advice for a student buying a mac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jadesweetdreams, May 14, 2013.

  1. jadesweetdreams macrumors newbie

    May 14, 2013
    I've read your forums for a long time ans have finally made an account!*
    Ever since I got my first iPod I fell in love with apple products and have always wanted a mac.*
    I'm just finishing my first year of uni, and now have a part time job so I've decided to take the plunge and buy a mac!*
    My first dilemma was whether I should get a MacBook or an iMac. Seeing as I have an iPad and this is what I've used all year to take notes on PDFs I decides I wouldn't really need a MacBook and decided on an iMac.*
    At first I thought I would just get the bog standard iMac with no upgrades. Then I read about the fusion drive. Is it worth me getting a fusion drive? Seeing as I'm making this investment I would hate to regret later on not getting a faster fusion drive. I don't think I need a SSD but I would be willing to get the fusion drive (1TB).*
    Also, I think I wouldn't need an upgrade on the ram as I mainly will use it for web browsing, uni assignments and photo editing (I was going to do a photography degree at uni but decided to keep it as a hobby and do a pharmacy degree). Do you think 8gb would be enough or would I need 16gb?*
    Can you give me any other advice?
    I still have about a month to decide as I want to wait for the back to school offers to start so I can get a free iTunes card or whatever they give away this year.*

    Oh and also I wonder if anyone knows what the chances are that I will get financing? I dont want to have to pay it in full, I would much prefer to pay if monthly, but seeing as I rely on student loans, will apple approve the financing?*
    If not ill have to get my granddad to pay for it then pay him back monthly as if it was apple!*

    Sorry for the long post its just its a big investment and I want to get it right!*

  2. RadDave macrumors regular


    Apr 6, 2013
    North Carolina
    Hi Jade...... - I just bought a r-MBP about 6 weeks ago & a new iMac at the end of last month; now I'm not going to discuss whether you should get a laptop vs. an iMac since you seem to have decided the iPad fulfills you needs as a portable device; NOW, if you change you mind then that is yet another discussion.

    The iMac that I bought has a 21.5" display, 1TB fusion drive (which is the standard option for a HD; now you can go w/ a SSD of various sizes), 2.9 GHz i5 core CPU, and 16 GB RAM; comparative iMac specs can be viewed HERE. So, you will receive the fusion drive (includes a 128 GB SSD) - the less expensive machine will have 8 GB RAM & a slightly slower CPU, the latter likely makes little difference for your needs; NOW, whether to go to 16 GB RAM is a more difficult decision (in view of the cost) - if you are planning some intensive image/video edition, gaming, or other CPU/RAM intensive uses, then more RAM will certainly give you a speedier machince.

    Good luck in your selection and please post back if you are still undecided on picking a laptop vs. an iMac - :)
  3. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    If I were in your shoes, I'd reconsider the laptop route, specifically the 13" Air with 8GB RAM and at least a 256GB drive. Compare prices at Amazon and B&H for tax free savings (most locations) to what you see in the refurb bin. Sell the iPad to mitigate the cost. Save over the summer to buy the Thunderbolt display to dock the Air and make those long papers and cram sessions much easier.
  4. keysofanxiety, May 14, 2013
    Last edited: May 14, 2013

    keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Hello Jade,

    Not sure about monthly financing if you're a student, but if you buy your Mac online through the Education Store when logged in on your University campus then you'll save 20% -- and you'll get free AppleCare on top of that. So you really do save a lot and IMHO it's better to buy with one big purchase, due to the amount you save (I'm speaking just in the UK, not sure about education pricing in other places).

    If you're going to get an iMac or even a MacBook Air I'd definitely recommend get as much RAM as you possibly can. The newer OSs such as ML are very RAM-hungry, and you're getting page-outs to the HDD with only Safari running when a MacBook Pro has 4GB RAM (in my workplace I get numerous calls per day about this from our end-users). Now, the page-outs aren't much of a problem if you've got a MacBook Air, because they have an SSD in so it doesn't make much difference when it's swapping data and using it as virtual memory. But with a 5400RPM HDD, it completely cripples the performance.

    So if you're going to have 8GB or less of RAM in either your laptop or iMac -- make sure you go for SSD in some shape or form. I'd recommend you get as much RAM as you can, because the newer OSs that Apple release are only going to be more RAM hungry than the last. Same goes for software. You can always get an external hard-drive; extra RAM in the newer iMacs is a little more difficult.

    As for the Fusion drive, I have heard very good things about it. However as it's only a 128GB SSD coupled with a 1TB hard-drive, I have also heard issues about performance crawling when dealing with large files on ProApplications -- mainly because the OS can't decide whether to keep it on the SSD or the HDD. That's quite rare, however, and I can't personally vouch for it.

