Mac user needs help picking a windows laptop
August 13, 2004 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Dedicated Mac user needs to perform Wintel-only dev work, needs new laptop. Thinkpad, or iBook/Powerbook?

I'm specifically wondering about speed in Virtual PC.

The updated version of Office for OS X, Office v.X includes Virtual PC 6.1. MS will release VPC 7 this fall. Bundling thereof is not clearly described.

I need a new computer, and have been planning on a Mac laptop (still waffling b/t iBook or PB). My job requires working with MS stuff such as Access.

VPC 6.1 is commonly tagged as slooooow.

Will I be productive working with the laptop under either edition of VPC? Should I just knuckle under and opt for a Thinkpad?

Beta testers, please hope me!
posted by mwhybark to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
 
Even if VPC 7 is faster, odds are it will still be too slow to live with full time, unless you're really a masochist. Get a PC.
posted by xil at 5:41 PM on August 13, 2004


get your job to buy you a PC, then buy yourself an ibook.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:54 PM on August 13, 2004


My boss has the 17inch PB and he uses VPC 6.1 to do all of his MS Access stuff and has no complaints. He said the slow part is the initial start up, but after that its smooth.

VPC 7 which will be bundled with the Pro version of the new office and released sometime this fall is supposed to have major speed improvements as well as working very well with the newer Apple technology.

If the only thing you need is MS Access then I recomend going the PB route with VPC. That way you can test on all platforms of work. One thing to note with VPC is that you do need to purchase a version of Windows for it.
posted by thebwit at 5:54 PM on August 13, 2004


What kind of dev work? If we're talking client side or server side web dev w/o much of a build/compile cycle, or other scripting type stuff, or light RAD platforms, OK.

If you are doing big builds, on the other hand, I'd say forget it.
posted by namespan at 6:07 PM on August 13, 2004


Oh. Access. Yeah, that should run fine, though as thebwit said, startup time is generally slow. Also, get *lots* of RAM.
posted by namespan at 6:09 PM on August 13, 2004


On a new PowerBook, yeah maybe. Don't even try it on an iBook. Without lots of RAM and a fast processor, VPC 6 is sloooow. You'd be too tempted to smash the computer into little bits while it's still fresh out of the box.

Is there an Apple Store near you? If so, call up and ask if they'll demo VPC for you in-store. Bring an Access install disk down, and try doing real work with it for at least a half hour. You need to gauge not only VPC's speed, but also how comfortable you are using the PB's keyboard and trackpad to do Windows tasks. Some people don't find it a problem, but after a few hours working in VPC my fingers usually cramp up.

If the primary work is going to be in Access and the boss is paying, a Thinkpad with PearPC and OS X might also work out.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 7:18 PM on August 13, 2004


Alternatively, you could get an iBook/AlBook and connect to a PC (running WinXP Pro) using Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection to do the Windows stuff.

A lot of this depends on how much of your job is going to have to require Windows: if it's just a little bit here and there, then VPC or RDC should be fine; if a majority of your work is going to require you to use Windows though, you'll definitely be happier with the Thinkpad.
posted by boaz at 9:42 PM on August 13, 2004


hm, remote access would be interesting except that we're out in the rust-belt industrial boonies and best Speakeasy could do for us was 116k ISDN (iirc), never mind the obvious fiber hatch in the road outside the building. All our hosting is offsite, though, so there was no way I was gonna open that can of worms.

No, it's not big builds. I'll be building data and order management patches in Access, maybe a demo app if we decide to commit real developers to something. XML hackery. Merge-file templates. Etcetry.

Yay! Mac looks possible!

(My salivary glands did start up at nakedcodemonkey's crazy plan though.)

Thanks folks.
posted by mwhybark at 10:18 PM on August 13, 2004


Virtual PC is definitely slow. And there are some processes I can't get it to operate smoothly on, even with a PowerBook G4. Does anyone know why streaming audio (via Rhapsody) is full of glitches and stutters when listening through Virtual PC?
posted by skylar at 10:53 PM on August 13, 2004


If you're not working for yourself then it's absolutely fair to expect the company to work for to provide you with the tools you need. I have a powerbook for personal use and a Toshiba Satellite Pro for work. I would have opted for a Thinkpad T Series had the budget stretched far enough. You shouldn't have to use your home computer for work (I've been asked about this when my work laptop went kaput - I pointblank refused) and when you consider your Mac wouldn't even be a good tool for the job it makes even less sense.
posted by nthdegx at 2:57 AM on August 14, 2004


a Thinkpad with PearPC and OS X might also work out.

Um, no. Unless your main goal is to make VPC to seem positively zippy by comparison, don't try using PearPC to get work done. Do something more sensible like trying to get Mac OS X to run on a Powermac 6100.
posted by namespan at 7:27 AM on August 14, 2004


Does anyone know why streaming audio (via Rhapsody) is full of glitches and stutters when listening through Virtual PC?

Well, the effective CPU speed of the emulated Pentium for actual number crunching is maybe 10% of your G4 speed, so maybe 100-150 MHz... perhaps as high as 200 MHz with a stiff breeze behind it -- and there's lots of number crunching involved in decoding compressed audio. I'd be shocked if there weren't glitches and stutters.
posted by kindall at 9:30 AM on August 14, 2004


namespan: will a 7100 do? It was a couple years ago. :)
posted by mwhybark at 10:45 AM on August 14, 2004


Well, the effective CPU speed of the emulated Pentium for actual number crunching is maybe 10% of your G4 speed, so maybe 100-150 MHz...

You do have to realize it is near impossible to compare a G4 mhz with a Pentium mhz.
posted by thebwit at 10:00 AM on August 15, 2004


You do have to realize it is near impossible to compare a G4 mhz with a Pentium mhz.

Well, sure, but you can compare effective emulated speed with the speed of the host CPU.
posted by kindall at 1:21 PM on August 16, 2004


« Older What chair should I buy for a home office?   |   Problem with computer Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.