Buying a new laptop for college

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dudeman486, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. Dudeman486 macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2008
    I'll be heading off to college next year, and I need to replace my faithful macbook (which now beachballs when browsing the web).

    My computing needs will be:

    -basic web browsing/skype/email/iChat/word processing

    -some 3d gaming (TF2/L4D2,Portal 1&2, etc.)

    -a fair amount of music editing (lots of Garageband, maybe Logic down the road). I'll need some USB ports for mics and maybe a Firewire in the future.

    -light video editing (nothing more than rearranging clips–no "real" editing) I won't use more than iMovie.

    Should I get the 13inch or 15inch pro? I'm not in the market for a unibody macbook since I want a change from my current white macbook.
    Will the core i5 in the 15 be a significant difference from the c2d in the 13? Will the 13 handle my gaming needs?
    Will the size and weight differences between the 13 and 15 be significant? I don't want to carry more than I have to, but my needs outpace the Air.
    Also price is somewhat of a concern. I'd like to keep it as low as possible (but I still want a pro over the regular macbook).

    Thanks in advance.
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Since you already have a computer, I would definitely wait for the new revision before buying a new one. The C2D should be gone by then, so at that point you just have screen size to decide.
  3. atticus18244fsa macrumors 6502


    Jul 11, 2008
    Waterloo, ON
  4. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    From one college student to another I'll say wait and buy it next year when Apple has their Back to School Promotion. Benefits of doing so:

    1. Your Macbook will have newer specs and hence last longer during college.

    2. You get a free iPod touch. Now whether you want to use it or not, you can still sell it if you don't and that's $200 guaranteed in pocket.

    Patience my friend has its benefits.
  5. TheyCallMeSaint macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2010
    Firstly, I agree with above posters that you should wait if possible. From what I've heard, there is supposed to be an update early 2011, but the major design overhaul will occur in late 2011/early 2012. If you can wait, do it.

    If you need it now, I'm pretty sure the 13" will handle your needs. It's capable of 3D gaming and video work. Sure, it might not be the highest settings or fastest speeds, but it'll work, be lighter, and save you a few hundred bucks.

    What most people don't realize is that they pay for hardware that they don't need. People think that if you're gonna do video work, you need a dedicated GPU. Actually you don't; I run FCE on a 2006 MacBook with 64mb of shared video memory, and it works. If you need everything to be done as fast as possible, sure, go ahead and purchase the latest gear. Otherwise, you can save $200-300 which I'm pretty sure will make up for the 10 second difference in rendering time.

  6. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    As others have already stated, unless you need a new computer now, it is best to wait until the summer before you start school.

    None of your requirements seem very demanding, therefore, it really comes down to physical size. The 13" is quite a decent system for the price. The 15" is your best bet for all around performance. I never found the weight difference to be considerable enough to notice.
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    a permissions and disk repair or a reformat will likely fix your problems. wait for the summer.
  8. eatbacon macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2003
    Besides the obvious "wait until you need it so you don't buy out of date" advice, I will add the following...

    As a student, I assume you will be carrying it around a lot. I politely disagree with Sedulous about the weight difference and would personally would go for the 13. It isn't that noticeable at first, but is definitely after frequent transport. You can alway get an external monitor (for less than the price difference) to use when you want more screen real estate. And the 13 will more than handle your needs. Frankly, I would consider the Air.
  9. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2005
    Upgrade that Macbook as much as possible and make that your laptop. Get an iMac for all the heavy lifting with logic and TF2, L4D, etc etc.
  10. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    Thanks for being diplomatic. It is totally ok if you disagree with me about the mobility of the 15" vs 13" due to the 1.1 lb difference in weight. I find the difference worth the greatly improved performance of the 15". In fact, I should disclose that I went with the 17" MBP with an iPad companion.

    Presuming OP will be living in campus housing, life would be easier with a notebook. Many schools make you move in/out frequently and kick you out during breaks. Some kind of balance of performance and mobility is highly desirable for student life. Where that line is for the OP I cannot say.
  11. Cartaphilus macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2007
    Do yourself and your hardworking parents a favor and don't waste time in college on your computer playing video games, playing music, chatting, or updating your Facebook page. How you spend the next four years will largely determine what sort of life you are likely to lead for the 60-plus years that come after it. Don't do what I did and live to regret not doing your absolute best.

    I'm not saying there's no place for leisure while in college, but if you're not putting in a solid 50 hours a week on classes, assignments, preparation and reinforcement, you're cheating yourself. And I don't know anyone who ever got the chance to truly make up for not taking college seriously.

    Of course, I would have blown off anyone who had given the 18 year-old me this advice, but maybe you'll be wiser than I was.
  12. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2005
    Ah I forgot about that. I remember a few years ago, they kick you out during xmas break and spring break. I ended up getting a desktop/air combo once I got an apartment.
  13. Dudeman486, Jun 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011

    Dudeman486 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2008
    This is a bump since my question remains the same as my old one, so why start a new thread.

    Now that the MBs have updated, I'm deciding between the lowest-end 15inch pro (high res), a 13inch pro, and the 13inch macbook. (And hell, the 11-inch air. Why not).

    Which computer will be best for light gaming, light audio-editing, some programming (whatever one does for a BS in engineering), and general word processing/web browsing/emailing/chatting?

    I'm leaning towards the 15, since it seems like an investment. With Thunderbolt and its specs, I'm pretty sure that it will last beyond my 4 years of college. That justifies the extra 5-600 $ I'd spend on it.

    But! If TB isn't that big of a deal, and either 13inch will handle my gaming/audio needs, I'd gladly save the money now.

    The weight difference between the two is unimportant. Also with the new iCloud and my existing external HD, HD sizes are unimportant to me as well. Also for anyone who'd advise me such, I'm already waiting for the bts promo and Lion's release in July.
  14. gmans46 macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2011
    eh thats tough. It really is more dependent on what you classify light gaming as the 13s really have trouble with it with integrated graphics chips. Also if you prefer the bigger screen. Idk for the price i feel like the 13 would be a better value though.
  15. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    any mbp will handle those needs, as they are a light and as you mentioned and it seems like you are more interested in word processing and the like, just get whichever size you would prefer. you could probably even go with a refurbished older model if you want to save more money, as previous models can handle that too.
  16. Dudeman486 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2008
    I feel like "light gaming" is somewhat misleading. I don't play a wide variety of games––really just TF2, L4D2, Portal, and Minecraft. However, I play those games often (several hundred hours in TF2 for example), so I would like the computer I buy to run those without even slightly choking (except under extreme circumstances.)

    I don't strive to get hundreds of FPS; as long as everything is smooth, I'm fine. And I don't care too much about incredible detail and high settings; as long as I can see everything I need to see, I'm fine.

    But I do want to be able to have a quality gaming experience on the few titles that I really enjoy playing. So I guess an added question is: can you 13-inchers (pro and reg) run Valve games without hiccups? Or should I go for the beefier graphics in the 15...
  17. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    I would get an iMac and MacBook air for around 2,000 if you can't justify the air put an SSD in your MacBook and max the ram and buy a new iMac for around $1,400.

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