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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.

Still, the entry model Mac mini is only £399, which makes it the most affordable Mac by quite a distance. It houses a 1.4GHz Intel i5 CPU, just like the entry level iMac, that feels perfectly fine for everyday tasks. One of the major disappointments though is that in previous models you were able to manually replace the RAM and hard drive with very little effort, but this new release has the RAM soldered onto the motherboard and therefore can't be upgraded at all. Even the hard drive is harder to replace as Apple has fitted a grill that requires specialist screwdrivers to remove. If you never had any intention of upgrading parts yourself then this will have little bearing on your decision, but we would advise using the built to order process on the Apple site to increase the RAM from 4GB to 8GB.

If you are on a real budget this is the way to go. Get an entry-level Mac Mini and ask around for an old keyboard, mouse and monitor. You may be using second-hand accessories but your Mac will sit at the heart of it all. You could also plug the Mac mini into your TV, although we wouldn't recommend writing your dissertation on a TV screen.

Apple Education discount

If you're already at University, or have been offered your place, then you should ensure that you make use of Apple's educational discount. This scheme runs all year round and offers various price reductions for students or those working in education.

Which Mac should you get for university?

Last year the best all-round choice for students was the MacBook Air. It's light, fast, and at £749 for the entry model it offer good value for an excellent machine.

This year things have become somewhat more complicated. Our preferred Air model is the 13-inch (£849) as the extra screen size is a blessing during long study sessions. We always recommend upgrading the RAM in Airs to 8GB due to the fact that you can't do it later, and this brings the final price to £929.

Now, for only seventy pounds more you can buy the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, with the gorgeous screen that is well worth the extra spend. So, as is so often the case when buying tech, it really boils down to what you regard as the most important factors.

If you want a machine that you can throw in your backpack and carry all day, and you're focused on design over power, then the 12-inch MacBook is the easy option. If that screen is too small, well, then it's a hard choice. You could always plug it into a separate display to use when you are at your desk.


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