Macbook Pro or PC laptop for bioinformatics?
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12 months ago
mfeather • 0

I would like to be able to run most any of the typical ChIP-seq and RNA-seq tools (e.g. MACS2) from a home laptop computer; in other words, without access to HPC. I will be working with data from the relatively small eukaryotic genome of Plasmodium falciparum (<5,400 genes across 14 chromosomes). Q1: Is there a preference for Mac (e.g. Macbook Pro) vs a PC laptop? Q2: What processor, memory and storage should I be looking at?

Yes, I'm a newbie. Thanks for your patience! :)

laptop • 1.0k views
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Many, many thanks to all for this guidance. Very much appreciated!

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12 months ago
Mensur Dlakic ★ 20k

This is most likely where Mac users will tell you to go with Macbook, while PC users will do the opposite. If this is going to be the main use of the computer, you will likely get more bang for your buck from a PC. Granted, you will have to carry around a laptop that is heavier by a pound (gasp!) and not as pretty as Macbook.

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Dell XPS 15/Precision 5550 is way prettier than any MacBook and doesn't come with those gigantic 90's tier bezels like all MacBooks 😋

The prettiest laptops of them all are highend ThinkPads though. Yeah, maybe a bit subjective..

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12 months ago
GenoMax 121k

Either would be fine since macOS is basically UNIX-like and will allow you to use most open source software (via conda for sure). PC (with windows 10 onwards) now has Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) which will allow you to use a popular linux distro like Ubuntu alongside Windows.

Considering you are likely to be concerned with price, PC option will be the winner. You would be able to get a PC laptop with 16G of RAM (minimum you should consider, all the way up to 64G if you can afford to go there) for a lower cost than a mac (which is currently limited to 16G with M1 CPU, new macbook Pro's, with >16G RAM, are around the corner but will likely be significantly more expensive).

Reference useful for this thread, a question from OP: Which AWS instance type for peak calling with ChIP-seq data?

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2019 16 inch MBPs allow for up to 64G RAM, but yeah newer models should be coming in a few weeks. I'm looking to get a new MBP myself - excited for the new old keyboard, Esc key and inverted T arrow keys.

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Buying an older intel mac Pro is a possibility but my hunch is those are not going to be that much cheaper especially if you go in for larger RAM configs. It may be better to take the powerhouse M1 and benefits (warranty, battery life etc) it comes with, if one can make the workflow fit in 16G RAM it currently supports.