MacBook Air for a college student

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by danest, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. danest macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008
    Hi am wondering if your guys think that a macbook air for a college student is a good idea.

    i am going to be majoring in computer science so i will use it to program and do basic web designs.

    will this computer last me through out the remaining 3 years that i have left?

    or am i just better off getting a macbook pro?
  2. crobbins macrumors 6502


    Nov 11, 2006
    You could probably use it and would really enjoy the portability, but I think if you want it to you the next three years as a CS major I would advice the MBP. That being said, I use an Air and love it. I too do a little web design, but no programming.
  3. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Unless you have another computer, you'll be mooching off of your roommate's or the school computers every time you want to install something, watch a movie (which you can't stream, yes, but you can copy), or upload a CD to iTunes.

    I'd say no as a standalone. Unless... you're getting the SuperDrive.
  4. danest thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2008
    also would it be worth getting the ADC Student Membership?

    will the one time use discount be greater than the student discount?
  5. wordy macrumors regular


    Feb 26, 2008
    I use the Air for college, but if I was a CS major, I'd definitely advise you go with the MBP.

    I'm sure a situation will arise where you will need the ability to burn a disk of some sort in a pinch.

    Of course it also depends on your usage and other resources at your disposal, but at first glance, I think the MBP would be the safer choice for you.
  6. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    If I were a student, I would think twice before spending every dollar of my parents'. Hence a Macbook would be my choice, for the biggest bang per dollar.
  7. themiracle macrumors regular

    May 7, 2007
    I really want to sell you on an Air, but if you're going to be a CS major and you don't have access to a tower computer, I'd definitely advise bypassing the it and even the Macbook, quite honestly. Basically any programming for class you do will need to be compiled, and compiling is extremely resource intensive as you reach higher and higher levels of complexity. Eventually compiling on anything but a fairly powerful computer will be incredibly painful, especially if all your friends are zipping through it. This makes the only realistic option for your sanity the portable beast that is the MPB. It's also probably the most future proof in therms of performance.

    If you're going to just be doing web design or whatever, it still seems like the Air might be a stretch. Dreamweaver, illustrator, and the like are fairly resource intensive, and you'd probably want at least a Macbook.
  8. K4VKS macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2007
    MBP is ure friend. I like the portability and cool factor of the MBA but my college needs I found it was too lacking...biggest drawback for me was no ethernet port (my schools wifi goes down sometimes and ethernet is always available everywhere as a back up...or for places with weak wifi signal)

    If u already have another desktop or "main" computer then the MBA could work for you. Also worth noting - the Lenovo x300 is a great MBA alternate that fills in where the MBA lacks
  9. Heavenkittykat macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2008
    I use MBA as my sole computer in college. I don't even have superdrive because I don't need it. I store my information in my USB drive. But then again, I am a Biology major and not Comp Sci major. I only use my MBA for light stuff like taking notes in class, downloading music, using itunes, syncing my iphone, storing pictures, word processing, excel, and presentations and that's it. Probably if I'm a CS major, I would choose to buy MB or MBP.

    But in the end, its up to you. Buy whatever you think is right for your needs. Just know the benefits and disadvantages of Air before buying one though. You don't want to regret buying an $1800+ computer. As for me, I LOVE my macbook air. It's the best laptop and best computer I've ever owned. :D
  10. samroberto macrumors member

    Apr 22, 2008
    I'm a fellow college student, I have owned my Macbook Air for 4 days !!!
    hahaha I LOVE IT !
    I came FROM a macbook pro (1st gen, intel core duo), and it's speedier and snappier in all respects except a few seconds more boot up time, which doesn't bother me, and since sleep takes almost nothing, I'm perfectly content.

    Honestly, depending on how often you utilize "cds in a pinch" you could just throw the superdrive in your bag, it weighs almost nothing. I leave it at home on my desk where i normally use cds but yesterday I knew I would need it so I brought it with me to the library easily.
    For a Computer Science major, hmmm.... (and we have alot of those here at my university).
    - Yes the MBA would work for you, and no doubt you would LOVE it,
    you might have smoother workflow/and benefit from, having either a mac or pc desktop, especially with all the PC-computer science compatibility areas.. The Macbook Air CAN run WINDOWS, with little trouble, but still, if you're only looking at one all-inclusive computer for 2-3 years, I hate to say it, you might get more function from a mackbook pro.
    My Air does everything I want it to do, has everything I want on it, and performs (or feels) faster than my previous mac laptop, or at least, I notice no slowness. It is my sole computer right now, and I'm totally fine. I might pick up a cheap iMac late-summer just to run hardcore XP games on, but other than that, don't need a counterpart.

    -If I were in your situation, and this is just me, I would go with a Macbook Air, and build my own tower PC which is relatively inexpensive (x<1k). The extra money that I WOULD've spent towards the MBP would just go towards decent PC tower parts.

    Hope this helps! My .02 $
    Again, this is just one mac-student's opinion.. not universal law
  11. theprizefight macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2006
  12. BongoBanger macrumors 68000


    Feb 5, 2008
    An MBP if you're programming in an Apple environment or can load the apps, a Dell XPS M1330 if you're not.
  13. wordy macrumors regular


    Feb 26, 2008
    Someone mentioned needing the "extra power" of the MBP for compiling. Really, any current Mac can handle compiling, so that's not the difference.

