Let's Get Frugal
September 3, 2007 2:36 PM   Subscribe

How to get the best price on a MacBook or a MacBook Pro?

All signs are I'm going to have to purchase a new laptop sometime in the next few months, and I'm 99% sure this will be a MacBook or a MacBook Pro. Since I'm flexible and can wait out the best possible deal, where should I be looking?

While we're on the subject, what sorts of models or features should I be looking for? I'll need it primarily for Word processing, Internet, Photoshop, InDesign, and video projection, with some light video editing.
posted by BackwardsCity to Shopping (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, Macs do not go on sale unless there was a recent bump to the hardware and the last is discounted a couple hundred dollars.

If you want a deal on a new machine, the best bet is to look around at authorized Mac resellers. While they cannot change the price of a machine, they often use other incentives -- like adding more RAM or throwing in software. Choose whatever works best for you.

Here's a couple to compare.

Small Dog
posted by pedantic at 2:44 PM on September 3, 2007

What Pedantic said + Educational Discount. Its pretty easy to get, just need to be a student or teacher (or friend of a student or teacher who will take your cash and get you your goods.). Its only 10%, but every little bit helps.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 2:47 PM on September 3, 2007

Here is the mother lode of starting points for new machines. Wish I knew about that site a while ago...

Be sure to research the vendor before you buy. Good luck!
posted by pedantic at 2:52 PM on September 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

The best deals are the refurbished machines.

Mac Buyers Guide pegs Apple in the middle of product cycles for both MacBook and MacBook Pro so I wouldn't expect big price drops anytime soon.
posted by junesix at 2:54 PM on September 3, 2007

Refurb is definitely the way to go.
posted by furtive at 3:10 PM on September 3, 2007

I have friends who love MacMall (on pedantic's list above). I have browsed their catalog several times and things definitely look discounted. As far as computer model, if you're doing any video editing, you probably want a MacBook Pro. Everything else you mention can be done easily on a MacBook. I echo floam in saying at least 2 GB of RAM.
posted by sneakin at 3:13 PM on September 3, 2007

You can buy from the Apple educational store online by verifying your student status with the click of a button. Pretty easy to save $200 some without actually being a student.
posted by xmutex at 3:14 PM on September 3, 2007

Refurbs are a good deal.

Also, a Federal employee can buy a non-refurb for you and save from $65 to $225 depending on the model.

Federal employee prices here.
posted by The Deej at 4:51 PM on September 3, 2007

Don't forget the costs of Shipping & Tax.

CDW, MacMall -- and even Apple Refurbs will charge tax if they have distribution in your state. They definitely will charge shipping, too.

For me, living in CA -- Amazon has free shipping and no tax. As well as rebates from $75-150 on new machines.

When you factor it all together -- Amazon is always about the same price or less then a refurb from Apple (which charges tax, and shipping).

You're also getting a brand new machine. Often (but not always) the refurbs are a product cycle behind.
posted by donguanella at 5:15 PM on September 3, 2007

Be aware: the ADC discount varies widely from machine to machine. Last time I checked it was relatively modest for a MacBook (like $100) and much bigger for a MacBook Pro (like $400).
posted by alms at 6:01 PM on September 3, 2007

I bought my MacBook from Amazon, which was offering $100 off at the time. I have seen similar Amazon discounts since then. This is, in my opinion, the best deal you will get. Remember that Apple charges sales tax, so their student discount--even their refurbs--are no bargain in my book.

Also, it goes without saying, buy based on the processor speed you need, and then get your RAM and HD upgrades elsewhere. Search for upgrading a MacBook on AskMe (or look back through my posts here) to find prior threads on this topic. With the MacBook, the upgrades are simple and can be effected by the owner with simple tools. You will need a technician to install the upgrades in a MacBook Pro (I believe), which adds extra expense. Personally, I don't think the MacBook Pros are worth the extra money for most users.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:04 PM on September 3, 2007

Seconding the refurb. I love my Pro, and it was even less than what would have been the educational discount price. I think I may have even gotten free shipping.
posted by Madamina at 6:25 PM on September 3, 2007

Make friends with an apple employee to get one of their 25% discounts, or take them with you to a tax-free state like Oregon or nevada to get the 10% discount at an apple store.
Students get a discount as well, but it's about5-8% off. Also, students get dibs on discontinued machines sold at a good discount.
posted by idiotfactory at 6:49 PM on September 3, 2007

When we bought my wife's Macbook Pro, we picked up one of the older models for a bit cheaper than the latest shiny model...

I looked at the specs and there was very little difference between the two (I think a slightly faster clock speed and firewire 800 or something), so it was worth it to pay $2500AUD rather than $2800AUD ...

As mentioned above tho, you might find it hard to get an old model now... We managed to sneak in just after the last speedbump, but Apple usually moves out the old stuff pretty quickly...
posted by ranglin at 8:05 PM on September 3, 2007

Having said that, I didn't know about the ADC! Sounds like a good deal if you're a student (or can get someone to order for you)
posted by ranglin at 8:07 PM on September 3, 2007

idiotfactory, apple employees technically only get one 25% discount per year and three 15% discounts. the 25 is their personal discount and the 15s are their friends & family discounts... but there are ways around all of that. if your apple friend has been working there for a while, he/she probably knows how to side step the 1 personal discount limit...

easiest way to save on apple is student discount or refreshed items...
posted by hummercash at 8:29 PM on September 3, 2007

My first portable was a refurb G4 iBook 12.1" from SmallDog. I highly recommend them.
posted by mrbill at 8:45 PM on September 3, 2007

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