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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Need Advice between Macbook Pro or Imac for College.

Need Advice between Macbook Pro or Imac for College.
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crunnells
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Jan 31, 2008, 01:01 AM
 
So I am about to graduate really soon, and I was looking for advice on what machine I should ask for, for school. I currently have a 1.33ghz iBook g4 w/ 512mb ram, 30gb 4200rpm hdd and airport/bluetooth running tiger. At first I was set on just getting a 17" macbook pro fully loaded and I totalled that to around $4.400 for all of the stuff I want. However, My older brother has a brand new 24" Imac and suggests I get one instead (totaled to about $3500 fully loaded) and just have the ibook cleaned off and just run leopard with only office, iwork, and safari installed and all other superflous applications removed so i can use it for notes in class and school work only. It *appears* that i can get more "computer" out of the imac for cheaper than the 17" macbook pro. Any thoughts or suggestions?
     
amazing
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Jan 31, 2008, 02:45 AM
 
A laptop definitely helps in college for note-taking, research and writing at the library, etc--and keeping the iBook for that sounds perfect (hopefully it's a 12"?) So, your brother's scenario sounds perfect. iMac for the heavier lifting, laptop for mobility. Just be sure you have everything backed up in both places and can remember where the most recent version of critical stuff resides.

A 17" is a bit much to schlepp around, day in, day out, on top of books and everything else. The iBook, being less drool-worthy, will be less likely to get ripped off. If needs be, you can always have a larger HD put in.
     
mavherzog
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Jan 31, 2008, 05:02 AM
 
Sounds like a plan to me. With the savings, perhaps you can max out the ram on the iBook?
     
tripletaker
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Jan 31, 2008, 09:38 AM
 
What do you need the MacBook Pro for?

I just got a new MacBook and don't see too much difference in terms of power, especially if you don't do any graphic intensive tasks. It's going to be a lot cheaper even if you max out the RAM and get the biggest HD available.
     
mainemanx
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Jan 31, 2008, 12:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by tripletaker View Post
... I just got a new MacBook and don't see too much difference...
What are you comparing it with? ...asks Bill (with an almost dead PowerBook) thinking of a new 2.2 MacBook.
HWMO: 2.5gHz DP G5, 1.25 gHz 15" AL PB, 1st Gen iPod, Shuffle
SWMBO: 0.8 gHz 15" FP iMac, 0.5 gHz iBook, 3rd Gen iPod, Shuffle
     
romeosc
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Jan 31, 2008, 01:09 PM
 
I agree get iMac and also an external HD you can back up both Imac & ibook to it! Less chance of getting it stolen as mentioned above. 2 are always better than 1. If (when) something crashes, you have external drive with everything and can keep on working with either Ibook or Imac.

If the Macbook Pro fails, you are computerless!
     
mduell
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Jan 31, 2008, 07:13 PM
 
MacBook Pro... being able to take your laptop to class or a lab or the library or wherever is soooo valuable.
     
Smillz
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Jan 31, 2008, 07:36 PM
 
Another vote going to the iMac for whatever and iBook for school
     
tripletaker
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Jan 31, 2008, 10:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by mainemanx View Post
What are you comparing it with? ...asks Bill (with an almost dead PowerBook) thinking of a new 2.2 MacBook.
I had a PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz with 1.5GB RAM. The MacBook is so much faster, especially with 4GB of RAM. And I got the lower end MacBook as well with the 2.0GHz. All the programs start up instantly with no lag.

I've used a MacBook Pro before as well and can't tell much difference in processor power. Of course if you're doing some graphic intensive tasks, then forget about the MacBook. Some Keynote effects won't work well with my MacBook. But if you don't need the graphics power and you have a budget, definitely try out a MacBook.
     
bmwparamedic
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Jan 31, 2008, 11:07 PM
 
As a Graduate Student and Teaching and Research Assistant I am everywhere all the time. I have to conduct Interviews for research one day a week about an hour from school. From there I go to my office in my department and read my PDF's and do my research Love the program Papers by the way. I then go and present my PowerPoints/Keynotes from my macbook with the projects (buy the connectors for your mac) and then I have to lug my computer all the way to the lab which is across campus where we teach exercise physiology. From there I have to take it into the conference room. From there I'll do to the Nutrition Lab sometimes to work with the Graduates in Nutn and Food Science for a joint research project.

