Computer for Student and Musician

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by BuyCurious, May 28, 2014.

  1. BuyCurious macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2014
    Hey guys,

    I'm a student at a university and my leisure time is spent playing music.

    Since I really like OSX, I'd like to have a Mac computer. I'm not much of a gamer, but being able to play Diablo 3 would be a plus. I also need a mobile companion, but I haven't been impressed with iOS for tablets. The restrictive OS is great on my iPhone, because the small screen doesn't really permit anything serious anyway, but I felt really confined using the old iPad Mini.

    I also need a large storage (1 TB) for music.

    Having tried out a hackintosh, I felt a bit overwhelmed and annoyed with all the complicated processes involved in building one.

    The hardware I have now:

    Apple Bluetooth Keyboard (10/10)
    Apple Magic Mouse (6/10)
    Dell Dell U2414H (8/10)
    iPhone 5 (8/10)

    The Dell monitor is brand new, so I could still send it back to Amazon for free.

    What I'm leaning towards right now is getting a Mac Mini (used or via Apple on Campus) with an SSD and a large HDD alongside a Dell Venue 8 Pro.

    I've also considered getting an MBA (11"), but I don't fancy unplugging an external storage (which I don't have), the screen, my external speakers, mouse and keyboard every time I need to take my computer with me. So two dedicated devices would probably be better than an MBA.

    Maybe you can help me out a bit, as I'm not really sure and a bit overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Since you already have a monitor a would say a Mac mini is probably the best option. I'd also consider a rMBP if there's any mobility needs.
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I use a 2013 11" i7/8gb/512gb MacBook Air as my primary computer and love it. Very fast little machine, especially the SSD which has about 700MB/s data transfer. It runs Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro without problems.

    Now the largest SSD you can get is 512gb, so it doesn't meet your requirement for a 1TB disk. But the 802.11ac wifi is very fast - I get about 28 to 30 MB/s data transfer which is similar to my USB 2.0 MyPassport hard drives ( 33 to 35 MB/s). So I have moved my large iTunes library to a network drive and can access it wirelessly anywhere in the house.

    Yes, you do have to unplug the external screen and other peripherals and that is a slight annoyance sometimes. But you need to ask yourself whether it's annoying enough to spend a bunch of money on a second computer. :)
  4. BuyCurious, May 28, 2014
    Last edited: May 28, 2014

    BuyCurious thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2014
    Having a monitor doesn't really factor in.


    If you have a 512 GB / 8 GB MBA, I don't think you're saving any money over having two computers. ;)

    But speaking of the second computer, I'm still far from sure what a good one would be.
    iPads are beautiful but super restrictive, Windows 8 tablets do everything I want but have a terrible touch OS and Android tablets are all 16:9 and feel like garbage.
  5. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Well that depends on your needs. I wanted a computer with those kind of specs to use away from home, so I could capture/edit high definition video, for example. If I had a second computer at home, I would want even higher specs.
  6. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Yup, as you already have the basic peripherals, a Mac Mini does seem the way to go for you, especially if you only occasionally need mobility.

    I have a Mini, which is used on my desk at home most of the time. On the odd occasion I need to use it elsewhere, it takes less than a couple of minutes to disconnect. Chucked into a backpack with the mouse and keyboard, it is easier to carry than a laptop, and probably more robust. Connecting up to a projector (usually) or a monitor at work takes only another minute or so.

    If more frequent mobility with a screen is required, then obviously a laptop of some description, with external storage if necessary, would be the way to go.

    If the new Mac Pro is any indicator, the way of the future could be for somewhat limited on board storage, and external mass storage anyway.
  7. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    The MacMini would be my choice. It is a damn shame that as far back as 2012 (or earlier) Apple removed the line-in from their laptops. I don't understand it at all. I realize there is USB, but line-in is better and there's no concern about lag or even needing new hardware.

    Hopefully the mini will continue to sport line in. It is possible that when my 2008 Mac Pro dies the mini will be the contender since I have a love affair with my 30" ACD.
  8. charliex5, May 28, 2014
    Last edited: May 28, 2014

    charliex5 macrumors regular

    Jun 27, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Right?!! This has driven me crazy since I upgraded from my 15" 2009 MBP to a 13" MBP. I do a ton of audio recording as a hobby and the ability to just plug my guitar in without an interface would be so nice. As it is, I have a Presonus Firestudio I have to connect and fire up anytime I want to record something. Frustrating since I can't sit out in the living room with my MBP and mess around.

