Mac for College

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Bardasian, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. Bardasian macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2010
    Hey everyone,

    Currently I'm running the 2.4 GHz Aluminum Macbook from a year or two ago.

    In the fall I'll be going off to college and I plan on mainly using my Mac for:
    *School Work
    *Browsing the Internet
    *Light photography work
    *In depth music editing

    Right now, my current macbook works brilliantly and everything is great, however I fear that once I get to college and really get to work that it just won't be enough (small screen, lack of power, etc).

    I've been looking at the iMacs at a local Apple Store and they look great and are a blast to work on. I favor the 21" iMac but love the power of the 27" iMacs. I really don't want to buy a 21" and lack power but buy a 27" and have too much screen to focus on anything. Also, while in the store an employee told me that Apple might beef up the Mac Mini's, however I feel like they're way too overpriced and I would also have to buy a new moniter.

    Any suggestions on what I should do?

  2. iSpoody 1243 macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2008
    imo the 2.4ghz 9400m macbook you have now is more than powerful enough for college, unless you'll be doing a course that requires you to use high end editing/processing apps.
    As a student having one computer for everything is allot easier. iMacs are cool but a hell of allot more powerful than an average college student needs.
  3. Bardasian thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2010
    Thanks for the reply.
    I'm on the fence still but I'm leaning towards just upgrading to 4gb of ram for my macbook.

    The main thing that worries me is the 13" screen size. What about buying a 20-27" monitor/keyboard/mouse to setup inside my dorm? Could that be done relatively cheap?
  4. mankar4 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 23, 2007
    Your comp is definitely powerful enough. My 3y old MBP still gets the job done, after lots of modeling and virtualizing for my bioe degree.

    Definitely upgrade the RAM. It's cheap and well worth every penny. Do it yourself.

    I love my 24" external... I think it's a Dell wfp 2400 or something like that. I'd get a nice external (not a cheap one) because the colors will be much better for photo work. Your 13" is probably glossy so your photos won't reproduce accurately. If you were going to blow 2000 bucks on a new comp, might as well get a nice monitor for 400 bucks that will outlast your computer.
  5. iSpoody 1243 macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2008
    I personally use a 24" monitor/keyboard/mouse at home to dock my mbp. Definitely the best way to get the desktop feel at home without breaking your wallet for an iMac.
  6. Bardasian thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2010
  7. jackiecanev2 macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2007
    I second the idea of an external monitor driven by your current machine, especially because of the portability of unplugging the laptop and going (which is crucial in college).
  8. XjeffX macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2004
    It's more than powerful enough. I travel the world and run a graphic design business solely off of the same machine. I do have a 24" monitor at home but I still do at least 90% of my graphics and video editing on the MacBook alone.

    Most people will probably say otherwise, but I hardly noticed a difference upgrading from 2gb to 4gb. It's cheap, so go for it but not that big of a deal.
  9. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    The Apple keyboard is great, and if you want a number pad, you'll have to go wired which is what I did, and I still love it. But the magic mouse and wireless KB will connect themselves automatically when they are on and within range, after you do a one-time pairing with your computer.
  10. ClassicII macrumors 6502


    Sep 21, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    Great ideas here!!!

    I would have to say your current laptop is more than enough.

    What you could do is set up a station in your dorm.

    It would have a full size screen, mac aluminum keybaord and mouse. It would also have the macbook monitor adapter.

    Then when you get back from class plug it in and close the lid and you have a regular computer!
  11. rlav macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2009
    I will be a junior (Comp Sci) in the fall and I am using the 2.4 Ghz white MB, I think probably about 6 -10 months older than yours. I find that this computer with the standard 2 GB ram is plenty fast for my school work as well as the youTube/hulu/movies that it gets used for in the dorm. I have a TV that has a PC input on it, I find that I do most of my work away from my desk (common room or bed), but the monitor is great for movies and such. I would not worry about the 13" screen as you will learn how to manage your windows so it is a non issue. If you do go the monitor route, look for a TV/Monitor, as most dorm rooms aren't very big and have a shortage of outlets.

    BTW, in college it is always nice to have a portable machine, I would not go the iMac route. You will find that it makes group projects and group study sections much easier with a laptop, as well as when you need to go to a library or study lounge to study in quiet. The best thing about the 13" is that it is going to be lighter than most text books so it is no problem to carry it across campus.
  12. Bardasian thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2010
    Thanks for all the help.
    I think i've decided on getting an external monitor to setup inside the dorm.

    My Macbook only has a Mini DisplayPort, so I will also need to buy a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter as well as a DVI cable? Sorry, I'm just having a little trouble understanding all the cables and the exact setup.
  13. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Yeah, you just need the adapter and DVI cable, and the monitor will pretty much set itself up.
  14. rdp5008 macrumors regular


    Jun 23, 2006
    Great choice. Save some money instead of buying a new computer. Memory is fairly inexpensive and easy to install.

    I suggest waiting until you are at college to see if you really need the external monitor. If you still want it, sometimes college bookstores have really good discounts on hardware and software for students.

    You'll want to keep your portability in college, especially with some universities now encouraging students to bring their laptops to class.
  15. AE50P macrumors newbie


    May 28, 2010
    You'll be fine with what you have. I might upgrade the memory and maybe get another monitor so you can multi-task easier, but in terms of buying a new comeputer, I would wait. You shouldn't have to run any fancy-schmancy programs as a first year or even a second year. I know it's tempting, but I held off getting a new computer last year and I might even try to get my macbook through my second year without having to buy a new one. Good luck in the fall.
  16. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    I would not buy anything now until you know, rather than think that you might need more power. At that point, if it happens you know you won't be wasting your money, and the iMacs might have been updated.
  17. iMacThere4Iam macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2009
    Yes, you'll be able to assess anything additional you'll require after you've started classes. Toss in some extra memory, and I'm sure your MacBook will handle everything just fine for another couple of years. I'd pick up a decent monitor if necessary, and save the money.
  18. Crouchback macrumors newbie


    Jun 15, 2010
    Mac for College

    I think the idea of getting a big display is really good. You get all the advantages of a laptop when you are out of your room, but most of the advantages of a desktop when you really settle down to work. I also found some good information on using my Mac at college here:, and I decided to get a 22" monitor because it looks like there is not going to be much room in my dorm.
  19. iamuurme macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2010
    your mac is good enough spend your money elsewhere:D:D
  20. Chris 123 macrumors regular

    Chris 123

    Jun 28, 2008
    U.S. (New England)
    My first year of college (2008) I got a macbook with an external screen. I never ended up bringing it anywhere with me, it just sat in my room attached to the screen. One reason for this is I hate unplugging everything.

    So I bought a 27inch imac when they came out (nov 2009) with the external monitor and I now can use my laptop on the go.

    You should find out if people in your school bring laptops around often, because not too many kids do where I go, but it's really personal preference.

    Also there are computers all around my campus, so you could get along with just a desktop. My imac has changed my life and is awesome and I could totally go without my macbook, but it's a nice luxury.
  21. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    I'd highly recommend either keeping your current notebook and upgrading in a couple years or just upgrading to a notebook now. I understand that time is sort of important given the Back to School promo, but you really won't be able to understand what machine is best for you until you get to college and figure out what your habits are in that environment. (People change, college is different, etc, etc, etc...)

    I posted my thoughts here regarding BTS.

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