Estimated reading time: 21 minute(s)
Do you have a kid that’s heading off to college? Maybe you are thinking about taking some night classes on going back yourself. Whatever the situation is, you are going to need a serious laptop with some serious computing power. While this might not be completely necessary, it certainly is a device that will make your life easier. Plus, look at it as an investment. Buy the right laptop for college and you’ll be able to use it later on in life in numerous activities. In addition to this, you always have a place where you can go back and reference notes and other information.
What To Look For When Choosing Your College Laptop
With all the options currently available on the market, shopping for a laptop is going to be harder than ever. Of course there are many extensive guides out there but extensive isn’t always the easiest to understand. So here we have narrowed it down to what you need to look for. Along with what you need to look for, what features are also simply nice-to-have? Are there features that’ll come in handy later in life? That is exactly what’s going to be covered in this guide.
CPU Processing Power
When you are talking about a laptop, you’ll hear a lot of talk about power or computing power. This is simply referring to what the computer is capable of. For instance, can it run specific software, can it handle multiple tasks at one time, and if so how many and what kind of software can it run. It is the CPU, central processing unit, or processor that gives the computer its capabilities
You’ve likely heard the term processor before. And, you’ve likely heard the terms Intel Inside, dual-cores, or Core i7 since you’ve been on the market. While there are several other considerations that will need to be made throughout your quest, it probably is the CPU that is one of the single most important.
The faster and more capable the CPU, the more you’ll be able to do with the computer. This also equates to a higher cost. Better CPUs equal higher costs. That being said, there really is no need to by a sports car for extra speed if you can get by with a minivan. And, the same holds true for your computer.
Now, this really comes down to what you’ll be doing with the computer as a college student. Are you going to need to surf the web? Are you going to need to prepare presentations and run big programs? Will you need to Skype and take online courses? If so, you are going to want more power.
If you just need to surf the web, watch some YouTube videos, create documents, or make Skype calls, you’ll likely be able to get away with a Core i3 processor. However, if you want the option of getting into multiplayer games in your free time, streaming, running multiple software programs, you’ll want to opt for at least a Core i7 processor. While there are now i8s available on the market, an i7 could handle anything that a college student could throw at it.
Durability & Reliability
This laptop is going to have to survive some pretty tough situations. Just think about it! Most of the time the laptop will be in transport or use. You’ll either be carrying it on the bus, back and forth across college campus or stuffing it in your backpack along with your heavy books and other potentially harmful items. Simply put, the laptop is going to take some bumps and bangs. There is just no avoiding this. This is why you want to opt for a model that can handle these bumps and bangs and keep right on delivering.
When shopping for a college laptop with these capabilities, you’re going to need to look way beyond the specs and features. You’re going to need to consider the construction. Is the hinge going to be durable enough to handle multiple closings and openings? If it’s a model that converts to a tablet, will the hinge be able to handle the multiple positions that it’ll find itself in from time to time? Does the keyboard look and feel sturdy? Are you getting rattling when typing? Is there flex when opening the screen?
These are all things you are going to need to consider, plus more because they could be potential weaknesses. The outside components of a laptop will likely experience failure far before the internal components so it is going to be imperative to consider how and what the laptop is made of. Does it offer a hard shell? Is the shell aluminum or some kind of another durable type of metal? Factor all of these things into the buying process.
Weight And Portability
You do without a doubt want a laptop for college that is durable and reliable, but you don’t want one that is more hassle than it’s worth to drag around. Heck, you’d be better off with a desktop if this was the case. You’ll find that today’s models can substantially vary in weight. Some will weigh as little as two pounds, while there are some models that will weigh nearly 20 pounds, no joke! Remember, as we said earlier you need to keep in mind that this laptop is going to be in transport most of the time from class to class. This means that it will need features that will make it easily transportable.. cough cough.. light weight.
As a rule of thumb, bigger is better. but weight needs to be kept in mind. The bigger the screen, the heavier the overall weight, the bigger the battery, the heavier your laptop will be. These are all things that are going to equate to a better and sturdier built laptop, one that will be best suited for college students. The key is to just find that balance point. You want something that will offer enough screen real estate to focus easily while also being able to take bumps and bangs, but you don’t want something that’ll feel more like a workout to carry around than a joy.
Larger storage will also likely mean more weight. Spinning hard drives not only store more than Solid State Drives, but they are cheaper. A good way to shed some weight in this area might be by opting for external storage like a USB thumb drive. These are all just things that need to be considered when you go out shopping for your ultimate college computer.
It doesn’t matter how many features your laptop has, how great it runs, or how great it looks if it can’t hold a charge long enough for you to do your work. This is just why battery life is another of the top considerations when choosing a laptop for college. Batteries and battery life have without a doubt improved over the years, but there are still some laptops that can’t run all day on a single charge. And, when they die fully, it sometimes leads to problems.
You also have to remember, the more powerful the machine, the faster it will drain the battery. While working tethered to an outlet is always an option at home or in the dorm, it might not be in the classroom or on a site somewhere. Using a laptop for high-performance activities will cause the battery to drain like a bottle of water on a hot summer day. For college, you need your laptop to last.
The goal here is the same as the weight. You want to maximize both without making either of them a burden.
Not discounting the points on the laptop’s portability, processor, and the like, the price still matters. Whether one is broke or has more purchasing power, it doesn’t hurt to stretch one’s dollars.
Instead of chasing after the latest models, turn your attention to refurbished computers online for cost-effective prices. This laptop model can be a smart buy to suit the work you do in and out of campus.
Choosing Your Laptop for College Is Easier Said than Done
College is the most important time of any student’s young career. If you want to get the most out of it, you’ll want to record everything that you possibly can. One of the best ways to do this for future reference is with the right laptop. Choosing the right laptop for college will be much easier when you take all the above factors into consideration.