Is rMBP overkill for law school?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by newbourne, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. newbourne macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2012
    I'm looking for at laptop for the final two years of law school (studying in Denmark where it's five years).

    I have a powerful desktop at home and two monitors, 24" and 22".

    In the new semester I have classes about four days a week.

    On the one hand I probably only need a new laptop for class and maybe to write assignments - but for assignments I have my desktop. On the other hand I think it could be great with a new computer, and when I sit at home and read, a rMBP/MBA will be much more silent than my desktop.

    When I work at the computer, I often have several documents open at the same time, and it's an advantage, if they can be adjacent.

    In the next semester, I will also have days, where I'll have to stay and study at college during the day, since I have classes in the morning and in the late afternoon. Often the hours will be spent reading.

    Before the rMBP was released, I thought about getting a MBA. I waited until June 11th to see if a rMBA or a 15" MBA was released, but instead came the rMBP.

    When I go to the store and compare rMBP and MBA 13", the monitor on the MBA looks a little pale. The MBA feels a lot more portable and open-and-use-right-away-like, but the rMBP feels more like a solid workstation.

    Knowing that the rMBP exists, with the higher resolution monitor, I fear a little that I'll regret not getting it, if I instead buy the MBA, which is the sensible choice.

    Can someone relate to my situation – or give it an objective point of view – and what would your advice be?
  2. ConCat macrumors 6502a


    Jul 27, 2012
    In an ethereal plane of existence.
    You shouldn't need the MBP for Law School. The 13'' MBA will do just fine. It's true that the screen is amazing, but it really is only worth the price for people in the digital media industry.
  3. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    You'll be fine with any of the laptops that apple sells. The main question is do you mind spending all that money on a rMBP or would you rather save some?
  4. LeandrodaFL macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2011
    The Air is exactly for you. The rMBP is for people who work with photography/movie editing, and people with money to burn.

    The Air was design specifiaclly for you. Users who have to take a PC to college wich doenst require super CPU power, but want a fast responsive system and its light and portbale. Thin the way the Air is and with SSD as storage, the Air is any college student best friend.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    First thing to consider regarding an MBA, is the screen size. Will you be comfortable working within the 13" display for your needs?

    For most things, like document creation, surfing, emails and other stuff in college, the MBA will be fine. If you want a larger display which offers more screen real estate, then the cMBP or rMBP are your options.

    Non objective perspective: Personally, I love my rMBP, its an amazing laptop, but I can see being a college student struggling with the idea of spending so much for the rMBP. I'd say go for the MBA, try it out for a week or so, and then if you're not fully satisfied exchange it for a rMBP.
  6. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    If the MBA looks pale, you could also consider the 13" MBP. viewing angles should be better.
  7. GeekGuys macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2009
    Porsche or Ferrari?

    This may sound flipant but it is not meant to....

    Question. Is a Porsche 911 GT3 overkill for driving to the shops for my milk and bread?

    Question. Which of these two supercars should I buy? Porsche or Ferrari?

    Do you see my point? Is it overkill? Yes. It is. Do you NEED it? No. A $200 Acer notebook would do
    Do you WANT it? Probably, the answer is yes. Form over function is difficult to quantify but it sounds like you have already decided and like the rMBP.

    I have an 13" Air bought at the start of 2012. I love it to death. I have now seen the rMBP and I love the screen and the size. 15" is far too big for me so I am holding off. When the 13" comes out... will I swap? Probably but for no other reason than I will WANT it. My 2008 MBA does exactly what my 2012 MBA does. I just like the faster startup times and the SSD.

    Long winded answer...sorry. In short... to summarise.... in essence of what I just said.... simply put.... yes.... but buy it anyway! ;)
  8. imthenachoman macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2008
    I'd like to drink with you.
  9. newbourne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2012

    Absolutely agree, it's not a matter of "need", but a matter of "want".

    But then I'm thinking: Even though I don't NEED the rMBP, what if the bigger screen and the higher resolution - where I'm able to have more documents open adjacent to each other, and see more of each documents and work more "freely", than I would be able to on the MBA - what if this actually makes me more productive, and gives me better results? Does this turn it into a "need"? :)

    To get a new toy/tool, which is a joy to work at, is also a consideration. And I like desktop space.

