The fall may be uncertain for students, but one fact remains constant: When you head back to school, you’ll need a laptop. It’s the simplest and most efficient way to do schoolwork, or any work, on-the-go — even if you’re working from home. The top of the pile, in the laptop world, are Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro. You tend to pay a premium, but that money is an investment in things like reliability, design, connectivity, and efficiency. That extra money goes a long way, but you can pay less of it than ever with our MacBook deals. And, while you’re gearing up for whatever the fall will bring us, we’re offering special back-to-school MacBook deals, with some of the best offers on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro that we’ve ever seen. Check out these top-of-the-line Apple laptops today.
- 13-inch MacBook Air (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) — $899, was $999
- 13-inch MacBook Pro (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) — $1200, was $1400
- 13-inch MacBook Pro (8GB RAM, 512GB SSD) — $1700, was $1900
- 16-inch MacBook Pro (16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) — $2099, was $2399
- 16-inch MacBook Pro (16GB RAM, 1TB SSD) — $2500, was $2800
Once you begin looking at MacBooks, the decision really falls between two poles: the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. Each has very specific, and occasionally nuanced, uses. Let’s dive in.
The MacBook air is the cheapest of all the Apple laptops, especially when you factor in student discounts. Most of that price cut is the result of less power, and less speed, which aren’t important factors for a lot of students, until they are. If your work involves a great deal of video editing, music processing, or 3D modeling — anything that requires giant applications working with large files on a regular basis — consider the MacBook Pro. If you need a laptop to do everyday schoolwork — papers, presentations — as well as watch Netflix and talk to your friends and family, a MacBook Air will do just fine. They’re both incredibly light and portable, with the Air having a slight edge, but only by 0.3 pounds.
Side by side, when we look at the machines, there isn’t a huge difference. Both the 2020 versions sport the Magic Keyboard, a far more comfortable and easy-to-use keyboard than the previous butterfly version that used to frustrate Mac users. They both look amazing, too, in terms of what you see on the screen. The MacBook Air has slimmed down its bezels, and added Retina display, making it comparable to the Pro visually, although the MacBook Pro does have a brighter screen (and better speakers). The 2020 version of the MacBook Air also has True Tone, which accounts for ambient light when adjusting the color on the display. If you’re a committed gamer, you might recognize some difference in the MacBook Air’s Intel Iris card versus the MacBook Pro’s Intel Iris 645 (the most expensive versions boast an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M), but for the rest of us it won’t matter.
The real difference is in power and speed. The MacBook Air is powered by a 1.2-GHz 10th Gen Core i7 processor. This is more than enough engine for basic computing, but, again, if you’re working a great deal with video, or larger programs — especially multitasking — you’re going to want something more powerful. The MacBook Pro begins with a 1.4-GHz 8th-gen Intel Core i5 and goes all the way up to a 2.6-GHz 9th-gen Core i7 (on the most expensive models), which is as fast as these laptops get.
Finally, there’s the issue of storage. Consider how much you’ll need. Again, if you’re just keeping papers, presentations and photos on your laptop, you’ll be fine with what comes in the box. It’s when you get into many-GB video files, and other large files, and that you need to start worrying, and looking at the MacBook Pro. Simultaneously, figure out what cloud system you’ll be using; that can help you determine how much storage you will actually need on the machine.
Something both MacBooks have in spades is reliability. MacBooks tend to break down less than PCs (a nightmare for students), they contract fewer viruses, are a harder target for spam and malware and are a breeze to upgrade. If you want a (great looking) workhorse, this is your laptop. When it comes to deciding between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, it’s really a question of how much power and speed you require — those factors should guide your decision.
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