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Best Mac for Students: Should you buy a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBook, Mac mini or the new iMac?

Martyn Casserly | Aug. 10, 2015
Choosing the right Mac for students can be difficult. Here we explore the various options and give our buying advice.

Of course if mobility really is top of your list then the MacBook Air seems a more obvious choice.

Starting at £749 for the 11" model equipped with a 1.6GHz Intel i5, 128GB of storage, and 4GB or RAM, it's a lot cheaper than other Macs while also being smaller and lighter. This makes it more practical for students to take to lectures.

It does have a slower processor than the Retina MacBook Pros, and 4GB RAM is becoming a little low these days if you want the machine to stay sharp for a few years. To remedy this, we recommend that you bump it up to 8GB at point of purchase if you can, but the flash drive is snappy so it's more than capable of most tasks - especially word processing and online research.

The 13" models start at £849, so if you find the 11" too small, or just want to bathe in the glory of the 13" model's twelve-hour battery life, it's not a huge leap financially and to prolonged study sessions it would be our MacBook Air of choice.

Along with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, Apple brought back the original MacBook at its event in March. The 12" MacBook is actually thinner than the current generation MacBook Air and features a brand new design, which we think is gorgeous. But is it the right option for students?

Starting at £1,049, the MacBook is more expensive than the MacBook Air (and even the base MacBook Pro) even though processor wise, it's the weakest of the three. The base model offers a dual-core 1.1GHz Intel Core M processor, 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 5300. It does have its design going for it though, as its incredibly thin and lightweight, just 13.1mm at its thickest, which is 24 percent thinner than the MacBook Air.

The next model available costs a cool £1,299 and bumps the internal memory of the MacBook up from 256GB to 512GB, a more suitable option for students (especially those doing creative courses). Its processor is also given a slight bump up to 1.2GHz from 1.1GHz, but everything else (including its 12" screen) stays the same.

The MacBook is the first Apple laptop to feature the new USB-C standard, which can handle data transfer, video input and power transfer in a single port. This means that the MacBook features only USB-C ports, and only a single one at that. The fact that you'll have to buy an adaptor to use any external hard drives, USB sticks, or even a wired internet connection with your MacBook, and the fact that there are more powerful (and cheaper) laptops available, we wouldn't recommend the MacBook for university studies.


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