Should I help my 13 year old buy his own macbook?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by TheEpicGlitch, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. TheEpicGlitch macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2015
    Hello, I'm new here and a parent of two 11 and 13 year old boys, 2.5 years ago they bought their own laptops that could play minecraft and other PC games (the specs were actually quite good back then), they bought these with their own money that they got from doing chores and Christmas presents. Their laptops work fine for games but they are starting to show their age in their overall preforance. I am new to apple products and never really liked them to begin with.

    Now to my question, awhile ago I told my (more mature than average) 13 year old son that I would buy him an ultrabook when he starts grade 8 next year, because he is currently using his 3rd gen ipad with a keyboard on it for school, the ipad is starting to show its age (he bought it grade 4). It was his birthday a few weeks ago and has been saving his money from his allowance for awhile, and after all of that he has about CAD850$ and he just got his own bank account. Just today he asked if I would help him pay for the rest of a 13inch MacBook Air, because I told him I would buy him a small and thin laptop with good battery for school (his current laptop is extremely heavy, thick and has only about 3hrs of battery)

    I am really stuck because I am worried he won't take care of it, or it will be stolen at school, but it is his own money and I did agree to buy a laptop for him in the coming months.
  2. gregvet macrumors regular


    Jan 21, 2008
    Brighton, UK
    Re sons laptop

    Obviously none of us on here can decide what is right for you and your son, but I think that, as long as he understands that it is not a toy, and is costing a lot of money, there is no reason why he shouldn't have one.

    Generally Mac laptops have a much longer life expectancy than an equivalent pc model, with apple ensuring compatibility with up to date versions of the operating system (OSX) for a number of years, so it may not actually work out being more expensive in the long run. This depends on it not getting broken or stolen tho, of course!

    I would say go for it. The current MacBook airs are really surprisingly powerful and should do him for a long time. You could always go for a refurbished model from last year and save a few hundred dollars, from the Apple Store online.

    Could you get it insured perhaps for peace of mind?
  3. xylitol macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2013
    You promised to buy him an ultraportable laptop and now you're hesitant to partly finance his machine of choice?

    Anyway, as we here, by and large, like Apple products, and on this forum especially MBAs, why would we say no? :)
  4. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    You already made a deal. If he doesn't take care of it, then he goes back to using the school's old computers even if he has to stay late.
  5. Abbara macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2014
    Well look I think it's fair to say he deserves an upgrade if his computer is slow. But I'm not exactly sure why it'd have to be an ultrabook. Minecraft can be played on a $25 raspberry pi, or any cheap $300 computer if you'd want. Doesn't have to happen on a $1k machine.

    If he wants to do more serious gaming (which is fine in a balanced life with school, sports, friends & family imo) then really, don't get a Macbook Air. Hell don't even get a Mac. Any PC or Console is better value for gaming, and more optimized for gaming.

    As for school work, youtube, facebook, netflix, skype, email. All of that is more than fine on cheaper computers. If you look at the specs of a MBA, you can blow it out the water with a $400 desktop.

    Now it's been 7 years since high school for me, but we never really needed to bring laptops to school, especially not at age 13. Whether the school requires him to bring a laptop, and use a laptop in class, is really important here. If so, sure a portable, light device with a long battery life is useful, and a MBA is a really, really great machine.

    But if he just needs books in school, a desktop in his room will either give him same performance and save him $500 that he can spend on lots of fun stuff (like a console you can actually game on), or he can spend the same $1k and get a much, much better performing computer that can actually do serious gaming.

    So let us know if it's necessary for school. Otherwise, PC in his room to do homework, play games etc. iPad for in the living room and holidays. He has his phone. It's not like kids bring their laptop to friends' homes and need to show off (at least nobody ever did back in the day for me).

    Of course that just answers what's the smartest thing to do. If he wants to buy, with his own money, an expensive laptop that is overpowered for school work, but underpowered for serious gaming, that never really leaves his room and could just as well be a more powerful desktop and save him $500 of his own hard earned money.... that's his choice. We all want to buy shiny stuff. I'd definitely let him, but not before making him understand that it might not be the smartest thing, and to try and articulate why he'd still want the thing, there's value in that in my opinion.

