If you are a college student, a laptop is as sensual as your textbooks and ID cards. You will use it to type essays, manipulate data sets and of course stream videos and browse your social media feeds. To do all of that and more, here are the basics you should keep in your mind when you are looking for a laptop for a college.
The first step is to check with your school for specific system requirements. Universities do not only specify the operating systems like Mac or windows, but their recommended system may also come with necessary pre-installed software or even special price discount. The campus IT staffs may also explicitly geared towards maintaining or fixing certain laptop brands. If you’re not sure who to ask, where to look for information about these things, check with your school’s bookstore first.
Since you’ll be lugging your laptop around campus every day, an ultraportable with a 13 inch or 14-inch screen and a weight below 3 pounds is going to be your best bet.
A smaller screen will make you do lots of tedious scrolling through spreadsheets and web pages. On the other hand, a laptop that’s too big will put unnecessary strain on your back and shoulders especially, if you are also carrying lots of books. Think about that very hard if you are a commuter student.
If you plan on taking notes in class, you may want to spring for a two in one touchscreen laptop that supports a digital pen or stylus and converts into tablet. Some of these rotate around hinge 360 degrees to turn into tablet while others like Microsoft surface devices fully detach from keyboards.
To make homework session easier on the eyes, you’ll also want a screen resolution of at least HD i.e. 1920×1080 pixels. If you’re looking at specs or what’s sometimes called 1080p.
Other essential things to look for include a comfortable sturdy keyboard and a video output like HDMI for connecting to projectors in the classroom.
Inside the laptop, you’ll want components that can last for at least four years before becoming obsolete. The exact ones to choose mostly depend on your operating system of choice. If you are buying a windows laptop or an Apple Mac book look for an Intel Core i5 or core i7 CPU. The ones whose product names end in U are what you’ll see in the thinnest laptops. Their power consumption is lower, and they are generally less robust than the H or HK series chips, which you’ll tend to see in more powerful laptops or a gaming machine.
If you’re buying chrome book, less powerful and less expensive, Celeron or Pentium processor are fine, since this laptop is not meant to run CPU intensive apps like Adobe Photoshop. You will want at least 256GB of storage if you’re choosing a PC or Mac. If you are eyeing a chrome book, you can get by with 128GB of storage or even less, since you will be storing most things in the cloud.
In either case, make sure your device is solid state drives which will make your laptop feel much snappier than a regular spinning hard drive. If an inexpensive laptop has 500GB or 1TB of storage it prolly using a spinning hard drive.
Battery life is also something important to think about, especially if you’ll be taking lots of notes in the class. What you will need depends a lot on your campus buildings. It might be tough to find AC outlets, in older libraries and classroom and older dorm rooms might have just one or two outlets to go around. If that sounds like your campus, make sure you choose a laptop with at least 10 hours of battery life.