Future college student seeks help on decisions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by hopefulmacuser, May 24, 2009.

  1. hopefulmacuser macrumors member

    May 24, 2009
    Hi. It would be pretty cool and nice if some people can help me decide on my mac venture. So currently I'm a high school senior and I'm looking forward to switching to a Mac notebook for college. I have a few questions concerning: dates, where, price, and specs. I've been reading several threads to try to foster an understanding but I think reading too much information gave me information overload and now I am completely lost.

    I wouldn't consider myself technologically challenged but I do lack the understanding of the foundations because I learn through experimentation. So just to clear some background information: I will be using my Macbook or Macbook Pro basically for education and personal usage. My major will be in international studies, so nothing intensive in design, creativity, film etc field. However I do amateur graphics design, photo manipulation, fan art, web design on Photoshop currently and I have experience with some animation but I will most likely continue my hobby in graphics and web designing with Photoshop and looking to continue my passion for editing through the rest of Adobe's Creative Suite, Aperture, and Final Cut. I'm pretty much set on a Mac; just need to practically configure what specs I will buy, prices, where I will buy it and when.

    I've read several threads saying students should purchase it around July/August time when updates come, but also I've read one saying November and another now. So I'm pretty confused and if anyone can clear that up that would be cool.

    I read the guide 'Which notebook should I buy?' and to break down each category: I really don't know what processor I need. I'd prefer 4gigs of ram since it was recommended so I guess that leaves only MBP high end or 17 inch (or I can buy a regular macbook or lower end MBP and buy more RAM on the side but I think convenience is better. Graphics I don't really play games much and if I do it's just web based games like omgpop or jeffwu stuff. I do play mmos like FlyFF or other full screen games like gunbound and i might go into wow but dunno not really interested in gaming that much on the comp. The screen estate seems like MBP is a winner from lower end to 17 inch. I dont know about storage too like the processor which I would need - but I do have an external hard drive. I'm not sure if firewire is necessary but that's pretty cool haha. And I would rather have a full lit keyboard so that leaves high end macbook and macbookpro categories.

    Also I'm confused when it comes to education discount and the back to school promo. Am I allowed to use both like get that 100 dollars off, and get a free ipod? I have an iphone already but that back to school promo is pretty neat haha. Also do they still give out free printers, my sister got one 3 years ago and would it just be better to get a refurb if I can find the one I want?

    Many thanks, sorry for long convoluted thread!
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Wait for the back-to-school promotion, it might start sometime in June or July. Also wait until after WWDC to see if there are minor updates.

    An Apple Store, Apple's online store, or Amazon. As long as a dealer is reputable you should be fine (note: not eBay or craigslist).

    Since you say you're an international studies student, I'd just go for the low-end Macbook. Nothing you do on a regular basis will justify spending more for extra things that won't actually save you any time if you're just "editing movies" once a month. Upgrade the RAM from a third-party dealer yourself to save money.

    You also haven't really mentioned a budget. How much are you looking to spend?
  3. melchior macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2002


    i would suggest the low end MBP. you will get a significant boost in working with video and photos and the screen real estate makes a big difference even when word processing as i have many documents open at the same time in word or photoshop, etc.
  4. hopefulmacuser thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2009
    my budget lies probably 2k to 2.5k max. ideally 2k
  5. niuniu macrumors 68020


    Mar 29, 2009
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    I agree with the above posters' comments, thogh now I see you have a hefty budget and that you play games I would think about going for the 15inch MBP. It's still light enough to be portable, battery life is quite good as well, though you can always just pick up a spare battery if you're really working hard away from a power source. The smaller unibody Macbook is a very powerful machine too and you could game on that + it is more portable.

    I don't think you'll get the performance you want from the Macbook Air even though it's within budget..

    Whatever you decide, wait until after the WWDC like the guys above were saying, that starts around the 12th June I think..
  6. thevofl macrumors regular

    Aug 7, 2006
    Go with the MBP. Now, for the $ discussion.

    Wait for the school promo. Last year they threw in an iPod touch for free. The promo started in June. I would also wait until the end of summer for any minor bumps. Even though you have an iPhone, you could easily sell on eBay the touch (or whatever else they include).

    As you are a student, you can get a discount. The discount is usually $100 off your MBP through Apple online or in the Apple stores. Depending on what state you are in, you may want to look at 3rd party vendors like MacMall or MacConnection. They may or may not charge sales tax. On a $2k, that can be quite a savings. They also offer bundles and a certain level of customization.

    If you are in California, and if you are attending a community college (or enroll for one class which won't cost that much--under $100), you can get CS4 suites at a great savings. collegesoftware.org offers CS4 Design Premium for approx $300 instead of the full $1800. Master Collection is $510 instead of $2500. I'm sure that Universities have something similar (or other states), but I couldn't tell you how to find them.

    Unfortunately Apple's Edu Discounts for Apple Software has become negligible. Get the Apple Care too. It is well worth it.
  7. hopefulmacuser thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2009
    i am in california
    but i will be attending college at washington dc!
    as for other posts I am leaning towards high end mb or low end mbp
    i use photoshop quite frequently as i own a personal blogsite so I like creating personal blogsite-esque layouts and just graphic design and fan art often not just once a month xD. is getting certain software through not so advisable methods that bad if i'm not really doing much but using it as a hobby with no intent of making money atm? and what minor bumps or released information should I be looking for during WWDC time and august?

    thanks everyone's post has been really helpful.

    EDIT: also should I just buy everything at base then later upgrade stuff if necessary?
  8. instaxgirl macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2009
    Edinburgh, UK
    Firstly: yep, and it's unlikely that many people on this forum'll tell you differently. Your "not using it to make money" logic is flawed. The software cost money to make and you stated above that you're a frequent user, plus you've got a 2.5 grand budget for a computer but you won't buy the software? Come on . . .

    And yep I'd just buy base. In the unibodies everything's meant to be super easy to upgrade so you should be fine. In particular asking Apple to upgrade the RAM's a stupid move, they always way overcharge and it's a 10 minute job to do it yourself.
  9. hopefulmacuser thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2009
    dunno take into context just hs student so i'm practically supported by my parents so asking for more things such as buying expensive software is more burden on their shoulders as well as my own in convincing.

    but i guess it's affordable with student savings the other posts mentioned. if anything I'll save up or perhaps if I get this current internship I'm going for I can use part of the stipend towards it.

    thanks for the advice.
  10. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Sounds like the high end MB or low end MBP would suit your needs just fine. I would also suggest getting it about a month or so early, this way you can learn the basics of OSX.
  11. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    For software, look into your school's computer store. At the University of Michigan, we have a computer showcase that offers to students and staff highly discounted software.

    In terms of hardware, given your budget.. go for the MBP, my 2 cents.
  12. thevofl macrumors regular

    Aug 7, 2006
    For CS4, double check the bookstore of the University you will be attending. If they don't you can enroll in a community college in CA and sign up for one class, get the documents needed for verification, all for under $100.00. I used to teach at American River College in Sacramento. They have an On-line Intro to Photoshop class for 3 units. The class costs $66 and they teach you the basics of Photoshop (fill in the gaps from being self taught.)

    Believe me, there are ways to legitimately work the system and get CS4 for a smoking deal.

    Also, there is no tax charged with MacConnections.com for CA residents. Also, if you happen to be vacationing or visiting in a variety of states without sales tax (Oregon, Delaware, and New Hampshire pop to mind) you could save on the Apple Store. (Make sure you take your documentation with you.) I may be focused on taxes, but in CA we are WAY overtaxed; the taxes on a $2000 computer will be minimum $165. That is a stand alone Photoshop through the education stores.
  13. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    Oh, another place to look for cheap(free) software legitimately, albeit it's Microsoft only I think... so you could still use them as part of Bootcamp... look at dreamspark. I think the site is http://www.dreamspark.com. I don't know what programs would actually (if any) be useful to you, but it can't hurt to look.

    Anyways, they provide free full-version software to students (I think you need a MSN account and then verification of student status).

    There are legitimate ways to get cheap (even free) versions of software through legitimate channels... you really shouldn't even need to resort to unsavory channels.
  14. hopefulmacuser thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2009
    So I shall recap what I have learned for clarification purposes:

    Budget- not so much a problem ranging from 2k to 2.5k max with a preference of sticking to 2k.

    Usage- education, entertainment: music, video, im, web browsing, web based games (i.e. omgpop and jeffwu), editing: photoshop (graphics, fan art, random, photo manipulation, web layouts, practically daily use while processing a web browser and messenger), other adobe suite products (havent decided which one I would like to buy but yeah I want to see if I can learn the other programs and perhaps use it like Flash and Dreamweaver), and posisbly: Aperture and FinalCut (for photo and movie editing/creating though I'm not entirely sure on this investment as FinalCut is expensive), and minor gaming might look into doing one first person shooter but meh I'm not indulged in one so highly doubt it, I do small MMO's but not frequent and I look to be more focused in college for studies and hobbies as opposed to comp gaming but always a possibility.

