Best Mac for college student?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by JTA60288, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. JTA60288 macrumors member

    Jun 28, 2009
    Henderson, Nevada
    Hi all, in 3-5 months I will be heading for university and I wanted to get a few opinions on what would be the best computer for me to get. I have about $500 saved for this and my dad said that he would pay for up to $1000 as a graduation/birthday present. I'll be waiting for Apple's back to school discount to roll around before I make any purchases. Some choices I'm considering are the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or iMac (all base model). The computer will mainly be used for assignments, papers, notes (Microsoft Office), web-design, video editing, graphic-design (Adobe CS5), various audio recording/editing software, and also emails and web surfing. Which one would be the best choice?
  2. cuestakid macrumors 68000

    Jun 14, 2006
    San Fran
    I would personally go with the MBP if only for the portability.Having a desktop in a dorm room may be difficult in terms of space-taking notes in class will be quite useful. You may also want to consider refurbished units as they can also bring the price down-many here have bought refurbished units and been quite happy.

    I found a comparison of different Mac models that sort of focuses on some pro apps
  3. darkwolf2, Mar 13, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012

    darkwolf2 macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2010
    Don't forget to check if your school qualifies you for the online education discount: The student pricing usually stacks with the back-to-school offer. Also take a look at refurbs, like cuestakid mentioned. I've owned 2 refurbed MBP's and been quite happy.

    I would go with a mobile option, either the Air or Pro should be a good choice. If you plan to keep the machine for over 2 years, consider the fact that a Pro will age more gracefully since you can upgrade it's RAM pretty easily, and even upgrade the hard drive if you need more space. The RAM in the Air is soldered to the board and the SSD is proprietary. Not a problem in the near future but it will slow down as new versions of OS X and new software comes out.

    Since you mentioned you'll be doing a bit of web/graphic design, I personally think the +$100 for the high-res screen on the 15" MBP is totally worth it for the added real-estate. If you go with a 13" Air or Pro, you might want to consider a second monitor if you feel you'll need the real-estate.

    Of course, we'll see what changes in the upcoming refresh. :)
  4. sheilaef macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2008
    SF Bay, CA
    I'd go with the iMac-

    For the screen size. If you'll be playing with graphics and making websites, you'll want a nice size screen. You'll also want a good size drive -

    The iMac's not portable, but no one will walk off with it, either.

    Get a refurb. Same 1 yr. warranty.

    And- have fun!
  5. diamond3 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2005
    There is no way I'd consider an iMac. This is just speaking from personal experience, but it is far too convenient to have access to your computer on campus. If you head back home, you just pick up your laptop and take it with you. There are often group projects that come up or moments when you have an hour or two break where you can pull out your laptop and study.

    From what you mention, it sounds like the macbook pro is the best bet although your options may change after the release of the next models. Based on what's available now, I'd get a macbook pro and depending on your room setup at college, get either a 32" 1080p TV that you can hook your laptop up to or just get a 23-24" monitor.

    As far as where to buy, since apple did away with the iPod touch deal. It might not be best to get it through apple with the gift card. There are places to order online where you won't have to pay tax. check out

    Upgrade to 8GB of ram on your own, not through Apple.
  6. JTA60288 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 28, 2009
    Henderson, Nevada
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'm still leaning most toward the MacBook Pro (possibly the 13" base model). Later on I plan on upgrading the RAM to the max 8 gigs and an buying a thunderbolt display to use when the computer is sitting on my desk. I'm not sure what Apple plans to do for the b2s promotion but if it's anything like last year or the years before, I'll wait around (since there might be upgraded MBP's by then anyway, right?). I definitely wouldn't mind having an extra $100 to spend at the Mac app store.
  7. peglegjack macrumors 6502


    Jul 30, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've never gotten why people couldn't use an iMac for college. Anytime I needed to use a computer on campus, all I needed was the computer lab and a flash drive. Plus, that extra screen real estate was infinitely invaluable for reports and research. I'm so glad I didn't get a laptop; it wouldn't even be a thought today.

    As far as note taking, a pencil and paper does just fine. I did see people bringing in their MacBooks, but they would either be using it to mess around on the internet or to play World of Warcraft half the time. The best students, as in those who achieved a 4.0 (such as myself) didn't bring a laptop to class.

    Sorry, I just think it's redundant.
  8. diamond3 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2005
    I don't know, maybe it depends on your major, classes and university setup. I had a class where the laptop saved me. I used Word, recorded the lecture and typed the notes. I write pretty fast, but doing it for 70 minutes straight became a nightmare. I used the laptop, had plenty of time to type and could then go back and listen to the audio next to my notes for any additional clarification. I'm not trying to say it's impossible to get by with only an iMac, I'm just saying there is a likely possibility where you'll be put in a situation where you wanted the portability of a laptop. Whether it's going over to a friends place to study and review for a test, taking notes in class, or working on a group project in a classroom, a laptop clearly has it's benefits. For a $100-150 more for a monitor, I don't believe you are out a whole lot if you need that extra screen space.

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