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Laptop for Engineering?

  1. Jun 30, 2007 #1
    Hello, I will be attending university next year to study engineering and I need a laptop that will help me in my studies. I just have a few questions about what type to get because I have no idea and I thought the professional engineers or students still studying engineering could help provide me with some insight.

    I am very curious and intrigued about switching over to the Mac OS. One of my concerns is the compatabilty with programs and software that studying engineering requires. Have any of you engineer mac users ever had problems compatabilty of programs? Another concern about switching to the Mac OS is that while working as a an engineer do you ever use the Mac OS? I would assume that most, maybe all, engineers use PC's but I do not know.

    So, any tips, suggestions, or reasons on why I should or should not switch to the Mac OS for engineering?

    Thank you for your responses.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2007 #2


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    Engineering's a huge field. Look at the classes you'll be taking, and see what software they require. Then, decide on a laptop that will run that software. You'll probably need the standards like AutoCAD, MATLAB, etc.

    edit: And, all modern Macs have Intel processors and can also run Windows. So, it's not much of an issue.

    edit2: Most universities will have a "standard PC" that they sell at a modest discount to all their students. You might just want to buy your university's standard.

    - Warren
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  4. Jun 30, 2007 #3


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    I'm not an engineer, nor a professional of any sort, but I will tell you straight out that those Windows-burners are ****. If your budget will support it, get the dual-core MacBook Pro with the 17" screen. Mac OSX will support Java. If worst comes to worst, you can run a Windows-only program on the Mac at a somewhat slower speed using the emulator function. (You might have to buy that separately. The major commercial version is called 'Virtual PC'.) The speed difference shouldn't be significant unless you're playing a game.
  5. Jun 30, 2007 #4


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    I think you would be well served by pretty much any laptop that would suit you outside of school. Let's face it, any high end programs you will be required to use will not be loaded on your machine unless you have some serious bucks. Most software packages have student versions but even those are at least $100 a pop. Where as your school will have engineering computer labs with everything you would need in terms of technical software.

    So really, do you need anything "high end?" I'd say nothing more than what would make you happy if you were just buying one for your regular everyday usage. Get one that will last a long time and won't be obsolete in a month. Your standard stuff like Word, Excel and the like will get you through your first couple of years.

    I seriously debated the switch to Apple as well a couple of years ago. What ended up making me not switch was simply what I use at work has been bullet proof and I like the idea of having the same thing at home. Perhaps some day I'll be brave and do it. The other thing that did scare me off at the time was price.
  6. Jul 18, 2007 #5
    Im not an engineer either, but i do plan on going into aersopace engineering next year but i do know some things about Macs. You dont want Virtual PC, its not very good at all, theres another program called 'Parallels' that actually lets you run windows XP in a window while your still using Mac OSX, and you can do basically everything with parallels except gaming because it has bad 3-d support as of now. I plan on getting a Mac but im going to install XP on it using a bootcamp and it lets you run XP natively. Just put a virus protector on XP and dont use the internet often, but if you do get a virus on your XP partition, it wont affect your Mac OSX partition (atleast i think.) Honestly Macs are now the best things out there, they can do all a PC can do and more, kind of a best of both worlds things especially since they are now very fast since they went with intel.
  7. Jul 18, 2007 #6
    I'm an engineering student too, and I highly recommend buying an Intel mac. I got myself a macbook pro a few weeks ago, installed XP (bootcamp) on it, and its perfect. Its pricey but for a laptop its extremely fast, it runs Inventor, and Solidworks faster than any other computer I've used it on (even those at school).
    Actually I graduated last month, but I'm doing 3 more years to study product design so it will be handy for that.
    I love osX for general stuff like typing, spreadsheets, internet, photoshop, etc.. because its such a nice and errorless enviroment to work in. I only use XP for the 3D stuff, and some other apps that don't run on osx like fluidsim and some PLC software.

    BTW: A dutch PC(!) magazine recently tested and compared 25 windows laptops, and decided the best windows laptop on the market was the 15" macbook pro. Even considdering the high price, the price/quality ratio was still the highest of all laptops.
  8. Aug 15, 2007 #7
    I'm an engineer student and I won't recommend a particular computer, just try to get a computer with a lot of RAM and a good procesor. Probably you will need to program on Matlab, use some design programs such as Pro-engineer or Solid Works and these programs are quite heavy, they will slow down your computer. Probably you will also need Power Point and a word procesor (dah).
  9. Aug 16, 2007 #8


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    When you start talking about software like Pro-E and Solidworks, you also have to look at increased hardware requirements, especially in your graphics card.
  10. Aug 16, 2007 #9
    Yeah, I run UGS and solidworks on my work laptop, and the resulting requirements pretty much spell -- "get the latest with as much as everything can get" and 1st check the graphics card (which means wouldn't buy such a system for myself). And then manage somehow without having to constantly run to a real workstation. So there is some thinking to be done on what you really need, some things may be "better accomplished" using workstations in a computer lab for example.
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