    As for concerns about theft... I'd tell him that if he buys it, you'll pay for insurance. But that if he loses it, there are consequences (e.g. he has to buy something cheaper, or pay for insurance himself the 2nd time or w/e). I don't think this is the biggest concern, but you'll need to be willing to insure the thing.

    As for the actual device itself... MBA is really great, but the 2015 model isn't much better than 2013-2014. I'd get a new MBA 2014 for $100-200 off.

    I'd also consider the Dell XPS and the new Asus Zenbook UX305. They're both a bit better and cheaper, in my opinion. Thin, light, long batteries and quite powerful, but with nicer screens, and the base models are a bit cheaper than the new base model MBA. But you do get Windows instead of OS X. I've always used Windows as a kid and am fine with it (I need OS X for work). But that can be a dealbreaker for some, and on these forums for many :p
  6. Idefix macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2012
    2 things:

    he needs more of an all-around machine that doesn't need dongles out the kazoo.

    and it's never too early to learn money-sense, namely don't do for pie-in-the-sky.

    I'd get him a refurb 13" MBA, like this one for $889

    one-year warranty
    weighs only one pound more than the new MB (2.96#)
    has magsafe, has ports for phone etc, and SDXC card slot (in case he gets into photography like my son did.)

    When he goes off to college, that'll be the time for better laptop.
  7. Cjshino macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2012
  8. TheEpicGlitch thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2015
    Yes I know, I just don't know if I can justify my kid and I spending 1257$ on a laptop with just ok specs

    Plus MacBooks are much more expensive here in Canada

    For this

    13inch MBA
    1.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz
    Intel HD Graphics 6000
    8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
    128GB PCIe-SSD

    The price in Canada (with k-12 edu discount) 1257$

    The price in USA (no edu discount) 1099$
  9. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    I have two boys as well, who are now older than your sons, but I have dealt with kind of situation a couple of times. If you feel they are responsible, then I really think your only option is to help in the cost of a new computer. You did say that you would buy him a new one and I think your son has come up with a great compromise for you to consider.

    Now I also have to agree with Idefix in that maybe it should be a refurb Mac. They are every bit a new computer with a full year warranty that can be extended to 3 years. With the money you save on a refurb, can go towards the extended warranty. Go here to see what kind of a deal you can get on a refurb.

    When I make a deal with my boys, I follow up on it. My boys both wanted an iPhone 5s for Xmas and got them. I gave them a set amount and anything beyond that was up to them to pay for. You can also define some of the rules if you are partly paying for the new computer. As you have stated, your boy is more than mature and deserves that new computer so he should not complain if you set a few easy to follow rules.

    Good luck with whatever decision you make.
  10. TheEpicGlitch thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2015
    That would be a great deal, but here in Canada that same computer is $1,049.

    About the card slot, that's good to know, considering he is starting to take a liking to photography.
  11. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    He's owned a computer for 2½ years already. If he took care of that one reasonably well, there's no reason to think he'd be less responsible with a Mac.

    BTW, that 1099 USD is 1,344.54 after the exchange. It's not Apple's fault our dollar has lost so much value.
  12. TheEpicGlitch thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2015
    Ok, even though I am still not sure if I will help him buy one, but if I am going to, I would Like to know which model the MBA would be the best.
  13. iamMacPerson macrumors 68030


    Jun 12, 2011
    I'd get the 13" with the base 1.6GHz i5 but with the 8GB of RAM and think about getting the 256GB SSD so he doesn't have to carry a hard drive. 128GB is very, very small. I have a 256GB SSD in my Mac Pro and I find myself squeezing by on space but I'm also doing a lot more intensive things.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Apple has any MBAs with 8GB of RAM in the refurbished store unless you want to get the 512GB SSD. The 8GB of RAM is an additional CAD$120. You can skip the SSD upgrade and just get him a small USB 3 hard drive to carry around but if he drops it there goes the data.
  14. TheEpicGlitch, Mar 19, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015