    Then again - I have my desktop computer at home, which is where I currently do most of the desktop-demanding work. Only when I study for exams is it relevant to be able to have the large computer desktop outside of my home, so I sometimes can go somewhere and study and prepare. If I get the rMBP, then the desktop computer at home will probably not be used a lot.

    Concluding, I don't need the rMBP, but maybe the convenience of the higher resolution will make me more productive - also when I go to class to take notes - which I seriously think is something to consider. The rest of the rMBP hardware - GPU, CPU, and so on - is not anything I need for my study.

    Bottom line: Do I want to pay extra to get a higher resolution, and maybe more productivity and convenience, but also get a lot more hardware than I need - or do I want the less expensive solution with lower resolution, but better portability?
  10. amberashby macrumors 6502

    Nov 6, 2003
    Get the Retina. Your eyes will thank you. Every other screen looks like crap after you use the retina for a week or two.
  11. damir00 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 30, 2011
    Yes, it is massive overkill for what you do. If you really want Retina, the MBA version will be here soon enough.

    But if you really really want the rMBP, and funds aren't a concern, it's not like it'll suck or anything. :)
  12. ZacT94 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    Couldn't agree more. I absolutely love my rMBP. I am also a university student (studying Science with a Chemistry Major), so I didn't really need the rMBP but it is absolutely delightful. The only issue is that you won't want to go back to a lower-res display once you've used the rMBP for a while, not that it's that big issue anyway.
  13. Alameda macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2012
    I vote for the lightest, most portable laptop in the world. You already have to lug many kilos of books with you, why add unnecessary weight?
  14. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
  15. MajorPain macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2011
    1900 x 1200 is pretty darn good at 17". Apple has refurbished MBP 17" with anti-glare display at good prices. It has HDD but if that is really an issue I think it can be swapped for third party flash drive?
  16. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    Newbourne, do you have an iPad?

    The retina screen on the iPad 3 is fantastic for document reading, and much more comfortable if you're not sitting at a desk. Using utilities such as Air Display, it's also possible to set it up as an external monitor over WiFi.

    If I were you, I'd consider a combination of the lightweight MBA along side an iPad 3 - giving you a light laptop for travelling, the iPad for leisurely reading and the combination for screen real-estate and viewing documents side by side.
  17. newbourne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2012
    I'm a 105 kilo weightlifter, so 600 grams more or less is not the decisive factor. ;)


    It looks very nice - I've seen it in the store. I think I would prefer the rMBP, though. Also, I live in Denmark - don't think they sell refurbished Mac's here.


    I have an iPad3 and it's great!

    I see your point, but for work I don't think scrolling, and switching between documents, is fast enough on the iPad.

    Also, for work, I like to have the "reading documents" on the same monitor as my working document, if it's possible. If I read something for my study on the monitor, it's often for notetaking for exams or classes.


    Any rumors on when an rMBA will be in production?
  18. newbourne, Jul 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012

    newbourne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2012
    Would it be silly to wait for the 13" rMBP?

    Read rumors of it coming in September.

    Not that the weight difference of a 15" rMBP vs. a 13" rMBP is of importance, but the sense of having a more portable laptop is one of the main reasons I'm questioning whether to buy a 15" rMBP or not. The 15" rMBP is physically bigger than a 13" MBA or rMBP, takes up more space on the table, the "lid" doesn't open as easily as on the MBA, and so on.

    When you look at the dimensions, there's not much of a difference - it's just a feeling I have, when I compare rMBP and MBA at the store.

    It's easier to imagine going to class and quickly setting up a MBA or a 13" rMBP, than it is doing the same with a 15" rMBP.

    So questions are:
    1. Is it too uncertain that there will be a 13" rMBP in September/October?
    2. Will the smaller monitor on the 13" make it strenuous to work at, at a high resolution - reading documents and doing word processing?
    3. Is my belief about the 15" rMBP not feeling so portable to take to class, is that belief wrong?
  19. Alameda macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2012
    There's a thread here discussing the 11" versus 13" MacBook Air. I thought for certain that everyone would want the 13" model, except for the added cost, but I was wrong. There are many people who think the 11" screen is just perfect for them, and others who definitely want a 13" screen. I love my MacBook Air because I feel like I can carry it everywhere. It's definitely subjective. I don't think there's a wrong decision (except maybe a 17").

