Suggestions please - New computer for college!

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Jeff60468, Jun 22, 2013.

  1. Jeff60468 macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2013
    So, my daughter will start college in the fall to study nursing, and we plan on buying her a laptop for her Birthday/Graduation. We have never owned an apple computer before but have heard great reviews. We would like this computer to last her 4-years and would like to keep the price around the $1500 dollar range. At first we looked at the MacBook pro with Retina, but then we heard about the Macbook Air was updated recently. So then I began researching the Air and decided on the i7, 8GB and 256 model, until I read about possible over-heating and battery life issues. Now I'm even more confused about which one to purchase, the i5 or i7? I'm sure that she would be happy with anything we get her, but we are just looking for a decent price on something that will last and not become out-dated a few years from now. Also, I'm crossing my fingers for a Back to School special too. Thanks in advance for your guidance!
  2. B... macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    i5/256/4. 8 if budget allows. The i7 would be pretty useless for uses like word processing, browsing and email. Does nursing require any resource-heavy applications?
  3. Jeff60468 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2013
    Thanks for your feedback

    I'm not really sure what nursing course applications she'll use on this laptop, which is one part of the problem in deciding between the i5 and i7. I just want to make sure it has the power/performance to do what it needs for her coursework.
  4. SeanR1 macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2009
  5. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2010
    London, UK
    I would go with the i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and maybe 256 GB hard drive.

    4GB of RAM will probably be enough for today, but if you want it to last then I recommend 8GB, since you can't upgrade later and the upgrade is cheap.

    The i7 does not seem worth it, as unless you're running intensive applications the difference will not be noticeable - if it was a quad-core, it'd be a different story but in the Air both the i5 and the i7 are dual core.

    As for hard drive, I personally went for 128GB because I thought the upgrade was too expensive and I already own several external hard drives. If you can afford it, 256GB is a good option though.

    As for Back to School specials, I am now convinced that it will not happen. I was waiting for it too, but in the end I just went for it and ordered. If BTS is announced within 14 days of you receiving your laptop, I'm sure you can call Apple and ask them to give you the gift card.
  6. gt94 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2013
  7. mattferg macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    I'm off to college (university in the UK) in September and I bought a new 2013 Air with the 8GB upgrade, but I'm bringing a desktop too (I'm a technical theatre student). I'd say give her that + the 256gb SSD and the laptop'll last her years and years :)
  8. MeatRocket macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2013
    In the Sandbox
    Jeff, I'm not being a Debbie Downer here, but you say you guys have never used an Apple computer before. Are you sure it's going to be a good investment for her? If she's used to Windows & knows how to get it to do everything she needs, throwing a new OS wrench into the works of her 1st year of school might not be the best thing. I'm not bashing Mac, as I'm moving to Mac from Windows, but there is a learning curve there. That learning curve thrown on top of her schoolwork might provide more frustration than assistance. Perhaps you should talk it over with your daughter to see if she has a preference?
    My daughter had a Windows 7 laptop her 1st term and then upgraded to Windows 8. That was not without its complications so I couldn't imagine throwing her into the deep end of the OS X pool with no experience & compounding it with crunch time associated with doing her papers and such.

    And about the nursing applications - are you sure they're available for Mac?
  9. scaredpoet, Jun 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007

    First, wait if you can until August. Two things may happen:

    1. There will be a Back to School promotion, which Apple does every year. usually it's something along the lines of a free iPod, or a $100 iTunes gift card, or something of that nature, when you buy a Mac.

    2. The MacBook Pro line MAY get the same updates as the MacBook AIr by then, in which case you should consider them.

    If the Pros don't come out with new hardware by then, then get the Air.

    You want this to last for four years, so I would recommend getting 8GB of RAM, and the highest level of SSD drive you can afford, 512GB if you can. The i5 processor should be fine, doubtful you'll need the i7.

    Looks like UMich requires MS Office. Your best, cheapest bet is to get Office 365 University, which is $79 for four years of online Office 365 access, plus a copy of Office for Mac, which should update with Microsoft comes out with a new version in 2014, PLUS Ms Office (mac or windows) for one other computer, PLUS the iPhone version.

    Also, get a Thunderbolt to ethernet adapter, as UMich mentions that some classes may require Ethernet.

    Lastly, consider getting AppleCare for the new MacBook you get. You don't have to get it right away, so long as you purchase and register it before the original 1-year warranty runs out.

    Oh, and get ALL of the Apple stuff using the education discount! You can save a hundred bucks or so that way.
  10. Mlrollin91 macrumors G5


    Nov 20, 2008
    Ventura County
    If you want something to last up to 4 years or maybe a little longer, I would recommend a 13" MacBook Pro, not retina. Though it is heavier than both the retina and air, I feel it is more sturdy. My MacBook Pro lasted me almost 4 years before I decided to upgrade. Since then I have been using an Air, but I upgrade frequently, and don't know if the Air would be as durable for a long period of time.
  11. Jeff60468, Jun 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013

    Jeff60468 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2013
    Thank you for your input

    I want to thank you for all your advice. I did some back to school research, and in years past, Apple offered $100 itune giftcards. But, these offers usually begin the middle of June and run through Sept. I think we can wait until after the 4th of July, but she's getting excited and wants some time to learn about her new system before school begins(which I can understand). So, from the feedback so far, I think the i5, 8GB and either the 256 or 512 should pretty much make her day. Thanks again!

    I did talk to my daughter and she said her advisor told her that many kids there have macs, so that is not a problem. I think she will pick up on the new OS system pretty quick with the help of friends, and the mac was her choice in computers.

    As far as the Thunderbolt adapter, can anyone explain what this is in pretty simple terms to me? Internet connection maybe? Thanks
  12. falconeight Guest


    Apr 6, 2010
    If you get a macpro with the same specs as the base rMBP it cost exactly the same except your screen sucks and you get a disc drive.
  13. SusanK macrumors 68000

    Oct 9, 2012
    Education discount

    Jeff, don't forget to apply the discount for students when you buy the Mac.
  14. JoeG4 macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2002
    Bay Area, Ca.
    The Air is a lovely machine! They have great battery life and only require a tiny power brick. After having mine a year I'd be slightly apprehensive about it lasting 4 years as a primary machine though lol.

    Then again I usually replace my laptops in 2-3 years. >>

    Either way, best of luck!
  15. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Yes, it's for internet access.

    Basically, there's two main ways to connect to the internet: using WiFi (wireless internet access), and using a physical connection (ethernet). With Wifi, you're not tied down and can take your laptop anywhere with range of the wifi base station, but ethernet is usually much faster.

    All Macs come with WiFi built in, but the MacBook Air and retina MacBook pros need the adapter if you want an ethernet connection.
  16. Jeff60468 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2013
    Thanks Poet

    I will be sure to pick up the Thunderbolt adapter. That must have sounded like a stupid question, but I'm not very up to date on things. Thanks for the straight-forward answer and everyones comments/suggestions.

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