    If you're going for a laptop; get a MacBook Air. 4GB RAM won't be the end of the world on the MBA; its flash storage is pretty much 500MB/s read & write so a lack of RAM doesn't slow it down that much. If you're going for an iMac I'd definitely say as much RAM as you can afford; and certainly go for either the Fusion drive or exclusive flash storage.

    TL;DR- as much RAM as you can afford, go for SSD/Fusion.
  5. Lil Chillbil macrumors 65816

    Lil Chillbil

    Jan 30, 2012
    Ram is cheap, go for 16- gigs for future proofing. also buy a 2nd monitor to hook up to the imac so you get a dual screen setup that works wonders
  6. Luba macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2009
    I wouldn't skimp on RAM, 4GB is ok, 8GB would give you some elbow room for basic tasks. Photoshop would want 16GB and more, especially with RAW.

    Is your iPad basically a small laptop with wireless keyboard? If yes, then iMac is a good way to go, especially if you do all your work in your room. But most uni students like to do their work at various locations. Only downside then it moving your iMac back home at the end of the school year or during breaks.

    How much storage do you think you'll need? One way is to store your music videos and photos on two external HDD (one as a backup), then you could get a 256GB SSD or even a 128GB SSD. If you do have lots of music etc, then a big Fusion Drive plus Time Machine to back it up is a good way to go.

    Are your textbooks on your iPad?
  7. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    First, congratulations on going to college! It's exciting and one of the most amazing experiences of your life! You couldn't have made a better choice than going with OSX. The note-taking advantages, battery life, simplicity of the machine and being able to walk into an Apple store when you need help, those advantages are priceless.

    Now let's get to the root of your issues:

    First, financing:
    As a fellow student, I know this is key. Check with your campus bookstore. Which college are you going to? Here at UCSD, we can charge a laptop to our student account, it gets billed to our account and we can pay it over time. If you know you would be paying it off in six months or less, this would be ideal because you could just pay your student account over the months of the semester.

    Apple does offer financing, but I would look into a low interest bank loan or ask your financial aid department about doing a "computer add on". If you're a financial aid student, there's a good chance your college offers 'add on appeal' applications that let you 'add' the price of a new laptop to your current financial need. The add on is paid to you using grants or federal loans and you don't have to worry about it until after you graduate.

    The last option is to check out the Marketplace here. Check out forums, ask questions, post in current threads and rack up the posts necessary to view the marketplace. There's a few people selling 2012 13" Pro's for $800-900 which is a good deal cheaper than the Apple store, some with Apple Care. Ebay is another option. There's an 'unofficial' Apple reseller on Ebay selling new 'refurbished' Classic Pro's for as much as $200 off.

    Next, laptop vs. iMac:

    I'll be honest, laptop all the way. A Classic 13" with user-upgraded ram and an SSD swapped in will run just as well to a regular user as an iMac would but will offer a mountain of incentives over the iMac.

    You're a new student, so you have no idea how your studying habits will develop over the next year or two. Some people study better at the library or at a lounge with outlets and a cafe near by. Some times you'll have a group project and you'll need to work on a paper with your partners. Having to find a computer lounge or do these tasks on an iPad is rather tedious. Being able to pack up your laptop and hop on the bus is a huge advantage when your work takes you somewhere else.

    You can always pick up an ASUS 24" monitor and hook it up with a Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter.

    Over all, I would say, over time it's a lot easier to make a MacBook Air/Pro fit your needs as a desktop, than it is to make an iMac fit your needs as a student on the go.

    I've never met a student that uses a MacBook that wishes he had an iMac. I have however, met countless students who have desktops that don't just wish they had a laptop, but wish they had a MacBook Pro. Walk into a University class, stand where the professor is and look at the students. This is what you will see:

  8. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Since you got iPad, and is fine with using it away from room, then iMac would work.

    You probably don't need the fusion drive because you didn't mention any use case that would require fusion drive. It's nice to have (launching apps are faster, etc), but not essential. Also, look into Apple refurb.
  9. Jedi Master macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2013
    ar the moment on the Death Star
    Wise choice, pharmacy degree!

    Wise choice, pharmacy degree!

    The credit really depends, maybe.

    IMac vs Aairbook, Airbook with a display of some sort maybe be the better choice, since it sounds like you'll be starting your second year later this year.

    Both will Lars till you complete schooling with issue. But your needs may change while to school so, I see the Mac Book Air as the more flexible and better choice.

    Good Luck in school, drugs are the future. :):)

  10. tgi macrumors 65816


    Aug 29, 2012
    I'm assuming this works for any school that is listed on the Education Store? Why can't I find any info on about this?
  11. B... macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    Only works for the UK.

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