Are you about to start your new degree at college and are worrying about not having the right laptop? Do you want to know the best ways in which you as a student can save more money? Then read on as we have compiled a guide on how much you should spend on a laptop for college.
We have come up with a few tips and considerations that you should keep in mind when it comes to browsing the web for your next laptop purchase. Laptops can cost an arm and a leg, but if you know what you are looking for you will easily find the laptop suited for you.
Read on to see how much you should spend on the best laptop for college and what exactly students should be looking for when it comes to budget laptops.
Typical Costs of College Laptops
Students will typically be trying to save where they can, and purchasing a new laptop should be no different. Laptops with the greatest performance may catch your eye but they also come with the highest prices and just may be overkill for your chosen degree. A typical student shouldn’t need to spend any more than $500 on their new laptop as most students will only be using it to write your coursework and view online seminars. This depends on what you are studying, but unless you are studying a computer intensive course then try to set your budget under $500.
What Affects the Cost of the Best College Laptop?
Before you begin to browse the internet for you new laptop, be sure to take the previous section into consideration and set yourself a price range. Ensuring that you look within your budget is an important step in any purchase as you don’t want to pay more than you are willing to. If you are at all uncertain on what aspects of a laptop may increase it’s price then worry no more as we have created a brief breakdown of some of the most common features that tend to come with an increased price tag.
Solid State Drive
A lot of modern and high-end laptops will now feature a solid-state drive in some capacity. Whether that’s reserved to speed up the operating system or if it can be used to store applications on important documents on. You should take into consideration the cost of purchasing an SSD that features a fairly large capacity. It is extremely rare, in the world of laptops, to find an SSD that has a larger capacity than 500GB. If your laptop contains an SSD you can expect to pay a slightly higher price than if it only featured a hard drive so make sure you decide whether or not you need one before locking yourself into a purchase.
This is an extremely important part of most laptop purchases, but can also be slightly sacrificed if you are mainly planning on just using your laptop to write and view tutorials. An intel core i7 or similar processor will set you back quite a large amount in terms of cost and might not be needed for your degree.
Courses that require high-end laptops or other devices will need decent processing power, but unless this is the case it might be a good idea to find a lower-end option such as an Intel Pentium or Intel core i5 processor. A decent budget option is those that come from the AMD Ryzen processor range as they offer decent performance at a low cost. Always check the specs required for your courses software to ensure you are getting the best value and not paying more than you need to.
Size and Weight
Although not necessarily linked with the performance of your laptop, the size and weight of your chosen device can play a fairly large role. The big advantage of purchasing a laptop as opposed to a static desktop build is that it offers decent mobility and can be taken with you on the go. This is especially important when it comes to travelling around your college campus from lecture to lecture.
As you might have guessed a heavier laptop that features a larger screen size will cost more and will also offer less portability than a smaller model. If you plan on using your laptop predominately at home then this shouldn’t be an issue, but as you are a student and will probably spend lots of late nights in the library then you might want to consider more portable options.
Chromebooks and Notebooks offer some of the best portability in terms of laptops and should definitely be considered if you are looking for the most portable options as opposed to just working from home.
Applications and Entertainment
If you are planning to use your laptop for entertainment use as well as studying then you can expect to pay slightly more for a more powerful machine. Most college laptops will be built around word processing and other less strenuous tasks, therefore they may not be powerful enough for running games etc. If you want to play video games on your laptop then contemplate paying more for better hardware. Modern games especially have pretty high system requirements therefore you will need to choose from laptops that feature graphics cards to get maximum performance.
In terms of video and music streaming however, most laptops will be able to do this fine with zero performance issues. Both of the processes require a decent wi-fi connection as opposed to powerful hardware so as long as your internet is up to scratch you will be fine!
When it comes to software and applications you may need for your degree, you may be expected to pay a premium price for a laptop that comes with them pre-installed. However, a lot of colleges today will have free access to the required software. Before purchasing a whole software suite for a high price make sure you check with your colleges IT helpdesk to see if you have free access to the software you need.
