Refurbished laptop for high school daughter -- Air or Pro?

Joe Moran

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Oct 24, 2014
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My daughter is a freshman in high school and I am planning to purchase a laptop for her early next year. Most likely I will get a refurbished current model rather than buying new since the specs haven't been refreshed since early this year.

Her interests are mainly in music, both performing and composing (music and lyrics). She already plans to go to a college with a good performing arts or music education program, so I'm assuming she'll need the ability to run something with a bit more oomph than GarageBand at some point. It also needs to be able to connect to a MIDI keyboard controller that she uses right now with a much older PowerBook for practicing piano and futzing around with instruments in GarageBand.

She's made it clear she definitely wants a laptop, presumably to take to school and use for note taking and whatever else might be needed in class. She'll definitely be using it for standard web browsing, watching videos, email, and homework projects; on that last front, her school tends to use Google Docs suite rather than Office.

My own expectation is that whatever I buy for her, even as a refurbished current-year model, should last through all of high school and ideally through all of college (though I can see maybe needing to get her a newer model after a year or two of college).

Will a maxed out 13" MacBook Air manage to fit the bill here? Or given the expectation of eventual tools like Logic coming into play, is a maxed out 13" Retina MacBook Pro the better way to go?

Thanks in advance for your input!

- Joe -


Ambassador Team Leader, Senior Moderator
Jan 8, 2012
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In *my* opinion, the MacBook Air should be more than sufficient for her high school needs, but know that the Air has a flash drive instead of a hard disk drive. It shouldn't be an issue, but some people are more comfortable with a hard drive. If having a flash drive concerns you then get the MBP instead.


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Oct 24, 2013
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I am personally a musician and have used programs such as pro tools and garage band a few times. A year ago I recorded 12 tracks for my old band on our 2011 model Mac, and never had any issues. Those music programs are sophisticated enough but they don't require a huge amount of ram or power to run. I'd say the air is more than enough to get you by. And for school these days disc is very rare flash drive would be more than enough

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