How to Choose the Right Mac for College

Apple is becoming increasingly popular with the college crowd. If you are thinking about getting a Mac for college, there are many things to consider in choosing the right computer.

With the Macbook being the most popular Mac of all time, it’s no wonder that this is the first choice among college students today. For those of you wanting a little bit more computing power, or just a more durable, stylish look, the MacBook Pro is another viable option for college students.


MacBook Pro

First, assess how much you are willing or able to pay. Apple gives students $50 off MacBooks and up to $200 off MacBook Pro models when the educational discount is applied. For more information on how to get Apple’s Education pricing, as well as all of Apple’s other back to school promotions, visit our Ultimate Apple Back to School promotions list.

If you are on the fence about getting a laptop or a desktop, take into consideration how much you will be traveling, whether that be to class or back home for the weekend. Sure, the iMac may offer more value when looking at sheer computing power, but you can’t just throw your iMac in your backpack and make a presentation in class.

How do you decide whether you should stick with the basic MacBook, or upgrade to the MacBook Pro?

This may come down to personal preference. The MacBook offers the computing power and features that should suffice for pretty much any college student. However, for $150 more, the MacBook Pro offers an extra 2GB of RAM, a more durable, eye-catching look, a backlit keyboard, an all glass display, an SD card slot, and a FireWire 800 port. It very well may be worth the extra cash to upgrade to a MacBook Pro especially when you consider the harsh college environment and demands of college life. The MacBook Pro’s Aluminum body can withstand a bit more abuse and the backlit keyboard is perfect for all the late nights writing papers. If you need more help deciding on which notebook to go with, MacRumors has an excellent guide spelling out all of the features and prices of the MacBook family. Apple also has a very straightforward comparison page that lets you see the specs of all of the Mac models side by side.

One thing to consider in buying your new Mac is that customizing a Mac on Apple’s website may be more cost efficient than going to an Apple Store and purchasing one there. For example, if you are looking for the anti-glare screen option on an entry level 15″ MacBook Pro, you will most likely pay a premium in store because that option is only put on the higher end pre-configured MacBook Pros kept in stock instead of the $135 cost you’ll find online. If you are looking for a 15″ MacBook Pro with an anti-glare screen, you would be better off ordering it online so you don’t pay for options you don’t need or want. Sure, you may have to wait a few days or even a few weeks, but the money saved is well worth the wait.

Glossy Display (left) and Anti-Glare (right)

Alternatively, check out your college or university’s bookstore. Many schools offer significant deals on Macs, some even better than what Apple offers with their educational discount. Look into this as a possibility, especially if you will be attending a large University.

Another thing to consider is that your new Mac probably won’t last you the entirety of your college career. Don’t select the highest end MacBook Pro thinking that you will save yourself money in the end. Buy for your current needs instead of what you think you will need in a few years. Two years into school, you may take a Graphic Design course and find out that your Mac has been rendered obsolete and can’t run the appropriate software as well as it should. Mac product life cycles have a frequent refresh rate, seeing an updated model every year, if not twice a year. Instead of pricing yourself into a hole, stick with the basic MacBooklow-end 13″ MacBook Pro or whichever larger MacBook Pro meets your needs and budget. After a few years if you see that you need more power or storage, look into getting a new Mac.

Got your Mac all picked out? Head on over to our Ultimate Apple Back to School promotions list to see how to get the most savings with your new Mac purchase.

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