Best Mac for my high school kid

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by punjabi2, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. punjabi2 macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2014
    Hello Experts:

    Long time lurker, finally created an account today to get feedback from experts. I already have a 2008 macbook (black one) that seems to be on its last legs, and was planning to upgrade to rMBP soon. But my high school child's Windows laptop (Lenovo) is getting super slow, and she uses her laptop much more than I use. I have iPad air, and that serves my purpose most of the time. So, being a father with limited resources, I am thinking of upgrading her laptop first and then later I will upgrade mine :)

    She is going to use the laptop mainly for school work (word, pp, excel, web browsing, iTunes, email, facebook etc). She is like me in the sense that she hates slow/unresponsive computers with a passion, so I don't want to buy something for her that is going to 'lag' when she opens programs, click things etc., and slow her down. Laptop doesn't need to be portable as she will carry it to school only sometime, but portability is definitely a factor (I think there is not much difference in weight between MBA and rMBP, though processor power seems to be a huge difference between too. I am not a techy person, so just going by 1.3 GHz MBA vs 2.4 GHz rMBP for base models shown on apple site). Will we notice difference in performance between these 2 due to processors? If yes, how much?

    I am thinking of going with 4GB/128GB configuration. She doesn't need too much storage, but RAM I am not sure. BB has couple of open stock MBAs that with 150 student discount, I can get for 800 or so (4/128 configuration).

    So, I was wondering if you could help me decide the best Mac for my daughter based on what she will use it most for:

    MBA because of how light and small they are, or should I get her a Pro? Except screen space, there is no other difference between 11 vs 13 inch MBA, correct?

    Any help is very appreciated, thanks in advance!
  2. cxc273 macrumors regular

    Dec 12, 2012
    Based on what you're saying, a MacBook Air should do your daughter fine. With the exception of the SDXC card slot on the 13" version and screen size, there are no differences between the units.

    Because she'll be doing fairly pedestrian tasks like Web surfing, email, etc., processor power and speed isn't a major consideration.

    You might wish to consider additional storage, especially if she has a lot of music or photos. At the end of the day, 128 GB isn't a lot, especially after software is installed.

    You might also want to look at Apple's refurbed machines on its websites. You can get good discounts there and the quality is indistinguishable from the retail boxed version.
  3. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    Probably the MBA

    The best mac for your daughter will most likely be the MBA considering her light usage. I owned a late-2011 MBA, 2GB/128GB, and it was plenty powerful. Web browsing in multiple tabs, editing documents, and watching movies was wonderful. I even did some light gaming on it with League of Legends, Portal 2, and some indie games that all ran without a hitch. The 4GB/128GB model should be exactly what you are looking for.

    As with many users on this forum, future proofing can be a driving force that causes me to overspend on computers I don't need, but really really want. If you decide to spend more money on a system, you will most likely get a faster computer, but it may not see any real world performance difference. If you decide to get 8GB of ram, I'm sure your daughter will see a boost in performance while using professional photography applications, but the ram usage on macs is pretty good, to the point where 3-5 years down the line, 4GB will be plenty for anything she will want to do.

    A possibly worthwhile upgrade would be storage. 128GB was plenty of storage for me, even with a few video games, a backup of my 32GB iPhone, and all my files. There a few benefits to a 256GB SSD. One of the most important to me is speed. In general, the larger a SSD is, the faster it will perform. For consumer SSDs, the sweet spot for price/performance is 256GB. Below is a general example. The scores may vary from the SSDs in the MBA, although Samsung supplies SSDs for Apple.,3567-6.html

    256GB will be pretty much the smallest option if you want to run multiple OSs on one computer, and I'm pretty sure your daughter wouldn't dual-boot to Windows or Linux, but it definitely allows for breathing room. An SSD is still great no matter what, so 128GB should be solid.

    Another point to consider is the rMPB vs the MBA. There are a few differences between the two, and if you are looking to get 8GB/256GB, the rMPB is almost always the one to go with because the price gap shrinks between the two computers.

