College/Grad STUDENTS: Do you see a better product?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Granny-Smith, Apr 17, 2011.

  1. Granny-Smith macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2011
    What current students are using in terms of macbook standard vs. air vs. pro and 11"vs13"vs15" and DO they wish they had purchased a different machine for their usage.
  2. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    It depends what type of work needs done. For me the first two colleges I went to I would have loved to have a macbook air. The lightness and thinness of it would have been great for traveling to class and back.
  3. iceblade macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2008
    I use a MBP 13". I'm not a graphic design student or anything like that (now a business major, so Window 7 will be going on my Mac this summer), so power isn't a big deal to me (except for entertainment). I could have gotten by with a macbook just fine, and while I have seen some students with macbook airs, I couldn't do it. My laptop gets shoved in my backpack for the day every week or two, and while I do try to be careful, sometimes I forget it is in there. I'm afraid it would get damaged. Its been through a ton, but its still going strong like nothing has happened (only thing is a filled hard drive, and thats my fault)!

    So, I would say I am very satisfied with my 13". Any bigger, and I might have trouble putting it in my backpack for the day. Any smaller, and I am afraid I would damage it. I would be fine with a macbook (although the ability to make my keyboard glow is nice), though I don't necessarily wish I had purchased that instead.

    (oh, and I will qualify my experience as a second semester freshman).
  4. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I got annoyed that certain profs can't seem to cope with pages or odt files and I always have to save stuff as doc or pdf for them to see it. I also get annoyed that certain prof supplied matlab simulations contain windows compiled blocks that won't run on OS X. I refuse to install parallels and deal with windows just to do homework. Well I have the luxury to be picky since I have a work-issued windows box. If a grade depended on it, I'd hold my nose and deal with windows long enough to get out of the class.

    I have a 2008 Penryn white macbook that geekbenches at 3100. I'd like an 11 inch MBA but I really want more screen real estate. I'd like to see Apple offer the 11 inch MBA with a higher resolution display similar to the retina display pixel density on the iPhone. Then I think I'd rather have a 15 inch MBP with the optional hires display because I really do care about screen real estate. In the end, I think I'd opt for the 13 in MBP which is the best compromise of low price and performance. It's only $999 right now at Microcenter which makes it equal in price to the 11 in MBA and the white Macbook. A slam dunk.

    I was in Microcenter this weekend and they had over 100 in stock but sold 30 that one day. I really don't need one, and it's tax season so I grit my teeth and look away. But if I could, I'd grab one.
  5. phibe1 macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2010
    For my needs, I chose the 15inch MBP. Bought the baseline one and upgraded the RAM/HDD.

    Since I go to a school far away from home and wasn't able to bring my desktop I chose the 15 inch vs. the 13 inch because I fell the hi-res matte screen really makes a difference.

    If I had a desktop I would probably get a MBA.
  6. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    I have a 11" MacBook Air as my main college laptop, and it works wonderfully, considering I don't actually use it for more than note taking/giving presentations. (I actually have a 13" White MacBook from 2008 that I still use as well, but the MacBook Air gets infinitely more usage - the MacBook is only used when I know Ill need to use an Optical Drive, which has been once this year). However I will admit that the only reason I can get away with my MBA as my main Laptop is because I have my Mac Pro to do all the heavy lifting (Im a CS Student and Video Editor).
  7. MuDPHuDStudent, Apr 18, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011

    MuDPHuDStudent macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2009
    Hanover, NH
    Med (MD) / Grad (PhD engineering) student here. I currently have a 13 inch aluminum macbook but just ordered the high end 15" with the HR anti-glare. The 13 inch screen was too small with too little screen real estate. The glossy also drove me nuts, as did the screen quality. The processor was okay (although when I'm running CPU-intensive matlab code or handbrake then I wish for more speed). My wife has the 2010 13" MBP and the graphics processor just isn't all that good. That's why I'm ditching the 13" for the 2011 15".
  8. dorky24 macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2010
    As a senior majoring finance, i have the 13in macbook pro. I'm glad i chose this device as the battery life lasts me throughout the day (my previous windows laptop barely lasted a class). However, one thing i do wish was that whenever I had to use matlab, it would be a pain to use citrix then matlab. Otherwise, I'm never going back to PC.
  9. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I'm not a student but I teach some Electrical Engineering courses part time. In the last few years I've seen the number of Macs go from 0 to about 1/3 the students. The overwhelming number are 13" MacBook Pros, with MacBooks (even one old Black MacBook) coming second. I've only seen a single 17" and one or two 15" Pros. Nobody yet has an Air, but I suspect that might be coming. FWIW I use an Aluminum MacBook in class, a 27" iMac at home, and an HP Workstation on my day job, "sneaking" in my MacBook for most report writing!

