I simply cannot decide on what I'll want/need for my computer for college. Advice?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by DrJames, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. DrJames macrumors member

    Feb 5, 2012
    Hi There,
    I'm new to this and I have gone back and forth between so many options (i.e. MacBook vs. iMac vs. MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air) for college.

    I will be majoring in Pre-Medicine/Pre-Medicine Study and I've customized a MacBook Pro but I also want an iMac for college.

    I've added everything together and I don't believe I'll be able to afford both. I have a $5,000 limit on everything relating to computers.

    This is what I'll be mainly doing:
    1) Doing Basic Multitasking (i.e. Using iWork, MS Office, iTunes, Mail, Safari)
    2) Watching Movies/Television
    3) Watching Television Online (I don't know if that has to do with threading or not)
    4) Basic Photo Editing/Video Editing
    5) Music Creating/Editing

    I really like to multitask and I could use any and all advice about that and what I'll need.

    Also, I use a secondary monitor now, and I'd like to do that too. It's very convenient.

    But I have a generalized list of what I'll want/need and I want your advice/feedback.

    1) MacBook Pro ($2600)
    2) External Hard Drive ($200)
    3) Sleeve & Case ($100)
    4) Mouse & Keyboard ($150)
    5) MagSafe (An Extra for Convenience) ($100)
    6) Speakers ($100)
    7) Printer ($300)
    8) Software ($250)
    9) iMac ($1500)

    And I've already gone over my limit. Again, any advice and thoughts to what I'll need would be very much appreciated. Thanks in Advance.
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    The base iMac (21.5" and 27" is up to you and your need of screen real estate) can do what you want, hell, even my 2007 iMac can do that. Upgrade RAM later for a quarter Apple charges via Newegg, Crucial, Corsair, OWC or Amazon.

    Any base MBP (13", 15" or 17" is again up to you and your need for screen real estate on a mobile computer) will do what you want.
    HDD and RAM can be upgraded by yourself for less, than what Apple charges.
    Hell again, even my 2009 MBP can do what you want, my 2008 MacBook could do it too.

    Thus you can get the 1200 USD 21.5" iMac or 1700 USD 27" iMac and a 1200 USD 13" MBP or 1800 USD 15" MBP or 2500 USD 17" MBP.
    That will cost you from 2400 USD to 4200 USD (if you really need 27" and 17").

    Btw, if you have important data, have it at least backed up twice, I do so with my digital and analog photos and personal video footage, which is located on two 500 GB HDDs (one for photos, one for videos), which then get backed up to a 1 TB HDD, and the 1 TB HDD gets backed up to another 1 TB HDD.


    Maybe have a look at Advanced Search to find similar threads:
  3. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    With that budget. If you're going to do video editing I'd just get a higher end iMac, Avid software (student pricing) and add an external 3 or 4 disc RAID 5 for tons of storage, speed and redundancy. Then skip the laptop entirely.

    Laptops are pretty useless in class for note taking. If you absolutely feel you must have one get an iPad or Macbook Air. The iPad would be more useful for any textbooks you can get on it and have fewer hefty tomes to carry about. I had a laptop and desktop Mac in college. After the novelty wore off the laptop sat under my desk collecting dust. The rare occasions I brought it to school I was reminded that it was useless for note taking and just added extra weight and reduced available space in an already heavy and stuffed book bag.

    Also since this seems more like a cool stuff list. Don't chince on the speakers. Get some real tower speakers and a stereo receiver. It'll blow away those horrible little plastic speakers that are so popular. You don't have to spend much either if you buy used ones from the 80's and early 90's many of which will blow away modern stereo's (except really high end ones). As new ones don't have the same quality of electronics and low THD. Heck many of the Marantz receivers from the 70's dominate modern stereos and look really cool.
  4. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    The OP mentioned BASIC video editing, Avid is a bit over the top for this, the learning curve alone will let the OP get frustrated.
    iMovie and FCP X are good starters for basic video editing, FCP X is quite powerful in the hands of a non-initialised editor.
  5. drumrobot, Feb 5, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012

    drumrobot macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2009
    This'll be fun.

    I'm just going to go crazy on this one, since I've always wanted to do this :D
    I'd go for a 13" MacBook Pro so that you can carry it around easily but use the external monitor while in your dorm. Of course, you might be fine to carry around a 15" or 17", but 13" should be enough while you're in class.

    Get the least expensive MBP ($1099 for students). Why? Because you'll upgrade most of the stuff in it.

    Get this 480 GB OWC SSD ($809 on sale). They do have a 'prosumer' version but that's $250 more (and this is already pretty damn fast :)). It's waaaay better than Apple's SSDs (and waaaay less expensive). Also, this includes an external enclosure so that you can keep your 'old' (lol) 500 GB HDD. Of course, another $300 would get you a 750 GB HDD originally (and a slightly faster processor), but that's not as necessary.

