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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.

Which Mac should I buy?

Apple has 6 Macs to select from and choosing one can be difficult. They are the iMac, MacPro, MacBook, MacBook Air, Retina MacBook Pro, and the Mac Mini. Each Mac targets a specific market but there are no set rules about crossing over to enjoy the features of a professional Mac like the Mac Pro as long as you can afford its much higher price tag. The choices have many potential buyers asking – Which Mac should I buy? To help you figure out the best Mac product for your needs, here’s a brief summary of each.

Apple MacBook Pro

Macbook Pro

This month Apple is launching the new MacBook model. It will have the Retina display and the Force Touch haptic trackpad. You can also expect a new basic processor and upgraded battery life.  From all appearances though, the 2015 MacBook Pro looks exactly like the 2012, 2013, and 2014 models so that take a wee bit out of the excitement. Also the new MacBook Pro will only be sold with the 13 inch display and does not compared well to the new 12 inch MacBook which has an absolutely beautiful new design. However, the new MacBook Pro is all about what’s inside which is the Force Click, 97% sRGB coverage and 73% Adobe RGB, and contrast ratio of 880:1 – all of which are slight improvements from the 2014 model.

Apple MacBook


The new MacBook just came out this April 2015 and focuses more on portability and aesthetics. Read more about the design and new innovations in our recent write up.

Apple MacBook Air

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air laptop by Apple first came out in 2008 and was the first laptop from Apple with the SSD flash storage. There was an upgrade released in 2014 and a new 13 inch released in early 2015. Aside from better quality graphics, faster storage, and a change from Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt 2, there is nothing significantly different with the precious model.

Apple Mac Mini

Mac Mini w/ Apple Thunderbolt Monitor

This is the compact desktop from Apple which first came out in 2005. It is also the cheapest Mac and can be plugged into your TV monitor if you want to create a home movie/media theater. The last update was in 2014 and is actually priced lower than the 2012 versions. One reason could be because the 2012 Mac Mini has a faster processor and is more upgradable.  The RAM of the 2014 model is soldered on to the motherboard making it impossible to upgrade memory after purchase.

However, the newer Mac Mini has 3 models from a 500GB drive to a 2 TB Fusion drive. It also has build to order options so the 2TB Fusion drive is actually an upgrade of the high end 1TB that can be ordered with a corresponding fee.

Apple iMac


This desktop was first released in 1998 and is known for streamlining the design of the computer and away from the bulky-looking monitor. There were 2 new improvements introduced in 2014: the entry level, low cost iMac without Retina display and the 27 in 5k Retina. There are rumors of a possible new iMac this 2015 but nothing specific has been revealed.

Apple MacPro

Mac Pro without Monitor

The MacPro is the professional’s computer is a high-end Apple product where the base model costs almost $3,000. Apple has labeled it as the “pro-level desktop” with 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports, a built-in HDMI output, Wi-Fi antenna, and faster SSD storage. It is known to be very quiet, powerful, and if fully loaded, can cost over $8,000.

12″ MacBook Air : What we know so far

Although rumors of a next-generation MacBook Air with Retina Display have been floating around for about a year, Apple is yet to officially announce the product. And we might not have to wait long for the keynote since a recent report from MacRumors and DigiTimes indicates that one of Apple’s parts suppliers – Quanta Computer – has been steadily increasing their production of components for the upcoming MacBook. Quanta Computer has plans to hire 30,000 new workers in order to meet component demands set by the Cupertino tech giant.

Such increases in production of an unannounced product are almost always indicative that the product is ready for prime time. We’ll most likely see this new next-generation MacBook Air announced along with the official release of the Apple Watch in the first quarter of 2015.

Will it be visually different that the current models?

Most reports suggest that the new MacBook Air will sport a new 12” Retina Display, replacing the current 11” model. However this will not necessarily increase the dimensions of the product since it is rumored that the new ultra-portable computer will have a much smaller bezel around the screen, just like how the iPad Air is more compact than the 4th generation iPad with Retina Display.

We will most likely see a redesigned keyboard and trackpad as well. Currently all MacBook Air models have some space on each side of the keyboard which is expected to be drastically reduced in the new design. The trackpad has been rumored to become larger and lose its button mechanism, so you won’t be able to press it.

It is said that the MacBook will be incredibly slim, even to the point where many of the standard I/O ports will be dropped due to their size. We may even be looking at an MacBook Air with just two ports – an 3.5mm jack for audio output and a USB 3.0 Type-C port for charging and data transfer.

