Which Macbook Pro Is Best For Students - It's August and school shopping is just around the corner. At the top of the list is often a new laptop. With so many options, it can be difficult to decide which laptop is best for you or your student.
In the Apple range there are three options for laptops – MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Below I compare three settings from these models. I have matched their features as much as possible. Each configuration has a 256GB solid state drive and 8GB of RAM. I do not recommend the 128GB hard drive configuration as it is easy for most students to run out of space too quickly. As you will see, there are pros and cons to each of these, but I have a general recommendation.
Which Macbook Pro Is Best For Students
The new 12-inch MacBook with Retina display gets points for its sleek style and design... but that's about it. The thin profile makes the notebook compact and easy to type on. The laptop's one USB-C port is fine for many students. This makes it impractical to charge the computer and use a USB device at the same time. Another disadvantage is the higher price and the slower processor. MacBook 12" starts at $1299.
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MacBook Air - 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 13" screen (also 11" as pictured above, $1199
The MacBook Air is a huge improvement over the MacBook 12 in price. You get USB and lightning ports and much longer battery life, up to 12 hours for the MacBook Air 13”. You also get a more powerful processor for less money. MacBook Air is light without feeling bulky. It also lacks the magnetic charging port of the new MacBook. This feature has saved many laptops from being destroyed after tripping over a power cord. The only downside is the non-retina display which isn't a big deal if you don't mind the lower resolution.
MacBook Pro retina - Intel Core i5 dual-core 2.7 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 13" screen (15" also available), $1499
The most expensive option in this comparison, the MacBook Pro 13″ retina, has a powerful processor and a nice screen. It is an excellent choice for students whose school work requires a more intensive process, especially for photography, video and other design work. The Retina display provides sharp image quality, and the presence of HDMI, SD, thunderbolt and USB ports make it a multi-tasking machine.
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*Note: I reviewed the non-retina MacBook Pro because Apple hasn't updated the model since 2012, and it also doesn't come standard with a solid state drive. The non-retina MacBook Pro doesn't compete with the other current technology that Apple has in the rest of its laptop lineup.
General recommendation: For middle and high school students, I recommend the MacBook Air 13" or 11". This laptop offers value for money, good battery life and solid performance to meet the needs of young students. For students inside and outside the university, I recommend
. This is a powerful and durable laptop that will last for many years. It has the versatility and performance to handle more advanced tasks.
Additional Savings! Don't forget to take advantage of Apple's educational downloads on laptops for students, staff and management. Best Buy offers similar discounts on Apple laptops for students. You can sign up for Best Buy College Student Deals coupons that typically take $100 off the purchase price.
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When I was in college 10 years ago, my trusty laptop was a PowerBook G4 12″. This is one of my favorite Macs of all time. It is still fully functional. I did a MacBook 12″ retina review last May comparing two Mac 12″ laptops. We independently evaluate everything we recommend. When you make a purchase through our links, we may earn a commission. Read more>
We added the 2022 M2 MacBook Air as our upgrade choice, but we still think most people will be happy with the M1 version.
The best Mac for most people is the 13-inch MacBook Air with Apple's M1 processor. It's not the latest MacBook Air, but it's cheaper than the latest model and more than adequate for what most people use a computer for — web browsing, working with documents, coding, and light photo and video editing. And for a better screen, an extra charging port, a better webcam and a slightly faster processor, we recommend the new MacBook Air with the M2 processor as our upgrade choice.
The M1 MacBook Air has a comfortable keyboard, good performance, and decent storage — things that haven't always been true in previous MacBook Airs.
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We recommend the $1,000 entry-level version of the MacBook Air, which has enough speed, memory and storage for most everyday computing tasks. Apple's new M1 processor is much faster than the low-power Intel processors in previous MacBook Airs, and its battery life is so good that you'd never have to charge it during the day if you didn't want to. Unlike previous MacBook Air models, the M1 version doesn't need a cooling fan, keeping it quiet even when you're overclocking by exporting a video or playing a game. Like its predecessor, the M1 version of the Air features a much-improved keyboard with a deeper, more satisfying feel and improved reliability compared to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models released between 2016 and 2019.
The Air only includes two USB-C ports (which support Thunderbolt 3) and a headphone jack — but Thunderbolt docks and USB-C hubs and adapters are common and cheap enough that this isn't as big of an issue as it used to be. be It also ditches the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar (useful but largely unnecessary) in favor of a series of physical function keys and a standalone Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
The 2022 M2 MacBook Air has an updated design, a brighter screen and a better camera, and the MagSafe port on the fan is back.
If you have $200 more to spend on a laptop, the M2 MacBook Air has some big upgrades over the slightly older M1 model that we think make the device feel better to use. The 2022 M2 MacBook Air has a brighter screen that lets you see the screen more clearly on a sunny day outside, and a high-definition webcam that lets you see a little more clearly in video calls. Apple has also added a MagSafe port, which allows a magnetic charging cable to be securely attached to the MacBook Air and detached harmlessly if a passenger's leg gets caught in a cafe.
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However, this laptop is not ideal for those who edit photos, videos or otherwise process large media files. Our tests showed that the laptop would heat up after one minute of video export or batch image editing, to levels that would make the laptop uncomfortable to use. But for everyday tasks, web browsing, watching movies, and even playing games from the App Store, the M2 MacBook Air offers a bunch of big upgrades over the previous generation.
Dave Gershgorn has reviewed and covered technology in publications such as Popular Science, Quartz, Medium, and now Wirecutter since 2015. He has also been building and repairing his own computers since 2006 and largely avoids bricking his computers. At Wirecutter, he tests laptops, monitors and tablets.
Andrew Cunningham wrote the first version of this guide. He has been testing, reviewing, and otherwise writing for AnandTech, Ars Technica, and Wirecutter on PC, Mac, and other devices since 2011.
The best reason to buy a MacBook is if you need or prefer macOS over Windows, or the physical design of Apple laptops. The operating system is stable and easy to use, but more importantly, it integrates well with iPhones and iPads - for example, iMessages and SMS messages sent from your Mac to iPhone and vice versa, and features such as AirDrop and iCloud. It's easy to share notes, photos, videos, memories, contacts, passwords, bookmarks and other data between your devices.
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Macs are also a good choice if you want good support. Apple's technical support is consistently rated better than most, if not all, other PC and phone manufacturers, and Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers offer in-person technical support and repair in many locations.
Apple has moved away from Intel processors to its own processors for MacBooks (or "Apple silicon"), and the result is better performance than most Windows laptops in a few key ways. Apple processors have much better performance and faster integrated graphics, and they get great battery life. Their batteries are also less likely to drain quickly when using a power-hungry app like Zoom or Google Chrome.
If you're spending less than $1,000 on a laptop, want to run high-end games, or want to be able to upgrade or repair yourself, Macs aren't a good choice. Windows Ultrabooks offer decent performance and other types of ports at or below what Apple charges for a MacBook Air. If you only have $500, budget Chrome OS and Windows laptops are a better choice
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