Best iPads and Macs for students on a budget

Whether you are looking to take online courses or expect to go to college in the fall, students choose Apple equipment for many reasons. Here’s how to choose the best one for you, your needs and your budget.

Apple’s Mac lineup, especially the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iPads, are all compelling purchases for students. Rightly so, considering their value for money, ease of use and long lifespan. While it’s hard to question the value they offer, that doesn’t mean Apple equipment is cheap.

And if there is one thing that all students generally have in common, it is that they have a limited budget. Appleiphonestop maintains a constantly updated price guide for the entire Apple line, specifically aimed at helping students whenever they need to buy.

If it is a matter of weighing up the various offers from Apple at any given time, then you should consider the costs and the offers at the time you intend to buy. Having the right machine is crucial, because otherwise you are wasting your money and missing out on the benefits of the optimal machine.

Yet, if you can’t afford to make money the only criterion, neither can you ignore it. So if you’re a student buying now – or buying for a student – then this is a snapshot of the best Macs and iPads. And it’s a snapshot of the best offer you can get in each category of device.

Mac mini

Every student is different, but for the price and performance, a Mac mini is the place for most people. Or rather, it’s if you don’t need additional portability – and if you get a separate monitor and keyboard.

With the Mac mini itself, the optimal version is the current entry-level version. Now that it has 256GB of SSD storage, this will be a solid purchase that will last the duration of your class.

This entry-level version comes with 8 GB of RAM and it’s also a solid choice. Current Mac mini prices also offer discounts on each model, bringing this mini entry to $ 759.

If you can expand to more SSD or more RAM, you will be rewarded with a machine that lasts longer. See our guide to installing additional RAM on a Mac mini.

Alternatively, if you know you can get by on a smaller SSD, you can currently buy a 128GB Mac mini 2018 for less than $ 700. It’s a pretty good price, but 128GB is less than what you think once your apps are installed.

If cost is a key consideration, you can get a 128 GB Mac mini and plan to add an external drive later. It’s not as convenient as having a larger intern, but it might even be handy if you find your needs are increasing.

The Mac mini is great value, but you have to add a monitor, keyboard, mouse, or trackpad to it.

Costing the same price as the magic keyboard without a keyboard, the Logitech MX Keys are a full-size keyboard that adds backlighting and probably a better typing angle. It’s not as solid as Apple’s offering, but it offers a particularly good typing experience.

If you don’t need the numeric keypad, the newly redesigned Logitech K380 keyboard is a much more economical option at $ 39. In addition to being less than half the price, it also offers the possibility of quickly connecting to one of the three devices. So if you’re going to be using an iPad, or even your iPhone a lot, this keyboard works with all of them.

Logitech offers a new MX Master 3 mouse for Mac, for $ 99, but if you’re more of a trackpad user, Apple’s Magic Trackpad 2 is still the best. It’s $ 129 for the silver / white version and $ 149 for the space gray version.

The last thing you will need is a monitor, and it is both the simplest and the most difficult choice. It’s simpler because there are so many options available to you. Just make sure a monitor that fits your budget will work with your Mac – and by far the giant majority will.

What is more difficult is to find the monitor that best meets your needs at the moment. We recommend that you get one that is not less than 24 inches. This is the minimum for when you are going to mainly write or work. While this is now just one of very many monitors in its type and price range, previously we have the Dell UltraSharp U2415.

When you’re going to do graphics or video, bigger work is better – and more expensive. Consult our guide to determine what is probably best for you and your Mac mini.

You can, of course, choose the 27-inch iMac, which comes with its own – and exceptionally good – built-in monitor. However, even with the best iMac prices, a 27-inch iMac will cost more than a large Mac mini.

Don’t be tempted to compromise with the smaller 21.5-inch iMac. This screen size is just too small for a desktop, and storage is an issue. You can get this model with a 1 TB hard drive, but it comes standard with a slower hard drive and no flash storage.

