Which MacBook to Buy for College
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Which MacBook to Buy for College



It’s that time of the year when college students are shopping for a laptop, and if you’re one of those college students set on getting a MacBook, here are some things to keep in mind when deciding which MacBook to buy.

Apple sells three different MacBook models: There’s the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro, and the newer 12-inch MacBook. Each model has its own pros and cons, so it’s important that you know what each model is and isn’t capable of.

For instance, the company’s newer 12-inch MacBook is the most portable MacBook that Apple sells, and perhaps one of the most portable laptops on the market period. It also comes with a Retina display that the MacBook Air doesn’t have, but the 12-inch MacBook gives up performance in order to be so slim, with a slower processor than the MacBook Air.

Of course, that doesn’t make the new MacBook entirely useless, as it can be great for general web browsing, checking email, taking notes, etc., but it’s important that you know what type of work you’ll be doing in college, as that can influence what MacBook model you truly need.

2015 MacBook Case Clear - 1

If you’re having trouble deciding, here are some things to keep in mind that will hopefully help you come to an easier decision.

Performance vs Portability

When choosing the right MacBook model for you, it really comes down to two things: Performance and portability. With the MacBook models available, you can either choose performance or portability, for the most part. It’s rare that you can get both without spending a lot of money on performance upgrades.

Let’s break it down by starting with the MacBook Air. I’d have to say that the MacBook Air is probably the best bet for most college students. It’s extremely portable and has a capable processor that can perform well with most tasks that a general college student would do on a laptop, like take notes, check email, create PowerPoint presentations, etc.


If you’ll be a graphic design major or an engineering major, you might want a MacBook with better performance. This is where the MacBook Pro is your best choice. It comes with a faster processor, more memory, and better graphics for those that need the horsepower.

Graphic design students will take advantage of software like Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, etc. and engineering students will probably use a handful of software, like CAD programs and programming language tools.

The only downside about the MacBook Pro is that it isn’t as portable as the MacBook Air. Granted, the MacBook Pro is still really portable, as I find it really easy to carry around my own 13-inch MacBook Pro. You might be able to get away with a MacBook Air, but that’s iffy.


Plus, with the MacBook Pro, you’ll get a Retina display, whereas the MacBook Air still doesn’t include one. You might not think it makes a huge difference, but once you try one out, you’ll never be able to go back.

As for who should buy the newer 12-inch MacBook, I’d recommend that only a handful of college students should buy it. If you won’t use any intensive software and want the most portable laptop around, the newer MacBook is a great buy if you have the money to spend on it. However, it might be best just to go with a MacBook Air if you’re a penny pitcher, since they start at only $899, whereas the new MacBook starts at $1,299.

The Bottom Line

In the end, the MacBook Air is probably the best option for most college students. It’s powerful enough to do most things that college students need to do on a laptop, while still being extremely portable enough that you can easily tote it around from class to class.


For those students who need more power, the MacBook Pro is the best option, since it comes with the best performance. Plus, it’s still very portable if you go with the 13-inch model, weighing only a 0.5 pound more than the 13-inch MacBook Air.

The new 12-inch MacBook Pro is as portable as they come, but it’s only for those who can splurge the money to buy one. Otherwise, most students would do just fine with an $899 MacBook Air, which is the lowest price of any MacBook that Apple sells.



  1. pcmedicman

    07/22/2015 at 12:35 am

    I’m ordinarily a Mac person but I have to be honest, the Surface 3 has been PERFECT for college. Nothing covers everything like it does. That joined with OneNote is just amazing! Recording lectures while writing my notes or even jotting notes into a Powerpoint has really made it much easier to study. Credit where credit is due. Apple may be a little late to the game with supposed iPad Pro with a stylus. Even if they do come out with it, there nothing like having something this portable with a FULL operating system that shows webpages 100% accurately.

  2. Josh

    01/28/2016 at 11:24 am

    People opt for Mac over PC because of its beautifulness and showy. For this reason Retina display is a must for a showy MacBook to carry around on campus. Most colleges have the minimum configuration requirements on a laptop for school use, like CPU speed =>2.5GHz, SRAM =>8GB, Storage => 250GB. All of these leave us no choice, but MacBook Pro with Retina Display 13″ or 15″. Once I tried MacBook Pro 13″ with Retina Display, I never looked back. Besides, the resale value on these Retina Mac models are much higher than the resale value of any Air models.

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