USB Type-C Connection on MacBook Air

And for the first time on a MacBook Air we might get some color choices with the most likely being Silver, Gold and Space Gray. Since the next-generation MacBook Air with Retina Display has a similar size to the iPad Air 2, it is not hard to envision the laptop going through the same anodization process that is currently being used to give iPads their color.

What will we find under the hood?

The brain inside the next-generation notebook from Apple will be the delay-riddled Broadwell-Y Core M processor. The chipset is said to be high performance and extremely power efficient, which is the reason why we expect the upcoming 12” MacBook Air to have no fans for completely silent operation. As we’ve eluded to earlier, the new laptop will have a 12” Retina Display with a resolution of 2304 by 1440 pixels. Apart from that, we expect to see an improved Wi-Fi as well as the new faster PCIe-based flash storage.

Holiday season 2014 MacBook Air release with Core M processors still uncertain

A remodeled MacBook Air could be in the works for a pre-Christmas release as Intel launches updated Core M processors worldwide.

First announced at Computex in June, Intel wanted to remind people of the features and capability of their M chipsets at another expo, the IFA 2014 trade show. Intel has confirmed that various devices using the Core M processor will appear during the holiday season.

Because of Apple and Intel’s close business relationship, this is seen as a hint that new MacBook Air laptops could arrived just in time for Christmas.

Initial speculation was that the MacBook Air would be released earlier in the fall, but was pushed back due to other pressing announcements, such as the Apple Watch and iPhone 6. Intel’s shipment of new Broadwell chips was also allegedly delayed for unknown reasons.

The first batch of the Core M processors will be shipped by the end of this year.

Because of an agreement, Apple will be the first to use the Core M, leading the way to making thinner and lighter MacBook Pro and Air laptops.

Intel said that the new 14mm processors will work perfectly in laptops and tablets without the need for a cooling fan. The chips are expected to generate a 50% increase in performance of a device and at least 1/3 faster graphical performance. The processors will also increase battery life of a device by one and a half hours, due to redesigned power efficiency.

Rumors about the new MacBook Air have been emerging for a while, centered on the Retina display added to the device.

Some of the features expected to be seen on the MacBook Air include a 12-inch monitor with a 2K pixel resolution, 500 GB solid state drive and 8 GB of RAM, the use of USB 3.0 ports, Thunderbolt 2.0, a memory card reader and a FaceTime camera rendered in 720p.

Apple has not yet responded to these rumors for comment.

Apple readying fix for sleep crashes on 2013 MacBook Air

The truth is yet to be known, however it seems that Apple has been having several major problems with recently released software and hardware, at least more than usual. There are the severe bugs in iOS 7, which have yet to be fixed, Mavericks has been a mess especially for Gmail users, and the new MacBooks have had several problems.

One of those problems is about to be fixed. 2013 MacBook Air owners have been experiencing intermittent issues when the computer goes to sleep and/or wakes up. Sometimes the computer crashes completely, sometimes it just freezes, or users are presented with a black screen.

This has led to some extremely lengthy threads on the Apple Support site.


These problems have gone unresolved since at least November of last year. It looks like the problem is related to a Mavericks (OS X 10.9) bug, which causes the keyboard and touchpad to miscommunicate. It also seems to be only affecting a small percentage of users.

Clever and ambitious users have been able to re-create the issue by pressing the power button, and clicking the touch pad immediately. Which has led to the conclusion that something is going wrong with the way the software communicates clicks during the wakeup/sleep process.

A Fix is Coming

Apple is already deep into development of the next software update for Mavericks. They released another seed of OS X 10.9.2 to developers earlier this week. According to an Apple Support Representative, the fix for these problems will be included in that update, as long as nothing crops up that prevents the fix from being deployed between now and the update’s release.

Developers who are using the beta, which is now in its fourth iteration, have claimed that the problem has been completely fixed. It looks like Apple did this by preventing the computer from going to sleep when the power button is pressed accidentally. Whether or not this solves the problem for all users will remain to be seen.

How to Get Around the Problem Now

If you are experiencing this problem, there seems to be only one work around that works, and that is to do a hard restart of your computer. To do so all you need to do is press and hold the power button.

The question is when will Apple release the patch with the fix? The answer, as always when it comes to Apple, is when they think its ready. It could be tomorrow or it could be a couple months away. Logic seems to indicate that it will be sooner rather than later, as it is at beta 4 at this point, so it has to be getting pretty close. Bold prediction: expect the update to drop in March alongside iOS 7.1.