Jump to content
Neurolaw

Laptop recommendations for law school?

Recommended Posts

Hi Everyone,

I’m starting 1L in September and need to get myself a good laptop. I’ve been using PCs but am thinking about switching to Mac. 

I want something that is light weight and physically on the smaller size ie 12-13 inches but with decent Ram and good hard drive space. 

I really like how some macs can easily snap pictures from the outside of the laptop while it’s in use. I want to be able to take notes in class and at the same time be able to snap a pic of a lecture board or something. I don’t know if many or any PC laptops have this feature.  

I am willing to spend up to 1500. Maybe a bit more if it would make a difference. 

I’d like to go into bestbuy with an idea of what I need and want. 

Anyone have any suggestions? 

Thanks in advance. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was planning on going Macbook Pro myself, but that's for a bunch of personal reasons on my end.

To address your situation, "good hard drive space" won't really be an option, as everything will basically be SSD-based if you want it thin and light. It's 100% worth the storage space tradeoff for the much smoother experience.

For having photos in notes,  Windows is still a viable alternative if you take notes in OneNote and have it installed on your phone too, I've been able to add photos in line with my notes before using it.

Overall my recommendations would be to go Macbook/Macbook Pro if you're so inclined on the MacOS side (skip the Air unless the rumoured refresh is released), and something like the XPS 13 on the Windows side. I've also heard decent things about offerings like the LG Gram and HP Spectres. Microsoft's Surface products are a viable choice, but I think the more useful models extend beyond your price range. Also consider checking out the Microsoft store, as there's a ~10% student discount on their offerings which may edge out BestBuy. They aren't all Microsoft offerings.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Macs are great. I’ve had an air for 5 years and have had no problems with it (I’ve destroyed every PC I’ve had within 3 years). As for memory, it depends on what you need it for. I find it sufficient for my needs as a student. I run Photoshop CS6 on it as well but found that I have to be very selective about other similarly big programs. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice. I’m thinking Mac, especially now that I’ve discovered you can use Microsoft word. Lol, I had no idea that was possible. That’s how tech illiterate I am. I’ll keep the crappy HP laptop I have now to stream movies.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, RNGesus said:

To address your situation, "good hard drive space" won't really be an option, as everything will basically be SSD-based if you want it thin and light. It's 100% worth the storage space tradeoff for the much smoother experience.

I think you should qualify this based on what the use is. Depending on what you'll use the laptop for, 250gb (or 500gb for the larger size I believe?) will run out quickly, and you'll probably be forced to use an external HDD or cloud storage, which is quite inefficient.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, georgecostanzajr said:

I think you should qualify this based on what the use is. Depending on what you'll use the laptop for, 250gb (or 500gb for the larger size I believe?) will run out quickly, and you'll probably be forced to use an external HDD or cloud storage, which is quite inefficient.

cloud is pretty efficient though when your computer crashes halfway through a major project that's due in the morning and you have to find a different machine to finish it on

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Neurolaw said:

Hi Everyone,

I’m starting 1L in September and need to get myself a good laptop. I’ve been using PCs but am thinking about switching to Mac. 

I want something that is light weight and physically on the smaller size ie 12-13 inches but with decent Ram and good hard drive space. 

I really like how some macs can easily snap pictures from the outside of the laptop while it’s in use. I want to be able to take notes in class and at the same time be able to snap a pic of a lecture board or something. I don’t know if many or any PC laptops have this feature.  

I am willing to spend up to 1500. Maybe a bit more if it would make a difference. 

I’d like to go into bestbuy with an idea of what I need and want. 

Anyone have any suggestions? 

Thanks in advance. 

I was a PC user my whole life. Didn't like how expensive Macs were and how much of a "fad" it's become - every student you see around you in undergrad/law school has that apple logo on the front of their computer. 

During 1st semester of 1L my PC broke (3rd one in 5 years) so I decided to jump ship to a MacBook Pro (2014 MacBook Pro Retina). Unlike my PC which would slow down, require constant restarts etc, my Mac was phenomenal. Excellent software, very reliable, very long lasting battery, literally everything you need for a university computer. Also the fact that it has a great screen/speakers etc makes it key for studying on the train on the way home, watching movie etc. 

Also, I can't state this enough but the customer service at the Apple Store is phenomenal. Even if you don't purchase the warranty, if you're having an issue within the 1st year, they'll take a look at your computer and in most cases fix it for free if something comes up. Last year I started having a problem with the sleep function (when closing the lid the computer would make this sound weird sound rather than going to sleep). Apple ended up replacing my Mac with a top of the line new MacBook Pro worth like $2500, for free (I had purchased the extended 3 year warranty). 

