Possible Mac combos for university?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jackgbanks, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. jackgbanks macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    #1
    Hi All,

    I just thought that I would ask your opinion based on what Mac I should get for when I go to university.

    I had been thinking about getting one of the new 13" Airs when they come out as the ultraportable nature of it as well as its power sounded like what I needed. However, having read what other people have been posting I now have my doubts.

    The 11" Air sounds good for just being tiny and the base model is also fairly cheap so it would be great for making notes during lectures but, in all honesty, I even find the 13" screen I'm using now a bit too small so an 11" wouldn't be great for long term use.

    I saw a suggestion elsewhere that it might be an option to buy an iMac and a MBA 11" and use both of them and still get them for a decent price.

    I was wondering how viable you all thought this was and whether or not this would work better than an iPad/iMac combo, iPad/Mac Mini or even an old Mac Pro/iPad. My only concern with this would be whether or not the iPad is easy and quick to type on. Also, the extra cost of a screen and peripherals would have to be taken into account.

    My budget is around the £1,500 mark give or take a hundred pounds and bear in mind that as a student I also get 15% off the price of Macs in the Apple Store.

    Most of my time will be spent doing fairly basic tasks but I do often do some video editing in iMovie and also like to indulge in a bit of Football Manager.

    Any advice would be fantastic :)

    Jack

    p.s. How long is this post? How long is a piece of string?
     
  2. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #2
    Personally I love my 11" MacBook Air. Its screen resolution is high enough that I don't miss my 13" MacBook or 15" PowerBook. Having 2 Machines is one of the better options right now, as it means you have a powerful system to get stuff done and game, and a lightweight system to take notes on and have with you at all times. (I mean for me I have my Mac Pro (and my iMac before it) to edit video, and my MacBook Air for my actual Computer Science lectures and getting work done in the library).

    *As far as the old Mac Pro vs current iMac, I would get the iMac hands down, as it will probably be more powerful than any Mac Pro you will get cheaply enough to let you have a MacBook Air as well within your budget. Id also take a MacBook Air over a iPad, as having both, the MacBook Air is infinitely more useful for lecture notes etc.
     
  3. jackgbanks thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    #3
    Thanks for the reply :)

    So with the current iMac, is there a significant difference internally between that and the last generation? I know the new ones have the sandy bridge processors but does it make a huge difference to editing videos?

    Jack
     
  4. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #4
    The biggest difference for video editing is that the new systems are Quad-Core across the board, and they all pretty much equal my Mac Pro for editing speed. The last generation were blown away by this generation, and they are a heckva lot better for video and audio work, especially Final Cut Pro (7 or X), but theres still a massive difference for iMovie.
     
  5. jackgbanks thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    #5
    On another note, how easy would it be to sync the two devices if, say, I went for the 11" Air and an iMac?
     
  6. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2011
    Location:
    Tallahassee, Florida
    #6
    Before I reply, it just makes me happy that I get to come here, for free, and actually help influence someone making a purchase. Don't know why but it wasn't until I got a Mac and went on these forums that I felt like this.

    PSPS don't remember the name of the article, but an extensive survey was done that stated owning and talking about anything related to Apple triggered the same areas of the brain and chemical responses from the body as talking about religion does. Interesting :)

    But yea, if you can afford it, get the MBA and an iMac. Since you're doing editing, you want the most powerful machine you can get BUT you also want something portable to use in between classes.

    Personaly, the iMac/MBA combo is a really, really good one, and I think Apple knew this when they made the machines. The Air will be very small, thinn, and light; I know from experience that when I have a textbook or two along with pen/paper, cramming a 13 inch blackbook (macbook from 08) in there makes it very uncomfortable. I lived on campus last semester so I only had to walk "so" far, but if you're riding the bus or doing any extensive walking (depending on where you're going/how big the campus is) you want to keep your bag as light as possible. Walking down a couple of blocks to the coffee shop with my gear really got me in shape lol

    But yea, generally in class you won't need something extensively powerful as most universities classes (don't know anything about computer engineering/coding/design, etc.) wouldn't "require" a powerful computer as a lot of students can't afford it. Because of this, the Air would be a great device to have.

    Now all of this was just extra as you asked about syncing.

    I use Dropbox. Free, 2 gigs of storage (more for money), and you install a folder on the computer. The beauty of Dropbox is that you put anything in that box and it syncs to ALL computers with the email logged in. Right now I use it to sync my Macbook, Netbook, and my GF's computer that's 4 states over.

    For school, if I brought the netbook to class I could save any and all documents, drop them in the folder, and just open my Macbook and have them right there. It works for Folders, files, basically there is no limitation. I've copied full HD movies over on the system; it's only limited by your bandwith (speed at which you can upload/download).

