So you’re about to start college and you want to buy a new Mac to get through your studies. The product you choose when shopping for laptops will depend on your budget and what you need for your specific degree. Before making a decision, it is best to check with your school about the system requirements for your major. Not only will this help you decide which Mac to buy, but also what technical specs you might need.
Which Mac is the best to buy for college? Let’s look at our options…
Best Mac for Most Students: M1 MacBook Air
The M1 MacBook Air debuted in 2020 and is still the best Mac for most college students. While the new M2 MacBook Air just came out, many students don’t need it. However, if you have the extra cash and want a newer product – go for it! This computer is the cheapest MacBook on offer, starting at $899 with a student discount. My absolute favorite part of the M1 MacBook Air is its ergonomic design. Its bottom half rests comfortably on your wrists, making it feel like a dream to tap on.
The power of the M1 chip makes the laptop capable of doing everything you need for school. You can conveniently enter papers, play games, edit photos, multitask, and more. The battery life is also one of the best available in a laptop. Read my colleague Filipe’s article to learn more about why the M1 MacBook Air is still a great option.
Also keep in mind that some M1 MacBook Airs have had an issue with the screen cracking on its own in the past. However, it’s not incredibly common and is covered by AppleCare+.
While the M1 MacBook Air is a delight, for some students they might be better suited to another Mac model.
M2 MacBook Pro for students who need more power
The 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro shares the same design as the M1 model but has a more modern processor inside. It also has the Touch Bar, which some people love and some hate. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is just as powerful as the MacBook Air, but the Pro has fans that help the devices maintain their performance when under pressure. If you have any idea you might be overloading an Air, I always recommend spending a little more on a Pro, just in case. This is a common laptop of choice for students in creative majors such as graphic design, film, or other arts-related majors.
The M2 MacBook Pro isn’t a computer that most people need, but it’s right up there for people who need a little more power than the Air, but not as much as the high-end pros.
2021 MacBook Pro (14- or 16-inch) is a beast
Some advantages of the 2021 MacBook Pros are that they come with more than just USB-C ports. Additionally, the Liquid Retina XDR display is the most beautiful screen ever on a MacBook. Web browsing and gaming is better than ever too, as this is the first in the Mac lineup to offer ProMotion, giving you an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz.
You have two sizes to choose from; 14 inch or 16 inch. There are even two chips to choose from; – M1 Pro and M1 Max. While this laptop is a beast, it should only be bought if you really need the performance or have the extra cash to spend. Students studying subjects like engineering, computer science, and computer-aided design (CAD) can benefit from the performance of the 2021 MacBook Pros.
If you’re debating whether you should get a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air, read my colleague Michael’s guide on the subject:
M1 iMac is great for online students
If you’re an online student or just spend a lot of time at your desk, you might want to consider an M1 iMac. The gorgeous 24-inch 4.5K Retina display is a pleasure to work with, and the 1080p FaceTime HD camera is hard to beat. Besides, the stunning colors will surely spice up your workspace. It’s a thin device that makes it easy to carry around the home when needed.
It’s also a great option for those who use an iPad as a laptop and are looking for a more stable device for their work. I personally use an M1 iMac for school and I love the large display because I can split the screen without needing a second monitor.
Best Mac Accessories for College:
Education discount from Apple
Apple offers year-round education discounts for college students, their parents, and teachers and staff at all levels. The discount offers a $50 discount on the iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Pro, and a $100 discount on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. For Macs, the discount varies but starts at $100. You even get 10% off accessories like an iPad keyboard, Apple Pencil, or mouse. You also save 20% when you buy AppleCare+ in full. You can get the discount either online or in store.
Each summer, Apple hosts a special educational event in stores and online. This year, the promotion runs until September 26th and offers gift cards instead of AirPods as before. Students will receive a $100 Apple Gift Card with the purchase of a select iPad. For Macs, students receive a $150 Apple Gift Card. This promotion is bundled with the year-round education discount.
Which Mac do you think is the best for college?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments and share your experiences with others!
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