My First MacBook for College

avoncuster23

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 20, 2015
11
0
Hey guys, first post here as I am new to the forums. Anyways, I am looking for a Mac for college. Probably used from 2012 or newer. I am a math major so I am needing at least 8GB of RAM but I don't know where to go as far as i5 vs i7. I will probably be running some intensive programs such as MATLAB and Maple. Any advice you guys can input is much appreciated. Thanks!
 

placidity44

macrumors 6502
May 20, 2015
367
166
Get a refurb 13" rMBP from apple's refurb section. They are 14 day returns or last years model brand new. Apple then checks them extensively for cosmetic and functional defects. I have really bad OCD with a lot of things and i'd never buy anything but refurbs. They are like new if not better because they've been extensively tested. My rMBP came with 2 battery cycles.
 

SpinalTap

macrumors regular
Sep 25, 2003
205
15
Bournville, UK
I bought my daughter an i7 13" MBP with 8GB RAM for University. It wasn't until I swapped the standard HDD for an SSD that it began to fly. The MBP has proved to be a reliable workhorse. It saw her through under-graduate studies, and now in completing her Masters.

You will attract a significant discount on a MBP as a college student compared to the standard retail price.

Even so, my advice would be to buy a MBP with either SSD or PCI-e installed. Alternatively, buy an earlier model from the RefurbStore: a model on which you can upgrade the RAM and HDD yourself.
 

throAU

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2012
6,617
4,161
Perth, Western Australia
Hey guys, first post here as I am new to the forums. Anyways, I am looking for a Mac for college. Probably used from 2012 or newer. I am a math major so I am needing at least 8GB of RAM but I don't know where to go as far as i5 vs i7. I will probably be running some intensive programs such as MATLAB and Maple. Any advice you guys can input is much appreciated. Thanks!
It may be worth getting the i7 if you get a 15" machine.

Be aware that i5 vs. i7 in the 13" machines is very little difference - 100Mhz in clock speed and a meg of CPU cache. it's not going to be much faster.

On the 15"? The i5 vs. i7 thing is a bit different, the i7 gets you hyper threading so you get 8 virtual cores instead of 4.

In other words:

13" machine? i7 = little different
15" machine? go for the i7

Given that you're a student though I'd try and see how MATLAB and other apps you intend to use work on the 13" machine, because 15" machines are a bit of a pain to lug around all the time. You may find that 13" is "fast enough" vs. the additional weight of the 15" machine, but that's a trade-off only you can decide on.
 

zhenya

macrumors 604
Jan 6, 2005
6,710
3,322
What's your budget?

I agree that most likely the 13" will be the better fit for a mobile student. I also agree that a SSD is essential. I don't think that one cpu to another is going to make a whole lot of difference for you.
 

David58117

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2013
1,235
517
Sorry for going against the grain, but - have you tried a surface pro?

I love Macs, but its hard to deny having an active pen would be beneficial in math..

Just last night I was using it as a tablet in bed, and had my textbook opened as a pdf on one side of the screen, then a virtual notebook on the other, solving the problems as I go.

The splitscreen is amazing for classes, and even allows three windows open at the same time.

Only real downside is the camera (its fixed focus), and windows 8.1 takes getting use to.

At least try out the pen..
 
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avoncuster23

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 20, 2015
11
0
Sorry for going against the grain, but - have you tried a surface pro?

I love Macs, but its hard to deny having an active pen would be beneficial in math..

Just last night I was using it as a tablet in bed, and had my textbook opened as a pdf on one side of the screen, then a virtual notebook on the other, solving the problems as I go.

The splitscreen is amazing for classes, and even allows three windows open at the same time.

Only real downside is the camera (its fixed focus), and windows 8.1 takes getting use to.

At least try out the pen..
I have looked into the Surface Pro 3 a little bit and can't help but feel like it would not have enough power even though it very well may be alright. I also have looked into the Dell Inspiron 15 with 12gb RAM and Inspiron 13 2 in 1 with 8gb RAM and i7 Processors. Each of those are under $1000
 

throAU

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2012
6,617
4,161
Perth, Western Australia
The surface pro 3 can be had with decent spec (mines a dual core i7), but they do get hot, the fan does get noisy, and they do have a pretty small battery in them.

