Nowadays, a computer (either desktop or laptop) is practically a must-have for high school and college students. Some even those in primary school benefit from having access to one at home. For many families, a notebook is the best choice because of its portability and the compact size. Students can carry one around and set it up to work practically anywhere. As there are lot of brands that sells it and as anyone who has bought one before can probably tell you, cheap laptops aren’t always the best laptops, but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to buy one.
For a student, a laptop is as essential as your textbooks and school ID. And it’s not just for school work. It should also be able to handle extracurricular activities, such as social networking, watching tutorials, listening to music, posting photos, gaming, chatting and so on. And of course, the best laptops for college students need to last them for the long haul, preferably through four years of undergrad and maybe a year of grad work. Nowadays, there’s a wide selection of laptop that can fit that description perfectly—and they won’t drain your savings account.
Here are the 6 basics you should keep in mind while looking for a laptop for your student.
Check out what the School’s preferred OS
The first, and most important, thing to do is check with your school for specific system requirements. Some colleges and universities want their students equipped with Windows-based laptops, to cut down on software incompatibility issues. Others don’t care what operating system you use, whether it’s Windows, macOS, or Linux.
The Lighter the Better
A big screen may not be such a good idea. It’s nice to have a mini home theater in your backpack or play the best games in full 1080p glory, but a laptop with a big screen will be a real chore to haul across school while you’re running from class to class. You’re better off with something that’s light: If screen size matters less to you than convenience, a super-thin ultraportable might be the way to go. But for most people, a maximum 13- or 14-inch widescreen is ideal, as it will make room for other items in your backpack and minimize the weight burden. Depending on your tolerance level, a smaller display works as long as you understand that full webpages and productivity applications involve more scrolling, and fonts appear smaller than they do on larger screens.
Learn the Keys
Essays, research papers, and chatting online with your classmates will take up most of your computing time, so a full-size keyboard and comfortable touchpad are crucial. When you venture below a 13-inch platform, you run the risk of not getting the same typing experience. The easiest way to ensure that you have the best keyboard is to stop by a brick-and-mortar store and spend some time typing on prospective choices.
Define How Much Power Do You Need?
Depending on your budget, laptops offer a wide selection of processors—for instance, you can choose one that maximizes performance or one that favors battery life. Or you can select one that plays to both strengths: Intel Core CPUs have the benefits of both having reasonable power and battery efficiency. If you desire all-day battery life, it’s best to go with a Chromebook, which typically runs on a low-powered processor. If performance ranks high on the list, an Intel Core i7 CPU gives you the best performance but at the expense of battery life. Any newly modeled laptop can take a par with your kids application.
Check Your Needed Storage
With the increasing prevalence of cloud storage and Web applications, having plentiful local storage space is somewhat less vital now than it used to be, but you should still make sure that your laptop meets your needs. If you plan to install a lot of programs or want to hang on to files, you’ll need 250GB of space or more. If you’re a bit more low-key, or are content with leaving a lot of your work online, you can get by with a laptop with less space.
Whichever way you go, remember that storage affects speed, too. If you go with a hard drive because you get more storage for less money, know that it will be noticeably slower than a solid-state drive (SSD), though the higher cost and lower capacity of a faster SSD may be a trade-off that some people are willing to make. The good news is that by plugging an external hard drive into your laptop’s USB port, you can add more space whenever you need it. Although you probably won’t have to do this unless you’re a video junkie or an aspiring filmmaker, it’s a good option to have.
Consider a Hybrid
In recent years, a new category of laptop/tablet hybrid has emerged. Hybrids are capable of functioning as a traditional clamshell-style laptop when you need them to, but can transform into tablets when that’s a more convenient form factor. Some (generally called convertibles) sport a folding design that flips the keyboard out of the way, while others (detachables) allow you to dock a detachable tablet PC with an accessory keyboard for laptop-like functionality.
So, what the best laptop to get for school? It depends on your needs. You may check out our Electronics Section for discounted choices.