    MBA Pros:
    Weight- 2.54 Pounds (vs 3.46 Pounds on rMPB)
    Battery life- 12 hours (vs 9 hours on rMPB)

    rMPB Pros:
    Screen resolution- 2560x1600 (vs 1440x900 on MBA)
    Processor speed- MBA 13" i5-4250u 2013 Geekbench 64-bit Multi-Core: 5009
    rMPB late 2013 i5-4288u Geekbench 64-bit Multi-Core: 6627

    The last point to consider is the upcoming line-up of 2014 computers. The MBA is supposed to be getting a major update (don't quote me on that), and depending on how much you care to be getting the nicest, newest thing, you may want to get the rMPB. Considering, in 2013, Apple dropped the price by 400$ for the base model, cut the weight, and significantly bumped the graphics performance, the rMPB won't have an overhaul for a few years.

  4. paulsdenton macrumors 6502


    Oct 9, 2010
    Barton, Vermont USA
    I got my two grandsons MacBook pros with disk hard drives rather than flash because of all the stuff they tend to store on them. They were a little less expensive too. I got them 15 inch non retina for the same reason, a bit lower cost. They didn't care about the higher res displays. So far they have been very happy with them.
  5. punjabi2 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2014
    Thanks for the replies, paulsdenton, mad3inch1na (nice screen name :) ), and cxc273.

    paulsdenton: I have a 2008 macbook with disk hard drive. I have already replaced the HD on mine, and now it is getting slow again, to the point where it is annoying. She is not going to store music and photos on internal HD. I would get her an external HD, or she can use my computer for that kind of stuff. Plus, I want her to use cloud to store all her important stuff, so that if anything happens to computer, she has access to her files.

    cxc273: She doesnt have photos or music..she stores that stuff on my computer :). I think 128GB will be enough for her. I was thinking of getting the 8GB ram one, but mad3inch1na mentioned that, "If you decide to get 8GB of ram, I'm sure your daughter will see a boost in performance while using professional photography applications...". She is not going to do any of that stuff at least for the next 2-3 years (I hope, I want her to focus on studies :) ).

    mad3inch1na: Your reply helped me, and confused me at the same time :). I want to get the latest computer, but I dont think she can wait till God knows when will apple launch new systems. Future proofing is good, but I am sure she would want a new computer when she goes to college, so this system should last her for 3 years, and that is what I am looking for.

    You raise a very good point about 256GB HD..I will definitely look into it. She is not going to do multiple OS, so I dont have to worry about that for extra space.

    Almost 1-pound difference might sway her to MBA. I think I should just take her to store, and take a look at the systems to get a feel of what she wants, and then find a deal :)
  6. mad3inch1na, Mar 11, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014

    mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013

    Sorry if I was confusing. I'm currently in between laptops, as I gave mine to a family member last year (currently have the iPad Air and a desktop). I'm in about the same situation as you because my iPad isn't cut out for productivity when I work outside my home, so I have a really jumbled mess of information about the laptops that I am thinking about buying :p. From what it sounds like, your daughter likes the MBA, and I would definitely go into the Apple store, pick it up, and try it out. Sometimes it is a good idea to go to Best Buy or another electronics store to look at macs because the stores are typically less crowded and you can have more time and space to check out your computer.

    Here's a brief reiteration of my opinion. Hopefully it is a little less confusing. For a 4GB/128GB system, the MBA is the way to go. For an 8GB/256GB system, the rMBP is the best at education pricing, at 1400$ for the rMPB vs 1350$ for the MBA on the Apple website. Check it out in store though, my opinion won't mean much to your daughter. 800$ is a really good price for the base model. I haven't ever done Best Buy open box, so I would research it before jumping on the deal. Check how much more warranty the computer has, and what sort of return/warranty policy Best Buy offers. As an alternative, Best Buy is currently running a promotion until April (you need a .edu e-mail) for 150$ off all new macbooks, so you could get a new MBA for around 950$. Best of luck, and I'm sure that your daughter will love the computer one way or another.