    It would also be wise to buy a nice external HDD to use as either a Time Capsule (highly recommended) or to store larger files (since you're editing, I'm assuming you're going to have a lot of them).

    I don't know how all of this will run in the budget, but right now I'm shooting for a MBA and I already have two external drives. One is used for Time Capsule (once formatted for TC, you can't use it for other things until you reformat it) and the other for media files like videos and whatnot.

    All in all, it costs a bit to get "everything" I'm suggesting BUT if you were to get an iMac, MBA, and two external drives (you can get TB drives for around 50 bucks now or so) you would be SET for your entire college career and many years to come.

    Macs in general run great (if you haven't used one already) and as stated before, mine is a black one from 2008. I have an upgraded HDD and 4 gigs of ram; it lets me play/stream 1080p video, edit photos, basically do anything I want aside from intense gaming.

    You'll be set for life. And don't feel the need to get everything at once; getting your setup and finding out what's right for you takes time. The real fun comes when you do get it and spend weeks tweaking the system and making it unique.
     
  7. iStudentUK, Jun 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011

    iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Location:
    London
    #7
    Though decisions!

    I've just got an iPad 2 (typing this on it) and it is fairly quick to type on. Much, much faster than an iPhone, but not as fast as a laptop. If you want to type in lectures an iPad won't cut it. However, at my university anyway, very few people typed in lectures at all. It depends on your subject, but anything that isn't just words (eg equations in maths/physics, diagrams in chemistry, drawings in medicine etc) will be far too slow with anything other than pen and paper. It never bothered me as a chemist, I preferred writing by hand. Even now on my law course where I could type I choose to write. So a lot depends on that.

    So, if typing notes isn't viable I'd consider the iPad-computer combo. My choice would be the base 13" MBP, although you don't mention it. Same price as the base iMac, but it can be moved if you like, and is more than adequate for your needs. The base iPad and MBP would give you money to spare from your £1500.

    If you can, and want, to type in lectures I'd go for the 13" MBA as the sole machine. Upgrading to 4GB RAM is a must, although an update is expected soon. I'd invest in a good external hard drive as well. Remember, some university halls of residence have ethernet only and a ban on wifi networks, so a USB-Ethernet adapter would use up one port. Should still come in on budget there.

    So much depends on your university, more than you might think. Mine was very old fashioned, and one of my fellow chemists spent 3 years without a computer at all, just going to the library to check emails a couple of times a day. Some of my friends doing computer science at a more modern university obviously had good quality computers! I'd go somewhere like the studentroom.co.uk and see what people say from your future uni. You don't want to get it wrong, maybe even take your current computer with you and ask some people during fresher's week when the only thing you will need is a strong liver! Then order your chosen Macs, which will arrive quickly.

    Are you aware that in addition to the 15% you also get a free 3 year warranty on Macs online? That will save another £50 or so. See here.
     
  8. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #8
    I'd recommend completely against that if he wants to do any serious amount of video editing. The time they'll waste waiting for it to compress and export compared to a iMac would be a massive waste. iMac + MacBook Air gets you the best of both worlds: The 11" is perfectly adequate for anything your ever going to want to do in lectures, and give it a week to get used to its keyboard and you can type just as fast on it as any other machine, and the iMac is brilliant for video editing/rendering and also is powerful enough to run just about anything their likely to want to run for the next 4 years with sheer ease.
     
  9. iStudentUK, Jun 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011

    iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Location:
    London
    #9
    I'm guessing money is a big factor for a student. Given 4GB RAM is necessary in the MBA as you can't upgrade later, even with the discount the iMac + 11" Air is heading towards £1750, that's without accessories like a case. Given the free 3 year warranty buying new as a UK student makes a lot of sense.

    OP, if you have the money the 2 Macs will be good. One desktop and one laptop covers all situations. However, it is a lot of computing power and a lot of money! If you go for one Mac (which really should be enough) I'd sacrifice a bit of power for mobility. Uni is very sociable and you may find yourself working in groups, in the library or just messing around with friends so having a laptop is great. I had a desktop my first year and replaced it with a laptop in my second. Be a student, uni should be about getting away from you computer as soon as your work is done- leave iMovie to do its stuff and go grab a pint!
     
  10. SPBMacintosh macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    #10
    Other then for video editing, the 11inch would be perfect! [​IMG] but you could always get an external monitor too?
     
