What MacBook should I buy for Computer Science.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by IvlievAnton, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. IvlievAnton macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2014
    I will a student in Computer Science and I will use MacBook for doing application development on iOS.
    I'm thinking about MacBook Air (base 13'' model, maybe with 256 ssd), but I'm not sure that xcode will run smoothly with 4gb of RAM. Also I'm thinking about Mid2012 MacBook Pro, because I can add RAM.
    What to choose?
  2. Epiphron macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2010
    I would definitely get one with 8GB. Xcode can be a huge resource hog depending on your app
  3. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    The baseline MBA should do you just fine. Unless you are planning on doing development on 3D games with physics, 4GB of RAM will be more than enough for the next 4-5 years. Xcode will be fine. It may take a little longer to compile, but unless you have 100+ pages of code, 8GB of RAM will only cut a second or two off your compile time. Especially considering you can pick up a baseline MBA for as cheap as $750 as a stock model, $1050 for 8GB of RAM is not worth the extra $300.

    The one thing I cannot stress enough is to not get a cMBP. It will cost you about $1400 to even get it close to the performance of a baseline MBA that costs $750. On top of that, it will weigh 1.5 pounds more, have a worse screen, about 1/3 the battery life, worse graphics, and produce more noise/heat. Back in 2012, I would have recommended it to maybe 5% of people, but the price has not dropped, and other computers have adapted new technology at a lower price. There is absolutely no justifiable reason to get a cMBP at this point in time. The only benefits are an upgradeable HDD (which is on SATA, not the current PCIE), upgradeable RAM, and an optical drive. You can pick up an external optical drive for $20 if you ever need to use a CD/DVD. RAM is really the only reason to get it, but even then, for $1400 you might as well get the 8GB/256GB 13" rMBP for the same price (assuming you upgrade the HDD and the RAM on the cMBP).

  4. IvlievAnton thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2014
    Thanks, Matt
  5. Matthew9559 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 7, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    I wouldn't pick up a laptop in 2014 with 4 GB of ram. Especially if you want it to last more than a couple years. It will be much more future proof. I'm assuming the other Matt is is talking about some deals because adding. Ram to the baseline 11" Air is only $100. If you're already ale it $900, not spending $100 more for this upgrade seems silly.

    You're going to need Windows on your machine for your courses I'm sure. I used to dual boot Windows/OS X in college as well and made it by on 128 just fine but I didn't keep much media on my laptop.
  6. educastro macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2014
    This part "you're going to need windows on your machine" makes me so sad but as a currently software engineering student I need to say that this is true. There is always that teacher that demands something to be made in a specific software that it is only available on Windows. I think that this is nonsense :(. But luckily I also have some teachers that always works with options that are available for everyone or demands that students use open source/free software options(or even an unix/linux operational system) <3. When I need to use Windows I open a Virtual Machine on a second space using Parallels, VMWare is also a great option for VM's. Both of them are paid software, if you want a free solution VirtualBox is an option(but I hate it).

    But anyway, I also don't think that a machine with only 4GB of RAM today is a good idea, I would also recommend that if it is possible get one with 16GB but 8GB will be work fine for the next 3~5 years. My machine is a MacBook Pro 13"(non-retina) that I bought 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD and upgraded it myself, it is very easy to do and definitely worth it but I would also prefer a MacBook Air, I have only made it because I already had this computer and it was the cheapest option available when I bought it.
  7. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    :D I see this turned into a ram thread again, so here we go ...

    My rmbp has 8gb and sometimes even I begin to doubt wether people shouldn't invest in more ram, since these forums are packed with geeks who recommend 'max out the ram' to literally anyone.

    Well, today I worked all day with a mba that had 4gb and damn was I reminded what this thing is capable of! I always have the activity monitor running to see about cpu, energy and memory usage. The memory pressure went not even close to getting yellow. Everything was smooth and responsive, in fact better than even on my rmbp :( i was multitasking with flash animations, some minor photo editing, chrome with a dozend tabs, safari with another dozend and couple of other generic apps.

    Just search youtube for videos like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6oaUJPZKNc where people demonstrate the capabilites of the base mba line.

    With pcie ssds and software optimization memory has simply become a non-issue except for a small group of multimedia power users and people who need to run VMs.


    Matt is talking about the deals you can get on the base mba. Getting the extra ram for only 100$ is tempting, but not even then it's simply not necessary. Might as well buy yourself a steak and a cigar. ;)

Share This Page