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Which option should I choose?

  • 15" MacBook Pro (~$2500 + Tax)

    Votes: 16 69.6%
  • 24" iMac + White MacBook (~$3000 + Tax)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 24" iMac + Netbook/Cheap PC Notebook (~$2500 + Tax)

    Votes: 2 8.7%
  • 24" iMac + Current PowerBook (~$2000 + Tax + Maybe a battery for PowerBook)

    Votes: 5 21.7%

  • Total voters


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 25, 2008
Chicago, IL
I am graduating in May and will be attending law school in the fall. I am going to need to buy a new computer to replace my aging PowerBook G4 (Al 12", 1.5ghz).

I see my options as this: a 15" MBP or 24" iMac with all the fixings and a secondary laptop for carrying to class.

The MBP would be less powerful than the iMac, would not have the huge, gorgeous screen and would not be as portable as a secondary laptop I would be considering.

The iMac would be awesome and I'm thinking that's the route I want to take, I just don't know what kind of laptop to pair with it. Ideally I would get one of the NVIDIA white MacBooks, but I don't know if that would be spending too much money (the total price would be over $3200 with tax!). My other options include a netbook or other pc notebook that would be cheaper or to continue to use my PowerBook for carrying to class, etc. I'm worried that a netbook wouldn't be any more powerful than my PowerBook and that it would be a waste. I also worry that my PowerBook has already been pissing me off with how slow it is for some time now and that it won't last me three more years (I got it in the spring of '06). I also really hate pc's and would like to have a mac notebook.

I'm looking for some advice here. My main concern is that I'll have a computer that I can use and will have decent specs for at least the three years I will be in law school. My second concern is price. Can I justify spending three large on two computers on top of my huge tuition bills, or is it a drop in the bucket compared to the enormous debt I'll end up with anyways? Lastly, I want to make sure that I maximize functionality for a computer to carry around while also maximizing functionality for my power-using computer at home (I dabble in photo editing, digital video conversion, games, the usual list of fun pastimes).

Can anybody offer me advice? What do you see as the most important things? Is two computers completely overkill or is it something reasonable? I am totally confused at this point. Please help! Thanks in advance!


macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
I'd say get the MBP. It should easily last you the 3 years you are in law school. It is also portable enough to take to class for notes, etc. To me, it seems like overkill to get 2 computers when 1 will do the job.


macrumors 601
I'd say get the imac, and max the ram out on your powerbook if you haven't done so already.

The powerbook is fairly light, small and should work well for typing notes, etc during class. It will also work for web browsing, email, word processing, etc. I'm trying hard to think of what a law student would use that a decent g4 portable won't handle. I think even westlaw and nexis/lexis are browser based, aren't they?

Good luck with your studies. Get the syllabus ahead of time and make sure you're prepared for the first day of classes to discuss cases; there are no here's the syllabus, let's go over it, come back Wednesday in law school.

Unless you know for a fact that you've got a great job lined up for after school (i.e., your dad is a partner in a firm) I'd keep my costs down as much as possible.

If your battery is about to die, I'd suggest running it all the way down and letting it sit in a freezer in a zip lock baggie for 2-3 days. Let it thaw completely before you charge it, and you may coax a little more capacity out of it. You can also check with any 3rd party apple repair shops to buy what could be a good quality used battery on the cheap. I got two with @95% capacity from one for $30 apiece! Shops will have a couple lying around for testing and diagnostic purposes, or ones they've salvaged from dead machines, and most of them really have no use for them anymore.


macrumors member
Mar 29, 2009
As i've discovered it's unreasonable to use a PowerPc Processor for general computer work, it's just too slow. You need a decent Intel processor for that.

