Student wait or buy now for MBA/MB?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dc433, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. dc433 macrumors newbie

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    Feb 2, 2016
    #1
    Hi! I'm in the market for a new laptop. I'm a high school junior looking for something that could get me through at least a little bit of college. Weird time to buy a laptop now instead of college, I know, but my classes this year and next year require something easier to take notes on than my current iPad. I do have a late 2013 iMac that I use for the heavy photo editing/managing work I do, but my needs for this laptop would be pretty much standard for a student—Internet browsing, word processing (Pages), research, etc.

    I'm currently looking at the rMB and the MBA. I'd be looking at the 8GB RAM, 256 GB version of the 13" MBA which would make it the same price as the rMB which is why I bring that one up. Maybe I don't even need the 8GB RAM? While the fewer ports and less power on the rMB doesn't bother me now, would you think it would be an issue for a college student 3 or so years down the road (probably not going to be an engineering or graphics design major, so big software requirements)?

    And with the new models maybe being released in March or June, should I hold off? Would a 2016 rMB or MBA be possibly that much better for a student than the 2015 versions?

    Thank you so much!! :)
     
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #2
    Both those machines are due an update in the next few months wait if you can. There is some uncertainty about the MBA ever being updated again though so it could be a fruitless wait if that's what you are after.
     
  3. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #3
    If your intention is really to buy a computer now that will last you through college, wait. Other than the rMB all Apple computers are really at the end of their life-cycle and I would expect this year's updates to be significant. It's not so much that you will notice or appreciate those changes in the next few months or year, but that over the 5 years you'll own the computer, waiting will get you one that remains a lot more relevant over that entire time.
     
  4. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68030

    Ulenspiegel

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    #4
    That is true, "all Apple computers are really at the end of their life-cycle", "other than the rMB" which is really at the very beginning of its life-cycle.
     
  5. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #5
    Can't agree with that CPU and GPU upgrades will make the next round of portables marginally more relevant for a year or two at most.
     
  6. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #6
    It isn't the CPU and GPU updates that will matter. (Other than in the rMB where the GPU updates will allow them to drive 4k and other high resolution monitors which will extend their usefulness).

    Next revision of Apple laptops will almost certainly incorporate things like usb-c and Thunderbolt 3 which will open up all sorts of charging and peripheral options. Farther fetched options that are also supported include support for wireless charging and WiGig for wireless docking. They will be a new form factor considerably thinner and lighter than the current generation, with the 13"-ish model likely dropping to 3lbs or below.

    Like it or not, the current generation laptop lineup, with the exception of the rMB, is on the tail end of its life-cycle, using the same basic design developed in 2008, updated in 2012. They are solid computers, but for someone intending to use the computer for the next 5 years, and who isn't in dire need of a new computer now, waiting is the prudent option. A computer bought today may find itself locked out of certain new features in as little as 2-4 years. The next generation will likely see updates for 6-7.
     
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #7
    We'll have to agree to disagree, there are no Tb3 peripherals yet and USB3 and thunderbolt 2 will be fine for a decade and the only benefits to Tb3 are 5k screen support and an extra 10%performance on eGpu solutions (although that will change with time) USB C means nothing it's just a different connector. Nothing in OP shows any need for these abilities now or in the future.

    There is no indication of a redesign, none, no rumours or insider info, just an idea that we'll see an updated MBA with no real changes, the same for the rMBP.

    Also no laptop should be expected to be relevant for more than 5 years it may be of course but history shows that's the beginning of the end of their usable life.

    I'm not saying they shouldn't wait if they can just that waiting won't give them all that much.
     
  8. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #8
    Like I say. This won't look all that important today. But a couple of years from now, a MacBook bought 3-6 months from now is going to be a lot more relevant and modern than one bought today. And it will almost certainly receive updates and support for years longer. There are often times when waiting is not worth the effort. That would have covered most of the last few years. But for someone who doesn't need a new computer today, and is asking whether they should wait, if not now, then never.
     
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #9
    Nothing in recent history supports your assertions about OSX at worst it'll be supported for a year less and the current one is fine on most macs made in the last 8 years.

    I agreed that if they can wait they should, I just don't agree that the next generation will be any great improvement or make much difference over time and only time will prove either of us right or wrong on that count.

    I just give my answers argue my opinion and leave the decision up to the OP.
     
  10. campyguy macrumors 68030

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    #10
    Wait. Three reasons.

