If you are getting ready to start or return to college –or have kids who are going to college– you know the importance of having an excellent laptop to help you be productive on your journey through higher education. There are many to choose from, but what about the MacBook Air?
Not only is the MacBook Air good for college, but I would say it is great! It is a wonderful choice for so many reasons. In my view, it is a portable productivity machine, which is exactly what a college student will need to get to graduation.
My name is Eric, and I have been around computers for most of my life, going back to the late 1970s. I have seen, used, and evaluated many laptops over the years, and I can tell you what to look for when considering a MacBook Air for college.
I have already given you my opinion of whether the MacBook Air is good for college. If you want to find out why I think it is a great choice, keep reading below! I will explain in a little more detail why this system will work well for most college students.
- Laptop for College: What to Look for
- The MacBook Air Fits a College Student’s Needs
- The Negatives of using the MacBook Air for College
- Is the MacBook Pro a Better Choice?
- Education Pricing
Laptop for College: What to Look for
To get started, let’s first look at what qualities or features a computer should have to make a good college laptop. After that, we can see how the MacBook Air measures up to this criteria.
The Big Three
It’s what just about everyone looks at when buying a new computer. What kind of processor does it have? How much memory or RAM? How much disk space? These three things will determine the computer’s power, speed, and storage space.
These will be very important to a college student trying to get work done, but for researching and writing papers it’s not really at the top of the list. As long as the computer can run browsers, and word processors, multitask, and have decent storage space, it should be adequate for most.
Most college students are constantly on the go. Whether going to class, the library, the coffee shop, or just a friend’s dorm, they need a laptop that’s easy to transport. Most of their usage time will probably be spent away from their room, so this is a big one.
Battery Life/Power Consumption
This goes closely along with portability since you need your battery to last while you’re on the go, especially if you don’t have an opportunity to plug it in often.
Power usage may also be a concern for those thinking about the environment. Using less power is just an all-around good thing these days.
Tuition, books, rent, food, and the list goes on– none are cheap in college. So anywhere you can save money can be helpful. Price will matter when looking for a good college computer.
Easy to Use
You’ll want to be able to spend your time studying, researching, and learning your class subjects, not learning how to use your computer or trying to fix problems with it. An easy-to-use system is always a plus.
Built to Last
Having a machine that is built to last is an essential factor. Not only will it need to hold up physically, but it will also need to remain technologically viable for at least 3 to 5 years. You don’t want to be purchasing a new machine every year or constantly needing repairs.
The MacBook Air Fits a College Student’s Needs
Now that we discussed the main things a college student should consider when looking for a laptop, let’s look at how the MacBook Air fits those requirements.
Packed with Power
The MacBook Air has plenty of power to satisfy almost any student’s needs. The M1 processor can handle most tasks such as word processing, internet browsing for research, math and science applications– the list goes on.
Its memory and drive space are more than adequate. Since specs change with each new model and release, and I don’t want to bore you with numbers, I’m not going to list them here, but you can see the latest from Apple.com.
The design of the MacBook Air makes it very portable. This feature alone almost makes it the perfect match for most college students. The sleek design and light weight make it convenient to take almost anywhere and is one of the MacBook Air’s most significant advantages over other laptops.
Low Power Consumption
Its low power consumption adds to the portability since it greatly extends the battery life. There’s no need to constantly be tethered to a wall outlet– a huge plus for an active student. It’s also easy on the environment if that is important to you.
Easy to Use
The above factors contribute to making this laptop very easy to use, but there are other factors as well. It has a clear, bright display that is easy to read. The keyboard is responsive and comfortable to use, and of course, macOS makes using the laptop a breeze.
The no fan design not only reduces power consumption and adds to the slim design but ensures the machine is quiet, so you won’t disturb your roommate during those all-night study sessions.
Availability of Apps
The standard macOS comes with tons of tools and applications that will help you be productive, and if you don’t find a built-in solution for whatever you are doing, you can probably find what you need in the App Store.
