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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

The best macbook for a software engineering student?


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b2013

 
Member Since: Nov 30, 2013
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Hi everyone

Iím planning to get a macbook, but Iím in doubt between the following models (both with a 4 GB ram and 128 GB storage):
  1. Macbook Pro (late 2013) with the CPU 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
  2. Macbook Air (2013) with the CPU 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7

Iím a software engineering student, and I do stuff like programming with MATLAB and Java. Thus speed (performance) is the most important factor for me. The second factor is weight, as Iíll have to bring it to uni every day. Screen resolution and battery life are unimportant.

What confuses me the most is that the Pro has a higher clock speed, but itís a lower model (i5 versus the Airís i7).

I would be very thankful if you helped me choose the best one.
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b2013 View Post
What confuses me the most is that the Pro has a higher clock speed, but itís a lower model (i5 versus the Airís i7).
You can upgrade the cpu to an i7. I would also upgrade the ram. 4gig may not be enough...and ram is not upgradeable after configuration & purchase.

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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b2013

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
You can upgrade the cpu to an i7. I would also upgrade the ram. 4gig may not be enough...and ram is not upgradeable after configuration & purchase.

- Nick
Thanks.

Unfortunately I actually cannot spend more than that. The most expensive thing that I can afford is Macbook Pro late 2013, basic configuration.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b2013 View Post
Thanks.

Unfortunately I actually cannot spend more than that. The most expensive thing that I can afford is Macbook Pro late 2013, basic configuration.
Yes...that's the way it goes sometimes! But I would strongly recommend doing at least the ram upgrade. Extra $100 I believe.

I would also recommend checking out the refurbished area. Save a couple hundred.

This may interest you:

Refurbished 13.3-inch MacBook Pro 2.9GHz Dual-core Intel i7 - Apple Store (U.S.)

- dual core 2.9ghz i7
- 8gig ram
- 750 gig HD
- $1269

* Nick

p.s. And the ram is upgradeable later on to 16gig if you would so choose or need it. And you can either upgrade the HD to a larger capacity HD or and SSD...AND you can remove the optical drive...and install an SSD (two drives in the same laptop)!

Can't do all this with newer models.

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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b2013

 
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To be honest I cannot spend more than around 1340 euros (I'm buying in Europe). This roughly equals the price of the two computers I listed in the first post. But I really cannot go upper, not even upgrading the ram.

So, the question is which of those gives better performance?

The Pro has higher clock frequency, but the Air is i7 and has a higher Turbo Charge clock frequency (3.3 vs. Pro's 3.1).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b2013 View Post
So, the question is which of those gives better performance?

The Pro has higher clock frequency, but the Air is i7 and has a higher Turbo Charge clock frequency (3.3 vs. Pro's 3.1).
I think that someone else was asking the same exact question earlier today...here's an answer that I mentioned:

Macbook Air vs. Pro, impossible to decide

Each model has it's positives. The MBA has much better cpu scores...but the MBP has a retina display, better graphics hardware.

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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b2013

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
I think that someone else was asking the same exact question earlier today...here's an answer that I mentioned:

Macbook Air vs. Pro, impossible to decide

Each model has it's positives. The MBA has much better cpu scores...but the MBP has a retina display, better graphics hardware.

- Nick
Thanks again Nick.

I do programming with languages like Matlab, java, VHDL. These do many calculations sometimes, and so I think I'll be better off with the MBA due to the higher cpu speed (benchmarks). I will not do heavy graphics nor games.

Do you think I'm right?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b2013 View Post

I do programming with languages like Matlab, java, VHDL. These do many calculations sometimes, and so I think I'll be better off with the MBA due to the higher cpu speed (benchmarks). I will not do heavy graphics nor games.

Do you think I'm right?
Sounds like good logic to me. If you were someone who did gaming, videos, photoshop, etc...then better graphics would be better. But if you focus on tasks that involve a lot of calculations...then better cpu scores would be better.

HTH,

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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b2013

 
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But can you really rely on benchmarks? I mean are they really good measure of how fast the computer will do, for example, long mathematical calculations in Matlab?
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if you can't rely on benchmarks, what can you rely on? A lot of the benchmarks generate the numbers they do by making the CPU run through algorithms and other number crunching exercises..

The better the CPU, the faster it can finish the tasks, the higher the score.

So If you care, primarily, about the number crunching ability, then focus on those scores from the benchmarks and go with the machine with the highest score..

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Quote:
Originally Posted by b2013 View Post
But can you really rely on benchmarks? I mean are they really good measure of how fast the computer will do, for example, long mathematical calculations in Matlab?
Other than running the exact applications you are going to use...on each computer model you are thinking of purchasing to get relative time (minutes & seconds) to compete specific tasks...benchmark scores are the best guide you're going to get.

Benchmark scores are what have been used to compare the performance of one computer vs. others ever since computers have been around (but certainly since the 1980's when personal computers became widespread).

If you know of a better method...I would sure like to know!

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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b2013

 
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Thank you both for the strong arguments; I think now I can see that benchmarks are reliable.

However, there is a problem with the benchmarks you (pigoo3) mention in the other topic (MBA 7097 vs. MBP 5482):

These seem to be from everymac, where the MBA is tested with Geekbench 2 whereas the MBP is tested with Geekbench 3. And as the website says, the two versions "cannot be directly compared".

Moreover, on primatelabs they both get approx. similar results: MBA: 6149, MBP: 6174.

So, can we really conclude that the MBA scores better?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b2013 View Post
However, there is a problem with the benchmarks you (pigoo3) mention in the other topic (MBA 7097 vs. MBP 5482):

These seem to be from everymac, where the MBA is tested with Geekbench 2 whereas the MBP is tested with Geekbench 3. And as the website says, the two versions "cannot be directly compared".

Moreover, on primatelabs they both get approx. similar results: MBA: 6149, MBP: 6174.

So, can we really conclude that the MBA scores better?
Sorry about that. I didn't realize that Everymac.com was now using Geekbench 3 with some model Mac's. If those scores you mentioned (6149 vs. 6174) are the true comparative scores...then really there is no difference between these two computers from a cpu benchmark perspective.

Thanks for the heads up!

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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b2013

 
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No problem

Then, considering my main use (programming MATLAB, java, etc; i.e. performance being my first priority), which computer would you recommend?

Actually I've decided to get an 8 GB RAM (on either of the computers).
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No problem

Then, considering my main use (programming MATLAB, java, etc; i.e. performance being my first priority), which computer would you recommend?

Actually I've decided to get an 8 GB RAM (on either of the computers).
I would still refer your back to the post I made in the other thread:

Macbook Air vs. Pro, impossible to decide

Of course with the cpu benchmark scores be a virtual tie...that takes something away from the MBA.

In my opinion...the only advantage the MBA has over the MBP is that it is lighter (less weight)...and maybe it's a bit thinner (I didn't verify this).

If these things don't interest you...and if I was purchasing one of these two computers...I would probably go with the MBP. It has potentially better graphics performance (due to newer graphics hardware technology)...and it has the retina display.

HTH,

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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