Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Dell or apple

  1. Jul 29, 2008 #1
    As a prospective engineering/math/physics major in college, which laptop should i get? I want one which can last as long and can run eng/math/phy stuffs?..
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Brand is really insignificant, chose the one that fits your budget and that you like the feel/look of.

    Fan boys will argue.
  4. Jul 29, 2008 #3
    You can't go wrong, you'd be happy with either.
  5. Jul 29, 2008 #4
    Yeah, a mac is going to cost a bit more probably. I personally don't like the one button touchpad on a mac, but I guess you get used to it. Personally I'd say Dell + Linux of some flavor, but I'm partial to pc's and linux. . .
  6. Jul 31, 2008 #5
    i just made the switch from pc to mac and its not hard at all
  7. Aug 1, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Before you buy, check out if it has a particular type of NVidia video card
    which affects some laptops from
    Apple, Dell, HP, etc...

    Here is a list from Dell.
    http://direct2dell.com/one2one/archive/2008/07/25/nvidia-gpu-update-for-dell-laptop-owners.aspx [Broken]
    and from HP

    (It appears the "fixes" (via a BIOS upgrade) aren't repairs... just techniques to prolong stability.)

    more chatter:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  8. Aug 1, 2008 #7
    Two years ago I switched back to using Apple products. They cost more, but I really like Apple's OS-X. Now that Apple OS has Boot Camp, you can easily run both OS-X and Windows (I run XP Pro). When you start the computer just hold down the option button. It will prompt you to either boot with Windows or OS-X. The OS-X disc also comes loaded with all the windows drivers for all the Mac hardware on your machine, so everything works nicely.

    I've also had an iPhone for almost a year now, and I love how it works so seamlessly with my Macbook.

    But the hardware from any brand can fail just as easy, so make sure you purchase the Apple Care extended warranty (same goes for Dell/HP/Sony). I will say that Apple service leaves service from Dell and HP in the dust. My Macbook's logic board failed a few months back (it's my primary computer and bangs around everywhere with me). I dropped it off at my local Apple store on a Monday and picked it up that Wednesday - they even replaced the parts of the case that were worn and gave me a new keyboard/trackpad.

    Unless you are into graphics-heavy gaming, the Macbook is actually a great deal. I run Mathematica easily, along with some 3D visualization software we used in the Chemistry sequence. I also run Office for Mac which has a great interface.

    I plan on purchasing a new 24" iMac this fall - the new ones are quite powerful.

    Sony has a great markdown on their website right now on VAIO notebooks though, so it's a tough decision. I think Apple is the way to go - but you certainly pay for it.
  9. Aug 2, 2008 #8


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    As a prospective student, the most important factor is what type of computers are run in the engineering department of your university. If they are all running windows based computers, I'd get the Dell.
  10. Aug 2, 2008 #9
    I dislike both Apple and Dell. Apple because of the insane amount of marketing and design they spend on their products which makes them way overpriced. Dell because their laptops are loaded with crapware and use custom drivers that are badly supported.

    I personally like Sager laptops, they are well equipped and good priced.

    As for those who recommend Dell, what is so great about Dell computers?
  11. Aug 2, 2008 #10
    Neither, get a Thinkpad or Vaio. Thinkpad = engineers tool/niche thing. Vaio = if you want power (you can have power w/ thinkpad too, but the current ones use the nvidia cards like dell and apple do, which are bad).

    I highly recommend Vaio FW w/ radeon card. it has 1066mhz FSB. get it from newegg for $999 (3gb ram 2.26 C2D, 16.4" 1600x900 rez).
  12. Aug 2, 2008 #11
    Sager makes some decent laptops. I've owned one, as well as one of my younger sisters. Hers had a Pentium 4 that ended up cooking the logic board. Mine is still running, and a family member uses it for internet/eMail.

    They do have a semi-shoddy construction from my experience. They flex, creak, and groan when you pick them up, the fans are generally loud, and it doesn't seem like a cohesive design. But you get lots of hardware for less dough. Service unfortunately is horrendous. My hard drive failed, and they required me to ship the laptop to them (at my cost). It was three weeks before I saw it again, and the case was scratched up pretty bad.

    You could also look for a local dealer that builds laptops with OEM cases and standard fare components. If you plan to stay in the area for school, it makes repairs extremely quick and easy.

    To toot Apple once more, they do have the unique bonus of designing both the software and logic board in house. It makes for a smooth running system. They also invest some good cash into aesthetic design as well - I enjoy having a sleek and solid feeling enclosure when I'm staring at the thing for hours on end, and carrying it too and fro. And like I said above, you can run both Windows and OS-X on it, so which software your department uses is irrelevant. For general tasks like eMail/Internet/Office I much prefer the OS-X environment. For creative tasks like image/video/sound editing, Macs are very well known for their software. I also use OS-X for Mathematica and Spice. SolidWorks and AutoCAD are PC only I'm pretty sure, but that just involves re-starting and firing up Windows.

