Best Apple Mac for Students? What MacBook is good for College?

Best Apple Mac for Students

Whats the best Mac for Students, which is good for College?  Even though it’s entirely possible to get through college without a laptop, college students and professors alike know how helpful a good laptop can be. From taking notes to research to communication with other students to writing papers and completing various assignments—no other item in college student’s backpack is as versatile and often as indispensable as a laptop.

Apple Macs have always been a favorite for students

Visit just about any lecture hall, and you’ll immediately notice the overwhelming presence of Macs. Yes, it’s true that some college students are attracted to Mac computers simply because of their popularity, but most choose a Mac because they want a reliable machine they can depend on and which can get them through a long day without a charger.

Some college departments have specific software requirements their students should be able to meet, and Macs are the only computers that can run macOS, Windows, and Linux without a hitch thanks to Apple’s Boot Camp.

But the fact remains that Macs are not cheap. When buying one for a student, you want to pick the right model, one that can last for several years and still offer satisfactory performance and battery life. To help you out, we’ve narrowed down Apple’s current line-up to just three models, which we consider to be the best Mac computers for students.

 

Best Mac for Liberal Arts Students: 12-Inch MacBook

Best mac for Students 12 inch MacBook

Most liberal arts students use their laptops predominantly for writing—lots and lots of writing. Because inspiration likes to come unannounced, and often far away from the nearest electrical outlet, it makes sense for liberal arts students to choose a laptop with a long battery life, small size, and fast Wi-Fi connectivity.

The 12-inch MacBook is the smallest and lightest laptop in Apple’s line-up, weighing just 2 pounds, and it also offers an excellent battery life of up to 10 hours and the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technologies.

Instead of traditional scissor switches, the 12-inch MacBook features a comfortable keyboard with Apple’s second-generation butterfly switches, providing superior responsiveness and crispness when typing. Below the keyboard is a large trackpad with support for Force Touch, which allows it to detect slight differences in pressure.

What Mac features are best for students?

The 12-inch MacBook has an edge-to-edge Retina display with 2304 × 1440 pixels, energy-efficient backlighting, and wide viewing angles. The fine resolution makes text very easy on the eyes, and its IPS display technology guarantees professional-grade color accuracy.

You can get the 12-inch MacBook either with a 1.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 for $1,299 or with a 1.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 for $1,599. Both versions start with 8 GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 615, but the more expensive version has a 512 GB PCIe-based onboard SSD, instead of just a 256 GB PCIe-based onboard SSD.

Unless you need as much processing power as you can get, we recommend the less expensive version of the 12-inch MacBook. Intel Core m3 processors are so energy-efficient that they don’t require any cooling whatsoever, yet they are fast enough for just about anything apart from professional software applications such as Adobe After Effects or AutoCAD.

 

Best Mac for STEM Students: 13-Inch MacBook Pro

Best for STEM Students 13 inch Apple MacBook Pro

It’s only natural for STEM students to require more processing power than students of liberal arts do. A laptop is suitable for a STEM student only if it can run computationally expensive software simulations, compile software, and handle applications such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, or Microsoft Visual Studio, just to name a few.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro offers a 2.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz even in its most basic configuration, which costs just $1,299. The laptop is also available with Touch Bar for either $1,799 or $1,999, depending on the amount of storage space, but you should stay away from these versions because Touch Bar isn’t really all that useful.

Instead, get the 256 GB version without Touch Bar, which costs $1,499 and is configurable up to 1 TB SSD. The basic version only comes with 128 GB of storage space, and that’s just not enough for anything beyond basic tasks. The 256 GB version additionally has Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 onboard graphics card, 8 GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory, and a beautiful 13.3-inch Retina display with 2560 × 1600 pixels, wide viewing angles, and up to 500 nits brightness for comfortable outside use.

Another Apple Mac option for Students

We should also mention that there’s a 15-inch MacBook Pro. While not exactly huge, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is slightly too bulky and heavy for hauling around campus, but, above all, it’s just way too expensive for most college students, starting at $2,399 for a version with a 2.8 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7.

