More College Buying Advice

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by pk7, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. pk7, Jun 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012

    pk7 macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2011
    Hey everyone,

    I apologize for adding to the "what should I buy" posts, but I'm on the fence with one of my decisions.

    It might be a little nitpicky, so apologies in advance. I've set my mind on a 13-inch MBP for college beginning this fall, as that's the only thing that fits into my budget. It'll be my first personal Mac. :)

    My primary concern I can't decide whether I want the 13-inch with a 2.5/3.1 GHz i5 or a 2.9/3.6 GHz i7. Is there a noticeable performance difference between the two? I know that I will be getting 8 GB of RAM regardless.

    I use the family MBP mainly for web browsing, listening to music, lots of iPhoto/iMovie creating and editing, and the occasional Skype.

    The i5 model comes out to $1189 configured with 8 GB of RAM, while the i7 model is $1389. Is the $200 difference warranted in the performance between the two processors?

    Also, would an SSD make a difference? the i5 model + SSD comes out to $1639, the most expensive configuration.

    Thank you very much in advance!
  2. stevedusa macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2012
    From what you told us what you are going to do, stick with the basics, i.e. i5 and no SSD option.

    Reason being the base model provided is more than enough for what you are trying to do, even in case down the road you do need some school-related software it can still handle quite well.

    Better efficiency overall means it doesn't require a lot of hardware power to achieve what you need, unlike some OS ;)
  3. Ulysses12 macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2011
    I don't think that processor upgrade will make a huge difference.

    I would scrap the 13" MBP and just go for the base 13" MBA with 8gb of RAM.

    It comes out to $1,239.00 with the student discount.

    You are getting a higher resolution screen, super-fast flash memory, and more portability.
  4. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    What about the new 13" Macbook Air? $1299 ($1239 with student discount) gets you an Ivy Bridge processor, USB 3, 8GB RAM, a fast SSD, and a higher res screen than the 13" MBP.

    The use cases you list don't seem to justify the slightly higher performance of the 13" MBP.
  5. beamer8912 macrumors 65816

    May 30, 2009
    Stick with the i5. Also don't purchase the RAM upgrade from Apple. Install it yourself after you get the MBP. You'll save ~$50. You can also purchase an SSD later if you end up wanting it and install it yourself. You'll save even more $$$ doing it this way.

    If you're not comfortable doing the installations yourself, your college IT department should be able to help you once you start the semester.
  6. pk7, Jun 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012

    pk7 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2011
    Thanks for the speedy replies, guys.

    I know what you mean :D

    Oh! Sorry, I forgot to mention, I'm definitely going to Bootcamp it because I'm taking a lot of games and software with me which are Windows only.

    One of the reasons I went with the Pro is because of its built in optical-drive which all this software requires. The MBA 13" looks enticing now, but is it worth buying the SuperDrive separately?

    @beamer I'm up for installing RAM myself :)

    If worse comes to worst, I could sneak away with the family's 15" MBP (Early 2011, i7 2.0 GHz 4-core, 4 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 RAM, 256 MB Radeon 6490M, 500 GB HD) :p

    Thanks again!
  7. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    I would go with the Air and buy a superdrive if you really need it. Actually any USB external DVD drive will do. You don't necessarily need one for Bootcamp, you can install Windows using a thumb drive.

    That way you aren't lugging the optical drive around with you to classes.
  8. mohsy90 macrumors 65816


    Feb 4, 2011
    New York
    I would go with the new MBA, better screen res and update to 8gb ram through OWC. More portable and more than capable of doing college work.

    Glad this wasnt a post about a retina 15" for college.

    edit: new connector on MBA SSD, so you might have to wait. But considering you want an optical drive, you might as well go for the basic 13" MBP, it should suffice
  9. Ulysses12 macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2011

    The optical drive shouldn't be the deciding factor. The screen resolution and weight should be.

    Go with the MBA
  10. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    You can get a highly-rated external optical drive at Amazon for half the price of Apple's SuperDrive.

    If you are really into running Windows games you should do a little online research via Google; there is lots of info about how various games run with the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. You may discover that your fave games won't live up to your expectations on the MBA or 13" MBP.
  11. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    You can't update the ram on the MBA after you order. If you want 8GB you have to order it that way.

    As others have said games may be something to really consider. You have to step up to a 15" Macbook Pro to get a dedicated graphics chip.
  12. beamer8912 macrumors 65816

    May 30, 2009
    This. I bought an external drive for $20 on amazon, free shipping no tax. The superdrive is not worth it.

    Please note though, if you opt for the MBA the parts are not *easily* user-replaceable. That is, I would buy what you think you might need from Apple right off the bat. The RAM is soldered on, and the SSD is expensive to replace. If you get a MBA, don't plan on upgrading the specs later.
  13. pk7, Jun 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012

    pk7 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2011
    Thanks all.

    Just a couple more questions. What if I did go this route?

    Not outdated?

    I will upgrade the RAM myself. How would a 2.0 GHz 4-core i7 compare to the newer 2.5+ Ivy Bridge dual-cores?

    Also, someone was telling me that the 6490M is useless and that the 4000 might even be better.

    Again, appreciate all the input.
  14. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    I wouldn't quite call the 6490M useless. Since it's a machine you already have in the house you could try out some games you would want to play and see how it does.

    The 13" Air will give you basically the same performance (will feel faster in a lot of cases because of the SSD) and the same screen resolution in a more portable package.
  15. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    You are overthinking this.

    Aside from gaming, your uses are low end. All of the models for the last few years will work fine. I'd get something with an i5 and be done with it.

    If you like the extra portability and higher resolution, grab an Air. If you want the optical drive and lower resolution, grab the Pro. If you want to carry around a larger device and save money, inherit the 15. Asking if a 15" from last year is out of date.. pretty silly.

    SSDs always make everything feel fast and responsive, but they tend to be small and expensive. Also, after you have had one there's no going back.

    Nobody can help you, they can only offer their own personal preferences. That's all this is.
  16. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    That's a fine Mac. Give it a try as someone suggested; you may be surprised. If you would "inherit" it at little or no cost then you should carefully consider it because of the considerable amount of money that you would save.

    Just because it's an older Mac doesn't mean that it is obsolete or close to it. That 15" MBP could serve you for all your undergraduate studies and as a graduate student.

    The Windows game thing is muddying the waters... If you find that your favorite games won't run acceptably on the portable Macs that you are considering then you should think about using a Windows box for gaming. You will probably save some money and have a better gaming experience going that route.
  17. pk7 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2011
    Thank you all for your opinions. I appreciate it. I'll give all the models a test drive and let you know how it goes.

    I'm sorry if I was overthinking.
  18. jlc1978 macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2009
    You cab get a lot of inexpensive external ODD for less than the superdrive; or even a blu-ray drive to be able to rip your blu rays. No need to buy a Superdrive.

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