    First, Apple will be refreshing all of their product lines to accommodate new chipsets - Skylake isn't a huge leap in speed, but the port speeds will blow away what's on current Macs. Read on.

    Second, I run a small business and have vendors bothering, er, trying to sell me products and showing me "what's next". New displays, drive enclosures, printers, and other peripherals will be moving to the TB3/USB-C port - even the new Apple TV has a USB-C port. I want new hardware - PCs, drives/arrays, Macs - I'm waiting. I've cut my ties with eSATA, Firewire, Wireless N - and about to do the same with existing tech. Also, consider that you'll need adapters for peripherals - and, then..., you'll need to buy more adapters for the TB3/USB-C stuff that's about to flood the market, so why spend money on adapters twice?

    Third. Wait for Apple's "Back To School" sale in late summer - it's made for persons like yourself. Look for competitor's sales on Macs - Best Buy, B&H Photo, Adorama often match Apple's pricing and include extras like free AppleCare, no tax collection, gift cards...
     
  11. alecgold macrumors 6502a

    alecgold

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    #11
    This is the ever recurring dilemma; buy now or wait for something new that is yet to be announced. You have to realize there is always something new, there will always be upgrades.

    That being said, I have to agree with campyguy and Zhenya that if you can wait a few months you'll have a good chance of buying a laptop with small updates that don't matter much today. But in 4-5 years those updates might give a lot more usability out of your laptop. I've seen it with the 64-bits processors, they didn't give that much more speed/power etc but in the long run it proved much longer supported with new OS-updates and new functionality that did matter to me. So if you can wait and you have the intention of using the laptop for as long as possible? Wait!

    If your iPad hampers your studies or there are tasks that can't be done on an iPad you should buy what is available right now.
    (And MBA13 vs rMB is a tough call! A Retina display vs a old school but slightly bigger one, a heavier processor vs a bit underwhelming processor, different feeling of typing and so much different feel to hold/carry them oh, and the identical battery life... Really tough call! I choose the iPad pro cellular model with keyboard an pencil so I didn't have to make that choice :D :D :D
     
  12. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #12
    The general rule is "if you need it now, buy it now; if you don't need it now, wait." From your description, OP, you don't really need it now. I'd wait for a refresh if I were you.
     
  13. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #13
    Agreed.

    I'd amend that to read "If you need it, but it now; however, if you merely want it, wait awhile."

    There is always a third option - which would be a refurb MBA to see you through a year or two after which, you could always sell it on when significant upgrades occur which would make the purchase of a new computer a worthwhile investment.
     
  14. Ankaa macrumors 6502

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    Jul 27, 2008
    #14
    I jump onto this thread because I'm kind of in the same position. I'm in the market for a new MBA and I definitely want an Air (so no MB or MBP-option). I would like to wait, but at the same time I'm seriously afraid they might drop the MBA after all. You guys seem quite optimistic that won't happen...
     
  15. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #15
    We don't know, as none of us can predict the future.

    However, as the owner of a number of Airs since 2010, I can say unhesitatingly that the 2013 model (and subsequent ones) is the best computer I have ever owned. This is a computer that hits the sweet spot of power, capacity, and portability. (And cost).

    The early Airs - although beautifully designed were underpowered and lacked a capacious memory. That was remedied on subsequent models.

    If the model is discontinued, - and I, personally, do not see that happening just yet, as the MB is still underpowered, just as the early MBAs were - I have no doubt that you will be able to buy it as a refurb for some time.
     
  16. Ankaa macrumors 6502

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    Jul 27, 2008
    #16
    I'm an Air-user myself (first-gen and 2012 - although the 2011-model), and I totally agree: to me the Air is the best macbook out there in terms of the combination of power, portability etc.

    However, if I'd be buying now, I'd opt for 8 GBs instead of 4. I always use my Macs around 4 or more years. I start noticing mine is starting to not having enough power for the tasks I need it to do. It's my primary computer and while I don't need a Pro, I do need just a little bit of power for work.

    BTO-models usually don't end up in the refurbish-store.
     
  17. Scepticalscribe, Feb 5, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #17
    Well, mine is actually a CTO (i7, 8GB, 512 GB SSD); and I agree about the 8 GB. Actually, I went from a 2 GB (in my 2010 MBA) straight to 8 GB and was stunned by the difference between them.

    However, I have seen some of these models in the refurb store occasionally - one or two as recently as this past week - and it may be well worth your while to seek them out and wait for one to show up.
     

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