    The courses I teach require using some Windows-only programs so everyone has Parallels, Fusion, or Virtual Box or rarely, BootCamp. All my class handouts are PDFs or (for recorded lectures) QuickTime MOVs. I prefer homework in PDF format but also take Microsoft Office or formats.
  10. tmagman macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2010
    Calgary AB
    I'm in Computer Science and Commerce and went with a loaded 2010 15". Best thing I did was go with the Hi-res anti-glare screen. Gave me lots of real estate for programming, but the anti-glare is a life-saver in fluorescent lit lecture theatres. It does everything I need (as well as some heavy duty photoshop and lightroom).
  11. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I had an '08 15" MBP, now I have a 12.1" HP Elitebook (and a Mac Pro). I think the ~13" form factor is ideal - small enough to carry nearly everywhere while having (just) enough screen space.

    Apple really should have upgraded the 13" MBP to 1440x900, though.
  12. Fugue macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2011
    I plan on getting the 13" with 128GB SSD (I'm a PC user) for college and I was wondering if it is easy to set up bootcamp, fusion, and or parallels. What is the difference between the three and which is generally considered the best?

    Also, do most college level applications run on both windows and mac? If not, is that why so many people use the three programs mentioned above? Furthermore, how much space do the applications needed for courses take(matlab, etc...)? I plan to go into either law or business so I hope 128GB is enough to accommodate both operating systems as well as their applications.

    Lastly, lets say I have a .docx (microsoft word) file on my Mac and want to move it into Windows. How would I move the file?

  13. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    I'm in web design and internet marketing. I opted for the 17" MBP. Being used to 1920x1200 also contributed to staying with the 17" model...
  14. voyagerd, Apr 18, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011

    voyagerd macrumors 65816


    Jun 30, 2002
    Rancho Cordova, CA
    I'm still enjoying my 15" MacBook Pro from Early 2008. I bought it while I was am undergraduate student in Computer Engineering and am currently a grad student. If I bought a new one today, I would buy the highest end 15".The GPU is important for me for games.
  15. jcb10 macrumors regular

    May 14, 2008
    Public Administration grad student here (was Journalism undergrad). I have never had a non-technology class that required an application that was not available for the Mac. I've mostly used either Office or Adobe Creative Suite in school. Even SPSS (statistics) -- that most specialized program I've used lately -- has a Mac version.

    Same way you move it to any other computer. Thumb drive or e-mail.
  16. Krafty macrumors 601


    Dec 31, 2007
    La La Land
    I'm in college of Graphic Design, and like someone pointed out, a majority use 13" Macbooks, ranging from the first generation black and whites, to the previous generation pros. My friend recently upgraded from a 2006 MB to a 2011 MBP, both 13". So size-wise, the majority is 13".

    There are few 15" and 17", including me with a 2010 17". Most people who I get on this subject with criticize the size of the 15-17 being the breaking point of their purchase. If anything, I only know 3 other people with 17".
  17. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    I'm going back to study in September, and have picked up a 13" MacBook Air - fast enough for documents etc, but slim and light for every day carrying.