    To me, this guy needs either the MB or MBP simply because he he'll be spending a lot of time in a computer lab, and likely working with other students. The extra ports, especially the ethernet port are likely to come in handy. Also, the ability to quickly burn a disk will be nice to have also.
  14. .mark. macrumors 6502

    May 28, 2007
    Jersey, C.I.
    get a MBP, I finished an undergrad degree in CS last year and now I'm doing a postgrad MSc in adv software engineering...

    I'm lucky enough to have both a mbp and a mba. I started of with a MBP and its been great - I just got lazy and impulsively bought a mba. I love the mba and it's great for taking into uni - I do find the mbp heavy and takes over my bag - the mba is hardly noticed in my bag.

    But, that said, if I had to choose between them, the mbp would be the keeper - the mba is just a luxury.

    get the mbp for now and then if you save a few pennies you could always get the mba latter - but MBP is the one for now!
  15. Eski macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2007
    Check with your college

    Check with your college, see what they expect you to use, what software you will be using. This may dictate the platform, never mind the actual machine.

    Once you cost in software and perhaps VMware or Parallels plus a Windows license the Air might be looking pricey. A MB will do a fine job, longer battery and lighter than the MBP. Any savings could buy a monitor for your room.
  16. Dataslave macrumors newbie


    Apr 26, 2008
    Honestly, if you have the money, buy a MBA and enjoy it. If you're concerned with getting the most bang for your buck, get a MB or MBP. Realize that in 3 years you'll be upgrading regardless of your choices now.

    Beware the large aount of misinformation and opinions from people who just don't know what they're talking about. Your requirements for a box to code on should be 1) keyboard, 2) display. Memory and processor speed really won't be an issue 99% of the time. I have a beast of a quad core desktop at home with every imaginable option and multiple large displays, but I still spend the bulk of my time coding on the MBA.

    As a CS Major you're going to be spending the bulk of your time in a unix shell. Most of the time you won't even be compiling locally, you'll be doing it all on the school's servers via ssh. If you're in a class forcing you to use an IDE, you'll find the MBA runs Eclipse, Netbeans, or even Visual Studio under VMware fantastically.
  17. Aea macrumors 6502a


    May 23, 2007
    Denver, Colorado
    If you can afford it, then go for it. As somebody point out already, compiling time won't make a difference, and when it does you won't be compiling locally anyway. I think it's an awesome machine, but I think Ill be staying with my MBP for a little bit.
  18. rom macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2006
    A Macbook would be a great buy - max out the RAM. However, if you are taking courses that require intensive graphics (visualization, modeling, computer graphics, game development, etc.), then the Macbook Pro is the answer.
  19. aey619 macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2008
    im not a computer science major, so it fits me perfectly, since all i do is word processing and internet surfing on this portable. i do everything else on my imac. it beats dragging around a heavier notebook with all my other books around campus.
  20. wordy macrumors regular


    Feb 26, 2008
    I'm a college student and I find it perfect for my needs, especially because I have to lug it around with me all day. But I too am not a CS major. I think if I was, an investment in a MBP would be the way I'd go. The vanilla MB isn't a bad option either.
  21. wolfenkraft macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2008
    Senior CS Major

    Hey, I'm thinking about getting an Air.

    I'm a senior in CS, 2 classes left to go. :)

    I can tell you from experience unless your university is microsoft centric for some unknown reason, having a portable that runs a bsd variant is spectacular. A macbook pro is spectacular, but it's heavy. I've never had to burn a disc for someone. The only time I've ever burned a disc period on this mbp is to burn an ubuntu cd for my desktop. I can tell you without reservation the only reason to get the mbp over one of the other mb variants is gaming. That's it.

    You can save $500 and get the air or save $1k and get the mbook. I might have had to use 75% of both cores for coding once. That was a perl script I wrote that had to parse 1GB of plain text. Still took half an hour (needed to use parse incoming web reponses as well). I don't think you will ever NEED all of the power that the mbp has. The air should completely satisfy your coding needs.
  22. sebpayne macrumors member

    Nov 28, 2005
    I'm a going into my second year as a Computer Science student. I have had a MBP 17" C2D and an old PowerBook 12" for my first year and the PowerBook has coped perfectly as I do most of my work on the move. My course is mainly PHP and Java (with Eclipse and BlueJ) and it has worked without problems. If a 1.5Ghz G4 and 768mb RAM can do this with Leopard, then a MacBook Air can.

    I've sold my MBP with the intension of getting an Air because I was sick of humping the PowerBook everywhere, plus it gets very hot and is slow these days. I've been to look and it really is a fantastic machine. However, my only concern is Aperture. I do a lot of photography around the university for various events and if the Air is going to be my only machine, how will it cope? Has anyone any experience with this?

    After reading and rereading all the threads, I'm 100% sure it can cope with everything else, apart from Aperture. My library is stored externally, with around 16,000 photos and most of them are 10mb RAW files from my Nikon D80.

    Good luck, the Air is a great little thing and as someone says, you'll be upgrading again some day. If the machine does what you want now, then just buy it! :)
  23. gooddeal macrumors regular


    Aug 3, 2008
    Hmmm, I got my BS in CS about 10 years ago and MS in CS about 6 years ago. I didn't remember having speed issues when writing programs using my Pentium 3 PC.
  24. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    You can use the ADC discount on top of the student one, I believe.
  25. coupdetat macrumors 6502

    Jul 11, 2008
    I'm a bit confused, why would a CS major need a MBP? If I'm not mistaken, don't you guys do programming, not graphics? At UIUC most of the CS majors I know have small Sony ultraportables because they carry them around all day, not big rigs with dedicated video cards. When I was an aerospace engineering major, I only had a 12" Powerbook and used the school labs for CAD work.

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