College student new to Macs

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Jordyquint, May 29, 2013.

  1. Jordyquint macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    #1
    I am fairly new to Macs, although I have used iMacs at my high school. I am going to start college in the fall so I am looking for a new laptop. Right now, I can't afford a new mac, so I'm looking for anything below $900. I am really into videography and photography, so I'll have a lot of images/videos to deal with. Right now I only use Lightroom 4 to edit, but I plan to purchase a video editing program and CS6 whenever I get the money which will be awhile... So it won't be on the computer right away.

    I found a mid 2009 13-inch MacBook Pro for sale on Craigslist for $500. Should I shoot for a newer one? Or will this one be fine in the long run? I know they can last for years.

    I was originally looking for a Pro, but I've been reading comments on the Air and now I'm not sure. Whatever I get, I think it has to be use though.

    It'll be used for writing papers and browsing the web too.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #2
    I picked up a 13 in MBP for my son in 2009 when he started college. At the time I think it was about $1,000 at Microcenter which tends to offer the base MBP at about $100 off almost all the time. I believe Frys does the same thing.

    It has served him well but I wouldn't recommend that model for somebody starting out now, especially since you mention you will be using CS6 which can be resource hungry on any platform. I would try to stick with anything newer than mid 2011. I don't recommend the MBA if you are looking at used Macbooks as older MBA models had poor graphics performance and small RAM and internal storage.

    Sign up on refurb.me for alerts on any MBP under $900 and you might get lucky. Keep an eye on Microcenter and Frys. Avoid craigslist and ebay as there is no telling what you will wind up with as an inexperienced computer buyer when you are buying from an individual. This is the same advice I'd give a college freshman looking for a car: Avoid private sellers or get a mechanic to look at the car before you buy it.
     
  3. Jordyquint thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    #3
    Thank you for your input! I sat on it last night and today I was looking on apple.com and saw that they give discounts to students, so I'm going to go that route. I know I said keep it under $900, but the more I think about, I think I would want a new Mac.

    So here are some more questions. I have $1,800. I don't want to spend it all on a Mac, but I don't want something I am going to regret not getting later.

    I'd really prefer a 15-inch since I like a bigger screen when working on photos/videos, but the price for education is $1,600 and if I upgrade the things i want to upgrade, it'll be past my budget. I'd like to keep at least $300-500 because I am also saving for a Canon 7D.

    So on the 13-inch...

    The one that is priced at $999 - after upgrade to 8GB and 750MB it comes out to be $1,200. It is 2.5GHZ

    2.9GHZ is priced at $1,299 - if I got this one, I'm not sure if I should upgrade to 1TB serial ATA or 128 solid state or not upgrade at all, so can I get feedback on that too? With upgrade it would cost $1,500 and without the upgrade it would cost $1,400.

    Retina display 2.5GHz is priced at $1,399. Upgrade to 2.9GHz. If I got this, should I get the superdrive too? It would come out to $1,700 and I would only have $100 left for the canon 7D. I do have more money but I am also saving for something else and trying to budget my money.

    Keep in mind that I do plan to buy an iMac in the future where I will work on photos, but until then, this new laptop will be my primary computer for everything - photos, videos, college.

    So is retina on a 13-inch MacBook really worth it if it's only going to be my primary computer for a little awhile (2-3 years max)?

    Thanks!
     
  4. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #4
    First, I would recommend buying from B&H Photo. No tax, free ship and prices are much cheaper than anywhere online.

    Second, if you are really set on the 15" (as you should be, based on your list of apps you're going to use), check the refurbished store for good deals. I would not go 13" rMBP. The Retina display, integrated graphics and CS6 are not going to play nice. As for 2009 MBP, I don't think it's worth to buy a 3 year old machine. I had that model and I currently have the 2012 MBA. Since you're running really intensive programs, I suggest getting an SSD. That should speed things up considerably.
     
  5. observer macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    #5
    hard drive and memory

    The upgrades that really make a difference are hard drive and memory. Getting a slightly faster processor really only cuts a few seconds from even long complicated computations. You won't notice it. But the hard drive and the memory can make the machine dramatically more responsive.

    Consider getting third party upgrades. Apple charges a bit extra -- not as much as they used to, but still some. OWC (macsales.com) has installation videos which make it pretty easy, unless you're a fumblefingers.

    So, I'd recommend getting the base 13" MBP. Right away, I'd get an external drive, fairly big: you have to have backup, absolutely must. And an external screen, maybe 24". The 13" laptop will be lighter and easier to carry around, and for the things that benefit from more screen space you'll be at your desk, anyway. As you collect stuff and start needing more, in a year or so, replace the disk with a bigger one, and maybe add more memory then, too. It will be cheaper then than it is now.

