Apple’s laptops have long been popular among students, but if you’re considering your options today, you might be wondering how to choose the best student MacBook. It’s easy to get confused between the various sizes, Pro and Air names, and even the completely different types of processors used.
All of this will be broken down in our guide to the best MacBook for students, so read on.
back-to-schoolWe’ll show you which MacBooks are best for most students, as well as which ones are best for specific types of work. a season Meanwhile, if you’re in need of some extra space, take a look at our extensive list. best external hard drives for Mac list.
We also have dedicated guides to these machines, as well as the current lowest prices on these machines. We’ll go over things like screen differences and whether you should get a MacBook with Intel processors or the Apple M1 chip. best cheap MacBook Air deals and best cheap MacBook Pro deals.
Apple definitely makes some of the best student laptops, which double as some of the best lightweight laptops If you want more options, you can look at those links for alternatives from other manufacturers. – something that students will appreciate as you lug your laptop around from class to class.
Are MacBooks worth it for students in 2021?
Apple products have a reputation for being expensive, and while they aren’t cheap, they aren’t overpriced either – a PC laptop that is similarly thin and light while also offering high performance and specs would cost just as much, if not more.
That’s especially true of the latest MacBook Air, which packs as much power as a desktop PC into a tiny fanless package – nothing else running Windows can match it right now.
However, there is a hidden cost to consider: most of Apple’s current laptops only have USB-C ports, requiring adapters to connect regular USB hard drives or accessories. So that’ll be an extra cost – anywhere from £30/$30 to £100/$100, depending on how many ports you want this adapter to have (though most students will be fine with a basic one).
On the other hand, Apple’s machines have one feature that adds a lot of value: they’re extremely reliable. and Apple is the only major laptop manufacturer with a large number of stores, all of which have a repair department where you can literally take your laptop in and speak with someone who works for the same company that built it. The importance of this can’t be overstated in terms of repair speeds and peace of mind when deadlines loom. If something goes wrong, it’s simple to fix.
Do students get discounts on MacBooks?
The exact amount of the discount varies depending on the model you choose, and it’s not as simple as saying it’s 10% worldwide or anything, but Apple has a special section of its online store dedicated to education buyers, where you can see what discounts you qualify for when browsing the products. They certainly do!
Apple also runs ‘Back to School’ promotions, the most popular of which in the UK and US is a free pair of AirPods when you buy a Mac or iPad (in addition to the lower price). You can actually upgrade to the noise-cancelling headphones. AirPods Pro Instead of regular AirPods, you’ll have to pay a little more, but you’ll save a lot of money compared to the regular price.
However, it does not cover theft. This can be an excellent buy for students who struggle to find genuinely good contents insurance that covers laptops when they are out of the house. You can also save 20% on AppleCare+, which is a three-year extended warranty that also covers accidental damage.
Even browsing the Apple Education store online in the United Kingdom requires you to use the UNiDAYS system to prove that you are a student.
In the United States, you can simply browse the models and prices, and you are generally not required to show proof of student status when purchasing.
It’s the same in Australia as it is in the United States; you can simply browse all of the prices.
The best MacBooks for students 2021 – our picks
1. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
For the most part, the best student MacBook is
Reasons to buy
+Incredible power and speed
+Thin and light
+Silent, fanless design
Reasons to avoid
–Only two USB-C ports
–Average screen quality
The MacBook Air is a no-brainer buy for the vast majority of students, with the exception of some specializations that may require specific software or specifications not available on this model.
That’s no longer the case; the Apple M1 processor now offers performance comparable to high-end gaming laptops, as well as graphics power comparable to a budget dedicated graphics card. In the past, the MacBook Air was appealing because it was the lightest and smallest MacBook – making it easier to carry around – but it had significantly less processing power than the pro model, making it less versatile overall.
That means it’s more than capable of handling simple coursework writing and other tasks, but it’s also powerful enough to handle 4K video editing, complex music production, raw photo editing, and other pro applications that students might get into at university.
It may be required right away, but if you want it to last the duration of the course, it’s a good idea to future-proof it. It comes standard with 8GB of RAM, which is sufficient for everyday document and internet use; however, creative students should upgrade to 16GB.
One of the best things about it is that it not only packs a lot of power into a small package, but it also doesn’t have any fans, so it runs completely silently and doesn’t blow hot air if you use it on your lap.
It doesn’t have a lot of storage in the most basic model, which is fine if you’re only using it for coursework and web-based stuff. It also has a long battery life, as do all Apple laptops – around 15 hours in typical web browsing use. needstoring You’d need to increase the capacity for video work and other tasks.
