Help choosing which Macbook and when to buy for college

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by sholt91, May 24, 2009.

  1. sholt91 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    #1
    Hey everyone, I just graduated from high school and am heading to college this fall. I need a laptop and have already decided on a Mac, but I need some specifics on what exactly to choose. I mainly intend for this laptop to be a source of entertainment and a way to do schoolwork throughout college. I don't plan on majoring in anything that would require an intense program.

    However, I wouldn't mind playing the occasional game on my Macbook. I'm not a fan of shooters on computers, so I would lean towards stuff like Civilization, The Sims, etc.

    I'm torn between the 2.0 and the 2.4 model. Would the 2.4 be worth the extra $250? I don't need the extra hard drive space and the backlit keyboard, while sounding nice, isn't something I'm dieing to have. If I make the upgrade, it would solely be on speed and overall performance.

    Also, using my student discount, I can upgrade the RAM to 4GB for $90. I realize I could do this myself, but I'd only be saving around $20 and I would feel better if Apple took care of it. Would I notice a significant increase in speed and performance by making the upgrade. If it's nothing I would need, I would like to cut the cost of upgrading.

    Another issue is what I should get to do my college work? I can get Microsoft Office for $120, iWork for $40, or both. As a PC user for my entire life, I'm comfortable with Office, but I was wondering if iWork was a better alternative.

    My final concern lies with when to buy it. I'm an inner geek, so I want my new toy as soon as possible, but I am fine with waiting a little while if it benefited me. I hear there are rumors of a possible change in the next few weeks and I also hear the iPod deal may come back. Would I be better just waiting until the middle of June to make my purchase?

    Oh, and one other thing I was curious about was Apple Care. Are the ebayers selling it legit? It seems too good to be true. Also, is it something that is worth having? It seems a little pricey.

    Thanks for all of your help!
     
  2. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    #2
    MacBook 2.0. Plastic or aluminium, both are great machines. Don't bother with the 2.4 - not enough extra performance to justify the price hike. Do bother with the extra RAM - installing it yourself is really, really easy, but if you want Apple to do it, they will. ;)

    You might find you need the extra HDD space when you get to Uni. I thought the 100GB drive in my MB would be enough... now I've got 400GB+ of movies and TV taking up two external drives. Fortunately, storage is cheap.

    I'd go with Office. iWork is pretty good, and you could use it for most of your stuff, but Word is still very much standard and you'll appreciate being able to open attachments and assignments that are in .docx format. And your partners for group work will like being able to open your files, too. iWork can read Office files and export to that format, but it's not quite as good as native. And you have to remember to export a file to .docx before sending it out. There are free alternatives to Office, such as OpenOffice.org and Neo Office, that read/write .docx natively, so that's another option.
     
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #3
    Just get the cheapest Macbook and if you have money leftover invest in an external monitor.

    Doubling your RAM is going to be much more of a performance boost than 2.0 -> 2.4 GHz.

    This is a Mac forum, so there will probably be a significant number of iWork junkies. But honestly, it's just not that good. Go with Office- you can probably get it for a steep discount or for free from your institution.

    You might as well wait until the back-to-school deal. There probably won't be anything significant after WWDC though, so I'd wait until then at least.

    AppleCare is worth having. I've had around a dozen Macs and have gotten AC for the last 4 or 5. One logic board replacement pays for all of them basically. I never buy off of eBay, but some people seem to swear by it.
     
  4. nutritious macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2008
    #4
    Honestly, I had a different opinion before, but I've since changed my mind. I'd go with the Macbook Pro just to avoid the horrible screen on the Macbook...
     
  5. JCastro macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    #5
    My advise is to get the best one you can afford. The 2.4 may not seem like much now, but down the road when the 2.0 is feeling inadequate, the 2.4 will have a little more life in it. Believe it or not the backlit keyboard is very nice. I didn't really notice it at first but when I go to use a different computer in low light I really miss it. It doesn't even have to be real dark.

    I would also reconsider replacing the RAM yourself. I would recommend getting it with 2GB now and upgrading down the road. 2GB should be plenty for what you are planning on doing right now. And at the moment you would actually be saving $30-$40 vs. $20. A year or so from now the savings could be more.
     
  6. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #6
    While that's true, the performance boost of the 2.4 GHz for such things as listening to music or watching movies ("entertainment") and "doing schoolwork" (Office/iWork/whatever) is going to make almost zero difference. Neither of these are processor-intensive.
     
  7. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    #7
    Disagree. If useful life is a concern, the OP will be further ahead by buying the 2.0, putting that extra $300 in the bank, and spending it on a new machine earlier. Spending extra for a better machine today is rarely a better idea than saving the extra today and buying a new machine more frequently.
     

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