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Architecture/Engineering Student - can a MBP cope with the programs I need?

1010 Views 15 Replies Latest reply: Mar 29, 2013 1:24 PM by Courcoul RSS
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Mar 28, 2013 10:11 AM

I'm thinking of buying a MBP(r?) for Uni as my old Vaio is struggling to cope. I study structural engineering and architecture, and so will need it to be able to cope with running programs such as Vectorworks, AutoCAD, MATLAB, Photoshop, Illustrator etc. Obviously portability is a neccessity, but I don't whether to go for the MBPr 13" and upgrade (is it necessary?) or the normal 15"? I can't really afford the MBPr 15" so will the other to be able to cope?

 

Also will the graphics card in the 13" be good enough?

 

Thank you.

MacBook Pro with Retina display, Or MacBook Pro
  • Allan Eckert Level 8 Level 8 (39,555 points)

    The software you current have is written for Windows.

     

    If you switch to a Mac you are either going to have switch to the Apple version of those appplications or install Windows on your Mac. For the workload you have, I would suggest against using virtualization software for Windows.

     

    I would also suggest against the 13" MBP. The 15" MBP will be able to handle the workload better.

     

    Allan

  • Ralph Landry1 Level 7 Level 7 (29,020 points)

    First, the MBPr cannot be upgraded.  All components are soldered to the logic board, including the memory, so what you buy is what you stay with.

     

    The 15" MBP can be upgraded in both memory and mass storage at a later date.  Plus, the 15" has the Intel 4000 HD GPU plus a discrete GPU for more graphics-intensive work.  That is a major plus when you start using programs like AutoCAD.  You can order the MBP with a range of CPUs, if you can afford it, go for the fastest you can get and hold back on the memory.  You can add memory yourself from sources like OWC and Crucial for less than half the Apple cost.  But be sure you get it from Mac specialists like OWC and Crucial as Macs are very sensitive to the timing of their memory.

     

    The MBP is more than capable of handling most of what you can through at it...I am an engineer and regularly run large thermal-hydraulic analysis codes on mine.  I have a FORTRAN compiler (you need XCode to make that work) and modify and recompile code and run large multi-hour analyses.  The MBP does a fine job.

     

    Just some suiggestions.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)

    You'd be better off buying a new Windows notebook as you have all Windows software and that won't run on Mac OS X. Also the Mac hardware is the same was what you get in a Windows notebook for less money.

  • Courcoul Level 6 Level 6 (11,200 points)

    Shootist is the Resident Grinch here so take his posts with a large grain of salt, if at all.

     

    If you already have the Windows installers for some of the software you need, can opt to split the drive to an OS X and a Windows side and run BootCamp when you need to do those apps. http://www.apple.com/support/bootcamp/

     

    I concur your best Mac option is a 15" non-Retina. Select the Widescreen / Anti Glare custom option and the fastest CPU you can afford. RAM and drive can be upgraded later for less cost. Eventually you'll want 16GB RAM and the largest SSD your wallet can take, and you'll get Retina performance for substantially less. And the widescreen is about half a Retina, screenwise.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)

    I'm looking at getting the new Lenovo but also own a Dell E6400 series that works very well. The Dell is my main Work computer. Yes I own a Mac notebook also but that stays at home most of the time.

     

    Honestly there is nothing special about a Mac. It uses the exact same hardware as a Windows PC. The only real differences, in like configurations, is the case the Mac comes in, the OS it runs by default and the cost, cost being higher for the same hardware.

     

    If your set on getting a Mac then get one. But if this will be your main system and you need to install Windows on it as you main OS you would be better served buying a real Windows PC notebook. There are several restrictions Apple places on the installation of Windows on a Mac computer. First off is if you install Windows using boot camp you can never change the partition size of either the OS X or Windows partitions and expect Windows to boot. If you install Windows natively, IE No OS X partition, you can't boot the system from the USB ports, you can't install windows from any other device then the built in DVD drive (That is if the Mac computer you buy has a built in DVD drive), Apple restricts Windows from using the Intel Graphics so battery life is shorter, whether installed Via boot camp or natively and you are always tied to Apple to get drivers for the hardware in the system. They also dumb down, restrict, the trackpad with only 2 real options and no gestures.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)

    No Grinch. Just stating the Facts as I see them as an owner of both systems. YMMV.

