Opinions on a Macbook for College

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by thirdykal, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. thirdykal macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2010
    Hi guys, here's the situation.

    I currently have a 13" Macbook from 2007 that suits most of my CURRENT needs, ie. surfing the web, word processing, iTunes, chatting, watching movies etc. Really the only thing it can't do is light gaming and audio editing with Logic. Long story short, it's failing, and it's getting replaced by Apple. I despise the current white Macbook though, so I'm paying the difference for a MBP.

    I'm starting college next fall, but I have no idea what I'll be studying in the long run. I'm hoping for this new computer to last me through the 4 years, whichever classes I pick. I know the specs would last me longer from the 15", but I love the form factor of the 13" (never seen a 15" Macbook before, only an HP which looks massive compared to my whitebook). Portability is a pretty big issue, since it will be traveling to and from class, I'd assume. The thing that worries me, though, about the 13" is the Core 2 Duo processor as opposed to an i5.

    If Apple hadn't offered to replace my machine, I wouldn't even consider the 15" because of the price. As it stands, though, I can get the 13" for $200 or the 15" for $800 (without Applecare, which I'll buy when I can get a student discount on it.)

    I don't want to get a 13" only to find out in Junior year it doesn't have the specs to run certain professional applications I might need to use. It doesn't have to run them at lightning speed (I don't have a job that depends on it), but to an acceptable degree. So which should I get?
  2. techound1 macrumors 68000


    Mar 3, 2006
    Unless you're jazzing to go into film, the c2d will get you everywhere you'll need to go.
  3. thirdykal thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2010
    So the 15" isn't worth the extra 600? I'll take a look at a reseller today. I'm just a little bummed about not having the latest tech in my MBP. Also, an Apple i5 for under 1000? Seems like a pretty sweet deal.
  4. pcb macrumors member


    Oct 9, 2009
    Oxford, Ohio
    From a purely size point of view I would buy the 15 all day long.

    The 13 is nice to throw in a backpack. But so is the 15. Any backpack that will hold a 13 will hold a 15, unless youre using oh i dunno a purse. The 15 is no big deal to carry around campus. I carry mine everyday all over campus. I have even borrowed and carried a couple 17s across campus, and even that isnt really bad.

    You have to remember just because the 15 HP was big and bulky, a Mac isnt.

    The screen real-estate on the 15 is the biggest selling factor for me over the 13. I always have multiple windows open and viewing two things at a time without them overlapping or being so small you cant read them. This is something that just doesnt work very well with the 13, I have tried before. In college productivity is big and the small amount of time saved with each assignment by opening multiple windows will really add up for you.

    15 inch all the way, every time, always.
  5. Kingcodez macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2009
    For me, with Expose and Spaces, my productivity dosen't differ too much between a 13 and a 15.

    The size difference is really non existent. If you can feel the weight difference on your back then you need to go to the gym for a couple hours lol.

    Is campus really that big where your computer size will mean the difference between total exhaustion and running a marathon?

    Seems like it would be wiser to invest in a good backpack, maby with a hip belt, and just get the bigger laptop. I'd be all over it if it wasn't for the 500 dollar price difference.. Ipad or high res screen..

    How far is a typical jaunt through campus? I live in Beijing and there's like maby 15,000 students at my school, maby a 10 minute max walk across and a 15 minute walk from top to bottom, but here that's nothing. this is a small school but I also don't have anything else to compare it to. It feels small but I would assume that american schools are smaller.

    I doubt in two years that a 2.6 or whatever C2D will be outdated. It will be like running a 2.4GHz C2D now. (I mean the T series, that like came out 2-3 years ago. My black macbook has one.)

    Anyways, you can always double performance by installing a SSD. Maby squirrel away 200 or so dollars over the next year or two, and buy whatever $200 gets you in two years as a SSD. Right now it'll get you an 80GB intel, maby later it'll get you something a little bigger.

    I'm sure a 1.8GHz 4 year old white polycarb with a SSD would feel way faster and more stable than a stock 13" MBP.

    Since you are even considering buying the 15, use the difference and get a 13, along with a SSD. I'm also on the fence, Big SSD+13" or 15" with high res screen.
  6. thirdykal thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2010
    @King: To be honest, I've never visited the campus, it's in Atlanta, and it's pretty big from what I hear, around 13000 students?. There's a lot more space in American cities as opposed to Chinese ones, you actually have to take a shuttle from the newer dorms to where the others are located. I'm in Nanjing right now, and every Apple reseller I go to tells me that there are no 15" for display in the entire city, so I can't even take a look for myself. My friend (not a weakling by any means) who has a 15" says that it's definitely heavier, but not any less portable, is there any truth to that?

    @pcb: I totally get what you're saying with two things open at the same time on one window. I've tried doing that with my 13" and it works, but it is a pain sometimes when I have to make the text smaller, or the Safari window with my research doesn't fit, so I'd have to use Spaces, which just doesn't work as well. It would be solved with just an extra inch or so of space.

    So far I'm leaning more towards the 15" because of the added screen space, and also the spec boost it has over the 13", which means if I decide to sell it later down the line, it has an i5 over a C2D.
  7. Kingcodez macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2009
    If I were you I'd hop a train to Shanghai and check them out. Look for some second hand computer markets or something.

    Anyways, my buddy has the 15" and a 13", It's maby an inch wider on each side, more like 2cm. Weight is for all intents the same. Maby half a water bottle different lol. It just looks bigger so you think it's going to weigh a pound more.

    And you are talking about like 160 pixels wider, and 100 taller. Nothing. That's like the menu bar for firefox. Just get good at using spaces and corners, Separate your apps into like-windows.
    I keep email/chat in lower left, video related/work space in upper right. BT, itunes, and crap in lower right, internet in upper left. The corner that shows all windows in your current 'space' is the best. As well as the 'show desktop' corner. It's really fast to use these rather than resize windows and move them around all the time.

    Unless you drop another 160 for the better screen. That will make a difference. But you are now talking 600+ more than the base MBP... That's a used Unibody MB lol. Or a really big SSD.

    You are right about the resale value, but I'm sure it'll drop at the same rates for the 13 and 15. It seems like it'll be another year until they have THE 13". If I were you I'd get the 13", and a SSD. It'll blow the 15 outta the water twice over.

    If you have the money for the 15 then hit it up, why not. But I personally don't think the i5 is worth 600 dollars more.

    Yet if you buy the 15, and in 2 or 3 years find that it's lagging behind, you could probably do a straight 'trade', sell it and buy a new 13" for not have to spend any extra money. Buying the 15" now is kind of like a distorted way of 'saving' your money for the future. Like setting it aside, where you can't touch it, until that day you decide to upgrade.

    Like when the taxi drivers here put the seat covers on their twenty year old seats...

    Actually that doesn't really make sense, but I still think it's funny.
  8. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    The Core2Duo is fine. Up until yesterday it was what everyone else was using. ;)
  9. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    Couldnt have said it better myself.

    13,000 is pretty small. Had that at my school, pretty small, easy walking distance.

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