Laptops are essential for every student for activities such as research, writing reports or assignments, and creating presentations. With prices starting at under $200, it is easy to get distracted by all the choices out there and not know where to start.
This blog post will go through a few of the considerations when choosing a laptop for school, help you prioritize what you need your laptop to be able to do, then list six laptops that are affordable and offer great functionality.
Best Options in 2021
– MICROSOFT SURFACE GO 2
– DELL XPS 13
– ACER CHROMEBOOK 315
– APPLE MACBOOK AIR (M1, 2020)
What to look for in a College Laptop
Every school has different recommendations on the best devices for students. Often, however, they have similar requirements, and this will help you narrow down your choices:
1) Durable: students are notorious for dropping things that break them. Look for reinforced corners and edges, so if it falls off a table or chair it won’t get dented or broken. In addition, the operating system should have a system for wiping out data remotely in case the computer is stolen or lost.
2) Lightweight: no one wants to carry around a laptop that is heavier than your chemistry textbook. Choose one with a lightweight shell and powerful battery so you can work from anywhere.
3) Great battery life: students need their laptops to last through class, homework, essays, and presentations. Choose one with a long lasting battery so you can go for a few hours, or even an entire day without plugging in.
4) Bluetooth keyboard selection: the laptop shell should be designed to accommodate a standard keyboard. This is helpful if you prefer to type on something other than the computer screen.
5) Fast processor: You will have to run a lot of different programs while you get work done. Choose one with an Intel i3 processor for basic use, or an Intel i7 for heavier research.
6) Weight and screen size: Laptops come in all shapes and sizes, and your choice will depend on how you plan to use it. If your school has a recommended size or weight, stick to that so you can take it places easily.
Things to consider
Mac or Windows?
There are two main operating systems for laptops, the Apple Mac and the Windows OS from Microsoft. Macs are well built and have a reputation for being higher quality, but they are higher priced. They also come with proprietary software that does not run on a PC. If you are considering getting a Mac laptop, check out this blog post by MakeUseOf that compares the pros and cons of both operating systems: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/the-mac-vs-pc-laptop-debate/
Do you need a tablet?
A tablet allows you to type, play, and research wirelessly. For school purposes, however, tablets might be a little too fragile and can be distracting while in class. Consider the screen size vs. your needs: if you only plan to access your school email on it and take notes during class, look for something with a smaller screen. If you plan to also use it for a presentation or essay, make sure it has a large screen.
How many USB ports do you need?
Most laptops have one USB port for charging or connecting a mouse, but sometimes more are needed. Depending on your school’s recommendations for wireless devices, decide whether you will need ports for a keyboard and mouse, another printer, smartphone/tablet charger, or speakers. Plug in all the devices at once before you start to find out whether they work together well.
How much RAM?
RAM is the amount of memory that the laptop has. It will have an effect on how quickly it runs and how many programs it can run at once. The more RAM, the better the performance and storage. For school purposes, a minimum of 4GB is recommended but 8GB is preferred, as it will allow you to run programs while you are running other ones.
What type of processor?
Intel processors are primarily used for running Windows systems. AMD processors are used for running Mac systems. Both have different features that make them appropriate for different uses. Research before you buy to find out which is best for your needs.
How much storage is needed?
Laptops come with different amounts of storage. When you are determining how much to get, factor in how often you will be storing photos, videos, and other large files. Also, check the space you are allowed on a school-issued drive. If your school does not allow sharing of personal materials, consider buying a portable hard drive that will fit inside your laptop so you can store all your media on it at home.
Which laptop do use use for college? Do you have any suggestions for good laptop models? If so please comment below – we’d love to hear from you.