Macbook Air

Another way to save yourself the trouble of figuring out which monitor to get, is to simply buy a MacBook Air, which comes with an integrated one. It’s not like a new MacBook Air’s display is a compromise either, as it’s a 13.3-inch Retina display.

MacBook Air for Students is an Economical Option

MacBook Air is the ultimate point of portability and performance for students

You will have noticed that 13.3 inches is a little less than the 24 inches which we say is the minimum for use with a desktop computer. It’s true that physical screen size is something you have to give up when buying a laptop – although you can also buy an external monitor if you need to.

However, the sharpness of these MacBook Air displays is also a factor. The Dell UltraSharp U2415 that we mentioned is typical with its 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution screen, for example. And the MacBook Air comes with 1680 by 1050.

As with the Mac mini, the base model of the MacBook Air is now a decent choice for students. That gives you 256GB of SSD, which isn’t roomy, but it’s fine. It also gives you 8GB of RAM which isn’t great, but it’s fine.

Get this basic model and you will be happy. If you can afford to add more RAM or SSD – and you’ll need to do so at the time of purchase – then you’ll be even happier.

And you will have a machine that lasts longer. Note that for the moment, all MacBook Air configurations are also on sale, so your chances of choosing one with better specifications than the minimum are good.

10.2 inch iPad

You can opt for an Apple device that is even more portable than a MacBook Air. Depending on your needs, an iPad might just be the type of workhorse you need.

Plus, a 10.2-inch iPad now regularly costs less than $ 300, so if you bought only on the price, it would be by far the cheapest option. Don’t think of it as a cheap device in the sense that it’s poorly made, underperforming, or just plain inadequate.

The 10.2-inch iPad is a workhorse for students

10.2-inch iPad is a workhorse for students

The regular 10.2-inch iPad is one of the best devices for carrying between lessons, but also for consulting or taking notes on the way. With the 128 GB storage option, and especially with LTE, it’s a full-fledged machine for studying.

If a Mac mini or MacBook Air is the right choice for some people, the 10.2-inch iPad is the right choice for many. You will not have the keyboard of the MacBook Air and the performance will not be as good as that of the Mac mini. But your ability to write, to work on the device is almost unmatched.

iPad Pro

The simple convenience of working from an iPad on any Mac or MacBook is enough to make it tempting no matter the price. If you are considering an iPad and want to be sure that it will work for you throughout your studies and even beyond, also check out the iPad Pro.

As with the standard 10.2-inch iPad, you need 128 GB of storage, and cellphones would be a bargain. Along with these specs, the iPad Pro also gives you a bigger screen, ranging from 10.5 inches to 11 and 12.9.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is fast and immersive

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is fast and immersive

They’re all more powerful than the regular iPad, but maybe it’s that screen size that makes the difference. A 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a big device to carry around, but in use, it looks like you have two iPads side by side.

It makes you feel more immersed in your work, and is an important factor when trying to focus on your student work. This physical size of the 12.9-inch models is an issue, however.

So, for a good performance balance, an excellent screen and a good screen, we recommend an 11-inch iPad Pro with 128 GB of storage.

Check out the latest prices for the 11-inch iPad Pro on all models. While the regular iPad settled in around $ 300, the larger iPad Pro models are more variable.

So if you see a offer like the one with a 12.9-inch iPad Pro for $ 699 at B&H, get it quickly. There are plenty of discounts going on leading up to back to school, with 12.9-inch closure models up to $ 500 off – and many even come with free $ 249 headphones.

Do not wait

If it’s worth checking out the prices of offer on the Apple gear you’re looking for, it’s not worth the wait to buy. There is the issue that Apple Silicon will change the Mac and MacBook Pro lineup, but certainly not until you start your studies – and maybe not after you finish them.

Even then, however, the practicalities of the device that suit you best will be the same. Prices will change, details will change, but your need for portability versus performance will not change.

But neither will it be. If you get the right Apple gear for you, this is the best tool any student can have.

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