  11. aeneid macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2011
    Location:
    California
    #11
    To be honest, I considered everything you did. Here is what I did:

    I just went with a 13" MBP. Reason being is that I needed it for basic tasks, such as word processing, powerpoints, surfing the web, watching videos and movies. I'm also a major gamer, and to let you know the 13" MBP, base model with core 2 duo (I got it December 2010 for Christmas) is more than capable of gaming. I've played Left 4 Dead on the Mac side, and COD Modern Warfare on high graphics with Windows XP and 7 running in boot camp. I thought 13" would be too small but, seeing as how I have it now and used it, I find it just the right size. I also edit videos in Adobe Premiere Pro and it runs fine. It does take some time to render, just like the dude said, but frankly I've edited videos in Final Cut Pro on an iMac, and for me they take the same time. I haven't noticed anything faster, but then again they are school iMacs...I've also done a bit of animation and CGI in After Effects and although it takes a while to render with bigger files the ones I work with are just fine. If you upgrade the ram I'm sure you'll be fine. Ive had no difficulties yet. And the 13" is portable enough and light weight. I found that for awhile, while I was in HS it was relatively easy to lug the 13" around. The 15" would be way to big. And sometimes it is a hassle. Sometimes... The iMac would be best for video editing, unless you're planning on getting into it hardcore, then I'd say get a Pro, but you lack the funds for it.

    I think for the things you'd be doing it be better to just get a 13" MBP, maybe upgraded a bit, especially now that they have the i3 available to MBP 13". No need for an iMac or Air. If you want get a 15". Personally if I were you, get an upgraded 13" with an external monitor for home use. Typing on the iPad for notes is terrible long run. Or if you really want get an 11" Air for portability and an upgraded iMac of some kind.

    Just speaking from my own experiences. But really it's up to you and what you prefer.
     
  12. cloudTiger macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Location:
    South Carolina
    #12
    Just registered to reply to the OP and feel the same way as Young Spade above....

    In any event, I'm holding out to get my wife a refreshed 13" Air, but thinking along similar lines WRT also wanting a bigger desk system for the house. I have a 2011 15" MBP that is my first Mac and has converted me.

    Now I'm thinking 27" iMac for the house and kids, etc. (I don't always bring my laptop home from work daily). OR - wait and get a 27" ACD + refreshed macmini when they roll it out in a month or 2. I doubt it will have quite the power of the iMac, but should be sufficient for most tasks, plus can leave it on 24/7 for Plexx and media sharing. I figure it will cost roughly the same $, plus I've never been comfortable with All-in-ones.

    As the mac mini ages, it can still be useful as a media device in the game room, etc. if I want to keep it around - and I can move the ACD around as I want.

    Being a student, you're in a different situation - but thought I would point out the ACD + refreshed mini option just to give you more to think on.

    The one problem I would have with all this nice hardware on campus is theft. I'm already paranoid about my hardware in my own house... can't imagine the worry of being a student.

    Good luck!

    (now off to figure out how to add a sig line to my account.)
     
  13. macman312 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia --> Cincinnati,OH
    #13
    Very with airdrop in Mac OS X lion or using icloud especially if you use apples iwork.

    In response to your original question I would go for The Imac and the 11"air or even the 13" air ( I agree that 13" is a bit small) You could try getting a refurbished current gen macpro and the + of doing that is that if you got the macpro + the 11" air you could use your macpro's screen if you needed to work on something on your air.

    I am pretty sure though (someone pls confirm) that the current gen imacs you can use the imac as a external display in target mode.
     
  14. iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Location:
    London
    #14
    I think they can be used as an external, but only through thunderbolt. Not 100% on that.

    The excellent student discount in the UK (15%) and free warranty means buying a refurb isn't very appealing.

    OP, looks like opinion is quite split!
     
  15. abroyle3 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    #15
    I would recommend going to iPad plus iMac or Mac mini route. I am currently an engineering student and I use my ipad for everything. It holds all of my ebooks and solutions manuals. Also, when it comes to taking notes I bought an app called notetaker hd that let me write directly on my ipad using a stylus. Typing isn't too much of an issue since most of my notes are equations etc. When it comes to portable web browsing and light computing, nothing (that I've found) is better than the iPad IMO. When it comes to the heavy duty work you would then have a powerful enough desktop at home. The Mac mini allowed me to save a lot of money on cable each month (seeing as im a broke college student) by watching tv shows online through my HDTV using the hdmi hookup. the 2gb of ram doesn't seem like much but I have yet to see any lag. If need be, you can always upgrade the ram to 8gb. I have yet to encounter a task that this tag team of apple products cannot handle.
     
  16. ebolamonkey3 macrumors regular

    ebolamonkey3

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Location:
    Boston
    #16
    I would definitely go with the MBA 11" over the iPad any day. It's much nicer to type on a physical keyboard and the MBA screen is both physically larger than the iPad screen and has a higher resolution. So if you weren't going to be happy with the MBA 11" because of its size, you won't be happy with the iPad either.

    TBH, the iPad is a great consumption device, but not so good at taking notes and stuff unless you want to write everything (with your finger) instead of typing down notes.

    And yes, iMac over old Mac Pro. Unless you need 12-core crunching or a better video card for gaming, there's not much need for the Mac Pro.
     

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