Calling All/Any College Students: What do you use and/or suggest for computing?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by DrJames, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. DrJames macrumors member

    Feb 5, 2012
    I'm about to go into college and I haven't got a clue as to what I want to use for computing for college.

    What do you use and what do you suggest? What do you like/dislike about certain things?

    I don't do a lot of gaming. Just lightly.
    I mainly use my computer for studying, classes, movies, and music.

    Also, light movie editing. Nothing professional. What do you suggest?

    Any advice for an upcoming college student would be MUCH appreciated!

    Thanks in Advance!:)
  2. boriscolombia macrumors member

    Oct 17, 2009
    13 " mac book pro or 13 air, the size is perfect the weight is fine on both, I have the pro (with ssd it makes a huge difference) and I love it but the airs are nice for weight and screen, the battery is plenty, lit keyboard is good for nights and..... they are just good, now I know that last year they updated around march and April so wait just a little bit.
  3. dreemdazer macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2012
    I use an iPad...

    I've been in college the past 2 semesters and I use an iPad 2 with a Zagg bluetooth keyboard and a case. It's worked really well for me. I take notes using Notability (awesome program and cheap), write my papers (and email them to myself and print them off of the college printers at the library), use 3D anatomy programs for my biology and anatomy classes, etc. I use the HDMI out on the screens at the library and that works well for study groups.

    I like the iPad 2 (now the new iPad is out) because it's light, cheaper than a laptop and touch friendly. I like the touch aspect of it. Hope this helps!
  4. c.bite macrumors newbie

    Feb 21, 2012
    I think the 13'' Pro is perfect for college, especially if you're doing some light video editing. About 99% of Mac users in my class have the 13'' Pro.
    If you're taking notes in class, browsing the web and writing papers, the Air will be amazing too, and the portability is awesome.
    I just traded my Air for a Pro and couldn't be happier, but you can play with both of them and see which one is more convenient.
  5. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Refurbished MacBook Pro 13", unless carrying about 4.5 pound is actually a problem for you; in that case its a MacBook Air. An external hard drive for backups is an absolute must if there is anything of value on your computer (but the cheapest external USB drive will do just fine), because every single hard drive _will_ eventually break. A cheap 1920 x 1080 monitor if you plan to use it intensively for work at a desk. 8 GB of RAM from reliable third parties (like and many others) is so cheap you might as well buy it, but you can do that at any time in the future.
  6. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    Any Mac with a Core 2 Duo and 3GB+ of RAM will get you through college just fine. Unless you take a degree that needs a faster computer.
  7. Tali macrumors member

    May 20, 2010
    Keep in mind that the Air doesn't have a slot for a kensington lock. (That saves me from buying one over my 2010 15"). I'd want to lock it to the desk whenever I need to step away to go to the restroom or I'm just grabbing a new book from the shelf.

    There were some solutions for the last Air I think (last time I checked) but none of these really seemed viable.
  8. malman89 macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    This. Or any $500 Lenovo/Dell/HP mainstream model. There's nothing more you -need- for actual computer usage in college. Anything above is just want.

    I'm still using my Late 2006 (purchased Feb/Mar 2007) 2GHz Core 2 Duo White pre-unibody MacBook. Since I bought it, I did upgrade the HD (from 80GB to 500 7200rpm) when I was in college, due to my large media collection I assembled. Since graduating, I recently upped the RAM to 3.3 (4) GB. Overall, it still works like a champ for anything but gaming -- and even then, it can still run some low GPU req Steam games and Minecraft and such.

    I'm probably going to buy something new - probably not an Apple product - once Ivy Bridge comes out and manufacturers refresh their product lines. I want something with a better bang for my buck and better GPU. Have plenty of money saved up from work and also a nice tax return on the way, so we'll see what's out there.
  9. elkin30 macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2012
    All depends on your major

    I am a second semester Freshman and used a C2D, 2.0GHZ, 4GB RAM White MacBook for the first semester. It was great and I've had the computer for a while but my major simply requires me to have greater specs. I am studying Info Management and Tech which requires me to have a faster computer. I recently upgraded to the high end october 11 '15 and its a world of difference for the apps I use and bootcamp.

    Pretty much, it depends what you are studying. You can probably get away with a $300 windows PC but I would suggest a Mac for longevity. Pretty much everyone at my school has some variation of a MacBook. I also have an iPad 2. I use it for notes but mostly for screwing around. It's not a laptop replacement and don't let anyone tell you it is. You can take notes on it for classes, but it won't replace a laptop. But anyway, it depends where you are going to college and what you are studying.

    Hope this helps.
  10. jabbawok macrumors regular


    Sep 30, 2004
    I'm in my final year of engineering and I use an 11" i7 air. I do a lot of CAD so I have to virtualise windows to run Solidworks.
  11. beach bum macrumors member

    beach bum

    Oct 6, 2011
    I have an early 2011 13" mbp in which I've upgraded both the hd and ram. The 13" is great for portability, but I also have a 24" viewsonic monitor from Amazon that I use for the extra screen space with having multiple apps open or viewing side-by-side documents. Also, I dual boot through boot camp for my Windows needs. My college still requires certain Windows apps that I can't do without.

    I have to say that I do have an iPad 2 that I use with a Zaggfolio with keyboard that I use for note taking in class or web research, etc. when I have too many books to even consider bring the mbp. I would suggest that you go to your local Apple store to get hands on with both the mbp and mba to see what you just can't live without. Keep in mind though that you cannot upgrade the ram in a mba and should consider the 4gb option if that is what you decide to get.
  12. bniu macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2010
    It really depends on who you are. I have a huge ego and I simply want the best setup where I can do my work well, play a game every now and then, rip blu rays, encode videos, run a command center, and still be portable. So that is why I have the computer in my signature below.

