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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

MacBook Pro - A computer science student needs a laptop!


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Hope for Chaos

 
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Member Since: Feb 02, 2007
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Mac Specs: MBP 15.4 Glossy 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo 2GB RAM 200GB HDD @ 7200rpm

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Well I'm in the market for a laptop....or well looking into one for the next school year. In the past month I learned my dad received orders (has to move for those no it in the military) to Cape Canaveral Florida! Its all cool except we like in Illinois now and I go to school in Missouri. This means traveling back and forth during the school year will be by plane and the summer of course I will make a long drive back.

Anyways I'm a computer guy who is really...well, into computers. I've never been a huge fan of notebooks just because a desktop has so much more power for the dollar but traveling back and forth 3-4 times a year will be a pain with a huge cpu and 20" widescreen monitor.

Right now I have a dell 3.2GHz, 1 gig of ram, Radeon X600 256m graphics card (which I know isn't crazy or anything but better than integrated) and I guess thats it. A pretty nice setup so I really wana get something nice out of a notebook and not the cheapest thing to get the job done. What I NEED out of it is probably my biggest issue.
  • I am a computer science major which means I write Win32 programs with programs like textpad (not notepad) and have to send them through a drop box to turn in. I'm mainly doing things like C++, Java, more I'm sure I'm just a freshman. Is this even possible with a mac? I mean I know they are getting a lot better with mac to windows transitions but this will need to run on a windows machine!? Just shoots red flags everywhere!
  • Next I own office 2002 and really don't have the cash for much else than a laptop. I mean by time I pay for it and buy any extras I'll be wiped clean! Dropping another $XXX on software can't happen. I do have access through the military for Office 2003 Student edition fo a pretty nice discount since its cheap to begin with but I'm thinking there's just a MS office for mac and I can't install the windows version on there.
  • Other than that I have an ipod and love music. I've always liked the way apple makes computers its just been a cost factor and a parent factor with my dad being a little biased towards MS. I mean a cool guy and all but if you start a debate about OS's he turns into the windows guy from the apple commercials!

This notebook really is about necessity but for the price I want something I'm really going to like. I was reading an article about vista and the new apple commercials when I read a quote from a ceo or someone at apple that said "why upgrade to vista when you can upgrade past it" It stuck to me because it s a good opportunity to see what the other side is like and it honstly feels more like me. I'm into all the things macs are known for liek music, pictures, movies.

So how does it look? Maybe not so good for me? O BTW I'm looking at the MAC book pro 15" 2.16GHz. I think I get an education discount so around $1800. It kills me a bit because I know what I could get for the some price if I went windows but hey I'm liking the idea of a mac. Thanks for any help because like I said I'm brand new to the world of apple computers.
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Stretch

 
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The Macbook Pros are great computers, you can't go wrong with it. You could also try one of Apple's refurbished models. Completely identical to a new model, (aside from a possiblity of a slight cosmetic blemish), same warranty, but its $100s cheaper.

Also I believe Apple has a deal with MS Office suite, where you can get it at a discount with a computer purchase.

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kgeier82

 
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hope for chaos.... im a CIS/business major. the mac will do u just fine, youll learn to love xcode. its a little different than visual studio and the likes, but once you get used to it, man....

as for which machine. for me it was simple. i had the mb originally for about 9 months. loved the little bugger. i now have a mbp. reason i switched? the screen on the macbook was just a tad small for me writing programs in xcode. the additional 2" of screen along with the bump up in resolution, made the pro model the better choice for me.

sure the macbook is small and a little more compact, but the pro is a nicer machine. add the x1600 to it, which i rarely use anyways, and u get a real deal.

i went with the base mbp c2d with a 2.16, and upped the ram to 2gig, again something ill never use.

enjoy

2.4ghz Unibody | Hitachi 320GB 7200 | 256MB 9600gt
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todd51
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I have a MBP right now and I love it to death, have had no issues with it and can't wait to see how great it runs with some more ram!

