Whats the best Mac for a student?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by JLaFrance, Sep 3, 2004.

  1. JLaFrance macrumors member

    May 24, 2004
    Here is my dilema, I want to buy a computer but I don’t have the money to spend on a really nice machine, not that I would need one anyway. Here are the possibilities I’m looking at: a 12’’ Powerbook, with 512 MB ‘free’ RAM (www.macwarehouse.com), a combo-drive eMac, and a 512 or 1GB stick of RAM from crucial.com with the upgraded HD. The last one, which I got excited about when I saw the price is the new iMac. I would get the iMac stock and get a 1GB stick of RAM from probably crucial.com. The uses for my computer would be word processing etc. But the CPU intensive things I would be doing would be playing a few games and I’m not sure if this is CPU intensive, but writing and compiling Java. Also, I’m looking for longevity. Any comments or suggestions would be very helpful!

  2. Darwin macrumors 65816


    Jun 2, 2003
    round the corner
    Would you make use of the PowerBook mobility?

    Coz if it's going to sit on your desk then you can properly go with a desktop
  3. morkintosh macrumors regular

    Nov 25, 2003
    yes, games are CPU intensive (unless you are playing Commander Keen from the early 90s (which I highly recommend as it was a nice side scoller)) as well as video card intensive.

    I would go with the pb, it is going to be a faster box and portability is nice, particularly since you can't really easily upgrade either of them later anyway. Have you considered getting a refurb G4 power mac or similar system? You could get a lot more bang for your buck that way.
  4. JLaFrance thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2004
    On the issue of portability, well, probably not very often. Also, i want to be able to play World of Warcraft, when it comes out. So would the G5 be a better machine for that?
  5. noahsnyc macrumors regular

    Sep 27, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Why does everyone hate...?

    Why does everyone hate the iBook G4??

    Apple recently replaced a very flawed iBook G3 900 that I had with an iBook G4. I'm very, very happy with it. I upgraded to 512 and I'm rocking. As far as G4 power with the battery life and durability of a student-oriented machine, I can't imagine more.

    I'm one of those folks who honestly believe that iBooks are more durable and sturdy than PBs, and they definitely get better battery life. The processor is exsceptional, and, while I rarely move beyond iMovie, iPhoto and occasional Photoshop-ing (retouching or masking), it really leaves little to be desired. If one is looking for the most bang for a buck, I can't imagine looking beyond the G4 iBook.

    The real difference is going to be the video card, which will mean that if indeed you're playing a ton of games and you're a snob about it, or if you're using FCP a bunch, that will be a minor difference. It's a current machine built to rather current standards.

    That's my vote.

  6. James L macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2004
    Whatever you buy, make sure you get your educational discount from Apple, and don't pay full retail.

    My only knock against the iBook line (currently), is that they only have 32 MB of VRAM (limiting in games), they come up with the 4200 rpm HD, really if you can you should upgrade to the 5400rpm HD (barefeats shows a marked improvement with this upgrade), and the screen res is a BIT limited, but no more so than a 12" PB.

    Again, education disount!
  7. jrv3034 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 23, 2002
    Go with the iMac G5. Chicks will dig it. ;)

    Seriously, the eMac is hard to beat for price/performance. It is bulky, though, and not much in the "looks dept." If you're into games, a notebook is probably not your best bet (HDD speed, limited screen space, etc.)

    I'd vote for eMac, or if you've got a bit more $$$ to spare, the iMac G5 should see a big boost in performance, plus you can actually have desk space!
  8. supergod macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2004
    The best machine to get is definitely the new iMac. I was considering getting one of the old powermac G4s but opted to get a 1.6ghz G5. There is actually very little value on those G4s. The best value would be on an iMac.
  9. Crikey macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2004
    Spencer's Butte, Oregon
    You should definitely compare educational discount prices against macwarehouse or other retail places. You'll probably save money buying from Apple (or from your college bookstore, if you're that kind of student).

    I echo the sentiment about checking out the iBook if you want a portable, but if portability isn't that important, you'll get better performance per dollar buying either an eMac or a G5 iMac. They'll all do writing and surfing fine, but gaming and Java development will be a bit faster on the G5 iMac. Really all of them will do everything you mentioned (except I am not familiar with the system requirements for World of Warcraft).

