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Windows vs macbook

  1. Oct 2, 2016 #1
    Hi everyone, I am a year 1 general engineering student.
    I am considering civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or computer science as major next year (yeah, I know the range quite wide, but I still have no idea how to decide yet...)
    I am still considering whether I should buy a macbook or any windows laptop...
    After I back to school, seems right now there are half-half of them using macbook and windows.
    My factors in considering is
    1. price
    2. mobility
    3. capability for use in college
    4. life-span
    5. battery life (enough for a normal school day would by fine)
    I was suggested by my parents to buy a macbook air 11'' as it is the cheapest among macbook as well as it is incredibly light. However, I have almost no experience in using macbook though I use an iphone. I just afraid whether things would be fine when I switch to use a macbook especially in the long term, like I was told that it is unable to run "Python 3.2 + PyGame" specific by my college right now in my programming course.

    Should I really buy a macbook air? Or any other suggestion? (My college offer student discount on Apple, Asus, Lenovo, Microsoft and Fujitsu)
    Is there anything I should beware of as a new engineering student?

    Thanks for comments.

    I am using an only one-year old 15.5" windows 10 computer, 3.4kg is a little bit too heavy to bring to college, considering give it to my mother for homeuse
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    For macbook you consider the macbook pro. Compare its specs to lenovo and windows based machinrs. The pro should handle your engineeing needs for the next 4 years or so we you can start looking for an even newer macine.

    Comparing macos vs windows. They can do similar things via their gui interfaces. However macos is a unix based system wherea windows is not. A lot of academically developed software is linux based and run on mac for the most part. You can find equivalents to mimic unix on windows for an extra cost.

    Thats in general what will be the case fot both machines buying software to add function.

    I use mac for work and prefer it to windows. Ive used windows prior to that for many years and tell you mac is pricier, mac has an attitude for some things but for me its nice to have the unix tools readily available.
  4. Oct 2, 2016 #3
    Why do you prefer macbook pro rather than air?
    I thought the lighter the better for school...

    Also, i am considering whether 11" would be enough... some people say its screen too small, but some say as font is adjustable,it's fine for daily use... 13" is more expensive compared to that...
    What do you think on that?

  5. Oct 2, 2016 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    Lighter often means a slower speed processor to conserve battery usage.
  6. Oct 2, 2016 #5
    Thanks for reminding that...
    Do you think it is a kind of unacceptably slow?
    For 11" macbook air amd 13" macbook pro with retina display costs almost of a difference of HKD$3000 (about USD385??)...
    but for 13"macbook pro without retina display which seems of a more reasonable plrice, it uses hdd which seems of much bulky, slow, and of short life span...
    I m really struggling what should i choose...
  7. Oct 3, 2016 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    Go with your heart, it seems you want the portability.
  8. Oct 3, 2016 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Unfortunately it often also means a smaller battery, which tends to cancel the slower processor to some extent.
  9. Oct 3, 2016 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I have had an 11" MacBook Air for a number of years now, and while it has limited memory and very short battery life compared to the recent models, I have probably done more useful work with it than several other much "better" systems I use at home and work. This is in part because I travel a lot, and also because I just like having an true "notebook" that I can work on anywhere, anytime.

    However, there are a few major things that I have come to realize over the years, especially when comparing with other notebooks I've used or seen my colleagues use:
    - The 11" MacBook screen is small when that's all you have to work with for a long time on a trip
    - The SD memory slot on the 13" Air and the Pros is actually pretty useful
    - The Retina display is the one thing I'd really like over everything else

    Have you considered the 12" MacBook with the Retina display? Other than needing more dongles, it seems like a good choice if you want the portability and a Retina screen but not the weight of the 13" Pro.
  10. Oct 5, 2016 #9


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    Gold Member

    You have several competing specifications you are looking at here.

    1) price: you get what you pay for. Macs often are only available in the "high end" model so if you go with one of those you will spend lots of money and generally get solid hardware. Non Macs will have a variety of price points from cheap to even more expensive. I would suggest you go with a higher quality version no matter what brand you choose. The cheap ones generally don't last long.

    2) mobility: this also directly affects performance. This includes increases in some metrics as well as decreases in others. Smaller lighter devices will generally not have particularly huge computing computing power. They will have much more versatility as to convenience and location of use. Your need for computing power in any of those fields will most likely be either smaller than anything you can get new at any price point, or provided for by school computers. Most of what you will do in the first at least half your undergraduate work will likely be done on anything you might purchase. You need to decide whether you need the greater convenience of less lab time or easier portability.

    3) capability for use in college: addressed in the mobility section.

    4) life span. often higher price is better quality. This true to some extant. A $3000 laptop will certainly be solid compared to a $150 whatever they call the computers cost that much. But a $2000 one or a $1000 one takes more research to pin down reliability.

    5) battery life: very variable. Impossible to comment in a reasonable amount of time. My only off the cuff suggestion would be that if you plan on using this for 4 years make sure it has a replaceable battery. This allows you to get full life out of it when in two years it craps out. Also if you have some application that requires both mobility and high power usage you can swap in the middle of a project.

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