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Thread: Computer for planning graduate program

  1. #1
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    Computer for planning graduate program

    I am looking to buy a laptop soon for my Masters program. What are all the current students and recent grads out there using? What kind of recommendations do you have as far as specs/features/brands in a computer for planning school?

    Thanks much.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    I bought a 13 inch MacBook Pro when I started my MURP program in August and it has served me really well. It's my first Mac and I don't think I'll ever buy another PC. The only issue I've run into is running ArcGIS; I had to partition my hard drive to run Windows for a single program. Still worth it.

    Either way, I'd definitely recommend getting a smallish laptop ... they're just so much more convenient than desk tops and are really useful for group projects. As a bare minimum, you will need 2 GB of RAM. I'd strongly suggest 4 GB if you are planning on using demanding software (read: ArcGIS). I'd also recommend a 250 GB hard drive or bigger. Other than that, it's largely up to personal preference. Just make sure you do your homework... it's not a decision to be entered into lightly.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  3. #3
    My only advice is to not get a mac unless you have daddy's credit card--complete waste of money for what you can get with a pc, unless you are an LA-Architect-type, then you want to fit in.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Depends on what type of program and what type of computing you will be doing. Having used GIS on a laptop for a few years, any software that requires a ton of memory and RAM to run, get a PC desktop. Yes, you will be out in the field, but not so long that you will need to have a satellite classroom (so, no, I don't think a laptop is crucial to a planning student as much as access to printers, plotters, and scanners).

    Macs are good for graphics programs, except for programs that rely on two-button (or four-button) mouse technology. AutoCAD still runs better on a windows-based PC, although there are a few mac loyalists.

    If you enroll in a design-heavy program where you will be assigned your own studio space, security is key, especially if you are required to provide your own computer. I knew several classmates in architecture school who housed their pc's in special lockers with a padlock.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  5. #5
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    My only advice is to not get a mac unless you have daddy's credit card--complete waste of money for what you can get with a pc, unless you are an LA-Architect-type, then you want to fit in.
    Wow, that's just ignorant... and especially appreciated after I just posted that I had recently bought my first Mac. Reasons it's not a waste of money: reliability, decent tech support, more user-friendly software, not preloaded with myriad junkware that you never use, generally much better battery life, no viruses, multi-touch technology that makes managing running programs much easier, etc, etc. Macs have come down in price a lot and MacBook Pros really aren't any more expensive than PC systems with comparable specs and quality. Maybe you can give some substantive advice next time rather than snarky commentary.

    FWIW I paid for my MacBook without "daddy's" help and don't regret the purchase in the least.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    My only advice is to not get a mac unless you have daddy's credit card--complete waste of money for what you can get with a pc, unless you are an LA-Architect-type, then you want to fit in.
    Seems as though you are interjecting a pretty strong opinion against Macs rather than offering advice for the question at hand. I also happen to be somebody that purchased a Mac - with my own money.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I too purchased a mac with my own money. Macs work wonderfully with CS4, a program you will likely learn to love in planning school.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by kalimotxo View post
    Wow, that's just ignorant... and especially appreciated after I just posted that I had recently bought my first Mac. Reasons it's not a waste of money: reliability, decent tech support, more user-friendly software, not preloaded with myriad junkware that you never use, generally much better battery life, no viruses, multi-touch technology that makes managing running programs much easier, etc, etc. Macs have come down in price a lot and MacBook Pros really aren't any more expensive than PC systems with comparable specs and quality. Maybe you can give some substantive advice next time rather than snarky commentary.

    FWIW I paid for my MacBook without "daddy's" help and don't regret the purchase in the least.
    MacBook Pros cost roughly twice as much (and in many case three times as much) as comparable PC laptops. A quick google search will give you hundreds of examples. So I would straight up disagree with your comment.

    I've used CS3 and CS4 on both Macs and PCs (both laptops and desktops each) and doing it on the Macbook was more laborous and less intuitive. I didn't see that much difference on desktops. The program is what it is and runs similarly on both systems as long as the specs are good.

    Basically it amounts to this: Unless you're a graphic artist, I don't see much point in getting a Mac. Maybe I'm biased because I like to not waste money on image--which is what you're paying for with most Apple products. Of course, if you're an artsy-architect-type, you'll want to fit in, so in that case, buy a Mac.

    Sorry for the snarky-ness, but it's true: Macs are inordinately expensive, and unless price isn't a factor, you're wasting your money.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Basically it amounts to this: Unless you're a graphic artist, I don't see much point in getting a Mac. Maybe I'm biased because I like to not waste money on image--which is what you're paying for with most Apple products. Of course, if you're an artsy-architect-type, you'll want to fit in, so in that case, buy a Mac.

    Sorry for the snarky-ness, but it's true: Macs are inordinately expensive, and unless price isn't a factor, you're wasting your money.
    Yep... the millions of Mac users out there purchased their computers just to make a fashion statement. Their high level of satisfaction has nothing to do with the fact that Mac makes good products. I'm glad you feel comfortable offending those of us who use and enjoy our Macs based on your misguided assumption that we are a bunch of elitists.

    I could give a rat's ass what brand my computer is. I did months of research before I purchased my MacBook and looked at other laptops made by Dell, Asus, HP, and others. My research led me to purchase my MacBook at a student rate for the same amount a comparable Dell or HP would have been with the student discount AND I got a free printer/scanner/copier and free iPod Touch with it. Of course, none of that should impact your opinion; you've decided that the only reason people buy Macs is to have a pretty paper weight. From your headstrong responses here and on other threads, I can see you've got it all figured out. Congratulations.

    To the OP, just do your research and purchase whatever meets your own personal needs and expectations. Talk to others, read as many reviews as you can, look at online forums for major problems and complaints, and make your best educated choice. No computers are perfect and they all have their shortcomings, but plenty are significantly less perfect than others. It's a good idea to look for companies with good tech support because no matter what computer you choose, something will go wrong. Good luck.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  10. #10
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    Oh man, I should have known I'd spark a Mac v PC debate.

    I should have just asked for specs and then compared what certain brands offer on my own. To that end, can anyone offer some insight? I've seen my school's computer labs and they aren't too great. I'd like to be able to do everything from my own machine and then print at the lab. But I still want a laptop (all respect to schmid's suggestion).

    How much RAM?
    How many gigs of storage?
    Speed of hard drive?
    Type of processor?
    Graphics/video cards?

    Thanks for the constructive advice some of you have given so far though.

  11. #11
    OK, buy a Mac. They are less expensive than PC laptops, and they are much more reliable, durable, and Apple's service is legendary, you can't go wrong.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian drjb's avatar
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    I think someone's a little bitter.


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