise.

    About the wireless backup thing is it worth the extra money? I was hoping to spend the extra 200$ or so for Apple-Care. So I was expecting to buy a Macbook Air 13 inches 8gbs of RAM and the protection service. Maybe I can spend it on the Air capsule (I forgot the name.)

    I really don't mind the extra luggage at all. If possible I'll just apend it on my RAM because I still have countless of tabs and most of them are from the webpage I manage.

    So I shouldn't wait unt December hoping for a sale?
     
  9. cruisin macrumors 6502a

    cruisin

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #9
    Backups are only as important as you want them to be. Backing up just photos and documents is fine.

    The whole point of Time Machine is it backs up everything AND it stores a few versions going back (might even store all versions, but I'm not sure). This makes recovery from a broken SSD or hard drive easier. If you are able to do this yourself, then you will be fine. The Capsule is wireless so that the backup runs every hour without making sure you remember to plug stuff in every time. If you don't need so many versions of a file, then using a portable drive and backing up once per week is still good.

    The Capsule is expensive because it comes with Apples wireless AC router (they call it Airport Extreme). If you already have a good router, then the Capsule makes less sense. As long as you do some kind of backup regularly, you will be better off then those who never do them.
     
  10. chemicalmy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    #10
    Instead of creating a new thread, I'm going to continue this thread I started.

    So the plan of me buying a Macbook Air was scrapped months ago, parents didn't agree and all those dramatic yet useless parts.

    Here comes October and somehow they agreed to allow me have a Mac and even got to pay a fraction of it. Now, disregarding the Macbook Air, 8gb RAM, 128gb SSD. I decided to go buy a Macbook Pro 13inch with Retina Display (not sure if worth it) 128gb SSD, 16gb RAM (not sure if worth it) [​IMG]

    The usage (highest to lowest): Web browsing with 20tabs (average) mostly 40tabs if researching, Watching/Streaming 1080p videos (maybe 1440p if available and if this mac can handle such resolution), Adobe Indesign/Photoshop/Audition, and light gaming (Skyrim like before and a little bit of League of Legends)

    I hope this Mac is worth the money I'll splurge, I went for the 16gbs of RAM (it's either this or the small .1ghz bump on the CPU) because I want it to be "future-proof" I want it to last my 5 years of Engineering and if possible more. I wont buy the Apple Care (It went to the RAM/'Pro' title) and how is this mac's battery life? the air's battery life is a lovely 13hour long duration, I want one like that if possible.


    Thanks for reading this post and I hope someone will reply. XD
     
  11. cruisin macrumors 6502a

    cruisin

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #11
    Your Mac will be fine for most of these tasks, except for games (which will be only average). YouTube works up to 4K on newer Macs, so 1440p will be great.

    It is hard to truly future proof, but more RAM is the simplest and usually most effective.

    You will only get 8 hours of battery life on average. Less if you push it (like games) or more if you lower the brightness and do word processing. The Airs are all about battery life, so they have slower components. The Pros are more powerful so you do sacrifice some battery. Between faster CPU, more RAM, and more pixels on a screen, you will lose some battery.

    For example, my Mac is rated for 7 hours, but if I set brightness to 25% and do word processing with some web I can stretch the battery to 10 hours.
     
  12. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #12
    As someone who uses Mac consistently, I have to say you might want to really take a look at the reason you want a Mac laptop. It has only a couple of plus items beyond OSX, resale value and retina screen (if you find that important).

    For what you are doing, there are several PC based (Windows) laptops that will provide more value for the dollar. In fact, a "gaming" style laptop would provide the basics plus access to better GPU, possibly more RAM options and drive options.

    I suppose the college cool factor might also come into play for the Apple laptop.

    Programming - nice to use a RAM drive to compile which is limited on the Mac side by 16 gig RAM roof. Also the SSD ideally should be larger than 128gigs.

    Graphics/Media - depending on the software, a discrete GPU is a better bet and you should investigate whether ATI or Nvidia is the best choice for your needs.

    Gaming - Apple has for the longest time been a distant second when it comes to gaming. It can be done, some games do well and many don't as compared to their Windows counterparts (hardware).

    Incidentally, zip compression does little if anything to movie files other than create a "package" that you can password.

    Perhaps a good exercise would be to list the type of software you want to use, check to see optimal hardware to match and then look for the best fit and value in a laptop. You might be surprised to find out it often is not in the Apple camp of hardware when it comes to laptops.

    LAST - my guess is you are most likely to get that Apple laptop and should find absolutely a way to get extended warranty (Apple Care etc.) since you want to keep it for a fairly long duration (3-5 years). I am not a fan of extended warranties but an investment of this sort does warrant it unless you believe down the line you can handle the cost of a break-fix scenario - hope for the best and plan for the worst.
     
  13. chemicalmy thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 18, 2014
    #13
    Probably the reason why I'm leaning to a Mac is that I'm curious and intrigued by the OS itself. I was tempted to buy and make a Hackintosh, but in all terms, that is troublesome and not worth my time. Thinking farther I thought, 'why not get a mac, according to the reviews that this is the best all around laptop'. I got tired of looking at other kinds of laptop so I went to this computer, easy to choose and versatile. Towards the gamin part, I'm not interested in games anymore, studying petroleum engineering is no easy task, so I gathered up all my courage and with regret I gave up my gaming life. Other than that dramatic explanation, I still have a gaming pc at home. I'm just looking a computer to replace my old crummy one residing at my dorm.

    And I heard that making applications is easier on Mac, and editing photos, so that's an added bonus.

    BTW, the "cool" factor of having a mac is also nice.
     
  14. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #14
    Making applications on a Mac is not easier in general. It really depends on the programming software you intend to use and if it should be cross platform etc. Editing photos can be as simple as a freebee editor to Adobe Elements to GIMP to Lightroom to Photoshop and so on. In short, for photographic work there is zero advantage unless you absolutely want Pixelmator or perhaps EOF Aperture (this I know well since part of what I do is all about photo editing).

    Everything else you say basically suggest you want a Mac even if there might be some negatives. If this is the case, then make the right BTO purchase, tweak and enjoy!
     
  15. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #15
    I'll tell you what I have told others. Within 5 years of taking it from place to place, plan on the cost of a replacement battery and charger somewhere in there. You can help mitigate it by loosely coiling the cord in a way that it won't take on any additional stress, but in both cases the replacement parts are expensive. Batteries are also expendable, so not always covered by applecare.
     
  16. chemicalmy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    #16
    If it's not any trouble at all, can I have any recommendation what is the perfect macbook for my need? I have a crummy desktop, but I can run Skyrim and LoL on high, I got that going which is nice. But I can't edit any photos and videos. So is the macbook pro wRetina an overkill on what I really need?
     

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