    Next, get a 16 GB RAM upgrade (again from OWC) for $250.
    [At $2158 for a kickass machine so far--480 GB of SSD storage, 500 GB of external HDD storage, and 16 GB of RAM]

    Now, for the external drive, you could go for anything ranging from a multi-terabyte hard drive or a solid-state drive. Or both, of course. LaCie has Thunderbolt drives in 1 TB for $500, 2 TB for $600, or 240 GB SSD for $900. I'd recommend either the 2 TB or a massive (non-Thunderbolt) HDD. Remember that you'd have a 500 GB HDD already from before.
    Also, you might be able to connect the external drive to the campus network so that you can access files from anywhere... could always look into that.
    Edit: You should definitely get a 2 TB HDD (or two) for backups.

    As for the rest of the stuff, I personally like the look of Apple's Thunderbolt Display ($999), but that's just me. It also gives you a lot more ports to work with, so it can act as a sort of docking station. You could even get two if you wanted to go nuts and connect them with a $50 Thunderbolt cable.

    Assuming that you wanted to hit $5000, you'd have about $2800 for the displays, speakers, and external hard drive (if you were to get another one).

    Is it weird that I'm actually having a lot of fun doing this;)? All right, I have to go to bed now. But hopefully I gave you a good idea or two... and let me say that you should definitely go for an SSD no matter what you do. 13" MBP is probably the most unusual suggestion, but I think it makes sense cause you'd upgrade the hell out of it and use external monitors in any case.
    Good luck in college!
  6. drumrobot macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2009
    I already replied to your post here but here are a few more points:
    • Don't get an iMac and a MacBook Pro. It'd be a pain to sync files and it's waaay to expensive. If you spend the money on the MacBook Pro instead, you can get external monitors and make it more powerful than the iMac would have been.
    • You mentioned a $2600 MacBook Pro… I don't know what you did, but as I said on the other thread, you can get a 13" MacBook Pro with a 480 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM, and an 'included' 500 GB external HDD for $2158.
    • Also as I said before, 13" makes the most sense because you have to carry it around and you'd have an external monitor for heavy-duty work.

    Feel free to email me to let me know what you ended up doing... I'm genuinely interested to see how this turned out (not sure why but I am).:rolleyes:
  7. tgreena macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2011
    I agree with most of what drum robot has said but I would like to add to / alter a few of his suggestions.

    I am doing my undergrad in Digital Media I have the early 2011 15" MBP and I love it. A lot of the students in my classes have the 13 inch MBP and I really like having the extra screen size over them. Yes.. It weighs a little more, but the screen resolution is amazing and if you upgrade to the 15 inch you get a quad core i7 Processor over a dual core i5 (if you get the low end 13 inch).

    Another great addition is the graphics card that comes with the 15 inch. The high end 15 (the one that I have) comes with an AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB GDDR5. I can play Starcraft II on Ultra (High for games with a lot of action).

    DEFINITELY upgrade to the SSD. THIS IS THE MAIN THING I CAME HERE TO SAY!! You should TOTALLY buy an MCE Optibay. This will allow you to remove your optical bay (CD Drive) and put an extra hard drive in its slot. It also comes with a CD Drive Enclosure to make it an external CD Drive.

    Buy a SSD, Sata 3 Solid State, Drumrobot recommended his but I will stick to my Corsair Force Series 3 480GB that runs you around $680. Remove your optical drive, remove your HDD that was factory installed and put that one in the MCE Optibay, put the SSD in the slot the the factory HDD was in (to take advantage of sata 3). Boot off the SSD.

    And buy a thunderbolt display! And a time machine to backup everything to. The time machine is AMAZING! It automatically backs up your computer every hour for the past day, every day for the past month, and weekly after that.

    Upgrade the ram like drum robot said. Buy some SICK ass Bose speakers. Boom. I am envious just thinking of this setup... Please let us know what you're thinking. I'd love to see pic's of the final setup.
  8. drumrobot macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2009
    You make a very good point about the processor... I didn't really think about screen size in class (I assumed that he would use the external screen) but it makes sense the way you say it.
    That being said, OWC's Data Doubler is a lot cheaper than the Optibay. If you get it packaged with the SSD, it's $850 total.

    Also, a final note: OWC's SSDs are a little more expensive, but I've heard great things about them and the quality is supposed to be as good as it gets.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    My thoughts…

    Get a 13" MacbookPro, and consider a mid-level Mac Mini instead of the iMac. Use the Mini with the external display that you already have….
  10. ELMI0001 macrumors 6502


    Jan 5, 2009
    Olympic Hills GC
    Couple of minor questions, but have you checked if you need a printer and if your school will have software cheaper?

    When I was in school (undergrad/grad 2000-2007), both schools offered a great discount on software and I never needed a printer because we had a print account that we could use and it was cheaper than owning a printer.

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