    I think that, since you've been through college now, you should have a good idea about how you'll use your computer. Some law students use it only for research and writing papers. Others also read from it extensively. Some take written notes and others type onto the computer. The more you tend to do on the computer, the less space you'll need for other items (notepad and books) and the more computer screen space you'll want. If you're going to read for thousands of hours from that screen, sure, go for the retina display.

    Good luck with law school! It takes a LOT of reading.
  20. dontcallmyname macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2010
    I'm a law student in my fourth year of six and my laptop died last semester. I was strongly considering getting a rMbp - I do some digital photography in my spare time and used to do a bit of film work - no longer do it due to a bad computer previously. Surprisingly, the guys at my apple reseller were trying to convince me NOT to get the rMbp. I didn't in the end. I got a 11" MBA and will be getting an imac shortly. OF course, the store also tried to tell me not to get it as they say I don't need it as a law student.
    Fact of the matter is that, while you don't necessarily need it, if it's what you want and you can afford it, go for it. Just remember that it won't necessarily be super-portable. I ended up choosing the 11" because it is the perfect size for the desks in our lecture theatres. I personally find the mba is so easy to cart around with me. I can fit it in my handbag easily and it's so fast. Once I get my imac I'm going to work from the cloud as well, and it is going to be really effective.

    If the retina is what you want, go for it, but just know it probably isn't the best tool for your needs. If I were you, I'd get an air. When you're finished with your studies, you can always get a retina then.

    I had a mbp and didn't want an air initially but it was the only laptop I didn't have to wait for. I convinced myself it was the best choice and it definitely was!

    Anothe benefit of the air is that the 2012 models are available now. If you need a computer for studies, it's better to get it sooner, especially if it is the beginning of the semester. Otherwise you get stuck in the trap of waiting for a 13" rMbp or something else.
  21. PrestonWard macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2012
    I recently purchased a 2012 13inch air for my wife and a rMBP for my self. I was initially torn between the two much like your self. After much use of the rMBP when i use my wife's MBA it looks terrible the screen on the rMBP is great but it comes at a premium. I was fortunate enough to find an open box rMBP at best buy in perfect condition for 1880. I was initially planning on getting an air and upgrading the ssd, but since the rMBP already came with that i didn't feel the difference in price wasn't that much.

    I would say it comes down to this. If have extra cash and want latest and greatest then the rMBP is the way to go. If you want something to get by you cant go wrong with a MBA, which would be more than adequate for your needs.
  22. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004

    There are so many stupid comments on this thread that I couldn't even decide which one to quote.

    If you are going to read for hours a day on a computer display, there is no question get the retina MBP if you can afford it.

    I don't have one myself but two of my lawyer friends dissed the rMBP but now love them.


    Found one to quote...

    What about the people that work in the financial industry that want to have 15" laptop with 1920x1200 res to look at excel spreadsheets?
  23. newbourne, Aug 5, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012

    newbourne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2012
    Thanks for all your comments!

    I'm still not fully aware of what to buy - or if I should "gamble" and wait for a September release of 13" rMBP. Next semester starts around September 1st - but I could get by using my 10" Asus Eee - or my iPad and an external keyboard - for the first couple of weeks.

    The most sensible choice would definitely be the MBA, since my main purpose is a laptop for study. The rMBP has a great monitor, which would be a plus for study, but it also has so much hardware-power that I won't use; the GPU e.g.

    And then there's the price difference. In Denmark, where I live, there's a difference in price of ~$1,000 between the two. That is a factor to consider, considering that I pay for a lot of hardware that I won't use, if I get the rMBP.

    Right now I study for an exam on August 8th, and then another exam about 1-2 weeks after. After that, there'll hopefully be more news about an upcoming 13" rMBP. Then I'll make my decision.
  24. ixodes macrumors 601


    Jan 11, 2012
    Pacific Coast, USA
    Ten points for Great Humor :D

Share This Page