    Also, sorry for hijacking the thread. OP, I think a Mac Mini would work for you but coming from a long history of multiple computers, it is really nice to have a single computer and not worry about files transferring over, multiple software licenses, or in your case multiple OSs and whatnot.
  9. mstgkillr macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2012
    I'll have a great Mac Mini for sale within the next few days but I won't be able to post it here because I don't have enough posts yet. I'm only selling it because my fiancée wants a 13" RMBP.

    2012 Mac Mini
    2.3 GHz Quad Core i7
    1TB Fusion Drive
    16GB RAM
    Approximately 2 years left on AppleCare Warranty

    With my education discount, I paid right at $1,270 including AppleCare and taxes. Let me know if you're interested and I forward you the eBay or Craigslist link.
  10. BuyCurious thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2014
    Doesn't make much sense to get one from the US. Thanks, though.

    Which companion device would you guys suggest to go with the Mini?
  11. Beach90266 macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2014
    "Back to School" Promotion & Campus Stores

    Each summer, Apple runs a "Back to School" promotion of some kind. In 2012 and 2013, you would get a $100 Apple gift card (last year it was for the AppStore only) for the purchase of a qualifying Apple computer and a $50 Apple gift card for purchase of an iPad or (in 2013) an iPhone.

    The 2014 promotion details and dates have not yet been announced. If you can, you should wait to make your purchase until you know the dates for eligible purchases. The promotion applied to purchases from July 2 to September 6 in 2013, but from June 11 to September 21 in 2012.

    AFAIK this promotion is in addition to any student discount pricing that you get for the purchase itself.

    Also double-check to see if your college has its own Apple Campus Store, as you may be able to buy there a Mac that has pre-installed any software that is needed or helpful for your college's network. A Campus Store may also offer other benefits for Macs purchased from it, like free loaners if your Mac needs to be kept or sent for service.
  12. mattbaar26 macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2013
    I'd return that monitor and get a used 2560x1440 resolution monitor or something for that price.
  13. BuyCurious thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2014
    I think I'm going to stay with the Dell, since FHD seems more than sufficient and I don't want the aged Mac Mini to be even more sluggish.

    Let's focus on the secondary computer. :)
  14. Starfia macrumors 6502a


    Apr 11, 2011
    I do plenty of composition with Logic Pro X (which I highly recommend). Even entry-level Mac mini from 2011 was capable of keeping up with my most complex music projects with no problems over the few years I owned it. After an inexpensive upgrade to 8GB RAM, I hardly ever felt slowed-down by any task except for some really intensive stuff involving Motion and Blender.

    If music is the most intensive thing you'll be doing, the power of the current entry-level Mac mini should be more than enough for you (and you can put your extra money, if available, toward the storage you need onboard).
  15. BuyCurious thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2014
    Yeah, the Mac Mini is pretty much a given by now.
    A seller on eBay just reneged out of a beautiful deal, but I'll definitely get one.

    So now it's time to decide between an iPad, a Dell Venue 8 Pro or some Android device.
  16. ChrisA, May 30, 2014
    Last edited: May 30, 2014

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    After years workingI went back to grad school as a full time student. From experience what you want is the 13" Macbook Air and two big external disk drives. One disk holds files and one does a backup using Time machine.

    The point is you have to cary a computer with you and even my 2012 MBP is heavy. The students who got the "Air" where better off. Yes you are studying music BUT you will also be taking English, history, math and many other classes and will be writing papers and what not. Must of your use of a computer will be general education.

    The Air is far better than a tablet and not much bigger to cary around and it will do everything the Mini would. The the Air and no tablet.
  17. BuyCurious thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2014
    I don't study music, that's just how I make my living, but I'm puzzled by your reply.

    Why would a music student at a university have to study English, history and maths?
  18. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    No matter how overdue the Mini is for an update, it is not sluggish and not dated: 22nm process, USB3, TB, 2x SATA600, all very current. In fact, it is only slightly behind the 2 fastest non-BTO macs right now: the top model RMB 15 inch at 3 times the price and the even more expensive MacPro. The quad 2.3 mini outperforms all other models on the store floor of your Apple reseller.
    It allows 1GB/s read write with 2 SSD's, which you can install yourself with ease.

    If you are into music, grab yourself a bargain 12 input FW mixer and enjoy the FW port on the Mini.
  19. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Because undergraduate students in the US have to study all sorts of stuff….

    But the OP is not in the US.

    An iPad would integrate better with a Mac than the other options
  20. BuyCurious thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2014
    I don't understand what 'integrate' means.

    Just because I sync my calendars, reminders and bookmarks to the iPad?
  21. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Yes, that's what I mean.

    I only have a Mac Mini, and have no desire to have a smart-phone, tablet, MP3 player or any other such gadget, bit i know people who have the lot. Those with a Mac computer tend to prefer Apple (or change to Apple) for their other devices because they are easily synchronised.

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