Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

NUS Mac Notebook 2015

The new NUS academic year is starting just around the corner, and it’s that time of the year again where many NUS students, including those who are matriculating this year, might be looking into getting a new notebook. The new NUS notebook tender for 2015 is out, so let’s take a look at the Mac ones!

Retina MacBook Pro at YIHI’ve been writing about Macs available from NUS notebook tenders for some time, so it is beginning to become like a routine. There are a total of 12 notebook configuration this time: 1x 13-inch MacBook Pro (old), 5x 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros,  2x 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros, and 4x MacBook Airs. There are none of the new MacBooks, the ones with the new USB Type-C connectors. Yeah, no gold colour notebooks.

Let’s look at the prices from NUS compared against the equivalent from the Apple Online Store with education discount applied. The NUS bundle includes AppleCare, Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, and Minidisplay Port to VGA Adapter. I’ve added the official Apple prices (with education discount where applicable) for these items to the respective prices under the Apple Online Store.

The table below shows the MacBook Pro (with and without Retina display) prices.

Model, CPU, RAM/SSD NUS Price Apple Online Store
13-inch MacBook Pro, 2.5GHz, 4GB/500GB $1680 $1702
13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 2.7GHz, 8GB/128GB $1882 $1912
13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 2.7GHz, 8GB/256GB $2150 $2212
13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 2.9GHz, 8GB/512GB $2530 $2612
13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 2.7GHz, 16GB/256GB $2375 $2464
13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 2.9GHz, 16GB/512GB $2755 $2864
15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 2.2GHz, 16GB/256GB $2912 $3012
15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 2.5GHz, 16GB/512GB $3392 $3482

Overall, it seems that NUS offers a compelling price, lower in all cases compared with what you can get directly from Apple Online Store.

The next table shows the MacBook Air prices.

 Model, CPU, RAM/SSD NUS Price Apple Online Store
13-inch MacBook Air, 1.6GHz, 4GB/128GB $1620 $1612
13-inch MacBook Air, 1.6GHz, 4GB/256GB $1846 $1902
13-inch MacBook Air, 1.6GHz, 8GB/256GB $1966 $1738
13-inch MacBook Air, 1.6GHz, 8GB/512GB $2336 $2028

Interestingly, it’s cheaper to buy from Apple Online Store in three out of four configurations of MacBook Airs. The difference is quite remarkable in the 8GB RAM configurations. (I wonder if NUS has made some pricing errors for those configurations.)

Let me just reiterate that the prices from the Apple Online Store includes the original Gigabit Ethernet and VGA dongles, as well as corresponding AppleCare, at education discounts where applicable.

Apart from the simple price comparisons, there are a few points to take note:

  • NUS includes a few more freebies in their bundle, such as UTP cable, carrying case, and 3rd-party wired mouse. These are cheap stuff, and I personally don’t care for them, but just in case it matters to you, factor in some cost for them.
  • The items bundled in NUS offer are fixed, and you cannot choose not to have them (and receive a discount). The original Gigabit Ethernet and VGA dongles are S$38 each. You can get a 3rd party VGA dongle for much less. 3rd party Gigabit Ethernet dongles are cheaper too, though most people can do without them at all. If you are going to buy the notebook outside of NUS, I suggest to get a 3rd party VGA dongle and go without the Gigabit Ethernet dongle. That should save you some $60 or thereabouts.
  • I used to suggest considering AppleCare from a cheaper source. It’s still the legit AppleCare, just bought from elsewhere, such as a fella on HWZ forums. Unfortunately, that source I’m familiar with isn’t in business right now. AppleCare for 13″ MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs cost $278, and for 15″ MacBook Pros it’s $388. Do note that NUS adds on on-site (within NUS) service for AppleCare warranty, though it’s just a service point and not that they actually carry out repairs there.

Last year, NUS did not offer very compelling prices on their Mac notebooks. The choice is clearer this year. Unless you’re planning on getting the higher-end configurations of MacBook Airs, it seems like NUS offers a pretty good price. In some cases, the savings from getting 3rd party dongles and better-sourced AppleCare still won’t do better than the NUS bundle prices.

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