I also admin a soon to be big board forum, and admin 2 websites. All of this is done on my Black MacBook 2 GB MHz DDR2 SDRAM with a 160 HDD.

I'm huge on multi tasking as well, and really use a lot of my MacBook.
     
Cold Warrior
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Jan 31, 2008, 11:15 PM
 
Also another college grad here...

I found a notebook computer far more useful than a desktop machine. First, you can take it anywhere. Library, coffee shop, lectures (not big at my school, but plenty of others do this). When you go home for breaks or holidays, it's extremely easy to carry with you and work on that term paper from home -- or if you're taking a road trip with friends.
     
crunnells  (op)
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Jan 31, 2008, 11:53 PM
 
Wow, I appreciate all of the responses everyone! Many thanks. I'm agreeing with people advocating both desktops and notebooks for college, I now see more clearly each one's benefits/disadvantages. That's why I think I'll go the iMac+iBook route that way I can have the best of both worlds. The comfort and power of a desktop for fun and the flexibility and mobility of a notebook for school. Hopefully if I can put 10.5 on my little iBook and strip it down to just run safari, ichat, and office, she'll be plenty useful for school.
     
skacoreimplore
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Feb 1, 2008, 09:47 AM
 
I vote for the MBP, personally I find it more convenient to have everything all together. Maybe pick up a monitor to hook up to it if needed.
Macbook Pro 15" / C2D 2.2 / 2GB / 120GB
16 GB iPod touch
     
jamil5454
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Feb 1, 2008, 12:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by crunnells View Post
Wow, I appreciate all of the responses everyone! Many thanks. I'm agreeing with people advocating both desktops and notebooks for college, I now see more clearly each one's benefits/disadvantages. That's why I think I'll go the iMac+iBook route that way I can have the best of both worlds. The comfort and power of a desktop for fun and the flexibility and mobility of a notebook for school. Hopefully if I can put 10.5 on my little iBook and strip it down to just run safari, ichat, and office, she'll be plenty useful for school.
I had an iBook and currently have a MacBook to use for college. I was worried if I got a MacBook Pro it would get severely dented after 4 years of carrying it everywhere. I've got an external 1TB drive for Time Machine and backups and a 20" LCD to hook up to at home so it's really the best of both worlds. I went a few months in between without a laptop and my experience is that you don't realize how useful a laptop is until you don't have one. Especially if you don't live on or near campus. It's great being able to search your history notes for a keyword using Spotlight or visualize a function in Calculus class using Grapher.

I suggest going the iMac + iBook route as well. However, definitely get a 1GB stick for your iBook... you'll be happy you did. It will be plenty powerful for taking notes and the built-in mic actually works pretty decently for recording lectures.
     
Andhee
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Feb 1, 2008, 02:30 PM
 
My suggestion is to get a MBP 15", top specced (If you need it), and an external monitor (20" or something). Maybe a 1tb external for backing up all your work/media. This way you can have the best of both worlds, there is no point having two computers, but you can always keep your ibook nearby just in case the MBP decides to pack in.

Those are my thoughts
     
Cold Warrior
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Feb 1, 2008, 02:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by Andhee View Post
My suggestion is to get a MBP 15", top specced (If you need it), and an external monitor (20" or something). Maybe a 1tb external for backing up all your work/media. This way you can have the best of both worlds, there is no point having two computers, but you can always keep your ibook nearby just in case the MBP decides to pack in.

Those are my thoughts
Yeah, my thoughts too. MBP spec'd out is powerful. Just add in an external monitor plus keyboard & mouse to use in closed-lid mode. This way you don't have to worry about syncing data, is your paper on your iMac or MacBook, did I forget some files on my iMac for the trip, etc.

If you're intent on spending money, just take the savings (if any) and buy AAPL at its affordable prices. Then reap the rewards four years from now.
     
SierraDragon
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Feb 1, 2008, 03:12 PM
 
Two camps represented and I have done both approaches. Obviously no black or white answer, but I am strongly in the camp of portable Macbook Pro rather than deskbound iMac.

"...the iMac+iBook route that way I can have the best of both worlds. The comfort and power of a desktop for fun and the flexibility and mobility of a notebook for school."

