Computing Advice Needed!

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    Justin R. Bell

    I am a Grad Student entering my final year here at the University of Idaho.  i have the opportunity to purchase a new laptop or desktop computer but cannot decide which would be best for future endeavors in practice.  I am aware that there may be a “workstation” with a future employer but is that the primary location for doing ones work load? Or is the work load split via home or in the field or both?  A little insight into what i may or may not expect would be helpful in making this decision.  then its on to the next decision of MAC or PC.  Oh well, first things first.  Thanks.

    Robert Anderson


    One thing that many people don’t discuss much is that in the “post pc world” Mac and Windows are working better together than they ever had. Additionally it has been my personal experience that even though you pay more for a Mac initially there are cost savings in software and the durability and reliability of Macs.

    You will find that there are numerous design and creative software programs that are significantly less expensive then, lets say adobe, yet work just as well. I am a bit of a Mac devotee but I also have used Windows machines for much of my career and find that Mac’s are superior when it comes to graphics.

    Just my two cents worth. Enjoy your last year in school!

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Not too many employers that I know would have you work on your own computer. …. unless you know that you’ll be doing some freelance subcontracting. Get the one that you want for your own use and let your employer worry about what you will do work on.

    U Idaho ’97

    Justin R. Bell

    Thank you for your input.

    Justin R. Bell

    Thanks Andrew.

    Tanya Olson

    I worked almost exclusively on a laptop for a couple of years, now work on a desktop. The desktop is much much much faster, easier to work in detail on graphics programs as well as drafting. Not to mention ergonomics – laptops aren’t designed for 8 hour a day every day use. No, your employer probably won’t have you working on your own computer. BUT if you don’t find a job and have to work for yourself, my experience is that the desktop works much better. Whatever you do, don’t buy it from a big box retailer and do pay attention to the graphics card needs of the types of programs you will be running. There are no laptops that will run programs like AutoCad, Adobe suite stuff, etc. satisfactorily that are available from those places – and don’t believe them if they tell you it will. It won’t. Just a heads up – buy a computer that is made for the types of programs we use.

    I have no experience with running AutoCad on a Mac. But I do know that you can’t buy a couple hundred dollars of extra memory, install it yourself and keep your computer running competitively for a couple of extra years instead of buying a new one with a Mac. In terms of durability and stability, I just replaced a Dell that I had running all day just about every day for the last 8 years. Never crashed, never failed. The OS just finally got so outdated that I couldn’t put any new programs on it. Pretty much everyone I know replaces their Mac products (you name it, Iphone, Ipod, Ipad, laptop, desktop) every two years. I don’t know if they just fall apart or the new ones are so pretty they can’t help themselves. haha!

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

     I am a self employed LA. I have a desktop and a laptop (neither are Mac). I use the desktop all of the time and use the laptop mostly unrelated to work, but it is convenient to ne mobile sometimes.


    I expected that I would use the laptop more for work than I do. I run ACAD LT on both and don’t have performance issues with either. (both run windows 7) The desktop is just much more comfortable to use and I run two monitors – one for ACAD and one for information (photos, email, internet, word, pdfs, ….


    I did use my previous laptop as my primary computer a few years ago (part time) when I had issues with an old desktop, but I had a monitor and a keyboard set up on a desk to use it as a desktop.


    You can never be certain what you might want or need to do with it in the future. I have learned to buy a computer based on my current needs and wants because you KNOW you’ll at least satisfy the here and now. Things tend to change in the computer world faster than you can grow into them. I would keep it simple and economical at this point – get what you want to meet your current needs/wamts and don’t go overboard on the expense.

    Justin R. Bell

    Thank you all for your input.  

    Goustan BODIN

    Mac or PC, desktop or laptop is not all that relevant in my opinion : you employer is gonna provide you with something, and you’ll have to deal with it. In my experience, good agencies know the drill and will do things right.

    If you expect to work alone, or freelance, and need to spec your own computer, remember you can get the same hardware with a laptop or desktop, the difference being the price (good laptops prices hurt !). Like Andrew said earlier, you need to know what you are using it for, ie : the power and nerve you need your machine to have. 

    The most demanding would be 3D renderings/animations.

    Then simple 3D (small to medium size projects, no 3D vegetation)

    Then large PSD/CAD files (large sites, lots of layers/Xrefs)

    Regular PSD/CAD work.

    As opposed to what some wrote earlier, I’d oversize the machine : I feel that once hardware does not waste your time anymore, you can focus on other aspects of the job (creativity, productivity, client search…)

    Jeremiah Farmer

    Macbook Pro.

    That way you are mobile, and can have both Mac and PC environments.


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