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Apple or PC

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April 16, 2008 9:32:27 PM

Ok, so i'm finishing up all my pre-req science and math courses to enter engineering school. I plan on focusing in electrical engineering and computer science, so i need a laptop that'll be beneficial for that. Unfortunately, I haven't started any of the computer classes, so my knowledge of computers is limited, although I'm not clueless. I need a laptop for a summer research program in nebraska i was recently accepted to, so instead of taking my time and researching laptops for the next year or so, I need to buy one in the next few weeks. I can't decide between a mac or pc, and if i stick with a pc, what kind? I'd be using it for videos, music, data collection and mathematic software, and some gaming. Should I stick with a pc? And can anyone give me some suggestions. I've got so much going on right now that I don't really have the time to research a laptop properly. I'd like to not spend more than $1500. Thanks!

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April 16, 2008 9:49:06 PM

If you're not going to spend more than 1.5 grand, I'd definitely suggest getting a PC. The only things you can get at that level with Apple are the MacBooks, which don't exactly have the best bang for buck. I know it has the efficient Mac OSX, but at that price point, I'd vote PC. Plus, you can just install Ubuntu or something, which is just as sweet as OSX in terms of efficiency and security.

A recent hit around that price point is the Gateway P6831FX, which is a gaming laptop, with has decent specs, with the exception of the great 8800m GTS graphics card. You can find it on sale for under 1500 if you look around.
April 16, 2008 10:02:35 PM

At that price point -- especially since you'd like to do some gaming with it -- you're probably going to be better off with a Windows laptop. That p6831fx was a good suggestion. I've got a Gateway laptop myself (not a gaming model though, mine is more for the sake of portability) and it's been one of the most reliable machines I've ever used.

Plus I was able to successfully install OSX on it...but I only did that as a test and didn't keep it installed. Now it's running Ubuntu 7.10. It's been really quick with all 3 OSs I've had on it.
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April 16, 2008 10:08:59 PM

If you are going to use it for your school work you should go with a Windows Based PC. Most electrical engineering software runs only on windows. For you computer science classes you can get by with a Linux or Mac OS. Chances are you'll probably only need a compiler for the programming language you are using.

April 16, 2008 10:16:31 PM

The MacBook comes with only integrated graphics, so it's a poor choice for gaming. The MacBook Pro is better at gaming, but the cheapest one is $2000, which is out of your budget.

Also, if you wanted to play any Windows games on a Mac, you'd need to install (and buy!) Windows, and installing Windows on a Mac pretty much defies the purpose of buying a Mac!

How large a screen do you want? If you're going to be carrying the laptop around with you, I'd recommend no larger than a 15.4 inch screen.

The Gateway laptop is nice, but it's got a 17 inch screen (I believe; correct me if I'm wrong), so it's heavy, and the battery life won't be so great.

I'd look at the Dell XPS M1530; you can get a pretty nice machine for exactly $1500:

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?c=us...
April 16, 2008 10:23:31 PM

Yeah, i guess i didn't really think that one through, the price range does kind of eliminate a mac, and i like the idea of messing around with Linux. So anyway, I want at least 2GB of ram and 2ghz of processing power. AMD or Intel? And does Vista have all the bugs worked out yet? Thanks again!
April 16, 2008 10:43:37 PM

As much as I personally like AMD, I'd go with Intel, as the Core 2 Duos are quite a bit faster than the AMD's.

The Vista vs. XP question is a good one, and a question to which you'll receive a great number of greatly varying opinions. My advice is to look at the engineering software that you'll be using and see if it's Vista compatible. If you don't want any compatibility headaches at all, then just get XP.

Personally, I have XP on my computer, and our family computer has Vista. Both work fine.
a b D Laptop
April 17, 2008 4:57:53 PM

I agree with amdfangirl. See if you can find out what programs you will have to run and go from there.
April 20, 2008 1:44:59 AM

I look at it this way. Macs other than having OS X are extremely overpriced. I mean come on $3000 for an MB pro and for 1000-1200 less you can get the same specs in a pc and run OSX86 if you're really keen on it. my 2 cents don't even bother with mac really no need anymore to pay that premium
April 20, 2008 9:52:01 PM

yeah, i've researched it some more and i'm definitely getting a pc. the engineering program at my school recommends vista with an intel duo core 2ghz and at least 2 gb of ram. I've upped my budget to around $2K since i want some decent specs that will last me for several years. so now the question is, which computer? are there any major differences b/w the different brands? any brands to avoid? to consider? vista premium or ultimate? and is vista only 64-bit or does it still come in 32-bit? and has technology caught up to 64-bit yet to make it worth it? is it easy to upgrade laptops? RAM etc..? thanks for all the help and info!
April 20, 2008 11:55:19 PM

Different brands will give different chassis, and customer support. Depends which one you trust more, and which has a computer that fits your wants.

I don't know about Premium or Ultimate, but I don't like Vista in general, hahah. It comes in both 32 bit and 64 bit flavors, and unless you have 4 gigs of RAM, I'd just stick with 32 bit for now.

It's generally easy to upgrade the RAM and the hard drive, and depending on the laptop, you can upgrade the CPU and GPU.
April 21, 2008 1:24:13 AM

How well does Asus stand up for there notebooks?
April 21, 2008 1:50:09 AM

Asus is pretty good as a laptop company I think, you could also look at Dell's business line, though I'm not sure how well those will do as gaming PCs too. They're better quality than their Inspiron line.
April 21, 2008 1:56:45 AM

"and some gaming"

Well, I think that safely eliminates the Mac. Fifteen hundred will buy a well equipped laptop... ridiculously well equipped in fact. Gateway is pushing one beneath that price range that has an 8800 series GPU. Insanity. Asus also makes some nice laptops like this one...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Two years on the warranty is fairly generous.

April 21, 2008 3:45:55 AM

Don't know about the cache one, but I think there's at least a small noticeable difference between a 5400 RPM and a 7200 RPM hard drive, mostly when loading things like games
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