I'd recommend buying yourself an iMac with fair specifications (there's no need to max it, you don't need it. It's a WASTE.) and keep your powerbook for generally taking notes/internet as mentioned above. Try to save some money, once you're at college you'll regret racking up large computer bills when you could be using the money to party. ;)


macrumors 6502a
Aug 28, 2007
Get a laptop. I have a mb and an iMac but never used my imac for any law school work. Unless you just want an iMac, you won't need it. Even your PowerBook should work well for note taking. Get iWork and max out the ram, should be ok and the cheapest option by far.


macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2008
United Kingdom
How about a refurbished macbook pro plus a 24" display?


I'm doing law for a year as part of my course, and take it from me, forget about the netbook idea completely. It's not practical for the pages of text you'll be writing and reading.

The macbook pro has a 15in screen, and an external monitor (doesn't have to be Apple) will allow you the flexibility to basically have a desktop when you're not out and about. You can fit a lot of webpages and documents on the screen at once with a setup like this.


macrumors member
Aug 4, 2008
Just finishing law 1 and was also in same situation last fall -- went with a macbook and a extra monitor for my desk at home, the main advantage being no need to work about files being in sync.

You will spend 10+ hours a day on your computer, from class to writing your briefs, etc. WestLaw etc, are all webbased, and Word will be your friend if you use it well (ie, styles, etc.) I've seen a few people in class with the netbooks, and they are well, all girls with small hands, and even they seem to have a hard time typing, something to consider.

The extra monitor is nice for reading cases at home, I have a 20' and it shows 2 cases side by side.

The only thing I'd put on my wishlist at this point is the icurve stand and a bluetooth keyboard for my desk.

OH, and get an external disk, and use time machine daily. It will help you sleep better.

Congrats on getting in, now the fun begins.


macrumors 68040
May 27, 2006
I don't have a detailed knowledge of what people use their computers for when they are studying Law, but I do know that the GPU is not important. For that reason, I'd say spending extra money on MacBook Pro would be a waste, as it is the same in performance compared to MacBook apart from that.

My recommendation is to get the 2.0GHz MacBook with the 24" LED Cinema Display. It is very powerful and despite what many will say, there is no real benefit to getting the 2.4GHz model when you consider how much more it costs.


macrumors regular
Jan 16, 2008
i had a 17" powerbook g4 back in the day when i was in law school. it may sound odd that lugging around a 17" notebook is practical, but when you do most of your research online (and you will), with many PDF's open, research journal accounts almost always logged in, and a word processor that's almost always on; you'll appreciate the wide display of the 17" being able to hold two A4 sized documents displaying legible text. of course, you could do that with the imac, but reality is, you'll want to get out of your dorm every now and then and still "feel" like you've done something. that's what law school does to you... when you're wasting time, you actually feel guilty about it.

a bit of perspective - i still use the powerbook to this day. just spent some money upgrading the HDD and RAM. it still works, and i still carry it around everyday. when i first brought it into seminars (i had one of the first generation 17's... people thought i was crazy. now i see them all over court rooms.) why do you think we use luggage with wheels on them? law is still largely based on paper, and like it or not, i've yet to submit any claims on a pdf.


macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2005
Reject Beach
I work at a law school and can say that the MacBook is definitely the most popular model.

One thing you should check on before making a purchase is the exam software used by the school. Many law schools use exam software for your end-of-term exams and papers. Depending on which program they use, it may not like your Mac too much. The ability to boot into Windows (or run it via Fusion or Parallels) if you need to may rule out using the PowerBook. Some schools may have loaner notebooks for use during exams, but do you really want to be switching to a different laptop during exams?

Check with the registrar or the IT department about the exam software. And don't let them stonewall you with a "we don't officially support Macs" line. Supporting Macs and having them tell you if their exam software runs on a Mac are two different things. My school doesn't officially support Macs, but that doesn't stop half of the student body from using them on an everyday basis and in exams.


macrumors 6502a
Aug 20, 2008
I am graduating from law school in 5 weeks. This is my advice to you:

  1. Get a Mac.
  2. Get Parallels or Fusion
  3. Get Microsoft OneNote
  4. Get AppleCare

This way, you'll have the most intuitive note taking app for law school on the most stable and long lasting platform out there.

Trust me on this one.
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