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Laptop for college - engineering major

by Kelly525252 / July 1, 2010 12:21 AM PDT

Hello, I am entering College Park as an undecided engineer this fall. I can't decide on which laptop to get. I really do like Macs, but is there a compatibility issue with engineering software? Which Macbook Pro model would be best suited for an engineering major? Is the 13 in. good enough or should I upgrade to the 15 in. with i5 and more power? If Windows is the better option I think the HP Envy 14 might be a good match. What is the better choice, the Envy or the Macbook Pro and which will last me longer? I don't really game much, I just want to be able to run any engineering software and have my computer last as long as possible. Thanks for your time

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Should be fine. More than fine.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 1, 2010 12:27 AM PDT

Given we can use Boot Camp for Windows, and have other options both machines you listed will be very nice. The Apple however gets a 1000 cycle battery and looking at others I often find 300 cycle batteries. So be judicious and stick with AC when you can.

All laptops age according to use. GAMING I find ages laptops very fast as the user tends to wear out keyboards and more. My suggestion is to keep the games to some PS3 or 360.

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Your own the right path
by iTechGuy16 / July 1, 2010 4:09 AM PDT

Hey Kelly,

*Disclaimer* I work for Intel, so i'm a little biased. lol

But, Lets try to answer your questions.

1)There isn't a compatibility issue with Macs, there is usually a linux version of everything and even better you can download windows on your Mac if thats what you prefer.

2 & 3) If you are going to go with the Mac, you should definitely update to the Macbook Pro Model 15' to get the i5 processor. The 13' comes with our older Intel Core 2 Duo. Since you plan on having your laptop a while, you definitely want the newer process so it can handle your egineering software and continously increasing new technologies such as youtube videos, etc. (Plug Warning) We have a new line of Intel Core processors i3, i5 and i7, that are "not just faster, smarter." The i3 is great, but the i5 has Intel Turbo Boost Technology which adapats to whatever your doing, i.e. speeding up when you need more processing power. (Eliminating the irrating freezing and slow responsiveness) The i7 is even better, but since you are not a gamer you may not need that much processing power, but definitely check it out.

4) Again you can purchase windows for both platforms, so I think you should choose which laptop you feel more comfortable with and represents you. From a price standpoint the HP Envy 14 starts at $1,099 (i3, but you can updgrade to i5 for $75-175), while the Macbook Pro 15' (i5) starts at $1799. For $1,474.99 you can customize your HP to an (i5), receive 2 batteries (One 8 Cell Lithium Ion +One 6-Cell Extended-Life Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery) over 11 hours of power, and still save a few bucks. You get 8 hours of battery life on the Macbook Pro 15.' In my opinion you are paying for a more detailed design/ quality of the physical computer and user experience. Macs also very good at protecting against viruses, something you will appreciate on a college campus. It really just depends on what you want to spend and whats important to you.

5) I think the question, which one lasts longer is a ambigious. Apple and HP will both stand by and guarantee their computers. However, I think the most important thing is investing in a strong processor. You can always replace a battery, or fix a screen, but you want your processor to be just as strong today, in three years when you are up all night running engineering software preparing for finals and design days.

Hope this helps, good luck!!

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HP Envy
by IsabellaJ_WinTeam / July 1, 2010 4:11 AM PDT

Hi there,

The HP Envy is a great choice. It is a very sleek, slim laptop and it is an excellent value at $1099.99. You can choose between an Intel Core i5 or core i7 CPU and it has an 8-cell battery for extra life (and it is still very light-weight at 5.25 lbs).

I hope this helps!

MSFT Windows Outreach Team

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Which Laptop for Engineering?
by FiOS-Dave / July 2, 2010 11:31 AM PDT

My suggestion would be to go for a PC running windows 7.
One of the main reasons is that being a student, you can get many Microsoft programs for free, some especially geared to Engineering.
There are high quality programs that you would have to pay hundreds or even thousands to purchase as a non-student! Currently, there are twenty applications available, one is specifically for robot design/contol.
These can be downloaded at

Yes, you can run most of this software on an Apple, but why add another layer of complexity?


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Ask the college
by Zouch / July 3, 2010 1:06 AM PDT

To help you decide, you might want to give the college a call and ask what they use, at least to the extent of PC/Mac and which OS. If they distribute programs for you to use in your course, you might like to have a machine that will actually run them.

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by Kelly525252 / July 3, 2010 4:15 AM PDT
In reply to: Ask the college

Thanks for the help everyone, I've decided to wait two weeks for the Envy reviews to start coming out and then finalize my decision.

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Ask the market offers
by arwkoppen / July 4, 2010 12:31 AM PDT

♥ A.

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