 

Honorable Mention: 13-Inch MacBook Air

13 inch macbook air best for students

Despite its advanced age, the MacBook Air is still an excellent choice for all students who have other things to spend money on besides a laptop. Starting at just $999, the MacBook Air is by far the least expensive Mac on this list, yet it has the longest battery life (up to 12 hours between charges), and some even swear by its keyboard, which has much longer vertical space below each key compared to the 12-inch MacBook (1 mm versus 0.5 mm).

The MacBook Air is also the only Mac on this list with regular USB 3.0 ports. While it seems that virtually all Mac users will have to eventually embrace the dongle life, the owners of the MacBook Air should be able to get by without adapters for a few more years.

When it comes to the downsides of the MacBook Air, the outdated CPU and display are probably the two biggest ones. Yes, the laptop is still fine for writing documents, chatting with friends, or browsing the web, but things do slow down noticeably if throw too many tasks at the laptop at once.

What’s worse, the 13.3-inch display of the MacBook Air is so behind modern laptops that Apple even doesn’t mention it in the laptop’s overview on the official website. It has only 1440 × 900 pixels and covers just 66 percent of the sRGB color gamut.

Best 4k monitor for MacBook Pro

Finally 4k technology is affordable and with that you can enjoy the full high quality output of your MacBook Pro on large external desktop monitors. However, with all the options out there it can be overwhelming. So we put a list together of some of the best 4k Monitors you can buy for your MacBook Pro.

Until Apple comes out with a series of Apple 4k display monitors that rivals their Thunderbolt Display, you’ll have to use brands normally reserved for PC applications. This has become common place now though as more and more Apple enthusiasts are being introduced to these alternative brands by the introduction, for example, of Ultra HD televisions.

If you are wondering what Apple products support 4k, currently they are:

  • MacBook Pro (Retina, Late 2013) and later
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)
  • iMac (27-inch, Late 2013) and later
  • Mac mini (Late 2014)
  • MacBook Air (Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015) and later

Lets get to it and take a look at some of the top 4k Apple display alternatives for your MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro!

Dell Ultra HD 4k Monitor P2715Q 27-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor

dell 4k monitor

Specs:

  • With 99% sRGB color coverage and a factory color calibration
  • Maximize your viewing options by adjusting the monitor to your desired height, or easily tilt or swivel to your preferred angle
  • Pivot from landscape to portrait view to easily see full pages at a glance
  • Feel free to mount the panel head to the Dell Single Monitor Arm or the wall for even more flexible viewing options

The Dell P2715Q Ultra HD 4k Monitor is most likely the first choice in 4k monitor options. Many people have had Dell monitors in the past and their positive experiences drive them to this brand time and time again. In fact most opt to purchase two of these monitors and daisy chain them. With an Ulltra HD 3840 x 2160 resolution and over 8 million pixels this monitor is great for digital artwork, movies and business applications. This monitor is a little more expensive than most at ($519 USD), but the added port options and swivel support are worth it. Theres even a 5k monitor but at ($1,700 USD), we don’t recommend the upgrade at this time.

LG Electronics 4K UHD Monitor 27UD68-P 27″ Screen LED-lit Monitor

best lg 4k monitors

Specs:

  • 4K UHD Resolution (3840 x 2160) IPS Display
  • sRGB over 99%
  • On-Screen Control with Screen Split
  • FreeSync
  • Pivot stand and functionality: Yes

If you are looking for a 4k Monitor to impress go with this LG 27UD68-P. Advertised as a gaming monitor due to it’s impressive refresh rate and clarity this monitor can do anything you need. Stunning Ultra HD resolution and advanced gaming features will give you hours of entertainment. Your MacBook Pro graphics will look great on this 4k monitor. One downside is that even though it comes with an HDMI cable its not the best quality cable and you may find yourself buying another one, but who can complain most brand don’t include the cable. Finally a high quality monitor at a decent price ($545 USD).

