How to buy a cheap MacBook Pro

I’m planning to buy a new MacBook Pro sometime this year (dependent mostly on when Apple releases the next update, rumored to be very soon). It turns out there are a number of options available to students. Note that all the prices cited are for the higher end 15″ MacBook Pro, and will likely change soon (perhaps as soon as tomorrow).

The worst way is to buy it from the Apple Store, where you will pay full retail price ($2,499). The next option is to buy from one of the many resellers, but their prices are usually only slightly lower than Apple’s with extra stuff (carrying cases, extra RAM, etc).

Students can of course get educational pricing. For UHM there are actually two options: you can buy from the Apple Store for Education (link to top level page where you have to select your school and say you qualifiy for educational pricing) ($2,299), or you can buy directly through the UH Bookstore, which apparently gets even deeper discounts due to volume ($2199). If you order through the store, you can customize it with more RAM or a larger hard drive, but that’s (mostly) not possible through the bookstore (presumably because their lower prices come from higher volumes, which custom ordering would negate).

The final unconventional and cheapest way to get a MacBook Pro as a student is to buy a Apple Developer Connection Student membership ($99), which entitles you to a single discounted Apple system purchase. There are lots of caveats (you can only do it once per lifetime, you have to buy all the components [computer, monitor, etc] in one transaction, etc), but the developer store pricing is quite sweet ($1,999). Of course ADC membership includes other stuff (documentation CDs, a Tshirt, and possibly a copy of Mac OS X 10.5 aka Leopard when it comes out), which has some value. However I just noticed that AppleCare is $349 (no discount from retail) from the developer store, but $199 from the bookstore so the situation has become cloudy again. I guess it will be time for a spreadsheet when the new MacBook Pro comes out.

Last but not least, Apple usually has Back to School pricing or deals, such as a free iPod nano with purchase of a new Mac. Since I’m thinking about getting a nano, that’s another thing to consider.

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