This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Apple laptops for college students

For college students, a laptop has become a complete necessity to get through studies. Especially with more work continuing to take place online, a laptop that can easily handle multiple programs and software is necessary. Apple offers a stylish line of products with the computing power to back them up. Some MacBooks are more tailored toward college students, with the company offering specific deals and bundles specifically aimed at them. Choosing the right MacBook for the right set of needs can be a difficult task.

Features to consider before buying a MacBook

MacBook Air or MacBook Pro

For prospective buyers, the main choice to make is between a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro offers stronger overall performance and comes in larger screen sizes but is more expensive than the Air. The MacBook Air is slightly less expensive and is much lighter and thinner, making it easier to carry around in a backpack for a full day of classes.

Processing power

The processing power of a laptop helps it run smoothly even when high intensive programs are being used. Most Apple laptops come equipped with several high-level Intel Core Processors between i7 and i9. MacBook Pro laptops tend to have more processing power than the MacBook Air. 


Random Access Memory, or RAM, helps a computer run several programs simultaneously without crashing or lagging. RAM is an area that varies heavily depending on the quality and type of laptop being purchased. However, most MacBooks offer somewhere between 8GB and 64GB for optimal performance. 

Internal storage

Internal storage refers to the actual amount of files and programs that can be housed fully on the laptop itself. With some MacBooks offering just a few hundred gigabytes, and others offering multiple terabytes, this is one of the main areas of variance between the different laptops. Laptops with a small internal storage capacity can be supplemented with an external hard drive or a cloud storage system. 

Screen size and resolution

Another major area of difference between the different MacBooks offered by Apple is the screen size. While most modern models come equipped with retina display capabilities for clear and crisp screens, the size of the screens varies up to 3 inches from one another. Larger screens can be better for movies or videos but can also be more expensive. 

Durability and portability

One of the biggest factors for many college students can be the durability and portability of the laptop. With the laptops needing to be transported from class to class in a backpack, the need for a laptop to withstand normal wear and tear without damage is vital to its long-term value. 

Top MacBooks for college students

Best of the best MacBook for college students

2019 Apple MacBook Pro

2019 Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch

What you need to know: This is a powerful MacBook with several unique features that can handle nearly any possible need that a college student may have over the course of their studies or extracurriculars. 

What you’ll love: The touch bar and large retina display make the laptop perfect for video and photo editing as well as other creative pursuits. 

What you should consider: Despite the hefty price point of well over $2,000, the laptop only has a battery life of 11 hours, well below many other MacBooks at lower prices. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck Macbook for college students

2020 Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip

2020 Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip

What you need to know: This is a lightweight MacBook with Apple’s new M1 processing chips for faster computing power and a better graphics interface.

What you’ll love: Despite how thin and light the computer is, the MacBook Air has up to 18 hours of battery life on a single charge. 

What you should consider: Some users report issues with applications crashing and grainy camera quality on the laptop. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Honorable mentions

2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip

2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip

What you need to know: This 13-inch model is a quality laptop with strong computing power and faster overall performance than previous models for a lower price than the 16-inch counterpart.

What you’ll love: It has the longest-lasting battery of all Apple MacBooks at over 20 hours, making it perfect for a full day of classes without the need to recharge.

What you should consider: The 256GB of internal storage on the more affordable model of the laptop may not be enough for some users. It costs over $200 more to upgrade to a model with more internal storage. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Intel Processor

2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Intel Processor

What you need to know: More powerful than the M1 version of the laptop, this MacBook can handle more intensive programs without overheating or crashing. 

What you’ll love: Up to 32GB of memory can provide students with more than enough RAM to handle any programs or processes that they need to run.

What you should consider: The laptop only offers a paltry 10 hours of battery life on a single charge, meaning most users will need to recharge it at least once during the course of the day. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Tom Price writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.