ASUS PB287Q 4k UHD 28-Inch LED Monitor

asus 4k monitors

Specs:

  • See every detail in 28-inch true 4K display with 3840 x 2160 UHD resolution, 157 pixels per inch, and real 10-bit color
  • ASUS Eye care technology with Flicker free for less Eye fatigue; Ergonomically-designed stand with Tilt,Swivel,Pivot,Height adjustment plus wall-mount capability for comfortable viewing position
  • Get the fastest 4K experience possible with 1ms GTG response time and 60Hz refresh rate
  • Connect to everything you own with HDMI, HDMI/MHL, and DisplayPort
  • Featuring ASUS-exclusive SplendidPlus, VividPixel, GamePlus, QuickFit technologies. ASUS Rapid Replacement: 3 Years Warranty, 2 way free shipping

The ASUS PB287Q 4k monitor is one a great choice for those who know the quality ASUS puts into their products. Designers looking for color quality will be impressed with the 1.07 Billion colors this monitor can produce, not to mention its 100M to 1 contrast ratio. Works great via HDMI and your MacBook Pro. Also available with a single arm mount, which we highly recommend for greater flexibility in positioning. Priced well at around ($450 USD) the additional mount will put you back another $100.

Bottom Line

There are many 4k Monitor options out there for your MacBook we recommend staying with the major brands: LG, Samsung, ASUS and Dell are some of the best. Currently if you are looking for a good balance of quality and performance you are going to be looking at the $400-$600 price range. The 4k monitors above all fall in that category and compliment your Apple MacBook well.

Before we forget you’ll most likely also need an HDMI cable, there are some specific 4k cables out there but needing an expensive Apple 4k cable is not necessary as we recommend the Amazon Basics High Speed HDMI. Hope this helped you pick the best 4k monitor for your needs. Let us know in the comment section which one you have or are planning on purchasing.

Apple releases gorgeous Rose Gold MacBook with better battery and faster processor

Finally, Rose Gold fans can rejoice. When Apple released the first 12″ MacBook last year, it was met with a lot of controversy. Users disliked its single USB-C port and slower processor, as compared with the MacBook Pro, of course. Still, the unit appears to have been a success, which is why it’s no surprise that Apple has announced a new 12″ MacBook.

According Geekbench, the speed of the processor is 20% better than the original 2015 MacBook model. This is a very respectable speed improvement and one that is sure to satisfy at least some of the critics.

Rose Gold MacBook
Apple

In addition to this, the disk-write speeds are considerably better–estimated to be as much as 80-90 faster compared to the 2015 MacBook. As with the processor speed improvement, the disk-write speeds being significantly faster should lead to a smoother, better performing machine.

Apple claims that the 2016 MacBook has a web browsing battery life of 10 hours. This is quite a bit better than the MacBook Pro and on par with the MacBook Air. However, as we’ve seen with many devices, a claim of 10 hours does not mean that the device will actually last that long in between charges.

New! Rose Gold Color

The new 12″ MacBook comes in four color options–gold, silver, space gray, and rose gold. The same Retina display, Force Touch trackpad, USB-C port, and ultra slim design are also found in the 2016 MacBook. New to the mix is a sixth generation Intel dual-core 1.3 GHz processor that is said to have Turbo Boost with speeds up to 3.1 GHz. Faster 1866 MHz memory is here, too.

MacBook in Rose Gold
Apple

Apple has the new MacBook on its website as of today and it is set to hit Apple’s retail stores and authorized resellers on 4/20/2016. The unit starts at $1,299 all the way up to $1,599 USD depending on the configuration chosen.

Incase Icon MacBook Sleeve with Tensaerlite

Incase’s ICON Sleeve with Tensaerlite for MacBook Retina is a great case and another addition to Incase’s awesome Mac lineup. The case comes in 13’’ or 15’’ models, and is most notable for two things, it doesn’t have a zipper, and it features Incase’s Tensaerlite technology. And, the two incase traditions, neoprene and faux fur, are featured in this item as well.

