My daughter is going to be a Freshman at Liberty University this fall. We are interested in knowing which mac version would be recommended as she will be studying Graphic Design. Also we need to know if there is any software that we need to purchase along with the mac itself. Thank you!

  • Just to clarify, are you looking for a recommendation on the operating system version or the computer model (Ex: Macbook 2012,13,14, etc or even Macbook Pro)? For your last point, your school will let you know what software your daughter will need for school.
    – AndrewH
    Jul 23, 2015 at 20:45
  • The school's program should tell you what is needed, if anything Jul 24, 2015 at 3:01
  • If she has to do some 3D, you need to go with MacBookPro or MacPro. The iMac Retina 27" also has a good graphic card and can probably do some of the job. If she doesn't need 3D, the MacMini offers surprising performance for the price and it's a good Apple computer for a beginner. IMac isn't bad but once you fill the RAM memory to the max (which you should), the cost gets close to the MacBookPro; so maybe a laptop is more convenient for a student. Don't worry about the software, it's probably the open source ones or Adobe, and those are available through monthly subscription.
    – go-junta
    Jul 24, 2015 at 9:12

3 Answers 3


It doesn't matter.

Any Apple computer capable of running the current operating system (10.10 - Yosemite) will work just fine. Literally any OS10.10 system. Any specific model is fine - iMac, MacMini, MacPro, MackBook, MacBookPro -- any of them will work. By the time she's ready for something more (if she ever even needs more), the technology will merit an upgrade anyway. Just buy whatever is in your budget.

If you are looking at used systems... then going back as far as a system which runs OS 10.8 should be okay for a few years still. Because all systems running OS10.8 can be upgraded to system 10.10 (provided they have the RAM). No one can predict the future though.

The school should tell you if software is needed - but in general... a subscription to the Adobe Creative cloud most likely (be certain to check student pricing).


If she gets into 3D work at all a dedicated graphics card would be handy. A built-in screen also comes with a known colour profile too. From there - does it need to be portable (15" Retina MacBookPro), or is a desktop OK (27" iMac)?

Maxxing out memory is wise; buying a TimeMachine external backup disc is wiser.

Software - Adobe CC, and think about Font management software too - like FontExplorer; and a bookmark to FontSquirrel while she's studying.

Talk to her about the perils of software (including type) piracy, and you're away.

  • 2
    One thing about iMac... Make sure you buy the iMac with the max RAM memory. Otherwise it's very expensive to upgrade the new iMac RAM now; it cannot be done without going to the Mac Store or "DIY."
    – go-junta
    Jul 24, 2015 at 9:02

If the school recommends specific hardware and software, then that's what you should use.

If they don't, then it doesn't really matter.

Generically speaking, get the fastest laptop you can afford and max out the RAM and Hard Drive. But even the cheapest MacBook will likely be fine.

As for software, Adobe Cloud Student Edition is likely all she needs.

But it also depends on the school. I don't think I touched design software the first year of art school at all. It was all learning to draw and design fundamentals.

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