I know the price can hurt, but it's worth it. If the price seems too high still, then just go with a nice Macbook and deck it out with ram, bigger HDD and Applecare for almost the price of the base MBP. The Macbook does have longer batter life, and is only a bit smaller of a screen.
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cazabam

 
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From the sounds of it, you need to buy yourself a PC notebook. The MBP is a fine machine and would certainly be powerful enough for you, but you'd either have to install Windows via bootcamp or use a VM in Parallels.

From the sounds of it, you really need to be able to use Microsoft's compiler and libraries. Sure, Xcode is a fine IDE and GCC 4 is a fine compiler, but it doesn't help if you're supposed to be writing win32 apps.

If you already own Office and really can't afford to get the Mac version, you would also be having to run this in Windows. Again, this is either bootcamp or a VM.

You could get a MBP and be very happy with it. It's more than up to the task you need of it, and if you want a Mac except for the stuff you do at school then getting a copy of Parallels would probably be your best bet. However, if what you're after is a machine to primarily run Windows, you'd probably be better off with a PC laptop.
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Hope for Chaos

 
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Thanks a lot for the replies. It looks like I'm gonna have to go that route (windows) for now. It wasn't that you guys couldn't "sell" me a mac but you guys with a mac can see where my needs won't be met right now in school. For my purposes and also expenses it seems like a windows machine will take care of me. Thanks a lot for the help guys. I really appreciate the honest feedback in helping me make a decision.
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ccasey

 
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I think you should give the Mac a bit more consideration...

My CS classes, way back in the day, used the same languages, but we were expected to work in UNIX (or Linux). I had Linux dual-booting on my PC, and that saved me from long, late hours in the labs.

In your situation, I might look at a Macbook (refurb is fine - my MBP is a refurb and has been flawless), a nice big external LCD - 20" or so, a nice comfortable keyboard and mouse. For software, you'd need Parallels and a copy of Windows. Buy the basic system from Apple and then swap/load up the RAM as much as you can.

With this setup, you could run the Office you have, or just use Open Office - it's actually pretty good.

You could program in OSX, Linux, or Windows as the situation demanded. (Check out Visual Studio Express for Windows programming - similar interface and capabilities of the "full" version, but free.)

You'd be mobile but you'd have a very capable workstation at home.

The only downside to this setup is that it wouldn't be very good for 3D gaming, though there are a few that try. Personally I feel my MBP is marginal for it, but it's certainly good enough.

Your costs would be ~$1000 for the MacBook, $150 for RAM, ~$250 for the LCD, and Parallels is $80, I think. That's just under $1500, so you'd have enough in your budget to get the Student edition of Office if you decided you needed it, as well as a few bucks for Ramen and pizza.

Good luck with your purchase, but especially with your studies.

-Chris
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aljlin

 
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As much as I'd say go for the macbook pro, I would probably say, if you are looking to budget yourself, and looking at what you need, you may want to look at a Macbook. I am a computer science student myself, and I am starting to see a couple macs being used, about half of them are macbooks half of them are macbook pro's.. Now I don't personally do a lot of Windows programming, and not sure about others who have it here, but if your curriculum is heavily windows programming based then maybe it would be good to go with a windows laptop. Or what you can do is talk to your advisor or maybe look around in your classes to see what other students in your department have. if you see anyone with a mac (macbook or macbook pro) why not go up to them and ask them a couple questions about how they think about macs and the curriculum you guys are taking, and whether it would be feasible to buy a mac. Just ask them if they have run into problems with having a mac and the curriculum they have and what kind of programs they have in order to get their assignments done. If you don't see any macs, maybe talk to some of your professors and see what they think. I'm sure as a CS professor, some of them will be semi familiar with macs, (even if they don't work with them) and they can give you an idea on whether it would work with what you need for your courses. Since you have a big monitor already, maybe you should go ahead and get a macbook, and when you are at your desk, connect the laptop to your monitor and keyboard and mouse, and then you can just carry it around when you are out. It's much more portable and you don't sound like you need the extra 3d graphics and stuff. Sure it'd be nice to have a bigger screen and stuff, but for what you need, the macbook would probably do just fine. Just remember to upgrade your ram to the max (2gb i believe).
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