New 13" Air vs 15" Retina for College?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by KidCollege, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. KidCollege macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2013
    I'm really split between the two. My parents are going to pay for most of my laptop, but I'm not going to abuse that and get something I don't need. I plan on majoring in either English or Philosophy, but may switch to Exercise Science if I change my mind on career paths. I like the price, portability, battery, and future-proof Wi-Fi of the Air. But, I like the available power (if needed), future-proof screen res, speakers, and screen size of the Pro. I don't plan on playing any games or doing vid/pic editing unless a class calls for it. Here are some questions that, if you could answer any, would be helpful:

    Do any 13" MacBook owners find the screen size a little underwhelming?

    Would the Air last me 4+ years?

    When do most people think the Retina's are getting updated?

    Is there anything in usual generals (bio/chem come to mind?) that would call for something the Air couldn't handle?

    Although I doubt any problems with English/Philosophy, would there be programs to use in Exercise Science that would require advanced computer programs?

    Thanks for any advice, I really can't decide right now.
  2. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    13 inch is really too small to get work done. It's fine for email, but too small to run two apps side by side. 15 inch is better, but still not ideal. I'd say get the laptop which is better for portability, and then buy a 20-24 monitor, mouse, and keyboard for doing work at your home/apartment/dorm. Then you get the best of both worlds.

    I would guess apple will update the macbook pro line before the fall since they do all the iphone/ipad/ipod stuff in the fall.

    On the other hand, it seems that benchmarks for the newest intel chips are really not any better than the last generation, but the battery life is nearly twice as good. So 12 hour battery life vs 7 hours is a big improvement, but not a huge deal since 7 hours is enough to get through a couple days in college. If I were you, I'd wait until at least August to see if the macbook pros get updated, but I'd be inclined to get the air based mostly on price.
  3. Isamilis macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2012
    Go with Air. Buy external monitor *only* if necessary.
  4. DisplacedMic, Jun 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013

    DisplacedMic macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2009
    i'm a structural biologist and i have used a 13" screen for years - it's perfectly adequate. spreadsheets, word, powepoint, imaging, reading papers etc all are easily accomplished on 13".

    i agree entirely with everything else you said.

    as for the op - if your parents are paying for this and you are "not going to abuse that and get something you don't need" then the MBA is the obvious choice as it is more than you need for your intended purpose and more than a thousand dollars cheaper.

    hell, an MBA and a thunderbolt display would be cheaper than the 15" retina.
    I agree with vistadude, the mba and a cheap monitor is the better option.

    finally, and this is really none of my business, but i would think long and hard about your intended major. why not go the sports science route and get a minor or even a double major in english or phil? You'll be a LOT more marketable for grad, medical, pharmacy, dental school (not to mention the job market if you don't want more school beyond undergrad) and you could still go on to get a higher english or phil degree if that's really what you wanted. But at least you'd have options.

    Unless teaching English or Philosophy is REALLY what you want I would be VERY wary of putting the kind of money into an undergrad degree in either considering the economy, job market and most of all the soaring cost of higher education.

    Even if you want to go to law school which many eng and phil majors end up doing, a science background is almost a no-brainer if for no reason other than the fact that you would be eligible to sit for the patent bar.

    Depending on what you want to do, sports and exercise science is a great major - it's almost the best of both worlds. You could go to a profesional school (med, pharm, dental, PA, PT, public health, or law) or even liberal arts grad school if you wanted. With just English or Phil you are going to have a hard time doing any of those things unless you take the pre-reqs (2-3 bios, 5-6 chemistries, 2 physics, 2-3 maths at the very least) with sports science you would be getting most of those out of the way anyway and would be in a much better position to make a choice that wouldn't require post-bac classes.
    Also, unless you major in a hard science (BS bio or chem for example) you'll have plenty of slots to take all the liberal arts classes you want!

    The point being - unless you're very lucky a BA in English or Philosophy isn't going to do squat for you in finding a job for which another degree wouldn't be just as good if not better.

    Sorry for the education rant - just thought i'd offer my unsolicited advice :p
  5. KidCollege thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2013
    I am thinking about law school with these two major possibilities. By patent bar do you mean to go and practice patent law? Not too sure if I want to do that.

    I've heard Eng/Phil are the best two majors to prepare you for the LSAT and law school itself. I know for sure that I am only committing to one of those majors if I am 100% sure I want to go into law. If not, I will most likely switch to exercise science to open more doors.
  6. Commy1 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 25, 2013
    What I really want is a retina MBAir... 12 hour battery, extremely high resolution... gawd take my money...
    But taking into consideration your question, I would do what is best for you. I run a 13" Macbook and have no problem with it, I consider it my Productivity computer, no fun to be had here :p, that's what my desktop is for.
    Being in this situation though, I have a monitor I could plug into if need be, it was another 150$ or so, not so bad. Certainly isn't necessary to get an Apple display for 1000$...

    I would take the MBA personally. Wait until the Haswell's are available in store or order from Apple, whichever. Battery life while in College is huuuge. If you enjoy being outside while being productive then hooray solution.
  7. smotania macrumors member


    Jun 14, 2012
    Boston, MA, USA
    I were you i will wait for the pro refreshment and instead of takin display get AppleTV, i assume that u have tv so with mavericks u will be able to use it as another monitor ;) and its way cheaper than separate monitor ;)
  8. DisplacedMic macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2009
    you can do well (or poorly) on the LSAT with any major. But yes, sitting for the patent bar would send you down the road of patent, IP and contract law. Lots of money in it, especially as no matter what happens with the economy, big pharma is doing fairly well.

    The US has recently joined the rest of the world and moved to a first to file, first to invent with the America's Invent Act which just went into effect this year! In a market saturated with attorneys, having the option to at least sit for the patent bar might not be a terrible idea. a lot of lawyers find too late that this isn't even an option for them and more and more future attorneys are heading into the law with full on science degrees (masters, PhD, PharmD, MD).

    Also, you don't even need to have a JD to sit for it. You can sit for the patent bar anytime after undergrad if you qualify (google it, but basically any hard science will suffice, but class load and job experience may be sufficient as well) and become a patent analyst. Granted a patent analyst makes far less than a patent attorney, but it's always an option.

    anyway, i am sure you will make the right choice!
    good luck to you :)

    whatever computer you decide to go with, make sure you get that education discount - and look into whether or not your state has a tax-free weekend and if so whether a computer purchase qualifies.


    yikes - i hadn't even considered that for college/dorm kids. that's an excellent point!

    for me that feature would just be a convenience or even novelty since i'm in a house. but kids in a dorm might get some actual use out of it.

    keep in mind though that in the world of cheap flat HDTVs most of us still use computer-specific monitors. there's a reason for that.
    for fun and games, a HDTV would be perfect... for reading txt, writing papers and emails, i think the resolution is going to be fairly poor unless you blow that text up...not fun if that starts hurting your neck and eyes - not to mention the privacy issues and just general annoyance for the roommate.
  9. james1758 macrumors regular


    May 26, 2013
    my brother studies philosophy and politics, he has a macbook air and says its perfect for what he needs. (after all hes writing essays not video editing every day!)

Share This Page