Bottom line - absolutely go with Apple. the customer service alone is enough of a reason to jump ship. They all always cover you. Regarding turning your screen around to take pictures, you can't really do that on a Mac but I would just use my phone to take a picture of the board if needed. If you just need something to type notes, I would recommend either a MacBook/MacBook Air. If you want to spend the money though a new MacBook Pro (Touch Bar) is a great machine. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, CanadianJD27 said:

Also, I can't state this enough but the customer service at the Apple Store is phenomenal. Even if you don't purchase the warranty, if you're having an issue within the 1st year, they'll take a look at your computer and in most cases fix it for free if something comes up.

Isn't there a mandatory one-year manufacturer's warranty?

Edited by georgecostanzajr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Iheartcats said:

cloud is pretty efficient though when your computer crashes halfway through a major project that's due in the morning and you have to find a different machine to finish it on

I guess you could say that for certain files, such as word documents, but for programs/application, video games, etc. it's not good. And those take up a lot of memory.

But a good computer shouldn't crash regardless.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used a Macbook Air for a few years now. 100% the best choice I have made. I'm going on three years now, and my battery is still pushing 8+ hours. All my programs are still very responsive and the computer does not slow down. Its very light and portable and works very well.

That being said, I primarily use the computer for school (Microsoft word, emails, netflix). I was uneasy paying over 1k$ for the Macbook at the time, but three years later I have no regrets. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, georgecostanzajr said:

I guess you could say that for certain files, such as word documents, but for programs/application, video games, etc. it's not good. And those take up a lot of memory.

But a good computer shouldn't crash regardless.

I have an 8 yr old macbook pro and its a great computer despite its age.  One day it just shut off mid use and wouldn't turn on again.  Managed to get the issue fixed, but thankfully I also have a chromebook and all my work saved in cloud storage or I would have been screwed for about a week. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will also chime in and say that I have had a really positive experience with a Mac.  In fact, I would say that most people could probably get away with an iPad Pro and be very happy with it.  The downside of the iPad is exam software that is used by a number of law school does not support iOS.  For those who prefer to handwrite I am told the Apple Pencil is pretty good with an iPad.

I now have my Mac boot camped because I need to be a bit more familiar with Windows specific software but I still return to Mac OS.  With a little work you can even turn MS Word notes into audio files that will play on iTunes.  Fairly easy to do and of course then is playable on an iPhone.  Skip the morning music and listen to CAN's!

I think the greatest benefits of a Mac will be for those who use the whole ecosystem.  A MacBook Pro plus an iPhone is a pretty powerful combination.  An iPhone with a bluetooth keyboard can do pretty much anything.  Granted for most people the screen is too small to write an essay on it but I can attest it is possible.

I freely admit that I am biased.  The universal design aspects of a Mac allow me to do a heck of a lot.

 

The only downsides are the newest version of MacBook Pro keyboard.  Many people do not like them.  They are louder and seem to have less travel.  I believe there have been a few problems with them as well.  If you are picky about a keyboard it may be worth going to an Apple store to try one.  The other downside is that MacBook Pro does not fit into the 1500 price range.  I don't have any experience with the MacBook Air.

Make sure you also check out student discounts from Apple.  Not sure if those are also available through Best Buy.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought a Macbook Air in 2013. I sprung for a larger SSD and more RAM. The best tech purchase I have ever made.

I replaced the battery earlier this year. It probably has another three years of use.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're overthinking it. I used a cheap $300 PC laptop all of law school and it still works for me just fine. Examplify and ExamSoft did not crash for me once. Ironically, ExamSoft crashed for a lot of Mac users at Osgoode, so I wouldn't recommend it at all for the price tag. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Simbaa said:

You're overthinking it. I used a cheap $300 PC laptop all of law school and it still works for me just fine. Examplify and ExamSoft did not crash for me once. Ironically, ExamSoft crashed for a lot of Mac users at Osgoode, so I wouldn't recommend it at all for the price tag. 

This year ExamSoft crashed for a lot of PC users at Osgoode. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My Macbook stopped working in the middle of second-year. I couldn't really justify paying $1000.00+ for a new Mac, so I got a PC. I actually prefer it. With an SSD and 8 GB of RAM, it's faster than my Macbook was. Office never crashes on PC, while it crashed / froze a lot on my Macbook. And the PC was several hundred dollars cheaper than a Mac. Macs are great. But if you read the reviews and stuff, you can find pretty a good value PC these days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made it through the first two years of my computer science undergrad with a laptop that cost new around ~$300. Very few users need the full specs that higher end models offer - I'm guessing most (non-gamer) law students are in this category.

If you are sure you want to get a nice one, you will almost always get better value in a PC. Spec for spec the pcs offer more, and the hardware on a lot of them is more slick than it used to be (an area I find Macs used to have a clear upper hand). The MacOS also isn't for everyone although I wouldn't worry about Microsoft Office not working - the 2016 version is a lot better than earlier mac versions. With that said, I bought a Macbook Pro about 3 years ago and it still feels like new to me. I probably treat it better because of the price tag, but I expect another 2 years out of it. I just wish I had upgraded to the 256GB storage - 128 is not enough! I use an external hard drive but that's not for everyone.