    Could I get by with a lot less? Sure, but I don't want to. The best part of a MBP+Thunderbolt Display is I have a MBP for on the go, and an iMac essentially at home. At my desk, I can have 6 USB ports, 2 firewire ports, 2 ethernet ports, another thunderbolt port open, 5.7 million pixels to play with. I can do my math homework, I can play games, I can render 1080p movies, I can edit videos, I can manage a huge music library, worth every penny if you ask me.

    Soon, I'll be adding a 2nd Thunderbolt Display and a MacBook Air to my collection.

    iWork is great for writing up reports and Word 2011 is awesome for writing up my math homework (you have to get used to equation editor, but once you've got it down, it's incredibly easy to use).
  13. malman89 macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    What sort of budget do you have in college? To have over two grand to waste on two overpriced displays, not even including everything else, is something interesting.
  14. hypermog macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2009
    Whichever machine you get, install Dropbox on it and save all your schoolwork in the Dropbox. You will never lose your data -- and if your computer dies you can access your files with any computer via the web interface.

    Also, install LogMeIn and Prey -- if your machine is ever stolen, your chance of recovery is vastly greater with these programs installed properly.
  15. Tannerman917 macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2012
    Sweet bike. Anyway, I've gotta ask a question. I'm only 15, but I'm considering a Mac and I want to make sure I get the right machine.

    I was looking at a Refurb 15" MacBook Pro, and the cheapest one is $1659. However, a 21.5" iMac is $999, but has better specs all round (except for battery life :D) but is $659 cheaper. I thought I could get a new iPad when they can be bought refurbished (likely a 32GB WiFi) and still save $150 for software and accessories. I realize that the iPad isn't a laptop replacement, so I'd just use it for taking notes. Or is the MacBook Pro the better way to go? Any opinions would be welcome. Thanks!
  16. sarcosis macrumors 6502a

    Apr 25, 2006
    These United States
    A 13" Macbook Pro or 13" Air will be just fine for what you want to do. The Macbook Pro will get you better games performance and the Air will get you better portability. When I was in college, I never had a fear of my stuff being stolen. If I had to get up from what I was doing for a few minutes, I just took my stuff with me. With the Air, it would be great for that. I got through with a 2006 Rev A. Macbook 13" just fine. I was running Windows XP and Visual Stuido 2005 with that too in Bootcamp for my programming classes.
  17. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2005
    Macbook Air 13" + flash drive + dropbox. Save your school files on dropbox and a flash drive as back up.

    If you are going to game, a simple desktop pc @ $500 + a 21.5" 1080p monitor and combo that with the air.
  18. Giuly macrumors 68040


    Actually, with the prices for SO-DIMM DDR3, you can safely suggest 16GB here. That should make a MacBook Pro suitable for years to come, and you wouldn't have to upgrade later, which makes it even more expensive.
  19. bniu macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2010
    Texas sized budget. I find the amount I spend is highly proportional to my grades :D

    I don't apologize for it, all that equipment makes me work harder and get better grades. And the giant screens help for the diagrams I draw for my classes.

    It's all an investment. The more you invest, the more you get in return. Of course, no guarantees, so I could go broke...
  20. MSM Hobbes macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2006
    NE Hoosierana
    I'm an engineer / manager… oldest boy is Freshman, taking engineering, calcuseless, physucks, chemistry, English / composition, etc. He has iPad 2 and my old white MB, and when not at school uses the old white plastic 24" iMac. All works just great for what he needs… and actually, 95% of the time the only device he takes to school is the iPad - light, quick, easy, portable, and does most of what he needs. To save some dollars, I'd recommend getting a used MBP off of CL or such,,, just find a reputable person that you can trust, and go that route for some cost savings for a very good machine.
  21. Gator24765 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 13, 2009
    13 MBP.

    Lets face it, college students looked at some messed up crap online. There are a ton of viruses out there.

    I went through college on my MBP for 3 years and never had any problems.

    After 2 years on my dell viruses galore and slow as hell.
  22. yojitani macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2005
    An octopus's garden
    It depends on what you study... and if you study.
  23. davidg4781 macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    My last year or so of college, I used a 13" CD MacBook that I bought when it launched. I'm still using it today, although I'm wanting to upgrade, I really don't need to.

    As far as organization, I used iCal to put all my classes and meetings and such in. I also used a task app (can't remember which one) to put in all my homework assignments at the beginning of the semester. Reminders would be great for this. I synced all this with a Palm Treo 650 and was just excited how well organized I was.

    Back in 2006, at my university, no one really took their laptops to class to use. Some had them in their backpacks to do work between class, but they didn't use them for note taking. For that, I think a MBA would be great. You could get by with an iPad, but I'm leaning towards the Air since I'm not 100% sold on the tablet craze.
  24. TSE macrumors 68030

    Jun 25, 2007
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    I am a industrial design major and am currently using the MacBook Pro in my sig and could not be happier. I am guessing next year when we start working with CAD programs I will really utilize the GPU.

    Unless you are an engineer or design student that uses CAD or other heavy computing programs, the base MacBook Pro should do... except you might want to wait for Ivy Bridge as that will really boost the battery life and GPU performance of the Air and 13 inch Pro (if it is still around).
  25. Battlefield Fan macrumors 65816

    Battlefield Fan

    Mar 9, 2008
    I have a 15"mbp but I say go for the 13" air or pro. Books and everything for your classes really adds up to a lot of space and weight. I've enjoyed having an external monitor though for when I'm at my place.

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