This is perhaps the biggest way in which a host of laptops will try to differentiate themselves from each other, but it can also be something that hikes the price up rapidly. As impressive as a touch screen may seem it probably isn’t required unless you are doing a more art-based creative major such as graphics design. You may need a touch display for accessibility reasons however, if so then they are definitely worth the added price.
A 4K display might offer the best viewing experience, but again, unless your major will be improved by it it just isn’t worth paying the high-end price for added functionality. As long as you are certain that your laptop has a decent build quality and offers everything you need then it is almost always a good idea to buy the one with the lowest price tag. College students will commonly be trying to save money where possible, so browsing through the cheaper models could be a good idea.
The Best College Laptops by Major
Finding the right laptop for an English degree isn’t too difficult as almost every laptop today will be able to run writing processers such as Microsoft software fairly easily. As long as a laptop offers a decent battery life and a constant wi-fi connection, you should be ok purchasing any laptop system that sits within your budget.
Again, much like English based courses, you won’t need the latest performance when it comes to Humanity based courses. As you will mostly be using your laptop to write research work and browse websites most modern laptops will be suited for Humanity majors. Feel free to spend a little extra on a decent display screen or a comfortable key board as you won’t need to splash out on the latest processor or graphics card.
Regarding performance, for some sciences, you will in fact require a fairly powerful computer or laptop to perform some more analytical tasks. This is especially true in Math and Physics as you will need a system that can execute maths-based functions rapidly. Try to find models that offer decent processing speeds and powerful hardware, but if you are uncertain be sure to contact your lecturer or tutor as they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Computer science students will require slightly more performance than other majors as their major entirely revolves around the world of computers. It might be a good idea to opt for an entirely separate computer set-up for coding and other programming tasks. Regarding laptops, however, you will typically require a laptop with large storage capacity as a host of programming software can be fairly large. You will also need decent processing power, so look out for discounted Core i7 laptops and other similar devices. Some apps may also require up to 16GB of ram, which can be fairly pricey.
Considerations for Finding the Best Budget College Laptop
Like every online purchase, you should always consider what exactly you want from a product. A good idea is to make a note of what you are expecting from your PC before finally deciding on the right one for you. This can help prevent any mishaps further down the line when the product arrives. Below you will find a laptop buying guide and tips to help you find the right college laptop as well as saving money.
Portability of the Laptop
Considering students will be moving from lecture to lecture, a good idea is to keep your eyes peeled for a mobile laptop. This is typically laptops that are smaller or come with their own carrying case. As a student, you will constantly be on the go, so the easier your laptop is to carry with you the better. In regards to laptop choices, a good portable device would be Chromebooks or Netbook as these tend to be smaller than your typical laptop. Just check that the café or library has an internet connection if you do opt for one as this is needed to get the most out of the Chrome OS.
A portable laptop should also have decent battery life as sometimes you may be away from a charging port or an electrical outlet. The most portable laptops tend to feature anywhere between 7 and 10 hours of battery life, this is so they can last a while away from home.
Due to your student life consisting of a lot of studying, you will want to consider finding a laptop that offers a comfortable typing experience. Sitting down and writing for a long period of time can cause extreme wrist pain, or even worse, afflictions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The best way to combat and prevent this is by using an ergonomic keyboard. They are built in a specific way to support your wrist for long periods of time and remove some of the strain that may occur.
A decent keyboard is also useful when it comes to keeping up with the lecture and making sure your notes cover all topics. High typing accuracy can be important and help ensure your work is accurate and you haven’t made a host of spelling mistakes. If you are planning on using your laptop for using Microsoft word and other similar tasks then be sure to choose a laptop with a decent key board.
Storage Space and Type
As you will be relying on your laptop for most of your college coursework, you will probably want to buy yourself a laptop that has a large storage capacity. Most laptop models will feature a 500 GB hard drive which should be enough for most college tasks however if possible you should consider spending a little extra to get more storage capacity. As the average major lasts around 4 years in the US you will tend to accrue a lot of documents and college work on your laptop. Future-proofing your laptop by purchasing a larger hard drive is a great idea.