    TheEpicGlitch thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2015
    Storage shouldn't be TOO much of an issue considering we have a 4TB family NAS and most of his schoolwork his saved in the cloud (Also he could use SD cards for some extra storage)

    I am worried about buying refurbished because I want this to last him at least to the middle of high school (3-5 years), will buying refurbished shorten the macs lifespan?
  15. iamMacPerson macrumors 68030


    Jun 12, 2011
    No not at all. Unlike most computer vendors, Apple's refurbished machines are practically new. I found out recently that their computers do have reused case components, however they are of a high quality. I have owned several refurbished Macs and iPads and they never gave me problems and have all looked new. Heck, my current video editing machine, a 2013 Mac Pro, was bought refurbished and it looks and operates like new, but I saved 15% off retail!

    Apple tests their logic boards extensively. If they are faulty, they get sent back through the remanufacturing process or just recycled. Plus, if something does go wrong with the machine it is covered with a 1-year warranty for manufacture defects which can be extended to 3 years. Of course, this warranty doesn't cover drops, spills, accidental damage or loss, normal wear, etc, but it will cover any problems that develop because of a defect.

    Apple is the only computer manufacture to actually back their refurbished products as if they were brand new. That's why I have no problem buying refurbished machines directly from Apple.
  16. TheEpicGlitch thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2015
    Thats really good to know! But I was more concerned that with older specs it will not be current enough in 3-5 years.
  17. MacAndMic macrumors 6502

    Jun 4, 2009
    I have 2 kids at similar ages to yours. What I did was buy a Mac Air that I call the "family computer". All of us have our own logins and the kids can do their school work from this computer, Mom and Dad do boring stuff like this ;).

    My view on computers / kids / school is that kids now require computers for assignments, study tools through school portals and general knowledge. As a parent, I do feel it is my obligation to give my kids the tools they need much like how my parents made sure we had encyclopedias, which were not cheap either.

    As far as the kids are concerned, this computer is for school work! We have an iPad and an Android Tablet that are for playing games (both bought by me and designated as "family" as well). They will use the Air for non-school stuff as well but they know the rules and if someone needs it for real work, it is handed over without complaint.

    This "system" has worked great with little complaints for us. It has also given us a reasonable amount of control with time and even areas of the house they are allowed to take devices and helps with monitoring what they do online.
  18. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    There isn't much difference technically between the current model MacBook Air and the 2013 or 2014 models.
  19. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    The relationship between you and your son is more important than $$$.

    You promised to buy him a macbook. Do not break your promise.

    Since you already seem to have speced it bto, I'd recommend buying a rmbp 13".
  20. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

    Apr 11, 2014
    You should buy it for him or at least finance it. You're his dad...
  21. dyt1983, Mar 20, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    edit: To remove personally identifying information not relevant to the thread.
  22. TheEpicGlitch thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2015
    First, I didn't promise him a macbook, I promised him a thin laptop that could fit in his bag easyily and with good battery

    Second on the rMBP, those start at $1499 here, a bit to expensive for a notebook he will bring to school everyday.
  23. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I misread.
    In that case just get him a 11" base model. Those can be had on sale for a very cheap.
    I would trll him not to play games on it. Get him a Playstation for that.
  24. TheEpicGlitch thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2015
    Lol, he doesn't need to play games on a Mac, he has a PS4 which him and his brother bought in September, and his current laptop plays GAMES ok, just the win8 without touch screen is clunky, and the laptops takes 10-20min to start working well after cold boot, and about 5-10min from sleep mode. That is why he needs a new computer for school.
  25. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    That is grotesque. A macbook air takes about 20-30 seconds to boot and up to 5 seconds max to wake from sleep (usually instant).

    This is why I would never ever buy a windows computer.

    I would look into one of the base mbas that are on sale at electronic stores.
    Coming from a crappy windows laptop, as you are describing, your sons will be completely blown away by the mba.

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