    The Fusion drives -- rotating platter plus a large solid-state buffer -- are almost as fast as the pure solid-state disks, but much cheaper and higher capacity. They make a huge difference in the machine's overall speed. But they may not be available yet for laptops. That's another reason to wait to upgrade the drive.

    By the way, the MBPs will almost certainly get upgraded in the next weeks or months. Probably should wait a bit to buy.
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    "So here are some more questions. I have $1,800. I don't want to spend it all on a Mac, but I don't want something I am going to regret not getting later."

    Wait until after the World Wide Developer Conference in June when new laptops are expected to be announced.

    Then - take a look at the new ones, and a good look at the just-discontinued ones. You _may_ be able to save a considerable amount of $$$ by picking up "last season's model" instead of a new one, if you can live with not have the absolute "latest and greatest".

    Also -- given careful thought to whether you get a 15" model instead of a 13". It doesn't sound like much now, but I'll bet it won't be long until you grow tired of carrying the larger one around. If you need more "screen real estate", get the 13" and a good 23" IPS-based display for your room. Then you'll have _lots_ of screen space.
     
  7. Jordyquint thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    #7
    Thanks. Okay, so no upgrade on the processor. I already have an external hard drive and plan on purchasing another in the future when I need it. Would it be better for me to just get a refurb. 13-inch macbook pro? I just looked at them and it looked like it would save me a lot of money, rather than buying new.


    Refurbished 13.3-inch MacBook Pro 2.9GHz Dual-core Intel i7:
    Originally released June 2012
    13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, 1280-by-800 resolution
    8GB (2 x 4GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    750GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm
    8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Intel HD Graphics 4000
    $1,269.00

    Refurbished 13.3-inch MacBook Pro 2.9GHz Dual-core Intel i7:
    Originally released June 2012
    13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, 1280-by-800 resolution
    8GB (2 x 4GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    128GB Solid State Drive
    8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Intel HD Graphics 4000
    $1,359.00


    Refurbished 13.3-inch MacBook Pro 2.5GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5 with Retina Display:
    Originally released October 2012
    13.3-inch (diagonal) Retina display; 2560-by-1600 resolution at 227 pixels per inch
    8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM
    256GB Flash Storage
    
720p FaceTime HD Camera
    
Intel HD Graphics 4000
    $1,359.00


    Refurbished 13.3-inch MacBook Pro 2.5GHz Dual-core Intel i5:
    Originally released June 2012
    13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, 1280-by-800 resolution
    4GB (2 x 2GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    128GB Solid State Drive
    8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Intel HD Graphics 4000
    $1,189.00

    Or would the better route be to go as you said? Get the base 2.5GHZ 13-inch and then upgrade as needed?

    I will wait a few weeks and see what happens.
     
  8. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #8
    The best option out of your list is the 3rd one down. It's got the Retina display!
     
  9. observer macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    #9
    The refurbs are, in general, a good deal. They start appearing a few months after the model comes out, and what's available changes day to day.

    From what I've read, the update that will be announced soon (maybe at WWDC) is going to be a strong one -- the new Intel processors are not only computationally more efficient, but much better at power consumption. So battery life may be significantly better. And graphics performance improves a lot each generation, too.

    So, right now, I'm waiting for the update to come out, and I don't want to wait till the new model starts appearing among the refurbs. If you care less about getting the latest model, or if it's going to be a long time till the next upgrade, then it makes sense to watch the refurbs and grab one that you like.
     
  10. RAPTORSKI macrumors regular

    RAPTORSKI

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    Location:
    British Columbia
    #10
    Bought myself a refurbished 13" rMBP for $1269 about a month ago and I have not regretted it so far.

    I was in a similar position to you, I wanted a Mac as I had been a PC user for around 10 years and was sick of it. Often used Macs at school but that's about it. I was also somewhat strapped for cash but wanted a retina display since I was shelling out that kind of money for a laptop. So I decided the 13" retina MBP was the best option for me.

    It's light and compact enough to carry around but also powerful which is good for movie editing, photos, etc. I also tried some gaming and was okay although I am not really an avid gamer.

    BTW if you are not craving a retina display and a lighter machine the $999 brand new MBP (educational pricing) is a very good deal, directly from Apple. You'd end up saving a couple of hundred bucks if you go for that.
     
  11. Luba macrumors 6502a

    Luba

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    #11
    What uni will you be attending? UBC? Simon Fraser?

