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Which is the best Mac for students in 2016? Should you buy a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBook, Mac mini or new iMac?

Martyn Casserly | March 28, 2016
If you're starting college or university in the coming year, you may well be thinking about buying a Mac to help with your studies.

There is of course a 15" MacBook Pro with Retina display, and it is a magnificent machine, but at £1,599 it's £600 more than the 13" model, and as such feels like it would be a little excessive for students. It's also heavier, weighing in at 2.04kg vs the 1.58kg of the 13" model. The extra half kilo makes a fair bit of difference when you have to carry it around every day.

The Intel Iris Pro GPU is a definite step-up from the Intel Iris in the 13" MacBook Pro with Retina display in terms of graphics performance, so if this is an important factor for you then it's worth considering. However, it's worth mentioning that its processor isn't as fast as that of the 13" model, at 2.2GHz compared to 2.7GHz (although it is an i7 model with Hyper-Threading). We'd still maintain that the 13" is the ideal model for students, and is a contender to be the one in which you should invest.

Of course if mobility really is top of your list then the MacBook Air seems a more obvious choice.

Starting at £749 for the 11" model equipped with a 1.6GHz Intel i5, 128GB of storage, and 4GB or RAM, it's a lot cheaper than other Macs while also being smaller and lighter. This makes it more practical for students to take to lectures.

It does have a slower processor than the Retina MacBook Pros, and 4GB RAM is becoming a little low these days if you want the machine to stay sharp for a few years. To remedy this, we recommend that you bump it up to 8GB at point of purchase if you can, but the flash drive is snappy so it's more than capable of most tasks - especially word processing and online research.

The 13" models start at £849, so if you find the 11" too small, or just want to bathe in the glory of the 13" model's twelve-hour battery life, it's not a huge leap financially and to prolonged study sessions it would be our MacBook Air of choice.

Along with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, Apple brought back the original MacBook at its event in March. The 12" MacBook is actually thinner than the current generation MacBook Air and features a brand new design, which we think is gorgeous. But is it the right option for students?

Starting at £1,049, the MacBook is more expensive than the MacBook Air (and even the base MacBook Pro) even though processor wise, it's the weakest of the three. The base model offers a dual-core 1.1GHz Intel Core M processor, 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 5300. It does have its design going for it though, as its incredibly thin and lightweight, just 13.1mm at its thickest, which is 24 percent thinner than the MacBook Air.


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