In the past, Incase has made good laptop cases for Mac, but they’ve always had a vulnerability to being dropped. Tensaerlite, the multilayered shock-absorbing rim that runs around the case, solves that problem. Tensaerlite is a lightweight bumper frame that feels like a tough rubberized material.

macbook case

Incase says this gives the case “maximum impact absorption”. Tensaerlite also helps aesthetically, a thin rim around the slim case. The dimensions are 16’’ x 11 x 0.5’’, so this case is very thin. This product is not designed to go with hard shell cases, only naked Macs.

If you do use your Mac without a hard shell case, the ICON Sleeve is absolutely a great and beautiful choice, helped in no small part to the second amazing feature of the case: no zipper! The zipper, prone to breaking entirely, leaving laptops to plummet earthwards, is replaced in the ICON Tensaerlite case by a strong (and computer safe) magnetic flap. The flap is slim, so the computer fits in snug and doesn’t fall out (there’s also a tough magnetic clasp bit).

This design feature is truly beautiful. And, while the sleek magnet flap is a gorgeous feature and crucial to this design, it should be noted that laptops should not be left on top of the sleeve because that suit-like flap is held together by a magnet that may trigger your Mac to spontaneously turn off. This, however, is a minor drawback to what is undeniably a beautiful and functional case.

Incase ICON 15.6″ Laptop Backpack designed for MacBook users

Incase’s 15.6’’ ICON Laptop Backpack is a great tech bag for an office or back-to-school. It’s sleek, svelte, and unassuming. The bag has simple but sophisticated design, like its dedicated pocket for both a laptop and tablet. Let’s get to a features breakdown.

Features:

  • The ICON easily accommodates all 15’’ laptops in its dedicated padded laptop compartment, lined with faux fur.
  • Full dimensions: 19’’ x 13’’ x 9’’
  • Made with heavy 840d nylon.
  • Main feature: dedicated pockets. Gear pockets, cable/pen sleeves, books pocket, battery pocket, phone pocket, laptop pocket, tablet pocket.

macbook-15-backpack

This bag stands out because of the immense amount of thought and care taken in designing the compartments. This is truly the best MacBook Backpack on the market today. The material is durable, but the design is what’s key. The bag prevents disorganization by having pockets for everything you’d need, and no extraneous features that take up space. The dedicated tablet pocket is on the side of the backpack, allowing it to be accessed without taking off the bag.

The laptop pocket has a tough zipper, big square edges, faux fur, and padding on the back, for real protection. The book bag compartment is big enough to carry probably three 1’’ binders or two large textbooks. In the front pockets, the accessory pockets, there are places for everything one needs to carry, like pens, cords, external drives, notepads, etc., and in the hip pockets there’s a compartment designed specifically for an external battery. A hole in the pocket allows a cord to run from the hip pocket into the main bag, for on-the-go charging.

best-backpack-for-macbook-pro

The bag is also very well designed with actual human use in mind, creating the ultimate MacBook Pro Backpack. The square edges of the laptop pocket prevent damage that regular bags can’t, and retrieving a laptop from the big square pocket is far easier than fishing one out of a crowded backpack with a traditional rounded, bag-like, top. The shoulder straps are thick and soft, and most importantly contain no pokey edges. The padding on the back of the backpack is tough (to protect the laptop) but is comfortable to wear and has an easy airflow design for those sweaty days.

backpack-for-macbook
Overall this bag is perfect for students and professionals who need a solid backpack for MacBooks. People in tech that don’t want a briefcase and fans of well-designed accessories everywhere need to look no further. A well-designed bag can turn a hectic commute to a workaday job into a livable peaceable world. Don’t believe me? Count the number of times you’ve seen (or lived) some insignificant frustration, like digging though a bag for headphones, a folder, a hard drive, almost push someone over that 8AM edge.

A well-designed bag just makes organization easier, and that makes mornings and work easier. No more digging in the bottom of a case or bag amidst crumbs and loose pens, and receipts, this bag can regulate. In an age where colorful backpacks with one deep sack for everything to mingle in, the Incase ICON stands out in the crowd as a sleek alternative.