Also, if you have a Costco membership it's not a bad place to look for a laptop (but limited selection). Their pricing tends to be lower than best buy but even if they are the same Costco tends to offer a better warranty. 

Good luck :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once you go Mac, you don't go back.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, pascal said:

I made it through the first two years of my computer science undergrad with a laptop that cost new around ~$300. Very few users need the full specs that higher end models offer - I'm guessing most (non-gamer) law students are in this category.

If you are sure you want to get a nice one, you will almost always get better value in a PC. Spec for spec the pcs offer more, and the hardware on a lot of them is more slick than it used to be (an area I find Macs used to have a clear upper hand). The MacOS also isn't for everyone although I wouldn't worry about Microsoft Office not working - the 2016 version is a lot better than earlier mac versions. With that said, I bought a Macbook Pro about 3 years ago and it still feels like new to me. I probably treat it better because of the price tag, but I expect another 2 years out of it. I just wish I had upgraded to the 256GB storage - 128 is not enough! I use an external hard drive but that's not for everyone.

Also, if you have a Costco membership it's not a bad place to look for a laptop (but limited selection). Their pricing tends to be lower than best buy but even if they are the same Costco tends to offer a better warranty. 

Good luck :)

It's not always about needing the power, but having it available for bursts can make a difference in day to day smoothness of the UX. Almost everyone can get by with the bare minimum, but we don't all drive Smart cars for incredibly similar reasons. Things like an SSD, vastly improved screen, et cetera make a huge difference in day to day usability that becomes hard to walk away from.

If when you say "spec for spec" you mean exactly the same hardware, it'll actually run better on MacOS than Windows due to the incredible optimization Apple bakes in by controlling the hardware configurations available. The value proposition is also up in the air, because the OS is part of the decision, and is basically impossible to quantify. Buying into an Apple product is more of a gateway into the Apple ecosystem, and the synergies it presents compounds exponentially with other Apple items. In terms of raw compute power per dollar, PCs have the upper hand, but again the problem lies in quantifying the value of the OS. I'd wager that at competitive offerings similar to Apple's from the likes of Microsoft and Dell, there's a very minimal performance per dollar difference.

Part of the value also lies in how they hold up down the line. If you wanted to, you can still find the pre-Retina Macbook Pros still selling decently second hand, with a lot more value retained than you'd expect. Apple's software support just keeps their machines going long after your PC has stopped receiving updates and has been basically abandoned by their manufacturer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Id go with a Mac. You can get a decent deal from the apple store  refurbished. I bought a 2015 Macbook pro last year for like ~$350 off and have had 0 issues. Looked brand new. You can also still buy an extra 2 years of Applecare for refurbished mac laptops. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



  • Recent Posts

    • If that is your official OLSAS calculation and it’s so off, I’d be curious to know why as well. Generally speaking, my calculator has been reasonably accurate, so it may be worth looking into what they used to come up with those numbers. Assuming you included everything in my calculator, unless something is wrong with how I did things specific to your situation, they may have made a mistake. It’s rare but it happens. I’d confirm.  Let me know if it does turn out to be my app. 
    • https://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/programs/juris-doctor/jd-admissions/upper-year-exchange-applicants/transfer-letter-permission-applicants/ Decisions are generally made in accordance with the following priorities: Up to one-half of the available positions will be awarded to applicants on the basis of the strength of their law school academic records to date. It is therefore critical that we receive an indication of an applicant’s standing relative to the rest of his or her class. No fewer than one-half of the available spaces will be awarded to applicants who demonstrate compelling, compassionate circumstances that require them to transfer to Osgoode Hall Law School. Academic qualifications are not ignored in this subgroup but rather are used to aid in deciding between candidates who demonstrate comparable compassionate circumstances. Within this subgroup, priority will be given to: persons who must relocate to the Toronto area due to their own medical condition or that of an immediate family member; persons who would be separated from their dependents where separation to date has been extensive and commuting is not a viable option; and persons who demonstrate extreme financial hardship occasioned by study outside of the Toronto area. You sound a little insensitive to the fact that there are people attending law school with serious needs. My buddy transferred to Osgoode with a strong B+ average, but also had compassionate reasons in that he could hardly afford living expenses and had a wife and children to care for in Toronto.   
    • There likely isn't, I just find it odd that the change from the past cycle to this one is so different. Like I said in my original post, heed Ryn's advice and don't get your hopes up either way.
    • There has to be... most of the people that got in queue a few days ago received an acceptance
    • I didn't think there was any correlation between when you go into queue and when your are accepted. 
×