Macbook or Macbook Air for College Student?

Macuser8141

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 2, 2017
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My daughter is starting college in the fall and we're on the hunt for a new laptop. The most recommended choices have been the Macbook and the Macbook Air. Which is better for a new college student? Her main concerns are storage, battery life, and USB port availability.

Can someone explain the main differences and voice their opinion for which is better for an incoming college student?
 

viperGTS

macrumors 68000
Nov 15, 2010
1,556
847
If USB port availability is one of her main concerns, I would suggest staying away from the MacBook unless she is okay with dealing with dongles. That being said, as a college student myself, I rarely need the extra ports, and when I do, I have a dongle that gives me 3 extra USB ports. It's not very much of a hassle, in my opinion.

With respect to storage and battery, the MacBook starts at 256GB standard while the Air starts at 128GB. Bumping the Air to 256GB results in both devices being about the same price (especially if you order from B&H, which has the MacBook currently discounted to $1199). Battery wise, the Air is better, giving 12 hours of battery life compared to the MacBook's 11.

One important thing to consider it the display. The MacBook has a much better display due to its higher pixel density and much more modern display technology that results in much better color reproduction.

If I were to recommend between the two, I would most definitely recommend the 12" Retina MacBook (I know the beginning of my post didn't make it seem that way, my bad :p).
 
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maerz001

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2010
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+1 for the MB for the above reasons and portability.

The Air was an excellent machine 6 years ago...
 
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batting1000

macrumors 604
Sep 4, 2011
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I've used a 2015 Air for the past 2 years for college and it's been great to me. Never have any issues with it. Everyone likes to point out the display as being bad, but honestly, sitting at a normal distance away from it, it's hardly noticeable. Storage isn't an issue at all for me even with stuff like Office and some editing programs installed...Performance is more than enough and battery is great.

The 12 inch MacBook is more portable, but the Air is by no means an issue to carry around. It's still light and thin, fits right into a backpack too.
 

ascender

macrumors 68030
Dec 8, 2005
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The Air was a brilliant laptop, but it looks and feels very dated next to a Macbook in my opinion and that's coming from someone who hung on to his 11" Air for years and years!

Pick up a usb hub for use at home and you're good to go.
 

maerz001

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2010
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Storage isn't an issue at all for me even with stuff like Office and some editing programs installed...
What do u mean by that? is there any new computer on the planet where u can't install some programs cos of too little storage?
 

squirrrl

macrumors 6502a
Sep 11, 2013
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San Diego, CA
What do u mean by that? is there any new computer on the planet where u can't install some programs cos of too little storage?
Actually there are now a bunch of sub $200 computers that have 32GB SSDs. Also, Chromebooks often have very little storage. But otherwise, you're right.
 

maerz001

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2010
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Actually there are now a bunch of sub $200 computers that have 32GB SSDs. Also, Chromebooks often have very little storage. But otherwise, you're right.
ok. Here u are right. But still Office would fit.

My first computer 20years ago had a 40GB HDD. How fast technology changes :)
 

brclark80

macrumors newbie
Sep 22, 2016
16
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Hickory, NC
ok. Here u are right. But still Office would fit.

My first computer 20years ago had a 40GB HDD. How fast technology changes :)
My first computer in 1995 had a 1.2GB HDD, 133mhz Pentium processor, 4mb of RAM, and a CD drive (not sure on speed). It was so damn slow, but I met my now wife with it, so I got that going for me.
 

cincygolfgrrl

macrumors 6502
Apr 2, 2012
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Somewhere In Time
My granddaughter got a 2015 MacBook at the beginning of her second semester of college. She calls it the perfect computer for what she uses it for—class notes, papers, research, email, and such.

After hearing her experiences with it, if I ever decide to replace my old, reliable MBA I'd have no reservations getting a MacBook.
 
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lowkey

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2002
531
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australia
MacBook. If you're going to be staring at a screen doing homework, then at least get a screen that isn't blurry.

I found that I felt less tired using a retina screen.
 

batting1000

macrumors 604
Sep 4, 2011
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MacBook. If you're going to be staring at a screen doing homework, then at least get a screen that isn't blurry.

I found that I felt less tired using a retina screen.
It's a fairly subjective experience. I have the 2015 MBA and don't find the non Retina display to be an issue personally.
 

brookter1

macrumors member
Aug 5, 2015
75
32
My first computer in 1995 had a 1.2GB HDD, 133mhz Pentium processor, 4mb of RAM, and a CD drive (not sure on speed). It was so damn slow, but I met my now wife with it, so I got that going for me.
1983, Acorn Electron, little sibling to the BBC B Micro. 32 KB (yes, kilobytes) of memory, much of which was taken up with screen memory and was unavailable for user programming. No disk drive: permanent storage was by hooking up a standard tape cassette recorder and listening to it screech for a long time.

After a couple of years they introduced an add-on disk drive, the Plus3. It took single sided 3.5" floppies giving you 340Kb of storage. This was bliss.

Expensive bliss: the drive was £220, as much as the original computer, and each floppy cost £5, but it was still bliss. Happy days...
 

maerz001

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2010
1,316
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1983, Acorn Electron, little sibling to the BBC B Micro. 32 KB (yes, kilobytes) of memory, much of which was taken up with screen memory and was unavailable for user programming. No disk drive: permanent storage was by hooking up a standard tape cassette recorder and listening to it screech for a long time.

After a couple of years they introduced an add-on disk drive, the Plus3. It took single sided 3.5" floppies giving you 340Kb of storage. This was bliss.

Expensive bliss: the drive was £220, as much as the original computer, and each floppy cost £5, but it was still bliss. Happy days...
:) my point about the fast technology change was sarcasm. Cos 20years after my first computer u are still able to find some on the market with less storage than in the 90s.
Buying one of these u don't have to wonder that u can't install a lot of programs...
 

brookter1

macrumors member
Aug 5, 2015
75
32
:) my point about the fast technology change was sarcasm. Cos 20years after my first computer u are still able to find some on the market with less storage than in the 90s.
Buying one of these u don't have to wonder that u can't install a lot of programs...
I'm always just amazed at how far we've come in such a short time. No sarcasm: just admiration at the incredibly brilliant people who have got us to where we are today. It's partly why I take a lot of the threads about how Apple Suck It's So Unfair with so much salt.
 

- rob -

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2012
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Oakland, CA
I'd absolutely recommend the 2015 11' macbook air. You can get a great deal on a beefed up version with Apple Care on Ebay. Get her an external monitor and the cables needed to hook it up where she lives. It is an excellent and mature piece of equipment and does not have port issues of the new Macbook.