    But Macs definitely run more when compared to PCs with equivalent equipment. You have to decide if you like the OS-X environment or plan to use any Mac software. That extra dough certainly doesn't get you extra hardware, but it gets you a fantastic operating system, great service, nice aesthetics, and access to a library of software that is Mac only.

    We also own a Gateway Media-Center laptop with a big 17" LCD, but generally it's only used when we're both in need of a notebook to work on.


    For strictly PC laptops, I also like the Sony Vaios - just make sure you buy the extended warranty (and save every last receipt and packaging item!).
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2008
  13. Aug 2, 2008 #12

    Ben Niehoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I have a Fujitsu tablet-convertible and I have nothing but good things to say about it. It's solid, well-built, came packaged with absolutely no bloatware, crapware, or AOL ads, and has been absolutely stable for three years.

    So I would highly recommend Fujitsu. However, whether to specifically recommend tablet-convertibles is another story. There is a bit of a trade-off: The tablets always have slower CPUs, smaller hard drives, smaller screens, and poor sound and video; in exchange, you get increased portability (mine has a 12'' screen and is very light), and you get a Wacom tablet on your screen (very good for Photoshop and OneNote).

    Fujitsu has a full line of laptops, though, including the monster "desktop replacement" ones with 17'' widescreens, all the latest hardware, etc. They have high standards and I'm sure they wouldn't disappoint.

    Although, when I bought mine, it had to be shipped from Japan, which was fun to watch with the package tracking thingy. "Hey, my laptop is now in Okinawa!"

    Edit: I just remembered, I do have one bad thing to say about it. The internal wi-fi antenna is not very good; it drops a lot of packets, which makes it frustrating to try to watch videos or download programs (updates to Acrobat Reader always seem to get corrupted, etc., due to lost packets). Occasionally, it even fails to properly load web pages. The frequency of errors seems to be proportional to heat; I think it's due to the laptop's small size, and the design constraints this imposed as to what components could go where.

    Second Edit: The above problem might be related to outdated device drivers for my wireless adapter. I've just updated the drivers, so we'll see if that fixes the problem.

    Third edit: Problem solved! The new device driver works. Long downloads and videos are perfect. :)

    And now I can fully recommend Fujitsu again. :P
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2008
  14. Aug 2, 2008 #13


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

  15. Aug 3, 2008 #14

    Ben Niehoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  16. Aug 3, 2008 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I don't prefer Dells for Windows-based systems, but I will say this about Windows vs. Mac OS:

    For work, I purchased a $1700 iMac and an $800 HP PC. The HP ran faster. The iMac could boot Windows and run all of our Windows-specific programs -- but only after we bought a $150 copy of Windows for it.
  17. Aug 3, 2008 #16


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I also like the Vaio -- it was my first lapop, and it ran great for many years until I replaced it with my current machine.
  18. Aug 3, 2008 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Battery life is generally poor [compared to a full-8-hr day] for laptops and tabletpcs.
    With a 9-cell battery, you can probably get more than 6 hours... at the cost of more weight and more volume [extent], and of course more money.
    To squeeze more time out of my batteries, I sometimes underclock the processor when I don't require intensive computational power.
  19. Aug 3, 2008 #18
    Well first of I would chose a dell and dual boot with xp and linux, this option in my opinion provides the most compatibility.
    I like dell laptops because they are reliable and decently priced. As for their customs drivers being supported badly, I have no idea what you are talking about, I have only ever had dell computers and I have never ran into any issues finding drivers. As a matter of fact their website provides extremely good help for finding the correct driver for your computer http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/index.aspx
    However this is my opinion, you may have had different experiences.
    As for sager laptops, I haven't heard much about them but one of my friends has one and his laptop has experienced many problems with including issues with the speakers, drivers and the battery.
    I agree with you though on the crapware issue, but when ever I purchase a new computer I immediately format the disk and partition it to prepare it for linux to run on it.
  20. Aug 4, 2008 #19
    The most important is the hardware, I recomend at least...

    Procesador Intel® Core™2 Duo T7250 (2MB Cache/2.0GHz/800Mhz FSB) or better

    RAM 2GB or more

    this is the most important.

    About dell or apple , I have a dell Laptop and it works fine for me, I use software like mathematica, maple,fortran, etc. but I never have used an apple machine.
  21. Aug 6, 2008 #20
    Might I suggest a Compaq. I love mine and I have alot stored on it.(Including CAD Pro and other software) Works very nice and I have had no trouble with it. I do have Windows Vista and that can take some time getting used to, but I love it none the less. :biggrin: (Not to mention, it was cheap with all the bells and whistles)
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads - Dell apple Date
Dell Inspiron Plugged in, Not Charging Nov 13, 2017
Issue about factory reset my iPhone Dec 7, 2016
Mac OS X install on Dell PC Jan 21, 2013
Dell Computer Not Charging Dec 10, 2011