    Edit: Oh, and just as a side-note, I love the black 2008 macbook. You mentioned that you replaced the hard drive on it, so I don't know if it is now an SSD or an HDD. If it is an HDD, and you don't need a lot of storage, I would look into getting a cheap 128GB SSD. My girlfriend has a 2012 regular MBP, and I replaced the HDD with an SSD. It is still relatively heavy, but it boots in 12 seconds, and there is no lag at all where there was before. The hard drive connector on your macbook is SATA 1 I believe, so the maximum data transfer through it isn't great, but you can still get a major boost from a SSD. I would look at some Samsung drives, as they are really reliable and have good warranty policies. I think most, if not all SATA 3 SSDs are backwards compatible to SATA 1, so there shouldn't be any connection problems.
  7. punjabi2 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2014
    No need to be sorry, I was joking in the sense that you gave me lot more to think about :)

    That BB $150 coupon can even be applied to open box items..that is why I am thinking open box. If it doesn't work (rep doesn't want to apply), then I will go with new system.

    It will be hard that my daughter will get new macbook, while I, who was waiting for last couple of months, will keep on using my old one...


    Now, you have given me something else to think about my macbook :). Currently, I have 500 GB HDD, but I can survive with 128GB (though 256GB will be ideal) SSD, if it can be installed. Need to read on it to see if I can actually do that. Please let me know if you know it can actually be done (or have a link that shows how to do it or youtube video or anything like that).

    How do I find out about the hard drive connector on 2008 black macbook, that is if it is SATA 1 or something else?

  8. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    Haha, I can't comment on which of you should get a new computer :p. If it is any reconciliation, a year or two from now, you will be getting an even newer laptop than your daughter. I think the Best Buy promotion excludes "Clearance & More" items, which would include open box. I would still try it out just in case.

    I forgot to mention this, as it would have been a more apt example, but my dad recently put a SSD in his 2008 mac mini, and it drastically reduced lag. If you are interested in doing something like that, let me know if you are interested in what SSD he put in his system.

  9. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    For a start I'd back up her data & reinstall windows. Perhaps a zero dollar fix to the slow windows machine.
  10. Crimsoncrusade macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2014
    As a Uni student myself , the MBA(2013) battery life is a life saver.
    I have the 128/4 config and it suits me well,but I have an external SSD so YMMV. I would recommend the 8/256 GB ideally but 4/256 should suffice as well.

    Dont worry about the processor power, its more than enough. I program on it.
  11. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I think 4gb will be plenty for what you described. I had a 2011 4gb MBA and now have an 8gb 2013 MBA. I see surprisingly little difference for everyday tasks like web, mail, MS Office, etc. I also run powerful software like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. No doubt there was some swapping on the 4gb machine but the SSD is so fast I was never aware of it.

    I'd say to go for the 4gb/128gb model and she will be very happy. If she dislikes slow computers, the MBA will be a real treat for her. The battery life on the 2013 models is indeed a big plus. But if you aren't so worried about that, you might look at older refurb models to save a few bucks.
  12. punjabi2 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2014
    Thanks for the replies, everyone. I will take her to the store and then see what she decides.

    Dweez:She had accidentally spilled water on her laptop couple of months ago. I was able to get it back, but it has been slow since then. Also, she has been using that laptop for little over 2 years, so may be it is just time now :)
  13. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    Roger that. The MBA is a fine machine and I'd not hesitate pulling the trigger on one for a minute if I were in your shoes. But, since I'm not, best of luck. :)

    I very much like my 13" MBA, almost everything I could ask for in a laptop. The big plus for me is lugging it around while I travel (a lot) - the difference between it an my corporate laptop is quite compelling.
  14. punjabi2 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2014
    Thanks once again. I will try to convince her to get MBA now, and then I can get rMBP in a few months :)


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