Best Apple Laptop for college?

So I’m starting college in the Fall and I need a good laptop to take with me. I have had several windows laptops in the past and they’ve failed within a couple of years. I want one that will last a while. I thought I’d ask you apple people :slight_smile: I’m torn between the original Macbook, Macbook Pro 13 inch, or the new Macbook Air.

Any advice? Thanks!

Have a think about what software you are going to use on it, and where you are using it.

Will you ‘just’ be using word processing, Internet and email? Or will it also be a photo heavy music making machine that plays the latest online games?

Will you be carrying it to lectures, the library, and everywhere?

Personally, I’d be tempted by the Air, but that’s based on my college experience not yours!

The Airs look fantastic, and I’d love one myself, but if it is to be your main (or only) computer you may be better off with the Pro. The MacBook Pros ship with larger capacity hard-drives and (I believe, I haven’t compared current models) more memory. If you do a lot of photography and/or video work, this will make a big difference especially as your work build up over time.

The plain-old MacBook has been discontinued, but it is a decent machine and you may be able to get it cheap as stores try to sell-down stock.

Whatever you get, I recommend getting it delivered with the largest hard drive and most memory you can afford. While both can be upgraded later, few people do.

Also buy an external hard drive for back ups. Mac OS X has a built-in back up program called Time Machine that is good enough for everyday use. While it’s not as full featured as some third party applications, it’s free (good!) and very user friendly.

Welcome to Mac! :smiley:

On the flip side of the Macbook pro’s larger hard drive capacity, the Air’s solid state drives mean fewer troubles over the years. The hard drive with moving parts (still the standard, and the cheapest option) is the weakest point in the machine. It can be replaced, but that will cost you valuable time when you can least afford it.

If it’s purely longevity that you are concerned about, my long-dead iBook (predecessor to the plastic Macbooks) died after 4 years of use. It’s video gave out, but I was able to recover my data via “target disk mode.” My macbook pro (aluminum, NOT unibody*) is still going strong after 5 years, but I had to replace my hard drive this year.

If you can afford it, the 13" air with largest hard drive (which has no moving parts) is likely the most reliable machine. They also have the advantage of waking with almost zero delay from sleep.

  • I assume that unibody is stronger, and therfore more durable than mine, which has survived me toting it around daily for a few years.

I have a 13" MacBook Air (Late 2010: 256 GB SSHD but sadly only 2GB RAM) and a 2008 (I think … or was it 2007) MBP 17". Although the latter has a higher clock-speed, the MBA beats the pants off it in every way. I find I hardly ever use it now, as the MBA is such a joy to use.

Another thing to think about is that fact that at college, you’re going to be toting it around, and for that you can’t beat the MBA. As a lecturer, I’m doing the same thing all the time. The MBA is so light, and has such good battery life — with the screen turned down to a very usable 40% brightness, I can get as much as 11 hours on one charge — that I have it with me all the time … my friends are astonished to see me without it, they think of it as part of me. Although I look with slight envy at 11" MBA’s, I’d still go for the 13" for the bigger SSHD, and extra screen real-estate … 1440 x 900 like the 15" MBP (unless they’ve upgraded that recently).

I have a 500GB portable external (G-disk) which is very thin and light and perfect as an extension to the MBA. It’s partitioned into 2 volumes: one is a bootable back up of the SSHD; the other one is for storing all the files that I don’t need to have immediate access to all the time.

With the new MBA with the thunderbolt port, to me there would be no question … go for the MBA.


Radical suggestion: you want to win the hearts and minds of professors?
Never, never bring a laptop to class or lecture.
Instead, show up with a notebook and pen.
Scribble constantly in it.
Maintain eye contact with the prof.
Nod affirmatively often, especially when prof glances at you.
Because your peers are busy social networking on their PCs
And the profs now know it.
Many are banning laptops altogether.

For use away from class, go for the 13" Air with maximum RAM and SSD.
And of course your latest copy of Scrivener.

I tried that once. My glazed stare and illegible notes scared the prof, I think. My suggestion: occasional eye contact, but keep your eyes on what you’re writing.


An easier way to help would be to either list the software you wish to use or the uses you will need.

Simply put. Both MBA and MBP are excellent computers.

MBA sacrifices some horsepower and storage for portability (light weight).

MBP is heaver but more robust in horsepower and storage and more options in connectivity.


MBA - excellent for email, web, word processing, light photo management/manipulation, writing.(Standard school work) Light weight, small foot print. Fast power up.

MBP - excellent for audio/video editing, image editing, 3d rendering, dvd burning or other “commercial” uses. MBP is what the name states. “Pro”. Or commercial use, industrial, etc.

So depending on what software or uses you plan to use this puter for will be one of the factors in making the ultimate decision.

Which is more important, lighterweight/portability or horsepower and storage…

Based on what everyone has said, I think I’m leaning towards the 13 inch macbook air. I have a desktop computer that I have all of my pictures on. Portability is the most important thing to me. I have quite a long break between two of my classes, and I’m hoping to get some work done in the library during that time. I have approximately five billion papers to write this semester, so word processing is the most important thing to me.

The MBA’s look so pretty. This is my gift to myself to help me get through my freaking required public speaking class. I deserve this :wink:

If you have a desktop, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending the Air, for all the reasons outlined above plus the fact they are way-cool! 8)

Also if zombies attack on campus you can tie the MBA to a mop handle and it makes a great hatchet.

'ang on! I’m, way-cool! How com nobody’s arguing the toss between the 11in and the 13in version of me!? :open_mouth:

“Objects in mirror may appear larger than they are.”[/size]

That’s the, um, diagonal measurement, is it?

Nahh. Flaccid.

You carry 11" and 13" pictures of yourself? Sculptural mini-me Vic-Ks? Portrait in oils?

Ah, photographs then, not sculpture or oil on canvas. Not framed either, that’s the problem… :unamused:

y’s all can scoff. Just remember, ‘He who laughs last…!’ :imp:

Scoff? Me? Never[size=85] (well, rarely, but definitely not in this instance)[/size].

I was merely noting that my curiosity was piqued but the knowledge that someone as charming, erudite and cultured as yourself would carry self-portraits about one’s person. “Why would that be?” I wondered. I considered the possibility of passport photos (perhaps there was a typo and “mm” was intended instead of “in”) but then thought, “Well, if I was good looking and well known, wouldn’t I want to have photos handy ready to autograph for my adoring fans?” That’s thinking ahead that is. Impressive preparation. And what better place to communicate your forethought than in a writers’ forum so that when we all have best sellers and are facing queues of adoring literary fans every time we buy tomatoes, we will remember your example and carry photos with us to appease the horde.

Brilliance. Sheer brilliance.



This concept is so well constructed it has become art. To acknowledge and value your fans by being well prepared is thoughtful, but to simultaneously honour your muse demonstrates generosity and humility as well. I understand that in England it can be considered conceited to quote oneself, but in this instance I think my earlier words are the perfect expression of my admiration: