Which macbook for a computing Uni course?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dj95, Jul 17, 2014.

  1. dj95 macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2011
    Hi everyone,

    I need some advice on what macbook to get, Air or rMBP, for my undergraduate course in computing starting September. The course mainly covers fairly in-depth Java programming, as well as multimedia systems investigations incoperating Flash and HTML based coding/applications. A simple algorithmic language (pseudo code) is used - again mainly Java, and Python will also be used. Considering this, will a MBA be sufficient power wise? I think I will configure it with 8GB of RAM and the 256GB SSD regardless, for use with virtual machines etc. For the price though, is it worthwhile to spend a bit more money and get the rMBP with the better display (which I presume will make coding much nicer to do!) along with the same 8GB/256GB config?

    Any help is greatly appreciated, or advice from current/former/future computer science students :)
  2. Osarkon macrumors 68020


    Aug 30, 2006
    Did my computer science degree with an original macbook (core duo, 1gb of ram) and it handled it with ease.

    A base MacBook Air should be able to do it easily.
  3. kittencounter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2013
    Ofc a MBA could handle everything. It's even very handy in many cases. But if you don't mind the weight and the cost, a 15inch rMBP is just perfect for all those things. You will appreciate the screen estate when you write codes on some IDEs. The 15inch Macbooks are real workhorses at everything you throw at them and they usually age very well. So I would say if you plan getting 13incher get the MBA and not the 13inch rMBP, otherwise get the 15inch rMBP.
  4. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    Just as a note, the price gap between the computers shrinks from 4GB/128GB to 8GB/256GB. On the education store, the difference between baseline computers is $250, and the difference between the 8GB/256GB models is $160.

    As others have mentioned, most ECS courses do not require much power. You will need a computer, but you will not need realistically need a computer more powerful than a chrome book until your 3rd or 4th year, depending on what you are specializing in. If you have a computer currently, I would wait a year or two, as you probably do not need power right now.

    I currently have a 2014 MBA, but I personally think the 13" rMBP is the best computer in Apple's lineup. If I hadn't been able to pick mine up for $700 I would have gotten a rMBP. If you have the money, I personally think the rMBP is the better choice. Will you need the power? No. At retail price, it is definitely worth the cost difference though. The main difference is that the MBA has about 30% better battery life and weighs half a pound less. The rMBP beats it in every other aspect.

  5. dj95 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2011
    Thanks so much for the replies, much appreciated! I think I can get away with the baseline model of each, but even with the 8GB ram upgrade will they hold me over at least 4 years? It seems 8GB is heading to be the minimum soon for slight longevity

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