Using a Mac in the Computer Science Major

<p>I plan on going to RIT for a bachelor's degree in Computer Science. Or I may opt for the bachelor's degree in Software Engineering, I'm not sure yet. Either way, I'm going to be doing a lot of programming and I'm going to need a laptop that will allow me to write/test code in a variety of languages.</p>

<p>I'm having a hard time deciding between the new MacBook Pro and a Windows PC with the same or higher specs. Money is not an issue for me, I can literally afford anything (been saving up for a long time). Would you recommend using a Mac for programming in the CS major? I really want the MacBook Pro, but I'm worried that I won't be able to use it for all of my programming courses since Apple is so exclusive with what programs you can run and all that crap.</p>

<p>So what would you recommend for the CS major? Mac or Windows? ...or Linux...or dual boot...I'd rather not dual boot.</p>

<p>And don't say oh you're going to be a CS major you're supposed to know this already...I'm just looking for advice..thanks.</p>

<p>Some schools have a particular leaning; you could ask RIT if they tend to be a Mac or PC campus, i.e., what do they have in their offices? Maybe a CS prof would answer an email question. Some schools have both and truly don’t favor one or the other. Beyond that, stock Macs can run stock Win via Bootcamp, so you get the best of both worlds, and it’s easy. Hacked PCs can run hacked MacOS illegally, but that’s for hackers comfortable with hacking. For CLI work, do you prefer Unix or Win? If RIT doesn’t care, it’s personal preference.</p>

<p>I’m writing this on a MacBook, which I’ve had for 2.5 years and my response is:
No, I would not recommend a mac.</p>

<p>Let me explain. If you were someone who used his laptop just for checking email, then MacBooks will serve that purpose. But if and once you begin to ask for graphics beyond streaming videos and Farmville (ie serious gaming perhaps), MacBooks are out the window. Apple laptops suck in the area of graphics and this can be seen in a comparison of the MacBook Pro 15’’ (2012) vs the HP DV6 7000 (2012), which I have configured to have similar specs:</p>

<p>MACBOOK PRO 15’’; $1,799
2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
4GB RAM
500GB 5400 rpm hard drive
Intel HD Graphics 4000 + NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 512MB vram
1440 x 900 LED backlit display</p>

<p>HP DV6 7000 15’’; $1174
2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
8GB RAM
1TB 5400 rpm hard drive
NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 2GB vram
1920 x 1080 LED backlit display </p>

<p>Refer to this list for graphics card performance: [Comparison</a> of Laptop Graphics Cards](<a href=“http://www.notebookcheck.net/Comparison-of-Laptop-Graphics-Cards.130.0.html]Comparison”>http://www.notebookcheck.net/Comparison-of-Laptop-Graphics-Cards.130.0.html). (note that the vram in itself is useless for determining a laptop’s graphical horsepower; even old cards can have 2 gb of vram and be far weaker than a new card with 512 mb)</p>

<p>I think this comparison paints a nice picture; for about $700 less, you can get a notebook that has far stronger and faster components from HP! If your goal in purchasing a notebook computer is to future proof it, I wouldn’t suggest a MacBook Pro. The DV6 7000 is a good notebook (perhaps the best I can find at the moment in terms of bang for buck) but one that I like in particular is the EliteBook 8560W because it looks prettier.</p>

<p>Now, MacBooks do have strengths. Most people argue that their construction is more airtight and a bit lighter than that of other companies’ notebooks. Another is customer service – in particular, how ubiquitous and accessible their stores are; makes repairs much less painless & time consuming. And of course, another is the OS itself; if you love Mac OS X and cannot compromise, then a MacBook it will be! </p>

<p>But having bought a MacBook before, I can’t see myself buying another one because the price-to-performance ratio of their components is far below standard. The “bang for buck” just doesn’t exist with Apple computers (of course, as I’ve said, this depends on how much you value things such as customer service, batt life, etc). I love to game however, and this, above all, is a deal-breaker because in order to even get what’s called a “discrete” graphics card on a notebook, I have to hit $1,799 which I just cannot afford. Further, even if I could afford it, why should I when an equivalent computer with far better specs offers it (as well as extensive customization) for much less?</p>

<p>TLDR; get an HP EliteBook 8560W; it’s the computer I’m getting.</p>

<p>You can develop on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux with the MacBook Pro. It’s the computer of choice at Mozilla because they support all three platforms and you can only (legally) do development on the platform with a Mac.</p>

<p>If you decide to take a course on iOS development, you’d have to use a Mac. Your school would obviously have Macs in their lab to run a course like this but having your own would mean that you could do your development work wherever you wanted to.</p>

<p>I have a 2008 MBP 17 inch model and I have Linux and Windows Virtual Machines on it so I have access to three operating systems on my computer. I prefer Virtual Machines so that I have access to all of my applications when I need them. Boot Camp is better if you need the complete resources of the machine.</p>

<p>My 6.00 profs had MacBook Airs.</p>

<p>I’d recommend having some sort of Unix system (Mac or Linux) if you’re going to be CS, though, since Unix systems interface with servers easier/happier.</p>

<p>If you’re running a serious program, you can probably get server space to run it, so you don’t really need serious specs. (I’m an MIT student - I can host scripts at scripts-dot or Linerva, for example).</p>

<p>No matter what OS you use, pick up an 8g flash drive and convert it into either a Ubuntu bootable drive or an HBCD. The later is a tad difficult to do, since HBCDs technically are supposed to be…well, CDs, but since modern laptops sometimes don’t have CD drives anymore, an HBCD on a flash drive is bloody useful. Both of these can be used to fix your computer if you do something that damages it. (I’ve had a script I wrote completely destabilize my OS.) </p>

<p>I’m not CS, but everyone programs nowadays, and I’m a Ubuntu/Windows, and my programming language of choice is Python.</p>