The hardware on the MacBook Air is very reliable, so you shouldn’t have to worry about the system having issues due to failing parts. It comes with 90 days of tech support and a 1-year warranty. If you have any concerns past that, you can always sign up for Apple Care.
You will also be using the latest macOS, which is user-friendly and updated often, so you don’t have to worry much about glitches or bugs.
Although there are cheaper PC laptops and Chromebooks, the MacBook Air is one of the most affordable Apple products. Not only does the MacBook Air already have a great price, but you can also qualify for student pricing, reducing the cost even more.
Not Good for Gaming
The MacBook Air is not a great system for gaming. You might think I put this in the wrong category, but if you don’t want to spend all your time playing video games instead of studying, this might be a plus for those who can quickly become addicted.
The Negatives of using the MacBook Air for College
The MacBook Air sounds great, and it is, but like anything else, it does have some negatives to consider.
If you don’t mind sharing, this may not be a problem, but it often is for many. The MacBook Air makes such a great college laptop, and there’s no doubt your roommate will want to borrow it. Just a little something to think about.
Limited Number of Ports
The current MacBook Air is equipped with only two USB-C ports, and you’ll need to use one of them for charging. You might find this a bit inconvenient if you like to connect many external peripherals by cable, such as monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, etc.
You can get a hub or docking station that will allow you to have more ports, or you can use wireless devices for things such as an external keyboard and mouse. So there are ways around this, but it may be an issue for some users.
It’s a Little Fragile
Due to its lightweight and thin design, the MacBook Air can be a little fragile, and I worry about the beating it may take in a typical dorm room or fraternity/sorority house. Have you ever seen the movie Animal House? Well, it probably won’t be that bad. At least, we hope.
Limited Screen Space
The small size of this laptop also means the screen size is a bit small. The 13.3-inch screen looks wonderful, but the space on it can be a factor for some. It is possible to hook up external monitors when needed, but that doesn’t help you when you’re on the go.
Not Great for Intense Graphics
If your studies require a lot of intense graphics processing or video editing, this system may slow you down a little. Although the display looks great for most applications, it lacks a little in this area.
Not a Good Gaming Machine
Ok, this was a positive note in the previous section, but it may also be a negative if you are disciplined and good at managing your time. All students need some downtime, so why not play some good video games.
The only problem is that the MacBook Air is not a great gaming machine, so if you’re planning on playing intense high-end video games, this machine will not handle them well. You will probably be fine if you’re okay with basic arcade-style games.
Is the MacBook Pro a Better Choice?
This is a question pondered by many looking to buy an Apple laptop. The MacBook Pro is definitely a step up from the Air. It gives you more power and options of what to do with it, but it will also cost you more.
The Pro is still somewhat small and compact but is still not quite as portable as the Air, which is a massive factor for college life. It’s just a little bulkier and heavier, and the battery doesn’t last as long.
It’s worth considering if you are willing to shell out the extra bucks. You will want to think about how you will use it, what type of classes you’ll need it for, and whether or not it will be a productive tool that will last for a good portion of the student’s academic career.
In my opinion, the MacBook Air really does make a fine college laptop but make sure you evaluate the items I have listed above and think about how they will apply to your situation.
One of the great benefits that I have seen from Apple is its discounts for students and educators. This is great for many who can use a bit of a helping hand to get what they need for college.
We all know college is not cheap, so saving money anywhere is always a plus. They also have options for payment plans if you need to go that route. You can look at Apple’s education pricing and available payment options on Apple.com.
As you can see from the points above, the MacBook Air will make a fine laptop for almost all college students. It provides the power, portability, convenience, and affordability to help the typical student be more productive in their studies.
I hope this overview has helped you pursue an excellent college laptop. Remember to consider all your options and figure out what works best for you and/or your student. Hopefully, you will have a nice machine that lasts until graduation and beyond.
What do you think about the MacBook Air? I would love to hear your opinions. Also, as usual, let me know if you have any questions. I would love to hear from you.