    Good luck!

  10. Jim_N_Tonik macrumors newbie

    Mar 5, 2004
    I think N's got it here -- I bought the iBook in April when they came out, and I can't think of a better student computer. I'll be starting my Masters in CS in a couple days and I really have to vouch for the machine -- it's great for programming (you mentioned Java) and it can run most games that are out today.

    I will say it's not an amazing gaming machine, you might get a bit more bang out of a powerbook, but you'll also end up spending a fair bit more. And I really like the increased battery life in the iBooks.

    I "switched" in April and seriously will be buying iBooks for quite some time to come whenever I need a new machine.
  11. JLaFrance thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2004
    This is all great stuff!! But, how would the longevity of the new imac be compared to that of the emac or a notebook?
  12. noahsnyc macrumors regular

    Sep 27, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Well, to be blunt, there's really no way to know anything about the longevity of the new iMac since no one's had the time to get to use it, or see if it lasts. Only time will tell.

    From my experience, eMacs have a great, work-horse-style reputation, similar to that of the original iMac. Older PBs (pismos, wallstreets) are considered very reliable and reasonably easy to upgrade. They rock. I find that other than the occasional "lemon", the iBooks seem to be very durable and well-regarded.

  13. iBert macrumors regular


    Jul 14, 2004
    Could you be more specific as what is your major?
    what year you in, assuming your in college?

    anyways, I would say go for the powerbook or ibook. they will be able to do both be a desktop and be portable. only draw back will be performance. But if it is for games, the most intensity CPU usage you'll do. i guess a laptop should do it. You might think portability is not an issue right now, but once you start needing it you'll want it.

    Again, I'd go for a laptop. Do the necesary updates you want or need. After you can get an external monitor, keyboard and mouse.

    PS. Sorry for the long reply. Thought I was going to have internet access on my class and didn't :mad:
  14. ricebag macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2004
    ibooks etc

    I would add that the more expandability you have the more life you'll get out of it - ie, for the longest life choose a tower machine instead. But I wouldn't worry about that too much. If you want a college education out of it (4 years?) go for a laptop (they are so nice and portable, and can be extremely convenient, especially with places starting to go wireless). I love my G3 500 iBook with only 256 RAM. Not that I would buy it today, I'm just citing it as an example of something that's lasted 3 years very well.

    The one issue is that there is a little more chance of damage with laptops, and especially ibooks. I think that was a problem more with my generation of ibooks (my screen pinches the cord to the backlight if I move it too far, turning it off), but something to keep in mind if you're not an especially careful person.

    An emac will probably be your best deal if you don't need the desk space, although Worlds of Warcraft may tax it.
  15. DJY macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2003
    Canberra AUST
    But he might be waiting until Nov or Dec to actually received his new G5 iMac.
  16. Macmaniac macrumors 68040


    If you want a new iMac decide quickly because at Apple's ship rate you might not see it until mid december, which is inexcusable, but thats the way Apple screws itself. If you want the computer that is going to last the longest I advise the new iMac, it has power and RAM expandability to it so its gonna have enough power for the next couple of years, and with enough RAM it will be a Tiger Demon:)
  17. tonyeck macrumors 6502


    Sep 3, 2004
    Las Vegas, NV
    G5 iMac! especially with student discount I dont think you can get a better machine for the price, especially if you go for the 20"

    Its a deal!

    I like the mac look of the eMac but stare at a mac cinema display then at the crt and ur eyes will hurt! Good bargin though!
  18. mms macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2003
    I would go for the PowerBook. Mobility and space-saving is always good (assuming you're in a college dorm and you'll be using it throughout the campus). I would have recommended the iBook but the better (though still pitiful IMO for a pro machine) video card and increased processor speed will be apparant when you play those games.
  19. echeck macrumors 68000


    Apr 20, 2004
    Boise, Idaho
    If portability isn't that important then I would go with the new iMac G5, hands down. I can't remember what the actual system requirements are for WoW but I know a 64meg video card (iMac G5) will be able to play it.

