Deciding what Mac to buy for college

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by biggiet4jets, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. biggiet4jets macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2013
    Hi, I am currently looking at all my options for my new Mac computer that I plan on purchasing before the semester starts. I wanted an iMac but with the recent introduction into the unibody style and the slim design, its practically impossible to upgrade anything on the 21.5" model. So I was looking into the 27" model or mac mini. I feel frustrated when deciding and looking for a new mac to buy, because of course being in college I don't have tons of money to throw at a new computer.

    With that being said, I am most likely buying a refurbished model with applecare and I want a desktop not a laptop. I have a '09 MBP already that I love so that is my portable computer for when I'm on campus.

    The main purpose to my new mac isn't games, its more for everyday use and reliability. I want it to last me for about 5 years. My degree is Information Systems so I do programming but not intensive large programs like programming majors do. Like I said before I have a laptop already, but hate the small screen for doing projects, writing programs, and doing split screen assignments.

    If anyone has any suggestions on what direction I should go in I would greatly appreciate it!

    Thank You.
  2. TjeuV macrumors 6502

    Dec 14, 2011
    Me personally, I use a mac mini for college because of its portability. I take it with me when I go home for the weekends and vice versa. Nearing third year now doing so, hadn't had a problem.
    One, because I have all my files with me and second, I don't like to leave my mac in the student's house.

    Expandability: well, in the mac mini you can install a second hard drive and upgrade your ram ... but that's about it actually.

    So my advice, go for the high spec mac mini, get yourself a nice 24" or 27" dell screen and you're all set.
  3. biggiet4jets thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2013
    Ya that does sound like a great setup and idea to be honest. What kind of programs do you run and what year is your mac mini?

    There is a refurbished mac mini 2.3 GHZ quad core i7 with OSX server for $849. This model comes with dual 1TB hard drives and intel 4000 graphics.

    There is also one more refurbished 27" iMac 2.9GHZ i5 2012 model with 8gb of ram, 1TB hard drive and geforce gtx 660M with 512mb video card and this is 1,399. Like I said it is last years model with doesn't have the newest wifi connections or latest intel processors (Haswell).

    Decisions decisions.
  4. scbond macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2010
    Nottingham, UK
    If the only downside to your current situation is the small screen on the MBP then surely just buy a monitor and hook it up to the laptop? Especially if it's just for browsing the web, mail etc.
  5. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    The refurb mini is faster than the iMac you mention. A dell U2713HM is a better monitor than the built in one of the iMac. So that is a good set.
    No need for apple-care on the mini. They don't break, and if they do (blue monday model), it is certainly in the first year already and covered by normal warranty.
  6. MacTCE macrumors 6502


    Dec 20, 2013
    Upstate NY
    Mac Mini with a good monitor hands down. It will do everything you're looking for and will last you 5 years with the upgrades you could do down the road.
  7. And, Jan 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014

    And macrumors 6502


    Feb 23, 2009
    92 ft above sea level, UK
    If money is an issue, how about just getting a monitor, and attaching a keyboard and mouse to your macbook? Effectively this is a desktop setup, without the synching hassles. You could park the money you've saved, and buy a new machine in a couple of years.

    BTW, you'll probably find educational discount is quite competitive with the refurb price. In some cases it is less than refurb price, and when it is more is usually only just slightly higher.
  8. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    As much as like new hardware (and the mini), I gotta agree. Extra computers add all kinds of extra expenses. Unless you need a second computer as some kind of lab (so changes won't ruin your ability to write papers and read email) it makes more sense to buy a screen for your laptop.
  9. biggiet4jets, Jan 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014

    biggiet4jets thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2013
    Okay so pretty much everyone has suggested to just buy an external monitor or a mac mini. The only problem I have with just buying a monitor is that with my MBP it doesn't support audio out thru the mini display port like the newer MBP's do.

    The other problem with my MBP is that it slows down and crashes when I run a VM of windows 7 which I do alot of, almost everyday. I just ordered some more RAM for my laptop which will be here this week so I will see if that will do the trick. It is an 09 MBP and a 2.26 ghz core 2 duo processor so it is showing its age.

    I would love to get a mac mini with an external monitor so if anyone has any suggestions please let me know!

    Thank You for all the suggestions! I have over $700 worth of apple gift cards so that is why I wanted to buy a new mac!
  10. cinealta macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    What about a MacBook Pro? You can take it anywhere, including in your backpack to classes.
  11. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    I think you should get a mac mini. Imac is no fun at all to bring in for service. mac mini you can just throw in a backpack. If you have dorms it will be even easier to transport home and such during vacation. even if you dont plan to use it much at home its safer to bring with you.

    Imac is nice, but its just easier to deal with a mini if you have a problem. You only have to lug a imac through the mall once to see why this is important.
  12. biggiet4jets thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2013
    Thanks for the replies! I am still very undecided on what to buy and a lot of people on here are saying to get a mac mini but wait until a refresh, which hopefully comes out soon with iris pro graphics and the haswell processors.


    I have a 2009 MBP now and I love the thing to death and this is what I bring to classes. The only problems I have with my MBP is that its an 09, 2.2 ghz core 2 duo processor, it doesn't support audio our thru mini display port to HDMI and I have to service my battery aka it dies quickly sometimes. I recently just upgraded the RAM in it to the maximum 8GB and it is noticeably faster. It now doesn't crash when I run a VM of windows 7 lol
  13. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    So what about selling the MacBook and buying a new/newer MacBook?
  14. miatadan macrumors member


    Apr 23, 2006
    Sudbury,ON , Canada
    Depending on budget, get a Mac Mini with i7 and ssd. It is easier to repair if necessary and portable enough to take home with you if needed. Also avoids issue of yellow tint promblems that some iMacs have. This also lets you decide whether you want 1080p monitor or higher resolution 2560x1440 monitor.

    Anything with conventional hd is just to slow.


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