The MacBook Air’s drawbacks include a screen that isn’t as good for creative work as the MacBook Pro’s (though it isn’t bad), the fact that it only has two USB-C ports (and a 3.5mm audio jack) for total connectivity, and the M1 processor’s software compatibility issues.
Because the M1 processor is built differently than Intel processors, software must be adapted to work with it. With software that hasn’t been specifically configured to work with the M1, the Mac will do this on the fly, but this can cause compatibility issues with some obscure software.
We don’t think this will be a problem for many university students; it’s more likely to be a problem in a few specific creative cases, such as music suite plugins. Web-based software is no problem, and most major apps – from Microsoft Office to Adobe Creative Cloud – already support the M1 or work well with it thanks to the Mac’s built-in conversion. However, anyone who intends to use niche engineering software or something similar should check compatibility before purchasing.
2. MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019)
The best MacBook for students in terms of creative power and flexibility
Core i7 6-core or Core i9 8-core Intel processor
Reasons to buy
+Lots of power available
+Highly configurable specs
+Beautiful large screen
Reasons to avoid
–Still only USB-C ports
–Big and heavy
If the MacBook Air isn’t powerful enough for your studies, the MacBook Pro 16-inch is almost certainly what you need. This is still powered by Intel chips and has roughly the same processor performance as the MacBook Air, but with significantly more graphics power and the ability to add more RAM and storage.
If your studies will require 3D work or a large amount of memory, this allows you to throw pretty much anything at the problem. This adds bulk and weight to the laptop, but it’s still quite light for the type of laptop it is.
If you need to see images and photos in the best possible light for your studies, the Mac might be worth it (though the MacBook Air’s screen is already better than average). The 16-inch screen is, of course, the other major addition. It’s not only bigger than the MacBook Air, but it also has a higher resolution and is 25% brighter.
The larger MacBook Pro has four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports instead of two, but it lacks regular USB ports, HDMI, and other useful connections. Because this model is powered by Intel processors, it is completely compatible with all Mac software.
A new version is expected later in 2021, but it will reportedly use Apple-designed processors rather than Intel ones, so it won’t be a direct replacement for this. One disadvantage is that it is significantly more expensive than the MacBook Air, and adding more power would increase the price even more. However, we should point out that it hasn’t had a major upgrade since 2019, so it isn’t equipped with the most up-to-date components. You’ll still need to buy something if you need a laptop in September and it doesn’t come out until November.
3. MacBook Pro 13-inch (Intel, 2020)
The best MacBook for students due to its small size and flexible specifications.
Intel Core i5 4-core
Reasons to buy
+Great RAM and storage options
+Bright and sharp screen
Reasons to avoid
–Weaker than M1 machines
–Not as good value as M1
Alternatively, there could be more than two ports to plug into. However, there will be a few holdouts, such as those who don’t want the size or cost of the 16-inch MacBook Pro but require its spec flexibility or Intel compatibility guarantees. The MacBook Air and 16-inch MacBook, in our opinion, should cover almost everyone.
It has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports on each side, which gives it a lot of versatility. It can be customized with up to 32GB of RAM and 4TB of storage, both of which are not available on the MacBook Air. It has the same screen brightness as the MacBook Pro 16-inch. Then there’s the Intel-powered MacBook Pro 13-inch.
However, it performs worse than the MacBook Air’s M1 chip in terms of processor and graphics performance, and it’s also more expensive. This is primarily for people who have specific concerns about the MacBook Air’s specifications, or who want something that is similar to the MacBook Air but has an Intel processor so that it can run extremely obscure apps or plugins.
4. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)
The best MacBook for students in terms of screen quality in a small package.
Reasons to buy
+Great screen quality
Reasons to avoid
–Not many real improvements over MacBook Air
This machine isn’t at the bottom of our list because it’s bad; rather, we believe it provides the fewest reasons for students to choose it over the other options. It has the same M1 processor as the MacBook Air, but costs more.
We don’t find it to be particularly useful in practice, so it’s not really worth the extra money for students. The extra cash gets you a brighter screen (again, the same brightness as the 16-inch MacBook Pro), which is great for photos and video but not strictly necessary in other situations. It also includes Apple’s Touch Bar second screen, which is a context-sensitive touchscreen that appears above the keyboard and displays useful shortcuts and extra tools.
It’s also slightly heavier and larger than the MacBook Air, but only by a small amount, and it’s still extremely portable. It’s a fantastic machine, but we believe students would be better served spending their money elsewhere.