13" macbook air or pro for a student?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by michelle89, Dec 4, 2010.

  1. michelle89 macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2010
    Hi everyone,

    I'm a college student and I'm considering to buy the new macbook air as my main computer. I've heard that a lot people criticize the macbook air for its performance and some of its features. The only things I will use/do on my laptop are: words, powerpoint, excel, STATA, picasa, skype, facebook and to listen to music on grooveshark. So I would consider myself to be a 'light' user. I also travel a lot, so the weight of my laptop is important to me. It's however not the main reason why I would want to buy a laptop. I want a durable laptop that is going to last for at least 3 years. I've never had a mac before.

    Do you think the macbook air is suitable for me? And if I buy one, is it worth it to get a 4GB memory upgrade?

    Thank you! :)
  2. rnelan7 macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2009
    The Air definitely has enough power for your needs. As far as the 4gb go, I would say if it is in your budget then go for it. There might come times when you have multiple word documents, powerpoints and internet browsers open while doing school work. For those instances 4gb would certainly help out.
  3. Barnzee macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2010
    Oak Harbor, WA
    The macbook air would do the job. However, I would go with the macbook pro because you get the option to upgrade the HDD and RAM later on from a third party manufacturer. Plus you get features such as a backlit keyboard and an optical drive.
  4. shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010
  5. Buck987 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2010
    go for the air...less weight...better screen...add the 4gbs
  6. DoorMouse macrumors member

    Jan 12, 2010
    As a student I probably wouldn't get an air as my main computer (I have thought about it, but at the moment there are certain drawbacks if you are using it as your only computer)- mainly for me because I would have to buy an external optical drive (I still watch dvds a lot), and a connector to use an ethernet cable (no wireless at my college). That ends up being a lot more cluttered on my desk then just using a MBP, and if I go places, I may need to bring all those extra connections...Of course, those aspects may not be a problem for you, just thought I would point it out.

    On another note, you also get longer battery power on the 13" MB (up to 10 hours), or 13" MBP (8-9 hours), whilst the air is up to 7 hours.
  7. andrewlxix macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2010
    I had the same thought, but I decided that I might as well wait for the new revision of the macbook pro to come out late next year hopefully with the light peak technology built-in.
    So I decided that at the mean time, I could use the macbook air for;
    a. university
    b. minecraft
    c. some design work
    in the mean time.
  8. shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010
    its 10 hours also for the 13" MBP, the 15/17" have the 8-9 hours:D
  9. andrewsd macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2008
    Get the air, but if you plan on having it for a while say all four years then get 4 gigs of ram and get the 13" model.
  10. jazziethomas macrumors member

    Dec 5, 2010
    MBA is a good choice for travelling purposes because of its portability, but if you want to upgrade from theird manufacturer later on I would suggest MBP for you.
  11. SubaruNation555 macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2007
    Arlington, VA USA
    Power wise the MBA is fine however if it were me I would go for the 13" MBP.

    I think the ability to upgrade the HDD and RAM is important, especially if you keep your computer all four years. Also, I found a backlit keyboard useful in dark lecture hall presentations. Obviously the MBP is not as light or slim as the MBA but it is very manageable.
  12. jetblk328i macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2010
    I think that an air would be sufficient in your needs, and better in terms of portability. However, the Pro has several features that may become useful...Superdrive and backlit keyboard. I cannot count how many times my roommate has been asleep and I needed to work with my backlit keyboard on. Even as a decent typist, the backlight helps a lot.
  13. brendu macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2009
    If I were in your situation I would get the 11" Air with 4GB Ram and then get a dell or HP monitor, external HDD, bluetooth keyboard, and mouse for the room. That to me is the perfect setup.
  14. cristobalviel macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2010
    i would go for PRO cause, of the internal DISK READER, instead of the air, has not, and for student purpose , you might needed...
  15. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2010
    Theft can be a big problem on some campuses, and, the more expensive your system is, the more you will worry about it. I'm not sure what STATA is, but the other programs will run easily on any white macbook from 2007 on (when the macbook got the 2+ GHz C2D). You can buy used, or, buy a new MacBook. I have seen tons of MacBooks on campuses around here. You only need a higher-end system if you want to run "creative" software, music, digital photography, photoshop, etc. Or, want to run games.
  16. jegbook macrumors regular