My (extensive) experience is that although it sounds good it just does NOT work that way in real practice. Often trying to achieve "the best of both worlds" compromises away too much, and this IMO is very much one of those cases.

In college like Mark said being able to take your laptop to class or a lab or the library or wherever is soooo valuable... It is very convenient to have all your projects available to work on at any location. Often time away from domicile like between classes can be most productive. Work at the lib, a coffee shop, empty classroom (my favorite) or whatever.

Moving and synching projects between two different computers is a major PITA. Reality is that with the iMac-as-main approach one invariably fails to have everything current in both places unless everything lives on an external hard drive like an OWC Mercury-to-go that travels with you. I currently use that method for field backup but it is unwieldy - and currently my Mercury-to-go drive is 200 miles away where I left it at a friend's house when I was at Mac Expo.

In a student situation having a laptop as the main computer is ideal. You should still set up a permanent workstation at your dorm/apartment: backup hard drive, keyboard/mouse and ideally a larger second display to plug in to. That works really, really well so long as your laptop is strong enough for your heaviest apps. Also note that 2 displays is a huge benefit for many apps (considered mandatory by most images/graphics pros). Data is easily backed up daily to the backup drive and the iBook is always available if the MBP is stolen or run over by a truck, but years of tossing laptops in simple homemade neoprene sleeves into backpacks worked problem-free for me.

Working the other way, with a desktop as the main and carrying an aging iBook around is very much not ideal and IMO very much not the best of both worlds. My 2 friends with 12" PBs are finding them lame and looking to upgrade to MacIntel; looking to use an iBook in 2009 and beyond in a university environment makes no sense to me.

I recommend a MBP with a workstation docking setup as described; if money is tight to build that I recommend a MB with a workstation docking setup. Maximum RAM and a large external backup hard drive in either case, FW800 with MBP, FW400 with MB.

USB2 is poor on Macs and should not be used, but an external drive should have USB2 in addition to FW800&400 to facilitate connection to USB-only boxes when necessary. I use and recommend:
OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire 800 + FireWire 400 + USB 2.0 + eSATA 'Quad Interface' Solutions up to 1.0TB at OtherWorldComputing.com.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Feb 1, 2008 at 03:58 PM. )
     
amazing
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Feb 1, 2008, 03:44 PM
 
Thing is, you won't get much money selling the iBook. So, given how useful it will be, just put more RAM in it, perhaps even a bigger HD, especially if you (or one of your friends) is handy with loads of small screws. There are guides at ifixit.com that show how to do this. Complicated, very (very) fiddly, and requiring loads of patience, but HD-install can be done. Or you can pay to have it done. 40 GB is plenty big if you keep your iTunes library on the iMac, in which case you won't even need a bigger HD.

So, problem of needing a laptop in college is solved.

Next question is what Mac to get for 4 years of college, what with already having an adequate laptop. iMac seems perfect for that: big enough HD, better processing power, nice screen for those long hours of staring at papers to be finished. Will run games much more adequately than even an MBP, great for watching movies and sundry other entertainment.

Flash drives are cheap and getting bigger all the time. I got a 4 GB flash thumbdrive for just $27 recently. I keep it tethered to my laptop backpack by a landyard with an easy release--that's where it stays, unless in use for backup or file transfers. Not easy to lose or leave behind because of the lanyard tied to the backpack.

Keeping in sync is much easier with Leopard on both Macs. Haven't tried .Mac and Back to my Mac, but you can talk any salesman into a discount of .Mac when you buy the iMac. Sounds ideal for a student who's gonna always be online.

Apple - .Mac - Back to My Mac
     
mainemanx
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Feb 2, 2008, 12:29 AM
 
Tripletaker: Thank you for your reply... our IT head is coming over for Super Bowl, bringing a MacBook which I'll try with SWMBO's VLC subtitled Japanese doramas.... hopefully the H.264 avi's won't stagger as does the present PB
HWMO: 2.5gHz DP G5, 1.25 gHz 15" AL PB, 1st Gen iPod, Shuffle
SWMBO: 0.8 gHz 15" FP iMac, 0.5 gHz iBook, 3rd Gen iPod, Shuffle
     
   
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