    Preferences- Backlit keyboard (because it's nifty :])

    So from this information and through the guide on which macbook to purcahse: I myself believe I should either purchase high end Macbook or low end Macbook Pro

    Majority of the repliers believe Macbook Pro is the best bet since my budget allows it, or high end Macbook. Except one or a few believe low end Macbook because my justifications don't cover the reasons in purchasing the higher ones and just upgrade the RAM to 4gigs for the low end.

    I think it's determined: wait until after WWDC to purchase and also wait until the Back to School Promo is released in order to receive the free iPod.

    Due to my budget I assume most just recommend buying the base from the store and just upgrading the 2gig RAM to 4gig RAM either on my own or through apple (small difference if I just change the option to 4gigs it's like 90 bucks for Apple just to do it). But I still haven't determined would it be better to purchase through my bookstore, or any alternative sources.

    I will be attending American University in the fall and I really can't find information about purchasing Macbooks from the bookstore. I searched the bookstore online website and could not find one in stock if there should be one. I'll send an e-mail to the University inquiring about it. BUT they do mention on their site while purchasing a Macbook I should do it through the Apple Store education. There it decreases it by 100 or 200, I forgot. So the low end macbook pro starts at 1899 I believe.

    questions about pricing unanswered: will the back to school promo still apply with the discounted 100 dollar off price? And also, they have some promos on the Adobe Creative Suite to make it cost only 250 to 350 if I purchase it with the Mac. Would that ultimately be cheaper? I can't seem to find a graphics design-ish course in the two community colleges near me and dunno that sounds quite reasonable! Or I'll try to do thevolf's suggestion. Lastly, How about refurbished? I have seen several recommendations on that in other threads: just to keep in contex though my budget seems high-ultimately I know my parents would love if I could get the same computer cheaper. (On a side tangent anyone know anything about Final Cut Express verses Final Cut Pro such a big price difference (this one im seriously considering sneaky methods cough cough))

    Other recommendations in the thread prevalent are: have at least one month with the macbook before starting school to get familiar (I have accecss to my sister's two or three year old plastic white macbook to familarize and I have worked with older Macs for yearbook at my high school but thanks for the advice I hope to.), don't go sneaky on the programs and actually buy them (seeing the prices for education seems more doable and I will take that advice with the Final Cut exception)

    Some final thought: just wondering, I'm kind of set on getting a Macbook but my more technologically savvy friends are kind of like at that price why not purchase a high end pc and get windows 7 and get the same or better specs than purchase a mac at such a high price. Fingerprint security is cool haha ok I'll stop. Should I really get a Mac? It's a whole conflicting argument of desires verses thriftyness.

    Thanks for all the help so far on this thread I really appreciate it.
  15. thevofl macrumors regular

    Aug 7, 2006
    The software site is http://www.bkstr.com/CategoryDisplay/10001-85252-10061-1?demoKey=d&navActionType=addNewRefinement

    The prices for Photoshop CS4 suites are about $100-$500 higher than what they offer to CA community college students.

    You buy both and then its a mail in rebate for the ipod purchase.

    Probably yes.

    On line at American River College. The graphic design instructor said she has had long distance students enrolled, with the furthest in Iraq.

    Macs work, Windows has tons of problems for the most part. I have used Windows for years, but made the switch, and I will never go back.
  16. hopefulmacuser thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2009

    wow you've been extremely helpful and resource ful XD I didnt even see that link in the american bookstore but thanks so I did some comparison shopping!

    So its about 388 at american with the current sale that ends next sunday. And it's also most expensive of the three options you gave me.
    Second most expensive was through Apple's deal it would be 348 for the design suite which I want.
    Cheapest would be through the community colleges of californai foundation software thing that you metioned its 308.

    I guess Ill opt to do the second option with Apple just because of easiness and feasability. Would having my friend who is in community college purchase the software for me be considered a sneaky outlet or no? Because I can do that, but really the least complicated for me is probbaly through Apple's buy a mac and get discount on Adobe suite deal.

    Thanks for all your help :) I am really leaning to mac.

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