Best MacBooks for College Students in 2020

Wondering which MacBook to buy for school, college, or university? Here, is our best MacBooks for college students guide, we’ve tested all of the Mac models in order to give you the most honest review. So, read on to find out which MacBook is best for students in 2020.

A Few Things to Know Before buying a MacBook for Study Purpose

When it comes to computing, different students have different needs! However, depending on the degree program, you might be able to get by just fine with an inexpensive system that’s proficient at basic tasks like word processing, web browsing, and email.

On the other hand, if the course includes 3D modeling, CAD drawings, or video editing, then you’ll want to make sure your laptop has a high-end processor, plenty of RAM (at least 16GB), and a speedy drive. 

Besides, screen size is also an important consideration here because it dictates the overall size and weight of the laptop. Anything larger than 16-inch might not fit easily into a backpack. But, if your MacBook is too small (less than 13-inch), then it might be too cramped for comfort. Therefore, make sure you have sorted everything through before purchasing any new Mac laptop.

M1 MacBook Air (2020)

Best MacBook for college students
Pros Cons
  • Great balance of price and power
  • Light and portable
  • Scissor-switch keyboard is back
  • Up to 14 hours of battery life
  • Limited power when compared
  • to the Pro models
  • No fans

Most students who are looking for a new laptop should go for the MacBook Air. It is the most affordable version of the MacBook lineup. And, even though it might not be as powerful as the Pro models, the Air still offers enough power for students to get through their daily school workloads. Not to mention the newly added M1 chip, which provides more processing power when compared to the old Intel chip.

The M1 MacBook Air also has enough battery to take you from class to class. Unlike its previous versions, the latest MacBook Air features up to 14 hours of battery life, the longest battery we’ve ever seen in a MacBook Air. This machine also features the Magic Keyboard we all love, just like the one in the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Overall, if most of what you’re doing is writing, doing presentations, or researching on the web, then the M1 MacBook Air is ideal here.

M1 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)

Pros Cons
  • Surprisingly powerful
  • More portable than 16″ models
  • Up to four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Magic Keyboard
  • No discrete GPU
  • Limited storage options

For students who want a laptop with more power than the MacBook Air while sacrificing as little portability as possible, the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro is a great choice here.

It’s missing some advantages of the 16-inch model, like a big screen, large storage options, and discrete GPU. However, this machine is powered by the powerful M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine. So, you’ll have enough power for fairly demanding tasks, such as graphic design, or photo and video editing. And, like the Air models, the 2020 MacBook Pro is also equipped with a scissor-switch Magic Keyboard.

16-inch MacBook Pro (2019)

Pros Cons
  • Intel processors
  • Configurable up to 8TB of storage
  • Bigger display
  • More expensive
  • A bit too powerful for most tasks

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the laptop to get if you need the strongest Intel processor and don’t care too much about the price. Whether you need that 8-core processor, 64GB of RAM, or even 8TB of storage, you can configure your Mac with many options. 

However, even with the base configurations including a 6-core Intel Core i7 with 16GB RAM, 512GB of storage, and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GPU, the Pro can still handle pretty much any intensive workflow.

Overall, we think the 16-inch MacBook Pro is probably overkilled for most students. But, if you’re learning graphic design, then this Intel-based MacBook is the perfect option here.

MacBook Air (2017)

Pros Cons
  • Relatively cheap
  • Solid performance
  • USB-A ports
  • SD card slot
  • Older processor
  • Low base storage

It is worth mentioning that even the 2019 MacBook Air still uses the same processor as the 2018 model. So, you can save a lot of money by going for the 2017 13.3-inch MacBook Air. 

Despite the lack of Retina display and Touch ID, this is still a quite decent machine. Yes, its processor is a few years old at this point, but you still have enough battery life to get through your daily workload. Also, the 2017 MacBook Air is rated for up to 12 hours of battery life.

In most cases, we would still recommend the newest MacBook Air. However, the 2017 model is still a solid alternative if you’re looking for a budget MacBook. The 2017 MacBook Air is not too impressive when it comes to speed, but it’ll still be a dependable device throughout your academic life.

The Bottom Line

For most students, we would say that the 2020 MacBook Air is the best choice here. This machine has enough power to face most academic challenges you come up against, while still offering up to 14 hours of battery life. Also, we think the 13.3-inch screen of the M1 MacBook Air is a sweet spot in terms of comfort and portability.

Whether you choose a powerful MacBook Pro or a budget-friendly MacBook Air, Apple’s laptops will power you through any school task you’ll meet.

We hope our list of best MacBook for college students helps you find a perfect Mac laptop for you or your kids.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!

Was this article helpful?
Categories Mac
About John Temple

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.