Windows Macbook Pro alternative
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Author:  PartEleven [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:56 am ]
Post subject:  Windows Macbook Pro alternative

I hate to make yet another one of these threads, but choosing a notebook has been far harder than I thought. Purchasing a whole system requires making some compromises to your needs/wants, and its really hard to assess ALL the possible options out there. So I'm going to need some of your opinions. Now I know this thread title is a bit flame-baiting, but the reason for it is pretty simple: I'm looking for a notebook with similar build quality to the macbook pro, but on windows.

A little background to my situation would be that I'm currently a graduate student doing some computational work in a biology lab, and I'm funded by a research grant that qualifies me to purchase equipment. Since this is going to be my primary work pc (and technically not my money) I'm willing to spend more for good build quality. The macbook pro is actually very close to what I want in my notebook, but I'm not familiar at all with OSX and I'd rather not learn an entire new OS just to do my work. Tech-wise, I'm very interested in the Asus notebooks since they seem to offer a very balanced package of speed and power consumption. Unfortunately the build quality can sometimes be lacking (especially that LCD, ungh) Loosely, my requirements are: portable, good build quality, adequate processing speed. I'd also like to get the largest resolution I can in as small of a form factor I can get. That's probably what's holding me back on picking a notebook immediately.

Author:  Trav1s [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Windows Macbook Pro alternative

Why not run Windoze7 with bootcamp?

Author:  NeilBlanchard [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Windows Macbook Pro alternative

Another option on a Mac is to run Windows in VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop. This lets you use OSX for most things (especially on the Internet) and still run any required Windows programs, without rebooting like Bootcamp requires. If you have 8GB of RAM, then running both OS's at the same time is easy.

Learning your way around OSX is pretty easy, and you can leave malware behind -- except if you need to run Windows; in Bootcamp or Fusion or Parallels.

Author:  PartEleven [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Windows Macbook Pro alternative

The other reason I'd rather not go with the macbook is because I'd rather not be locked into the mac ecosystem. There's been far too many times where I needed a small program to do a specific, obscure task and something like this would easily be found for Windows (and free!). I'm not so sure that would be the same for mac. I feel like there would be a solution available, I'd just have to pay money for it every time.

Malware is almost a complete non-issue for me. I've never had an infection my current system.

Author:  Wibla [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Windows Macbook Pro alternative

HP Elitebook/Probook, Dell latitude, Lenovo T400/500-series would be my recommendation.

Buying an apple is NOT the be all and end all of hardware and software, some would argue that it is quite the opposite...

Author:  andymcca [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Windows Macbook Pro alternative

Buy the Mac and install Ubuntu+WINE :D

But seriously, you won't find a design as sexy as the macbook pro, no matter how hard you look :(
And this is coming from someone who hates Apple.

(Which is to say, I agree with the boot camp suggestion, if you must be double-evil :) )

Edit: Per CA_Steve's comment below, I agree Sandy Bridge is the place to go if you run long computations/searches. Not sure how quick Apple is to hop on the latest tech?

Author:  CA_Steve [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Windows Macbook Pro alternative

Hi, sorry - don't have a specific "go buy this" recommendation. I do have some things to look for in a laptop.

Sandy Bridge based laptops are being released now and the performance is awesome. Look for a laptop with an i5-2xxx cpu. Don't know if your computational programs benefit from quad core or if dual core is good enough. Here's a decent notebook review site notebookcheck.com in Googlish.

Here's another site. Notebookreview

Since your grant is paying the bill, I highly advise getting an SSD instead of HDD. The performance bump will rock. Look for a laptop that has eSata or USB3 so you can plug in an external drive for more data storage/backups.

Author:  PartEleven [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Windows Macbook Pro alternative

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I'll have to go take a look at those Lenovos. I've heard good things about them. I already know what I want in terms of hardware. I'm guess what I'm really looking for is opinions on build quality. Does the keyboard squeak when you type, does the LCD hinge wear out quictly, etc. Things you can't really gauge when just reading a list of tech specs. The other people in my lab all use macbook pros, which is why in terms of style and build quality I've been able to get a feel for them. But until an engineer comes here letting me know what problems I can expect to encounter using Matlab in a Mac environment, I'm hesitating to migrate over. The last thing I want to run into when working on my thesis is driver problems from using an exotic platform.

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