     

    So my experiences with both system for well over 20 years with PCs and a year++ of Mac OS X and hardware use is of no value, to you that is.

    Courcoul wrote:

     

    Shootist is the Resident Grinch here so take his posts with a large grain of salt, if at all.

     

     

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)

    It is not suggested to run Mac OS X programs from any other install location then the default Applications folder in the ROOT of the drive the OS is booting from. Some may work doing that and then some may not.

     

    As far as Windows I have never tried installing programs to a Removeable drive so I have no idea if that can be done or how it would work. If you are now do that then you would be able to do it on the Windows side of a dual boot system or on a new Windows only system, just like you do it now.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)

    No the extra 0.1Ghz is not worth it. Also do not upgrade the RAM and HDD from Apple. They want way to much for those upgrades. you can do them yourself after you get the system for 1/2 if not less then Apple wants.

     

    If you buy a Mac I suggest you also factor in the Applecare extended warranty as to fix any Mac out of warranty is very expensive. Apple solders most everything to the main board, Apple speak the Logic board. Any part fails and the complete logic board must be replaced. That included the CPU and the GPU as they are solder to the board.

    So if one of the ports fail, USB, Thunderbolt, Ethernet, Firewire, audio in and out or the power port, the complete logic boiard must be replaced to correct that failure.

  • Ralph Landry1 Level 7 Level 7 (29,020 points)

    Blue Plum, you need to sift the information you are getting very carefully.  The PC and Mac are not the same, they may use the same components in the sense that they both use cpus, gpus, memory, mass storage, internet intervase cards, but that is as far as it goes.  The cpus are NOT the same.  The Mac uses much higher end cpus in all of their equipment than any entry level PC.  When Apple announced it would switch to the Intel cpu seven years ago the president of Intel said at the press conference that Intel was looking forward to a close relationship with Apple developing advanced processors.  The Intel processors used by Apple ever since have been much higher grade than normally available.

     

    Three years ago I had to buy a Dell PC laptop for supposed compatibility with my office network.  That machine was half the price of a MacBook Pro...but, when I priced raising the CPU, graphics, network interface card, memory, and hard drive to be equal to the MBP, the cost of the Dell was actually greater than the MBP.  Yes they both use cpus, etc., but they are NOT the same no matter what anyone might tell you.

     

    The MBP runs very well off an external hard drive...I run my MBP booting to either the internal drive or an external drive on which I have two different versions of operating systems.  I also have an iMac with which I do the same thing.  Both machines are fast and efficient booting either internal or external.  Makes little difference with the fast ports now available.

     

    There is also a huge difference in operation between a PC and a Mac...the PC takes between 15 and 30 minutes to startup, scan for viruses, download software upgrades (Windows is upgraded almost daily) and be ready for me to work.  The Mac starts up and is ready in under one minute...not what I call the same.

     

    Final point, you can boot a Mac using either Mac OS X or Windows...the Mac is happy doing either.  You can NOT boot a PC using Mac OS X...will not work.  So the Mac gives you the option of using native Mac software or native Windows software...an option you do not get going the other way.

     

    Best regards in making your decision.

    Ralph

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)

    That Sir is completely incorrect. The CPUs used by Apple are exactly the same as what is available to all other manufacturers and to the general public from many different sources. My Dell E6420 and my 2011 Mac use the same exact i7 CPU. There is no difference.

    Ralph Landry1 wrote:

     

      The Intel processors used by Apple ever since have been much higher grade than normally available.

     

    T

    Best regards in making your decision.

    Ralph

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