So, you’re about to start college and are looking to purchase a new Mac to get you through your studies. When laptop shopping, the product you choose depends on your budget and what you need for your specific studies. Before making a decision, it’s best to check with your school to see what its system requirements are for your major. This will help you not only decide on a Mac, but what technical specifications you may need as a student.

Which Mac is best to buy for college? Let’s check out our options…

M2 MacBook Pro for students who need more power

The 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro has the same design as the M1 model but has a more updated processor inside. It also has the Touch Bar that some people love and some hate. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is just as powerful as the MacBook Air, however, the Pro has fans inside to help the devices sustain its performance if put under pressure. If there’s any inkling you may over power an Air, I always suggest spending a bit more on a Pro just in case. This is a common laptop of choice for students in creative studies like graphic design, film, or other art-related majors.

M2 MacBook Pro

The M2 MacBook Pro isn’t a computer most people need, however, it fits the bill for people who need a bit more power than the Air but not as much as the higher-end Pros.

2021 MacBook Pro (14- or 16-inch) is a beast

Some advantages of the 2021 MacBook Pros are that they come with more than just USB-C ports. Additionally, its Liquid Retina XDR display is the most beautiful screen ever on a MacBook. Surfing the web and gaming are also better than ever with this being the first in the Mac lineup to offer ProMotion, giving you an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

You have two sizes to choose from; the 14-inch or the 16-inch. There are even two chips to decide on; – the M1 Pro and the M1 Max. While this laptop is a beast, it should only be bought if you truly need the power or have the extra money to spend. Students who study subjects like engineering, computer science, and computer-aided design (CAD) may benefit from the power in the 2021 MacBook Pros.

M1 Pro MacBook Pros

If you’re debating on whether you should get a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air, check out my colleague Michael’s guide on the subject:

M1 iMac is great for online students

If you’re an online student or just spend a lot of time working at your desk, you may want to consider an M1 iMac. Its beautiful 24-inch 4.5K retina display is a pleasure to work off of, and the 1080p FaceTime HD camera is hard to beat. Plus, the stunning colors will surely spice up your workspace. It’s a thin device, making it easy to transfer around your home if needed.

M1 iMac deal

It’s also a great option for those who may use an iPad as their laptop and are looking for a more stable device for their work. I personally use an M1 iMac for school, and I love the large display because I can split the screen without needing to have a second monitor.

Best Mac for most college students: M1 MacBook Air

The M1 MacBook Air debuted in 2020 and is still the best Mac for most college students. While the new M2 MacBook Air just came out, many students don’t need it. However, if you have the extra money and want a newer product – go for it! This computer is the most affordable MacBook offered, starting at $899 with a student discount. My absolute favorite part of the M1 MacBook Air is its ergonomic design. Its bottom half is comfortable on your wrists, making it feel like a dream to type on.

M1 Macbook Air

The power of the M1 chip makes the laptop plenty capable of doing about anything you may need for school. You can comfortably type papers, play games, edit photos, multitask, and more. Its battery life is also one of the best out there in a laptop. Check out my colleague Filipe’s article to see more on why the M1 MacBook Air is still a great option.

Also keep in mind that some M1 MacBook Airs in the past had an issue with the screen cracking by itself. However, it’s not incredibly common and it is something covered under AppleCare+.

While the M1 MacBook Air is a delight, for some students, they may be better suited to go with another Mac model.

Best Mac Accessories for students:

Apple’s education discount

Apple has a year-round education discount for students in higher education, their parents, as well as teachers and staff at all levels. The discount offers a $50 discount on the iPad Air and the 11-inch iPad Pro, and a $100 discount on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. For Macs, the discount will vary but starts at $100. You’ll even get a 10% discount on accessories like an iPad keyboard, Apple Pencil, or mouse. Additionally, buying AppleCare+ in full will save you 20%. You can receive the discount either online or in-store.

Apple’s summer education promotion

Each year in the summer, Apple will hold a special education promotion in-store and online. This year, the promotion runs until September 26 and offers gift cards rather than AirPods like before. When purchasing a select iPad, students will earn a $100 Apple Gift Card. For Macs, students will get a $150 Apple Gift Card. This promotion bundles with the year-round education discount.

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About the Author

Allison McDaniel

Allison is a News Writer at 9to5Mac covering Apple news and rumors.

You can email her directly at or catch her on Twitter at @aamcdani