Which MacBook Pro For College?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ComicStix, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. ComicStix macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts

    I'm going to college in August and I want to buy a macbook pro. I had a mac in the past but my house got struck by lightening and it got fried :( So for the last couple years I've had a Windows. I will be studying computer science at college and I've heard that if I use parallels I won't have a problem doing my computer science work. My budget is under $1500 so I've been looking at the Macbook Pro 13". I'm not looking at the retina because I don't really think I need to have superb screen resolution.

    I will be using this computer for schoolwork (word, web browsing, movies, iTunes) and for programming. I like web development and movie editing so I'll be running Dreamweaver (I'll be using this a lot during the term) and Final Cut Pro (not during the term but when I'm on break). I'll be running Photoshop occasionally. The only games I play are Portal 1 and 2 on Steam.

    I was thinking of getting an external monitor also so I have more screen real estate to work on programming projects. I don't want to get the 15" because it's too heavy and big for me to carry around to class.

    I'm wondering if I should get the MBP 13" 2.5 GHz or 2.9 GHz? I'm also thinking of upgrading the RAM myself or should I just pay Apple to do it?

    Also, do any of you know if Apple is having any back to school sales this year? Like the "buy a mac get an ipod" or "buy a mac get a printer"? Should I wait for these deals or could I just go out and buy a macbook this week?

  2. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    Im not sure on the CPU bit, but I would reccomend buying RAM off newegg and changing it yourself, its a lot cheaper than paying apple for it. Apple usualy has that sale every year, so I say wait for it. If the sale doesnt happen a week before school starts, just go ahead and get your mac then. I think lately all they have been doing is itunes giftcards, which doesnt seem too awesome, but free something is better than nothing right?
  3. cxc273 macrumors regular

    Dec 12, 2012
    I work at a university and the first thing you should do is check with your college to make sure you're coming to school with the right gear, especially since you intend on studying computer science.

    In terms of keeping things inexpensive, I would advise you check out Apple's line of refurbished MacBook Pros. You can save a decent amount of money on them and they're indistinguishable from the retail version. The only real difference is that the box is not the same as you would normally get in the store. A 2.9 Ghz 13" MBP with 8 GB of RAM currently goes for $1269, which is $230 less than retail. A 2.5 Ghz with 4 GB of RAM goes for $1019.

    If you decide to go the regular route, you can still take advantage of Apple's education discount, which typically offers about $100 off the retail price.

    The back-to-school promo should be starting soon, and they typically offer a $100 iTunes gift card. I am not sure if buying a refurbed machine counts, but it certainly would for the education discount. According to rumor, the promo should start within a week.

    With regards to RAM, it's less expensive to buy your own and install it. Newegg is an excellent place to go.
  4. NewishMacGuy macrumors 6502a


    Aug 2, 2007
    Anything shy of the uMBP-15 is going to seriously crimp your gaming style as you'll be lacking a dGPU.

    While all the Apple laptops now work very well docking with the (beautiful and awesome to work on) ATD, only the 15"ers could really be considered desktop replacements, but you may not need a desktop replacement.

    Jeez folks, what's with all the weaklings? Neither the uMBP-15 nor (especially) the rMBP-15 are heavy - particularly when you're not carrying lots of huge textbooks and notebooks for school anymore.

    If you can avoid it - by buying the uMBP - don't ever pay Apple for any sort of upgrade, as you'll be overpaying significantly. For your purposes (and in most cases) the chip upgrades don't buy you much additional performance unless you go from dual core to quad core (13" to 15").

    See where this is headed?

    The 13"ers are more than fine as basic laptops for household/student stuff, but if you want to do anything at all computing intensive (including gaming), you need the 15"er.

  5. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020


    May 16, 2013
    Kansas, USA
    Definitely check with your computer science program for suggestions. Depending on the size of the program, they may have computer labs running Windows and Linux that you can use for big projects. A friend of mine just graduated with a comp sci degree and doesn't own a laptop. He went to the lab or used his desktop at home.

