$3000 to spend on computer(s), going to college, what do you think?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Entourage12, May 2, 2008.



  1. 1) Refurb Macbook 2.1Ghz, Refurb iMac 2.4GHz both with Applecare

    28 vote(s)
  2. 2) Macbook Pro, 2.5Ghz, Refurb 20" ACD, Both with Applecare

    54 vote(s)
  3. 3) Macbook 2.4Ghz, with Applecare, and a ~$1000-$1200 Gaming PC

    14 vote(s)
  4. 4) Other?

    25 vote(s)
  1. Entourage12 macrumors member

    Feb 21, 2008
    So after recently getting into the University I wanted to and being given a $5,000 a year scholarship my parents have said I can have up to $3000 to spend on a new computer or computers. Here's what I've come up with so far:

    1) Refurb iMac 2.4GHz, Refurb Macbook 2.1GHz, both with Applecare

    2) Midrange 2.5GHz Macbook Pro, 20" Refurb ACD, both with Applecare

    3) Macbook 2.4GHz, with Applecare + ~$1000-1200 Gaming PC

    4) Other?

    What do you guys think? I definately need to get a portable for classes and I want to have something with a bit more power and that is able to be a media centre. I've got tons of movies and do quite a bit of DVD ripping, encoding, etc. I also have the urge to play games sometimes, normally just World of Warcraft but the new FPS games can attract my attention so I need some sort of power.
  2. MBHockey macrumors 68040


    Oct 4, 2003
    New York
    Get the MacBook and save the rest of the money -- you'll need it!
  3. asme macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2008
    Thinkpad X300.

    It is a perfect machine in my opinion. No hardware faults whatsoever. No heat issues (runs COLD on the bottom) because of an undervolted, underclocked processor, a rugged design with a carbon fiber internal frame, and an SSD.

    It'll manage WoW and of course anything under WoW (like Quake II, Starcraft, Deus Ex and so on). Nothing bigger though.

    Hell, it's not much thicker than a Macbook Air and it has an optional built-in DVD burner.

    Plus, Lenovo offers an accidental damage warranty covering coffee spills and cracked LCDs and practically anything related to an accidental drop. Peace of mind at its finest.

    Perfection comes at a $price$, though.
  4. mrmma macrumors member

    Dec 27, 2006
    Macbook (maybe Air), Playstation, and Time Capsule

    Unless you're a graphics major, I think that the smaller laptop is the way to go. Even if you're a tech type major, your coding needs are well satisfied by the macbook air, and get a dell 24" if you need the space.

    Buy a Playstation for your media center/gaming needs and stream from your desk via the time capsule when you're home. Maybe get an extra HD as back up for all your media.
  5. psingh01 macrumors 65816

    Apr 19, 2004
    I voted MacBook Pro because I prefer the higher end specs, but tbh the MacBook will suffice 95% time for any type of coursework.
  6. iToaster macrumors 68000


    May 3, 2007
    In front of my MacBook Pro
    Save your money, get a MacBook Pro and get an external hard drive for your ripped DVDs. If you're just doing a full rip (not just extracting the actual film, but with menus and all) anything will do it in satisfactory time, if you are ripping the film itself without any of the fancy DVD stuff, an iMac wont help you, the optical drive is the bottleneck for the encoding, and thus, there won't be any advantage unless you get a Mac Pro (and I do not recommend that you do). Do not go all out, do not buy more than one computer, if you can wait, wait until the current MacBook Pros show up in the refurb store and save yourself some more money. It is much easier to have one computer with all of your things on it. The MacBook Pro alone would be the best bet for you, alongside an external hard drive, there really isn't a need for a cinema display here, you can get another brand (like Dell) or buy an adapter and hook the MBP up to a TV. You will want to have that extra money for yourself, there's more to college than a computer and you'll want to save that money. Get a MacBook Pro (think about it, do you really need the mid range?) and an external hard drive. I know it's tempting to go for more powerful hardware and more of it, but the practicality of it is that you will be best suited by one of the less expensive machines due to the nature of what you will be doing with it, seeing as there isn't really any noticeable difference to the user between the two 15" MacBook Pros aside from hard drive size. It all boils down to this: buy a MacBook Pro and an external hard drive, save as much as you can, you'll need it.
  7. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Apr 26, 2002
    I love the "gaming PC", I mean, you DO need some downtime... but that's why they allow girls at colleges.
    OR you could do what's right and get one MBP and get serious about your future. Game time is over bub.
  8. McGiord, May 2, 2008
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    Refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro, no apple care, save the rest of the money.
    Yamaha SRX history
  9. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816


    Jan 11, 2008
    I think you should get a Macbook (after June), a console game (like PS3), and a 26" or 32" LCD TV. That way you have everything you'll need. You can watch Bluray movies (Netflix has a nice selection of BR and buying them used on Amazon is nice too), and upscaled DVD's using the PS3 as well.

    When you want to watch in bed on MB, you have iTunes and can watch DVD's, etc. You'll have the PS3 for gaming and a media hub for music, video, and can surf the web with it as well. You can connect your MB to the TV to watch iTunes content as well.

    MB: +-$1,500
    PS3: $399 + $60 for HDMI/DVI and HDMI cable
    32" 1080P TV: $900
    Total: $2860 (enough left to cover shipping from Newegg and Amazon for TV/PS3/cables)

    As for WOW, you can play it on the MB. The FPS's can be played on PS3. You got everything here to make your college years super fun, and it fits into the budget your parents gave you (assuming you use educational discount or refurb for MB, and/or purchase TV and PS3 online to forego paying tax, and ask for Apple Care and PS3 games for birthday or xmas. :) Good luck to you!
  10. cohibadad macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2007
    So sexist but so true. To OP, I'd say if you need to spend the 3k or lose it, I'd go macbook and iMac. Combo works great.
  11. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    If you want to play modern games then you need a PC, simple as that.

