Buying a Laptop for College Student – (Explained)

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Laptop computers are good for the college students to use not only for its portability but also for the useful technological tools that they offer.

Even the schools and colleges recommend their students to use a laptop computer.

However, not any or every laptop computer that you may lay your hands upon will be useful.

There are a few specific things that you should look for in a laptop computer for a college student.

If you are not quite aware of the aspects to look for in the laptop for your college, here is an article that will prove to be a useful guide for that matter. Read on.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Apart from being convenient to use, a laptop helps the college students to do a lot of other activities that will add to their knowledge and study requirements.
  • A student should follow the recommendations of the college for the accessories, components and base software in particular while buying a laptop.

What to Look for When Buying a Laptop for College Student?

Size of the Laptop For College

When choosing a laptop for your college, you will need to make sure that it is useful, durable, and is capable of meeting all your college requirements.

A lot of things are needed to be considered in a laptop such as the RAM, the CPU, the storage capacity and type and lots more.

Most importantly, you will need to make sure that it meets the recommendations of the college authorities.

Therefore, you should start with consulting with the IT department of your college.

You will surely not want to end up paying for and buying something that you will hardly use or will be allowed to use.

Need for and Benefits of a Laptop

Before you dive deep into the factors to look into in a laptop computer that you want to use in your college, here are the needs and benefits of using a laptop in college.

  • You will always have all your notes and references required in your college with you in your laptop and you may not have to carry all those heavy books to your college everyday
  • The laptop will help you to format assignments and references according to the requirements of the college by using the different tools available in different websites and internet libraries
  • Apart from taking notes in class and type assignments quickly and easily, the laptop will help you to share them when you work in groups on a specific project
  • If you are far from your home and are staying in a college hostel you can use your laptop to stay in touch and communicate with your family and friends at home without having to pay large phone bills
  • You can listen to music or watch a movie when you are bogged down with your college assignments and need some quick refreshment for your mind
  • If you have writing and research skills or can create software, you may even earn some extra pocket money in your leisure by using your laptop computer
  • You can even download an entire book for referral on your laptop from an online source which may have cost you a lot of money if you wanted to buy it, provided it is available
  • The laptop will help you to be self-sufficient right from your college days enabling you to manage your day and schedules, complete all your chores on time, plan and budget your finance using online planners and lots more and
  • You will be well aware of current affairs and situations all over the world as well as gain some additional knowledge out of your syllabus that will improve your GK and IQ both.
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So, a laptop is useful and a convenient tool for any college student. And, carrying it along with you in hand or in a laptop bag will add to your style statement as well!

Factors to Look for

Your budget is the first thing that you should consider while buying a laptop computer for your college.

This is important because your budget will determine the features that you will get in your laptop as well as the accessories to include.

Once you have ascertained the budget, here are the major aspects that should look into:

  • The operating system – Mostly, you will be well off with Windows 10 operating system but depending on your college requirements and on what you are studying, you may even need Mac or Linux operating systems.
  • The processor – Laptops run on either Intel or AMD processors. Choosing the right one for your college may be difficult if nothing is specified by the IT department of your college. An Intel Core i3 or an AMD A-series process may suffice basic assignments for your college. However, for graphics intensive tasks and heavy programming needs an Intel Core i5 or i7 or an AMD A10 processor may be required. Also, check the number of cores and the basic operating speed of the CPU.
  • The RAM – The Random Access Memory or RAM will play an important role in the speed and performance of the laptop computer. Mostly, a 4 GB RAM will be enough for basic tasks but it is good to go with 8 GB of RAM at least so that your system is ready to run heavy software and allow multitasking as and when needed. Also, ensure that it is at least a DDR4 RAM which is far better than the other previous versions.
  • The Storage – This is quite difficult to decide because you will need to determine both the size as well as the type of storage. Hard Disk Drives or HDDs are cheaper but are slower and are also quite vulnerable to heat issues and failures due to the moving platters in them. Solid State Drives or SSDs are more efficient but costly. It is best to use a combo storage of SSD and HDD. As for the storage size, at least 500 GB will be enough to load all software and files in your system, though higher is recommended.
  • The graphics card – You will need a good graphics card as well in your laptop to create the graphs, charts and presentations. You may choose from an integrated or a dedicated graphics card but the former will be slower in performance. Therefore, it will be good enough for basic computing needs. For higher graphics needs such as 3D graphics courses and others, a discrete GPU or Graphics Processing Unit of NVIDIA or AMD is necessary.
  • The battery – You may not get a free and easily accessible charging point in your college and so your laptop needs to have a good battery that will last for at least 8 to 10 hours, at least, at a stretch on a single charge. Check the battery rating which is usually marked as 3-cell, 6-cell, or 9-cell and choose a long-lasting one.
  • The size – The laptop you want to use in your college should be portable. This means that it needs to be small in size so that it fits in comfortably in your backpack and saves you from carrying a separate bag for it which is quite cumbersome. The size of a laptop usually depends on the size of the screen. Choose one that is just large enough to read notes and see things clearly. If you stay on the college campus, a larger screen may be recommended.
  • The portability – The laptop should be light in weight as well so that it is portable. This depends on several factors such as the screen size, the components within it and more. Anything weighing more than 2 pounds will surely cause pain in your neck and shoulders having to carry it all day on your back.
  • Form factor – You can choose from clamshell or 2-in-1 form factors. The clamshells are popular in which the screen opens and closes while the 2-in-1 laptops are sleek and work like a computer as well as a tablet. The 2-in-1 can be a convertible in which the keyboard stays attached but the screen can twist, swivel, or flip in stand or tent mode to share or present content or fold completely to be used as a tablet. A detachable laptop can be switched into a tablet fast by detaching the keyboard. Your convenience is the key to selecting the right form factor.
  • Screen size – The size of the screen will not only impact your viewing but also the weight and cost of the laptop. You will get anything between 11 inches and up to 17 inches screen. The smallest ones are good for basic tasks and the largest ones are workhorses that will consume a lot of power. A 15-inch screen is ideal for a student in every way such as in performance, portability, and price. Just make sure it has a thinner bezel and a resolution of at least 1080p for better viewing.
  • Ports and connectivity – Check the ports in the laptop if you need to connect different accessories to it off and on. USB ports are more common and allow connecting a large variety of peripherals offering a reasonably high data transfer speed. Thunderbolt 4 ports for faster connection, Ethernet port to connect to a wired network, HDMI/VGA/DVI to connect an external monitor and SD card reader are also required. Add to that, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support will also be very useful in many cases.
  • Keyboard – This should have soft, comfortable, tactile and easy to use keys, preferably backlit so that you can type correctly even if you sit in the darker corner in the classroom. The keys should be large, spaced adequately apart, with clear imprints. A keyboard with a separate number keypad will help in punching the numbers quickly and more accurately.
  • Touchpad – The touchpad of the laptop should be placed right below the space key of the keyboard. It should be large and sensitive enough to touches, with or without separate right and left click buttons.
  • Webcam – If you need to take online classes or consult with someone staying far away, having a good quality webcam is essential in a laptop for college students. Make sure that it is built-in and positioned perfectly right on the top of the bezel of the screen. In a few models, the camera is placed at the bottom and even hidden inside a pop-up key. These may take pictures down from your nose. Also, make sure that the resolution of the camera is not lower than 720p.
  • Future expandability – During your entire stay in the college you may have to upgrade your system every year. Though you may not be able to upgrade the CPU and GPU, such possibilities with the storage and RAM are always welcome. This will ensure that the more demanding software that you may have to download in your system will run properly. Remember, upgrading a computer system is far less expensive than replacing the old one with a new model.
  • Warranty – Finally, check the warranty offered by the manufacturer for the particular laptop model you have chosen to use in your college. It should be essentially for 1 year at least on parts and labor but it is recommended to increase it with additional coverage for a couple of years for more protection and money saving since you will be able to get your system repaired for free. However, if you want accident or theft coverage you will need to purchase further coverage.
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Once you have bought the laptop you should now focus on the software programs and apps to load in it.

Do not overwhelm the system with junk software. Install only those that you will need in your college essentially and a few others for some basic refreshment and light entertainment.

Make sure that the laptop supports third-party software and apps that you may need for classwork.

This will be much cheaper in comparison to buying a dedicated software program directly from the developer.

Finally, take a look at the accessories to get along with your laptop that will help in carrying and using the system in your college.

The accessories to consider are a laptop bag and antivirus software to safely surf the internet all day long and others.

Do not ignore the accessories because these will not only protect your laptop but will enhance its productivity significantly as well.

Conclusion

There is a lot to look for and remember when you buy a laptop computer for college.

Fortunately, after reading this article now you can surely make a short and most useful checklist for the features you want in your college laptop along with the accessories, the size, the weight, the storage and the processing power.