    Get something portable that you can take to class (like the 13" uMBP) and use the lab for big stuff. A monitor would probably be helpful too. Just know you'll need the right adapter if you don't want to drop the money on an Apple display :)

    I've used my 2009 13" MBP for the last 4 years of college. I'm a history major, and it's served my needs very well.
  6. desantim macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2012
    I graduated in CS a few years back and used a 15" pro for everything. They have labs everywhere that are encouraged to be used and really in a team atmosphere it's the only way. I'd also suggest waiting for start and see what is required or suggest by your college. Good luck and have fun!!!!
  7. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    The screen resolution on the 13" MBP is a bit cramped for programming and web development. Also I don't think you're really getting the full performance benefit of a 2012-2013 computer without a solid state disk.

    I would recommend either a 13" retina (refurbished) or a new 13" Air. The 13" retina has a nicer screen, and the 13" Air has longer battery life.

    The Back to School deal is rumored to be starting soon:

  8. NewishMacGuy macrumors 6502a


    Aug 2, 2007
    Both expensive ways to add an SSD, which can easily (and more cheaply) be done with a uMBP.

    Both also stick you with a less than perfect screen - still 13" and in the case of the MBA higher res but much lower quality.

  9. Grohowiak macrumors regular


    Nov 14, 2012
    You listed a lot of apps that you will use on Windows... Why buy a Mac then?

    http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-14/pd.aspx For example and you still save tons of $$.

    More RAM, more GPU, better cooling, more HD and you don't need to buy a copy of Windows.

    I understand that people want to buy a mac because it has that apple logo but what you need is a tool (that is why aesthetics are not a factor in this case) to best fit your needs. I'm not saying don't buy it but I've seen a bunch of people that go mac just because and unless you have $$ to throw away then what's the point?
  10. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    As far as I know all the apps he listed are available on Mac and Final Cut Pro is Mac exclusive.

    Going with a Windows laptop is a choice to consider but that seems like a weird recommendation. A 6lb laptop for college?

    Portal 1 and Portal 2 are fairly lightweight games and don't really call for a specialized gaming computer. They would probably run just fine on the Air's HD 5000 graphics.
  11. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    From what source? Find out specifically what you need. Don't operate on generalizations. Even if you Boot Camp and/or go virtual you need to factor in the cost of Windows as well.

    Your call. Is cost or convenience the bigger priority for you?

    The point is always highly subjective. Just because you don't see or understand a person's reason doesn't mean that the person doesn't have a reason. My MBP is the best Windows laptop I've owned so far.

    Windows laptops aren't all the same size and weight. Even Apple laptops aren't and there are far fewer options on this side of the fence.
  12. Grohowiak macrumors regular


    Nov 14, 2012
    So you wanted a Windows laptop in Mac body. That is a reason :D
  13. wanyuenmei macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2013
    I think the new 13" MBA would be pretty good maxed out. i7, 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD. It's $1749, but if you don't need that much SSD you can just stick to 256GB and you'd end up with $1479 which is right under your budget, plus you get the $100 gift card now that BTS is over!
  14. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    I was referring specifically to the Alienware 14" that was linked.
  15. ComicStix thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Do you guys think that the MBA would be able to handle a Computer Science curriculum? And I will e-mail the department tomorrow considering today is a holiday.

    I'm either thinking of getting the 13" uMBP or the 13" Air with 8GB RAM. But I'm really concerned with whether or not 256 GB will be sufficient for me.
  16. Timo12 macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2013
    I study CS and you'll be fine with 256GB, I have 128GB and it's sufficient. Just be smart with your storage and use cloud when you can.

    As far as the MBA goes, I'd really advise against it. Programs like Visual Studio can require alot of resources and you'd be better off with a MBP, however I would upgrade the RAM and SSD myself to save some bucks.

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