    Dec 2, 2007
    FWIW, the current 13" MBA does have an SD card reader. If you have a digital camera that uses SD card memory and download pictures with any frequency, it is really handy. I have enjoyed it on my 13" MBP.

    I echo the comments that from a computing power perspective either the 11" or 13" MBA would be sufficient.

    I think the primary considerations would be size, storage, optical drive. The 11" MBA is an awesome size (though, I've never seen one! :( ) and the 13" MBA has the screen resolution that I've always lusted over in a 13" screen (1440x900).

    Obviously, the Airs have the size debate won hands down. So, how much would you need an optical drive regularly, and especially out and about? And do you have lots of multimedia files? Storage for an Air is relatively limited (or unaffordable). If you have lots of files and want easy access to them frequently, either go MBP or increase your budget significantly. If really easy access isn't quite as necessary, you could get a 320GB or 500GB standard laptop drive for $50-$75 and for another ~$20 get an enclosure for it. Store the bulk of you media files that you don't need regularly on that, and it's still pretty portable and shouldn't need an external power source.

    I really like the idea of the Airs, but since my laptop is my only computer, I'm hesitant to own one as my only computer. Realistically, most of my day to day needs would be handled by a MBA. Though the storage would be a bit of an issue. My Mac is about 100GB and I have Win 7 as well at ~35GB, so ample storage would be pricey.

    Not having WiFi on campus could be a consideration and having to carry the Ethernet adapter everywhere. And the audio jack is analog audio out only on the MBA whereas it is digital In/Out on the MBP. Unlikely to be an issue, but if you have specific need for it, could be a major annoyance.

    Ultimately you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you need and see if your list of needs matches best with the MBA or MBP...

    Good luck and happy computing!
  17. crzdcolombian macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2010
    13 inch air is a rip off. If you are going to spend that much money buy a 15 inch pro

    Its thinner.... but seriously has 0 storage and do you really want something easier to steal?

    I am also a student the $999 white macbook is plently good for your whole 4 years which is what I had. I had my heart set on the 15 inch pro at the time but my brother a graphic designer talked me out of it because basically I was going to use iphoto, surf the net and use office. I was able to still run CS3-4 on it and had the base model.

    You are a light user, meaning the base model is way more than good enough for you. For travel, the macbook pro is still thinner than almost every other computer out there. Also the air being slightly thinner in college = more likely to either break, get stolen or have something spilled on it.

    If you are paying for it with your own money get the cheap white one, if your parents are paying for it get the pro 13 and hell if they are willing to pay for the air 13 might as well ask for the 15 inch pro haha. But in all seriousness I have had all of them (last gen air which sucked, no storage is kind of lame), the 15 inch for me was just too big to travel around with. I currently have the pro unibody 13 and love it, tho in all honesty another 13 inch white would have been more than enough I just am not a fan of the plastic case which does crack after a couple years.
  18. GDOX316 macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2010
    I'll be in college next year, but I bought the new Air. Just bought a 23.6" Matte samsung monitor as well to go with it.
  19. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2010
    Good point. Don't borrow money for a more expensive machine, but, if your dad is just going to spend the money on a sports car, buy a 15" MacBook Pro.
  20. LoriM macrumors newbie

    Dec 30, 2010
    Stata on Mac Air?

    Hi Michelle,

    I'm in the same boat and considering a Macbook Air. Having a light weight machine is a very high priority for me, so I'm leaning toward it, but want to make sure it will run STATA ok. Just wondering if you decided on a MBA and how it is going?


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