In the United States, roughly 91 percent of college students have access to a laptop computer. Undoubtedly, computers are an essential part of modern education, especially laptops that students can easily move around campus.
Are you a college student or heading to campus next semester? If so, you’ll need to start preparing yourself to do your best in your courses!
In this post, you’ll learn how to choose the best laptop for college with the help of fifteen different tips. So, keep reading to learn how to select the best computer and get the best bang for your buck!
- Establish a Budget
First things first, you’ll need to determine how much you are willing to spend on a laptop. As with most electronics, laptop computers vary in price, ranging from just a couple hundred dollars to thousands.
For most college majors, a basic laptop does the trick, so there’s no reason to spend more than you can afford. Nevertheless, some fields, such as engineering or programming, may require more advanced computers.
- Choose a Platform
Most of us have a favorite when it comes to computer platforms. We’re either Mac fans or PC enthusiasts. But, if you don’t feel strongly about either, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each operating system before choosing a laptop.
Most laptops operate with Windows 10, although Windows 11 was recently released. As the most popular operating system, most people choose it for running business-related programs, gaming, or game design. Best of all, Windows is updated often, and users get to enjoy new features twice a year.
Many people prefer macOS because it’s user-friendly and less prone to viruses. It also comes with its own office and media software, making Macs extremely popular for photography, design, and other creative fields.
Chrome OS is less common because it’s a web-centric operating system. Unlike macOS or Windows, it uses apps instead of programs and functions like a tablet or smartphone. Thus, Chrome OS is usually the choice for those who need a laptop for web browsing or as a companion for their Android phone, with which it automatically syncs.
- Do You Want a 2-in-1 Laptop?
These days, 2-in-1 laptops are increasing in popularity because they eliminate the need for multiple devices. Generally, 2-in-1 laptops either detach from the keyboard or bend on hinges to switch modes.
If you are using it primarily as a tablet, a detachable 2-in-1 should do the trick! But, if you’ll use your device like a laptop often, a bendable 2-in-1 is better.
However, if you don’t mind carrying a tablet and a laptop, you can usually get a more powerful computer for less money by choosing a regular clamshell laptop.
- When it Comes to Laptops, Size Matters
Another essential factor to consider is the size of the laptop since this will affect both its display and portability.
The lightest laptops usually have a display of 11 to 12 inches, but they don’t have a full keyboard. So, you may not find this size laptop as comfortable for typing up your assignments. Meanwhile, 13 to 14-inch laptops are still very portable but more comfortable for extended use.
The most popular laptops are around 15 inches, but these models tend to weigh up to five pounds, making them much more burdensome to carry around campus.
Still, if you plan on keeping your laptop at your desk, you could even go for a larger laptop, such as a 17 or 18 inch one. These have the best displays, especially if you’ll play computer games in your downtime.
- Pay Attention to the Processor
If you don’t know much about computer specs, choosing a processor is a bit confusing. But, if you’re going to use your laptop for the basics like writing assignments, browsing the internet, or essential software, one of the following processors would work just fine:
- Intel Core i3
- AMD A-series A6
- AMD A8
Nevertheless, if you’ll be using graphics-intensive programs or plan on using your laptop for gaming, you should splurge on a computer that runs one of the following processors:
- Intel Core i5
- Intel Core i7
- Intel Core i9
- AMD A10
For example, the Intel Evo processor can handle the toughest tasks, yet it comes in a lightweight laptop, making it a great choice for students.
- Get Plenty of RAM
Another factor to pay close attention to is your laptop’s RAM, which acts as short-term memory. If your computer doesn’t have enough RAM, it will perform slower and maybe even freeze while you’re trying to complete assignments.
The standard RAM for laptops is 4GB, which is perfect for daily tasks. But, of course, if you are multitasking and using demanding software, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration by opting for 8GB of RAM.
- Don’t Skimp on Storage
College students typically store a lot of data, including presentations, documents, photos, music, and more. Most laptops come with at least a 500 GB hard drive, which is plenty if you want to store your files and basic software.
Yet, if you plan on installing several games or keeping movies on your laptop, you’ll need more storage space.
Thankfully, you can buy an external hard drive later on if you run out of storage space, so don’t worry if you can’t afford a laptop with 2 TB of storage.
- Select a Graphics Card
Laptops have two different types of graphics cards- integrated and discreet. Integrated graphics cards are usually slower, but they work perfectly fine for streaming movies or playing simple games.
On the other hand, discreet graphic cards are best if you study computer graphics or 3D design and if you play high-end games.
- Battery Can Save Your Life
As a college student, you’ll be using your laptop a lot, and you won’t always have somewhere to plug in your charger. Can you imagine your laptop dying in the middle of a presentation?
Without a doubt, having a laptop with plenty of battery life is essential. Before buying a computer, see whether it has a 3-cell, 6-cell, or 9-cell battery. As you can imagine, 9-cell batteries last longest.
- Get a Comfortable Keyboard
College students usually spend hours typing, so having a well-built keyboard is crucial. And, since you may need to stay up late studying or finishing an assignment, the best laptops for college students also have backlit keys.
- Choose a Reliable Brand
Even if you find the perfect laptop within your budget, you’ll need to consider whether the brand is reliable. If you have technical problems, customer support will be critical to solving your issues.
Some brands, such as Apple, are known for their great support, and that’s one of the reasons users are willing to pay a higher price for their products. Of course, other brands also offer great assistance to their customers, but be sure to do your homework before choosing the cheapest brand.
- Check Your School for Student Discounts or Programs
Nowadays, many schools provide inexpensive laptops to their students or lease one at a low cost. Of course, not all colleges have these types of systems in place, but it doesn’t hurt to ask! Especially if you’re on a tight budget.
- Look for Student Discounts Online
When hunting for the best laptops for college, it’s also important to take advantage of exclusive discounts. Some manufacturers and stores offer special prices for those enrolled in college. Others provide students with financing options.
For example, Microsoft gives students a ten percent discount on select models and includes Microsoft Office 365 at no extra cost. And Apple offers students special prices on many of its products, including MacBooks.
Of course, other companies offer similar deals, such as Dell, Lenovo, and even Best Buy. So, be sure to research and check out their websites to snag the best offer!
- Don’t Have the Budget to Buy? Consider Leasing
Some companies also allow college students to rent laptops or lease them until they pay their full value. At that point, they own the computer and no longer need to make payments. However, these types of programs usually charge interest.
Nevertheless, some companies don’t charge interest as long as you make your payments on time. So, if you are sure you can meet the payment deadlines, this may be the best option for you! But, make sure to examine the fine print before signing anything.
- Compare Third Party Websites
Sometimes, the best deals are found on third-party websites rather than purchasing directly from the manufacturer. So, be sure to check these out, especially around Black Friday or after the holidays!
Use These Tips to Find the Perfect Laptop for College
Choosing a laptop for college can be overwhelming, especially with so many different models from which to pick. Yet, by using the tips in this post, you’ll be able to find the best laptop for your needs and budget. And, you may even get a discount for being a student!
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