Amazing Deals on the Brand-New Apple 2018 MacBook Pro: What to Get for a High School or College Student
The 2018 Apple MacBook Pro has been out about 6 weeks and already is up to $300 off. I cannot recall that deep a discount on a new Mac that quickly, ever—hence “amazing”. And yet the 2018 MacBook Pro is clearly the most capable laptop that Apple has every built and by far—see my in-depth review of the 2018 MacBook Pro.
One of my daughters is heading the university soon, with a planned major of Computer Engineering. She has an aging 7-year-old 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is not going to cut it for the next 4 years. Which MacBook Pro to get for her? Hard and soft requirements are:
- She is adamant that a 15-inch screen is essential, the 13-inch just too small.
- It is my view that 16GB memory is essential—8GB is just not enough, particularly for someone studying computer engineering. Or, rather, it might be enough, but there is no way to know for sure, and making the wrong decision means buying a replacement laptop. So it’s got to be 16GB, not 8GB (32GB is overkill).
- Like memory, the SSD is also soldered-on, so while a 256GB SSD sounds good enough, what happens over 4/5/6 years? Hard to be sure, but it’s the same sort of problem: too little and one would have to plug in an external drive all the time, a hassle. So I deem 512GB a good safe bet. Like 16GB vs 8GB of memory it will probably be fine, but the downside is large of having 256GB fill up.
- A lifespan of a minimum of 4 years and probably 6 years. Does it make sense to take a chance on that time frame of having to replace the whole computer for want of memory or storage?
Here then are the 2018 MacBook Pro models that make sense given the above (available in silver or space gray). The (current) discount gap means that the better-CPU machine is only $100 more costly, so it’s a no-brainer for the 16GB / 512GB model with 2.6 GHz CPU.
Note that I am NOT saying that the models above are needed for most students. But for a student studying Computer Engineering, I expect many a coding assignment and that raises some capability/capacity concerns.
Many students will do just fine with a 13-inch model and/or 8GB / 256GB. Since the 2018 MacBook Pro has little to offer over the 2017 model, and I do not recommend the touchbar, I’d say consider saving the money and get the deeply discounted 2017 models. However, the 2018 model with touchbar is a faster and better machine—problem is its cost rapidly escalates to that of the 15-inch model so unless 15-inch is undesirable, move to the 15-inch model once the price approaches $1800 or so.
Some students might not need a laptop (probably not real common!). I heartily recommend an iMac 5K or iMac 4K as preferred over a laptop, for the large beautiful screen, and far more ergonomic setup.