    Video editing is probably the most demanding app for a computer, and it helps to coordinate the purchase of software with hardware. For video editing, I would recommend either Avid or Final Cut Pro. Avid is the Hollywood standard (big studios). Lots of questions on Adobe regarding how long they will support CS6, how the Creative Cloud will operate if you decided you can't afford or not don't want to continue paying a subscription to the CC service. CC's terms of service are quite unfriendly. They can blacklist you for whatever reason, then you wouldn't have access to your PP files, or perhaps you would. Adobe hasn't made it clear. Avid and Premiere Pro work in a similar fashion. If you like that style I would choose Avid at their student price. You can get CS6 at a student price too, but they are running out fast. PP is made to work with nVidia GPUs.

    Video editing is much better on an iMac, but as a uni student, a laptop it's almost a must-have. Perhaps a new iMac for intensive tasks such as video editing and to a lesser extent Photoshop (RAM hungry). An older cheaper MacBook for everyday surfing, taking to class, iWork apps that can sync with your iMac.
     
  12. Jordyquint thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    #12
    I am going to a small community college and then transferring to my local university. Thanks for the video advice! I will definitely look into it.
     
  13. Jordyquint thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    #13
    I think this is my final decision...

    MacBook Pro, 13-inch
    Item Price: $1,179.00
    Hardware
    2.5GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz
    8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM — 2x4GB
    750GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
    SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Backlit Keyboard (English) & User's Guide
    Accessory Kit

    I am not going to worry about retina right now. The only photo editing program I have right now is Lightroom 4 and I will use iMovie for my videos until I have the money to get something better. Photoshop will also be bought at a later date and that will probably be in a year or so. I will upgrade to SSD whenever I need too. Right now, I think this looks good for me and the price isn't bad which I like.
     
  14. ChrisA, Jun 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2013

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #14
    After many years, I'm back in grad school. I'd say that every computer I see is a Mac of some sort. Mostly the Air. A few MBPs.

    You are going to lug whatever you buy around with you all day long to every class. I'd say to get the "air" Get the 11" screen if you eyes are really good. If you have trouble reading tiny size type, buy the 13" Air.

    Yes it is really hard to edit video on an 11" Air. So get a BIG monitor to put on your desk and a BIG set of disk drives to hold the data.

    I've got a 13" MBP and even it is heavy to cary all day. Remember 99% of what you do in school is going to be reading and writing. You don't need the CD/DVD drive. I never use it


    If you had more money I'd say get a 27" iMac and an iPad. Take the iPad to class. Carying around a 15" MBP is nuts enough that you won't do it. You will leave it some place and take your iPhone.

    As for software, Adobe Photoshop Elements has everything a photographer needs. The full PSis better if you are doing graphic design but for Photos "Elements has all the features you need. It did not used to be that way. Buy a Wacom tablet and get PS Elements for "free". Which video edit software to get depends on your goals.
     
  15. Lunfai macrumors 65816

    Lunfai

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Location:
    Sheffield
    #15
    +1 for Air even if the screen quality is slightly better on Pro, the Air has better resolution. Also it's light and I've done plenty of video editing and photo editing on it with ease. Hooked up to a monitor, I can see no problem.

    MBP is better for video editing, but working with files with the SSD is also a counter balance. Load and offload files via external and you're golden.
     
  16. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #16
    Don't you run short of ram on that? I mean obviously it depends what software you're running, but I went to 16 on my notebook as even 8 was ridiculously tight. I have an SSD in it. I could still tell when it was low on memory prior to checking activity monitor.
     
  17. Jordyquint thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    #17
    Okay, so I ordered the MacBook Pro 13-inch non retina with 8GB, 750 serial drive, 2.5GHz a couple days ago. Hope it was a good choice, wish I had the money for the 15-inch, but this will do for now. Lightroom 4 and light video editing will work fine, yes?

    Have a backup hard drive and plan to order another one soon as well as a bigger screen and more RAM in the future.

    Thank you all for your help in choosing. Can't wait to start using it for college.
     
  18. crzdcolombian macrumors 6502a

    crzdcolombian

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2010
    #18
    15 is way way too big. Believe me I made the switch and it was a waste of money and just way to big for my lap or to carry around.

    13 is perfect you just need to get use to the size. The base model if your not playing games or doing photoshop is more than what you will need for the next 4-5 years.
     
  19. Jordyquint thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    #19
    Okay, hope you're right. My dad just said he hopes I'm not disappointed in my decision because he thinks 13-inch is too small for me.
     
  20. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    #20
    The biggest issue isn't so much the size as the low screen resolution of that model.
     

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