    Picked up the 256GB SSD for space reasons, but won't be installing Windows.
  18. ghostlyorb macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2010
    Virginia, USA
    I'm a computer engineering major.. starting this fall. I have the maxed out 15" MBP. On the school's engineering website, they still have the minimum requirements of like a 2.4GHz Dual core. My 2.3GHz Quad smokes that! It's amazing. I got it for around $2,500 with the student discount.
  19. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    BootCamp partitions the hard drive and you either boot into OS X or Windows. Fusion and Parallels (as well as VirtualBox) are virtualization programs. You run a copy of Windows on a virtual machine alongside OS X. It eliminates the need to shutdown and reboot and allows even doing copy/paste between applications in both environments. They all offer an operating mode where the Windows background disappears and the Windows apps appear to be running directly in the OS X environment.

    Parallels is currently the fastest and better integrated with OS X. Fusion is more reliable (although I use Parallels and haven't had reliability problems in years) and has much better customer support. VirtualBox has the advantage of being free.

    All three virtualization programs will support running Linux virtual machines as well.

    Depends on the coursework. What I teach requires a 4+ GB CAD program that is only available in Windows and Linux versions, hence the need for Windows (or Linux). Some people also like Microsoft One Note, although I've found Circus Ponies Notebook to be pretty much equivalent if not a bit cumbersome.

    Fine as long as you don't load up with extracurricular files (particularly video). You can always swap out the drive.

    At least with Parallels, you can share folders both ways (OS X folders can appear in Windows and the Windows drives appear in OS X, in both cases as network drives). I keep all data files on the OS X side so they get backed up. The Windows "drive" is a large file in OS X which won't back up well with TimeMachine.
  20. ehoui macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    I had a 15" MacBook Pro when I went back to school recently. It served me well, but my primary activities were researching and writing large papers. I had to walk 2 miles on/off campus and stayed on campus all day, either in class or at one of the libraries. So portability ended up being my biggest requirement. So if I had gone back to school now, I would have definitely got an Air and maybe an external monitor for my apartment.

    Now I travel for work, so again, portability is a major feature for me, especially since I have to lug around a Dell laptop and my Mac (which I use for my personal work). Since school, I downgraded to a 13" Alum MacBook which works well for me.
  21. 1rottenapple, Apr 19, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2011

    1rottenapple macrumors 68020

    Apr 21, 2004
    Yeah grad school for social work here. We used spss which is a statistical software and I used the Mac version. Worked well compared to the windows version.

    There maybe some apps like that may be specialized to the windows but either u can run the windows OS on you mac.

    Being in post highschool education for 6 yrs total, universities are very Mac friendly based on my experience. Even though macs represent about 10% of the total population, in the universities they're about 30-40% or more. Then again I'm in California so who knows.

    Edit: I think IMHO, the current gen 13 in MBA would be a perfect computer for school. Big enough screen, light enough to carry comfortably. I had a 13 in MBA first year of grad school and LOVE IT. But the battery stunk, and the 2nd gen MBA was not ready for prime time. I currently have the 11.6 post grad school and love it, however it stays at home basically all the time since I have a computer at work.
  22. charliex5 macrumors regular

    Jun 27, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I'm an architecture student. I started out with a MacBook from 2007, bought the Unibody 15" when it came out and then realized it wasn't powerful enough. I sold it and built an i7 hackintosh/win7 machine for rendering and heavy Revit work. I now use that and the 2007 MacBook.
  23. mcm2839 macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2010
    Houston, TX
    13" for me

    I'm in grad school (distance) for public administration, and my 13" is working well. I just bought it so I don't know how helpful I am. I normally use our iMac with a dual screen setup for those big papers and pdfs. I do, however, suggest getting the 15" or 13" with a monitor if it's your only rig.
  24. Javad04 macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2010
    4th year Cell and Molecular biology
    13 air 2010
    Perfect for what i need to do - word processing, presentations, slight video and pic editing.. use external monitor for more space. Very light so I can carry it wherever I need to, whenever I need. Use external hardrive for media. SSD is huge upgrade in terms of reliability and speed.

    I'd recommend the 13 air to everyone except people who need extra processing power, go with the 15" pro.
  25. BigBeast macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2009
    2nd Year Biology Major

    2010 13" MBA as well.

    I started out with a loaded 15" MBP (2010 Core i7). Sold it and got the MBA. For everything I use it for (everything written in the above post) I works just as fast as the MBP (seriously.) Best laptop decision I've ever made.

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