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Should I get a MAC or Windows laptop?

  1. Jan 7, 2008 #1
    Should I get a MAC or Windows laptop?
    Why is it that so many academics use MACs? Or what is it that makes MACs superior to a Windows notebook?
    Couldn't you just get a MAC and dual boot with Windows? Could you do the same with Windows?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 7, 2008 #2
    I am very interested in this too. What are the pros and cons of a MAC?
  4. Jan 7, 2008 #3
    im sure someone will go more in depth on this but i will give a quick answer
    pros:everything about them, especially with bootcamp
    cons: they get moderetly expensive but you get what you pay for
  5. Jan 7, 2008 #4


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    For me... MACs are more attractive than before
    ...since they are now Intel-based
    (and can dual-boot into Windows (or use a virtualized Windows)
    so that my old software [and its data files] is still usable including programs I've created)...
    ...and OSX has a unix/linux-like layer.
    (On Windows, I'm happy with cygwin.)

    If a MAC TabletPC ever materializes, I might consider it.

    As long-time user of Intel-based computers, I'm in my comfort zone in personal computing.
    However, I'm curious
    how the long-time users of MACs [since the very early days] feel about the major changes [in CPUs and OSes] for the MAC platform
    which might have abandoned some software and hardware in the transitions.
  6. Jan 7, 2008 #5
    I would also like more information on why computational physicists prefer MACS or is that even true?
  7. Jan 7, 2008 #6
    All of my profs so far have had macbooks/powerbooks. I don't know why. It's kinda weird, come to think about it. Maybe they get a good discount from Apple?
  8. Jan 7, 2008 #7
    Yes you can dual boot windows xp with a mac but you can't boot a mac os on a windows box I don't believe.

    I find it odd professors are using macs if they are in the engineering/physics fields, it would make more sense to be using a Windows/Linux box.

    Mac is popular but still not popular enough for the majority of the scientific software out there to be ported to mac.

    Mainly you still will find linux/windows.

    Mac is prettier I think than windows and I think more organized. But in the end I'll always buy a windows machine because I'm a gamer as well and I like to know any kind of software I'm looking for is going to be supported by my OS. (Yes I know you can run windows software on mac with special software just like you can run windows applications on linux with emulation software).

    If all your doing with this notepad is taking notes, then hell buy a mac, they are attractive.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2008
  9. Jan 7, 2008 #8
    school usually choose linux/unix for server and cluster unless that school has way too much time and money to maintain Windows. Mac is a UNIX-based system which means you can have direct access to central computer of linux/UNIX type.

    Majority of research level software has verson in UNIX-like system also. Using X11 on Linux/Mac you can access software via SSH. This is possible on window but it is cumbersome (very). Moreover, Window is well-known for its security problem. I have to scan window once a week for virus and I havent done so on my mac and linux machines since I have gotten them.

    At GUI level application, Mac offers a lot better interface than our lovely Windows. Even Linux community is catching up with Windows in those eye-candy interface. Window XP wass a stable solution but it doesnt offer direct control over your OS like Linux does (Free sources). If you are considering Vista that means you are not serious about computing and productivity. If you are serious about academics, learn linux.

    Productivity (general at local level)
    Windows >Linux> Macs
    Since you have all the software you need on windows. Linux has a large collection of free software you can use. Mac offers beautiful solution but it is not the best solution for engineering purposes. (Engineer makes things works)

    Productivity (network-required, intensive, efficient)
    Linux > MacOS > Windows
    Linux has direct controls over network and it gives the optimal working environment for computing. MacOS is the same because it is UNIX-based. However it is not as customisable as Linux can. Window is just a joke because it is too depending on GUI.

    Window is the most common and this is why we are used to its efficiency (or inefficiency).
    I think Macs gives user a very convenient interface at beginner-level. Those F9-F12 keys are sweet and handy when you are working up regular computer usage. I dont see they are of great help at computing level. Once you are used to Linux environment you will have the greatest efficiency over any OS on earth. You can also just download anything you need.

    Mac is common in biological and medical field. I dont think it is different than a linux/unix machines in engineering, CS, Maths and Physics because they usually dont need to make things pretty and they know how to use key-strokes rather than left-and-right-clicks
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2008
  10. Jan 7, 2008 #9
    Mac is unix based and so can run all of the bazillions of unix scientific apps with almost no effort. I haven't had a problem with finding good scientific software for the mac. Of course, your experience may vary.
  11. Jan 8, 2008 #10
    i knew mac was Unix based but I didn't realize it could run the same software linux can without having to have a special port. Is this true? It can or it can't?
  12. Jan 8, 2008 #11
    It can run what unix can run. It might not run what linux can run. However most apps are written in C or C++. You can just compile it on any system so it doesnt matter at all what you use.

    Macports is a project for open source software of mac.

    Afterall I just want to have a Evince document reader on Mac... So that I can read .ps, .pdf, .djvu, .dvi and others with just one reader. This is the efficiency of Linux.
  13. Jan 8, 2008 #12
    "Yes you can dual boot windows xp with a mac but you can't boot a mac os on a windows box I don't believe."

    See osx86 if you're interested.
  14. Jan 9, 2008 #13
    Is it worth getting the APPLE warrantee? Do macs have a reputation for screwing up?
  15. Jan 9, 2008 #14
    Here's the deal. A Mac laptop will last ~2 years. Beyond that it's hit or miss. The first year will be under warranty anyway. The second year should be OK as long as you take reasonable care of the laptop.

    I buy a new laptop every 2 years or so anyway, so I never go for the warranty. That might sound like a lot, but 1300 dollars every couple of years for a new macbook isn't so bad, and it lets me keep up with the shiny new gadgets.
  16. Jan 9, 2008 #15
    What the hell? A MAC laptop only lasted you two years?

    Does anyone else have the same experience?

    What happenend to your laptop? Or what did you do with it?
  17. Jan 9, 2008 #16


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    Because Apple used to offer universities a huge discount on their computers. They don't anymore which is why many have switched to PC. About 7-8 years ago Mac where still quite common but nowadays they seem to be quite rare, presumably because they are quite expensive. Also, universities are "corporate customers" meaning they tend to prefer Dell and similar companies which can give "package deals" on everything from servers to desktop PCs. Many organizations (including the two I belong to) won't even allow you to buy a Mac, we have to buy everything from Dell.
  18. Jan 9, 2008 #17
    wow, after looking over some of the posts I did not see one of the most important reasons why people choose mac. Thus far, MAC operating systems are not susceptible to viruses and spyware, just because no one programs viruses for them(from what I hear)
  19. Jan 9, 2008 #18
    Security problem of window was mentioned at very early time
  20. Jan 9, 2008 #19
    Should I get the 3-year warrantee or not? It's $ 285
  21. Jan 11, 2008 #20
    the warranty is a hard question.
    if you do something drastic like drop your laptop on concrete, or spill a large amount fo liquid on it
    those repairs will be VERY costly with out the warranty.
    but, if you take good care of your computer, don;t eat or drink near it, and just be careful, you will probably be fine with out the extended warranty

    As to apple laptops only lasting 2 years... I don't believe that one bit. Mac computers are known for their long life, it wasn't until OS X that the old macs began to be obsolete. I used a powermac 7500 for 8 years or so. my parents digital imaging and printing lab uses a mac classic for invoices, and a mac b/w g3 for scanning, mild photoshop work and print serving. I have many friends that still use their iBooks that are well past 2 years old.

    overall, I would say an apple laptop is the way to go. you will be happy with it in college when all your friends are having trouble with their windows machines
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