Maybe mine was running a virus scan or something, but the other day it drained 40% of the battery in about an hour while i was using it to run a meeting on a projector... doing basic web stuff... :-\
 

avoncuster23

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 20, 2015
11
0
The Inspiron 13 2 in 1 Special Edition has a 5th gen i7 with 8GB RAM and a 256gb SSD but I feel like the 256GB SSD would not be enough.
 

throAU

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2012
6,617
4,161
Perth, Western Australia
The Inspiron 13 2 in 1 Special Edition has a 5th gen i7 with 8GB RAM and a 256gb SSD but I feel like the 256GB SSD would not be enough.
Yeah, with Vista onwards Windows wants to keep every copy of every DLL file ever installed when you run windows update (google winsxs folder) and a Windows install can easily take 50-60 GB without much else on the machine. Add 8 GB for hibernation file, a couple of gig for swap, etc... 256 GB is usable but definitely no less than that for a Windows box.
 

avoncuster23

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 20, 2015
11
0
So I guess I have to ask myself if a 500GB+ HDD on the Mac would be fine for my purposes. If so, it seems like a MBP is the way to go
 

David58117

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2013
1,235
517
How are you finding the Surface Pro battery life?

I have a surface pro 3 at work and the battery life is pretty abysmal.
I'm dropping about 20-30% about every 2 hours...definitely not as good as my iPad Air 2, but maybe around or a little under my 15" retina.

But that's with Bluetooth on (for the pen) and actively taking notes. I guess I see it as kind of a trade off - I can't look at a pdf/lecture/website in split screen on either of those devices, while at the same time taking pretty natural feeling notes.

Prior to this, I use to load the pdf on the 15" MacBook, and use goodnotes on the iPad. It felt pretty goofy and seemed pretty redundant.

Regarding power - I have the i5 with 4GB ram version. Only 128GB ssd, but it has a slot for MicroSD card.

Honestly, all I really use it for is school work - the processor is such overkill, but it handles everything I've thrown at it very well.

With the current preview sluggishness issue affecting retina MacBooks - it even handles large PDFs much better than my 15" retina. But that's a long time bug with preview that's hopefully fixed soon...

Its an i5 processor in a tablet form - so lack of power shouldn't be an issue (the MacBooks you're looking at are i5's...except for the 15").

If you're concerned about the GPU - then you're kind of stuck getting the 15" upgraded version anyway.
 
Last edited:

David58117

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2013
1,235
517
Am I allowed to link eBay postings here for you guys to check out?
Are you in the US?

Rather than eBay, call best buy and look for open boxed items... since you're a student, fill out the student discount on the best buy website for $50 off...

Then also go to the USPS website, and spend the $1 filling out a movers form (use an old address, or friends cough cough). It takes about a minute, but will get you a 10% off movers coupon for Best Buy at the end of it. They will email it to you right after..

Ive stacked them before on open boxes, so definitely worth trying, and much better than eBay.
 

z31fanatic

macrumors 6502a
Mar 7, 2015
867
325
Mukilteo, WA USA
a Windows install can easily take 50-60 GB without much else on the machine. Add 8 GB for hibernation file,
Not true. A windows install after updates is 30GB at most for 7 and 20-25 for 8.1. And the hibernation file is 3/4 of your RAM so it's 6GB if you have 8GB RAM. ;)
 

David58117

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2013
1,235
517
Not true. A windows install after updates is 30GB at most for 7 and 20-25 for 8.1. And the hibernation file is 3/4 of your RAM so it's 6GB if you have 8GB RAM. ;)
Yeah, I had about 84 gigs free on my 128..that was after a two hour system update...I put my PDFs and some games and apps, and now have 81 gigs free.

I'll probably get an microSD card later, but I'm happy with it now!
 

throAU

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2012
6,617
4,161
Perth, Western Australia
Not true. A windows install after updates is 30GB at most for 7 and 20-25 for 8.1. And the hibernation file is 3/4 of your RAM so it's 6GB if you have 8GB RAM. ;)
Depends how many updates you have done (i.e., did you install SP1 clean or has your install been upgraded continually from Win7 RTM for example) and whether or not you cleaned out the WinSXS folder.
 

avoncuster23

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 20, 2015
11
0
I found one with 512gb flash storage which I am not familiar with. How does flash storage compare to SSD and HDD?
 

avoncuster23

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 20, 2015
11
0
It was a 2012 15" retina with 4th gen i7, 8gb RAM, and 512gb flash storage. I should have bid it went for 800
 

SpinalTap

macrumors regular
Sep 25, 2003
205
15
Bournville, UK
Bear in mind that an MBP bought through the Apple Education Store comes with 3 years Apple Care warranty as standard, compared to just 1 year standard retail.

That means 3 years of worry-free usage should anything goes wrong with your MBP.
 

bwb

macrumors regular
May 25, 2004
108
27
Bear in mind that an MBP bought through the Apple Education Store comes with 3 years Apple Care warranty as standard, compared to just 1 year standard retail.

That means 3 years of worry-free usage should anything goes wrong with your MBP.
Are you sure they still offer this? My college discontinued this as bundled through their computer store, and on the Apple website it no longer says 3 years standard.
 
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