    As for the console options... a PC is not a replacement for a console and a console is not a replacement for a PC. I bet you already have a console like 99% of PC gamers do. I think most people realize that the PC is a different platform just like the Wii/360/PS3 are all different, there is no way to play all the games you want to play using just one platform.
  12. benlee macrumors 65816


    Mar 4, 2007
    This is something you need to think about and what most suits your style.

    I'd go with a low range MBP with the education discount.
    Although as a gadget-monger I love the idea of an iMac complementing my notebook it is just not necessary. I agree with getting a TV if you don't already have a decent one. Don't spend it all at once either. Wait till you start school and if you are moving away see what you need once you get in your groove.

    But Buy a low range MBP and upgrade the memory through 3rd party and get an external hard drive (good idea)
  13. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    I'd get a MBP and save the rest of the money.
  14. wwooden macrumors 68000


    Jul 26, 2004
    Burlington, VT
    If I was just starting school again, this is the setup I would go with. I personally would be very worried abut having two computers; it's just one more potential thing that could be stolen or damaged.
  15. fuzzynavo macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2004
    yeah, there's really no reason to have two computers for college. i did that for a while, and it was a total pain to sync things between laptop and desktop. i ended up selling my desktop. i'd go for the macbook pro. that way you can carry everything you need with you and work outside of your dorm room or apartment if need be.
  16. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    Agree. You will be better off with a cheaper computer and a bunch of cash lying around.
  17. ktbubster macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2007
    If your major isn't graphics or anything having to do with color representation then an ACD is a complete waste of money (and the contrast and response rate isn't all that great for gaming) Go with a samsung hp or even dell if you want to go a bit nicer. You can get a nice 22 or 24 for the same price as a 20 acd refurb, actually if you went with a samsung or hp or osmething with semi decent specs (and more adjustability for that matter) you could find a nice 24 for under 400 bucks new.

    Go with the macbook pro. Bottom range if you don't think you need the bump in the graphics card (256 - 512) and midrange with student discount if you think you do. Wait on applecare if you can. I'm a HUGE advocate of it, but you have a year to buy it and you can actually get pretty good legit deals on ebay and save a bit of money that way in the next few months.

    Grab an external 500gb harddrive to start (you can always get another i'm a big advocate of having a few drives incase one fails)

    IF resolution isn't a huge thing for you you could also go for a hdtv 1080p 32 inch of some sort and have a tv that doesn't require being hooked up to a computer to stream... unless you alread have a tv.

    Either way, external with a nice wireless laser mouse and keyboard + macbook pro for the win. Two computers is a pain, you can always get a pc tower down the line later if you feel the need, but chances are you won't.

    Happy shopping! :)
  18. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    "No hardware faults whatsoever."

    That's SO not true. Out of 2 thinkpads they had at an agency I was freelancing at both had faults. One had to be send in once, the other one twice.

    "Perfection comes at a $price$, though."

    Yes, the price is that it's slow, ugly and runs windows.

    To the op, I think a refurb mbp + PS3 combo would work fine. You get a great machine for your work, WoW and I'm pretty sure Starcraft 2 as well and the PS3 as media center and for those shooters you mentioned.
  19. iMpathetic macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2007
    Seriously, I think that the X300 would be the ideal college laptop. When you consider the fact that it's extremely thin and light, yet has a high resolution screen, a full size ThinkPad (the best keyboards ever IMHO) keyboard, is insanely durable, and comes with the excellent service and support Lenovo has, you really can't go wrong.

    Now, I know that some people would go into conniptions if they had to use XP or Vista at college, but you might at least want to check it out some.

    Besides, you could get yourself a cheap PMG4 to use at the dorm and be your home/Mac computer. :)
  20. Brianstorm91 macrumors 65816


    Sep 30, 2007
    Cambridge, UK
    I've been looking at Universities and I recently found out that one women-only college was commonly known as "Virgin Megastores" :D
  21. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    How Hilarious (that name is applied to one of my university's colleges, and it's stupid).

    Moving on, what subject are you doing? Do you really need a portable? I sometimes use my iBook in libraries but essentially computers are a distraction. No class or lecture I have ever been to has had anyone using a laptop. We have computer labs (I do biology) but they require specialist software and so you'd only end up remote-desktoping in anyhow. What's the point?

    Get the cheapest single computer that does what you want. I brought two desktops with me for one term. Drove me nuts. The second one was a PC for gaming. Had no time or interest in it. Will you actually have time for games? I don't know a single person here who has time, and if they do they go row or see friends.
  22. miniConvert macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2006
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    Just a 15" MBP (beautiful for WoW) and save the rest. You don't need oodles of computers, surely working and drinking will take priority :)
  23. ButtUglyJeff macrumors 6502a


    Mar 9, 2008
    New York. The state, not the toilet.
    MBP, Applecare, Copy of Windows, because that'll take care of you.

    Get a Wii for playtime. I've got a feeling that the ladies like the Wii.................
  24. iMpathetic macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2007
    Everyone thinks it's so cute...

    Very sharp call, man!
  25. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    MacBook + external 500 GB hard drive for movies and Time Machine. Maybe a cheap 20 inch or 24 inch monitor. You'll need your money soon enough, and if you are anywhere close to being serious about studying, you won't have much time for playing games anyway.

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