    Even though I'm typing this on a new iBook G4 (wonderful machine, love the portability!!) and will be getting a Powerbook Gx in January, I think you should stay away from the laptops and focus on the iMac G5. It just sounds like that would suit your situation better.
  20. DJY macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2003
    Canberra AUST
    Students often are seeking solutions based on their limited space. Whether it is in a college / dorm / Uni room, or even whilst they live at home - space can be paramount. The new G5 iMac helps here somewhat - as the footprint and space it takes up seems virtually to be the same as a flat monitor which is great - and one thing that I believe will appeal to so many.

    Students often like to be able to move with their hardware... I don't necessarily mean take it to all your classes, but whether or not you need to research and study in the library, go off campus for study / research, go to a study group with lecture notes / assignments, or even if you are moving away from home for school, when holidays come up and you want to be able to take your music / data / projects home with you.

    Whilst I'm not a student, I like portability. Whether I am going home for a few days over the holidays to visit family, or away on a work trip, I like to be able to grab emails, work on documents, files, and I definitely like having all my music with me... without having to rely on other people computers or acces to hardware... and now I'm a mac convert - dare I say it - I might have to go back to PC and Windoze!?!??!? EWWW YUCK!

    One big issue normally when talking about laptops vs desktop systems is the upgrade options. But it seems that the iMac does have some long term restrictions there anyway.

    I'd go in and play at the Apple shop. I'd talk to peers and people who are maybe a year or two ahead of you - that way they have current and recent experiences to provide you with. There are some amazing little laptops in the Apple range - and refurb ones as well it seems! I was only just at a computer swap fair this morning... the whole market was not Mac except for one little stand where they had a couple of iBooks and a couple of iMac's and the guy said he can't get enough of them - that they go like hotcakes! Even those nasty coloured iBooks?!?!?!!

    I love my Powerbook! Sure my uses and situation is a bit different to yours - but I think the 12" PB is a very cool bit of gear!

    When are you looking at buying it?
    Sometimes regardless of what common sense might suggest, or what others indicate they'd do, I also believe it is important to listen to your gut and your desires...

    If I listened to all my mates - I would have never switched, and even then when i did switch my Mac mates told me to buy the 15"!
    I'm very glad I didn't listen to either group!
  21. dieselg4 macrumors regular


    Oct 20, 2003
    Rockin' Pittsburgh!
    If you do end up buying the new iMac (that'd be my choice for you) I saw on www.dealmac.com that expercom (sp) has it avaialble on preorder for $1299 + 256 MB ram (total 512) and $.01 shipping. I don't know if they charge sales tax. The apple store will charge you sales tax, and depending on where you live, that will eat up most of your student discount.
  22. jihad the movie macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2003
    Smugtown, NY
    Personally, I think you would get the most power/performance/and longevity from a low end new iMac, which will cost about the same as the PowerBook.
  23. scottwat macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2003
    Ohio USA
    Take all things into account

    When pricing make sure to add tax to the apple store edu prices, and you might want to ask the other places if they charge tax in your state. They may or may not. Apple does in every state that has sales tax. Sometimes that can negate the student discount. Also if you need portability the powerbook is a great way to go. By the time you add all the features onto the ibook as you have on the powerbook, you have about the price of the PB. If you don't need portable, trust me in a dorm room you probably do, especially when things get loud and you have to take it to the study area or whatever. But you also have to worry about being too portable and easy to steal. In either the case of the new imac or the powerbook it would be easy to steal, the emac would be alot harder to steal. Also as far as programming and power any of the current or recent lines would work fine. I program right now on a 667mhz g4 powerbook and used to use a 500mhz ibook. Both would have worked but not to my liking. I just ordered a 12" PB that should be here wednesday BTW.
  24. JLaFrance thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2004
    Thanks for all the input! I think I'm going to go with the G5 iMac, 17'', 1.8ghz w/ the superdrive.Thanks!
  25. h0e0h macrumors 6502a


    Aug 30, 2004
    West Monroe, Louisiana
    Powerbook G4

    I bought the 12'' powerbook G4 with a 512 stick. I don't play that many games, but as far as the actual school work goes, i wouldn't trade it for the world. It's great having the portability because i can go from the desk to the couch to the library to the lab and everywhere between. Go with the powerbook, the battery life is GREAT and you WON'T regret it. I edited a video of my senior trip on the drive from orlando to louisiana for 4 hours and got tired before the battery went out. It is DEFINITELY worth it!

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