Best MacBook for College Students in the UK

Best MacBook for College Students in the UK

The 13-inch MacBook Air is the best MacBook college students can buy. It's inexpensive for a Mac, has plenty of ports, and is light enough to carry with you all day.

Best overall

13-inch MacBook Air

macbook-air-2017-front

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The 13-inch MacBook Air doesn't have a high-density Retina display or a Force Touch trackpad, but what it does have is 2x USB, 2x Thunderbolt, MagSafe, SD card, and 3.5mm headphone jack, and up to 2.2 GHz, 8 GB of DDR3 memory, and 512 GB of solid state storage, all in an ultra-light package that won't break the bank. In fact, starting at just £924.95 and weighing in at only 2.96 lbs, it's literally the ultralight laptop that every other manufacturer has spent the last few years figuring out how to copy. I carried a 13-inch MacBook Air for years and when someone in my family recently headed to college, it's the Mac I had him go with.

Starts at £924.95.

Bottom-line: The 13-inch MacBook Air has been the go-to for tech writers for years, and for good reason. If you don't need the power or the Retina pixels, go with the portability.

Why the 13-inch MacBook Air is the best

The best less-expensive Mac ever.

The MacBook Air packs all the power most people need from a computer into a thin, light, strong aluminum wedge that's incredibly easy to carry around, and a cinch to use on your desk in class or on your lap on the couch. Because of its size — or lack thereof — the MacBook Air takes up minimal space in your bag or even tucked under your arm. Because it's a unibody, it also stands up to the wear and tear of life on the go. It also comes with a slew of ports, unlike Apple's latest ultra-light, the new MacBook. That means you can easily plug in all the peripherals you need, all at the same time.

Mark Spoonauer likes the 13-inch MacBook Air as well, writing for Laptop Magazine:

Our top overall pick for the money is the 13-inch MacBook Air (£924.95) because of its long battery life and strong performance from its 5th-generation Core i5 processor. But if you're willing to splurge on a sharper and more vibrant screen.

As do Brian Lam, Nathan Edwards, and Dan Frakes of The Wirecutter:

The 13-inch MacBook Air is balanced. It offers great performance and battery life, the latest chips and ports, an unbeatable keyboard and trackpad—both things that other companies are still struggling to produce—an amazingly solid aluminum-unibody chassis, and a lack of outstanding flaws. It doesn't have a high-resolution Retina display, making the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro ever more appealing for people with more-demanding needs, and it's missing the very latest ports (USB-C and Thunderbolt 3), but we think those trade-offs are okay for most people, given everything the Air does right.

That last part is advice worth taking right now: What you get with the Air is a fine computer, but an outdated one. Apple recently gave the MacBook Air a tiny increase in processor frequency, but that was it. If you want something more modern, you'll need to look at the MacBook or MacBook Pro.

Otherwise, for most people looking for an inexpensive Mac for college, the 13-inch MacBook Air remains the best bet.

Best workstation

13-inch MacBook Pro

MacBook-Pro- 13 2017

See Macbook Pros at Amazon UK

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a serious computer for serious studies — everything from computer science to advanced 3D modeling. It can currently be maxed out with a 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7 "Kabylake" processor and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650, 16GB of 2133MHz memory, and up to 1TB of solid state storage. It includes a 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display, which means the pixels are so dense they disappear at normal viewing distances, and Apple's new Force Touch trackpad, which simulates both standard trackpad clicks, and also enables secondary Force Clicks and pressure sensitive drawing. There's also an option for Touch Bar and Touch ID, the latter of which is incredibly convenient for everything from logging in to authenticating Apple Pay. Thanks to Kaby Lake, it can also hardware accelerate next-generation HEVC (H.265) video. Also now available in silver and space gray.

Starts at £1,275.00.

Bottom line: With almost as much power as the 15-inch MacBook Pro and almost as much portability as the 13-inch MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the most balanced machine in Apple's lineup.

One more thing: If you need even more power and pixels, and don't mind the weight, go with the quad-core 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Best ultra-portable

MacBook

apple-macbook-12-inch-2017-01

See Macbooks at Amazon UK

Sometimes jokingly called "ManagerBook", because it's next-generation technology comes with a next-generation price, for most people the Mac of tomorrow isn't quite the Mac of today. Still, if you travel a lot between buildings or campuses or simply don't want to carry any more Mac than you have to — in other words, If you do want something that's as close as possible to an iPad but still has a clamshell keyboard and still runs macOS — then the MacBook is for you.

Starts at £939.00.

Bottom-line: Across campus, across the office, or across the world, the MacBook is tomorrow's laptop today.

One more thing: It comes in space grey, silver, gold, and — oh, yes — rose gold.

Conclusion

Apple now has iPad Pros as well, so the line between tablet and laptop has blurred. If you're considering an ultra-mobile option, you may want to consider one of them instead. Otherwise, if you need to buy now, get the 13-inch MacBook Air... Or just hold on a couple more months for updated MacBooks!

Best overall

13-inch MacBook Air

apple-macbook-12-inch-2017-01

See at Amazon UK

The 13-inch MacBook Air doesn't have a high-density Retina display or a Force Touch trackpad, but what it does have is 2x USB, 2x Thunderbolt, MagSafe, SD card, and 3.5mm headphone jack, and up to 2.2 GHz, 8 GB of DDR3 memory, and 512 GB of solid state storage, all in an ultra-light package that won't break the bank. In fact, starting at just £924.95 and weighing in at only 2.96 lbs, it's literally the ultralight laptop that every other manufacturer has spent the last few years figuring out how to copy. I carried a 13-inch MacBook Air for years and when someone in my family recently headed to college, it's the Mac I had him go with.

Bottom-line: The 13-inch MacBook Air has been the go-to for tech writers for years, and for good reason. If you don't need the power or the Retina pixels, go with the portability.

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