You will also come across different types of memory storage in the best laptops for college. These two types are HDD ( Hard Disk Drive) and SSD (Solid State Drive). A hard drive tends to be far larger and cheaper than your average SSD, but with the caveat that they are slightly slower. An SSD on the other hand will usually feature slightly less storage capacity but will load up documents and apps far quicker. For college work, you will rarely require an SSD but it can be a worthwhile investment as the speed difference is extremely noticeable.
Commonly your choice of OS will be pre-determined when purchasing your laptop, however, sometimes you may have a choice.
- The most common operating system you will come across is Windows. There are a variety of different versions of Windows so you should double-check what your degrees soft ware requires as some older versions will not be compatible with modern apps. If you are unsure we would recommend purchasing a laptop that features Windows 7 or 10 as they are perhaps the best version of Windows available.
- A slightly less common but still a decent choice is the Linux operating system. This is slightly more technical than your average OS such as Windows but can offer compelling customizability and unprecedented freedom. Linux is an Open-OS meaning you have full control over most aspects and it will very rarely come with bloatware commonly found in other OS’s. As it is technically complex it perhaps isn’t suited for most college students and might be a better fit for Computer Science and other tech-heavy majors.
- If you purchase an Apple Laptop such as the high-end Macbook Pro you will have to use Apples Mac OS X which some applications aren’t compatible with.
- A Chromebook will usually use Googles ChromeOS which require a steady Wi-Fi connection to get the most out of it.
Another aspect of the operating system you should look out for is the amount of RAM it supports. When it comes to Windows, there are two different alternatives, 32 and 64 bit. 32 bit OS’s will limit your RAM usage to less than 4GB which isn’t ideal for most modern-day applications. Therefore, try to make sure you use the 64-bit version of your OS if possible.
As mentioned earlier in the laptop buying guide, you may not need to spend a fortune just to get the best processing power. An intel core i7 or a CPU of similar power may be required for courses such as Computer Science and other IT-based ones, but if you are studying English or one of the many Humanities, it just isn’t necessary. A decent CPU will increase your performance, but this will come at a massively increased price. Keep an eye out for the Ryzen 5 4500u or a core i3 as they perfectly juggle high performance at a low cost and will be more than enough for most students software.
You should also try not to worry too much about purchasing a laptop that features the latest graphics card as this will probably not be necessary for most students. If you are studying a major that requires decent graphical performance then you will definitely need one, but most students on a budget will be able to save a few bucks and buy a laptop model without a dedicated card.
Are Apple Laptops Worth It?
Apple products tend to be far more expensive than your typical brand therefore you should consider what you are purchasing a laptop for. If you are mainly focusing on writing lecture notes and web browsing on your chosen browser for major-specific research then an apple laptop may not be worth the price of admission. Laptops such as the Macbook Air also lack some customizability and support of some important software you may need on your major. College majors such as computer science and software engineering students may be best suited to finding a different type of laptop.
When it comes to writings your research note and video editing, apple laptops are exceptionally suited, as long as you are willing to pay a high price. If you are on a course that features 3D modeling or general intensive tasks then a Macbook Air isn’t the worst laptop you could choose.
What is the best affordable laptop for a college student?
The best affordable laptops will usually offer the performance you need for your course without costing a fortune. Therefore a laptop with decent battery life and overall life span can be a worthy purchase. As you may be studying for more than 4 years you want to ensure that your laptop offers decent durability as you may need it to work for multiple years. One of the best ways to do this is by checking out a laptops online reviews and by purchasing from a brand you know. Also, be sure to check out any students discounts online as a lot of names on the laptop market will offer tailored student packages.
Is a laptop worth it for college?
When it comes to constant studying and word processing, laptops are one of the most worthwhile investments you can make. With all the back and forth travel between lectures and different faculty buildings, a laptop can offer extreme portability allowing you to compile your study notes on the go. Some college students may be interested in purchasing a computer as opposed to a laptop, but they will severely lack the portability that laptops are known for. If you are just about to start a brand new major then you should consider getting yourself a laptop as you will more than likely need one.
Is a 15.6-inch laptop too big for college?
This depends entirely on how much you will be carrying your laptop around with you. If you will be using your system on the go frequently then a larger screen may, in fact, be a downside to your new purchase. As tempting as it may be, you might be able to save yourself both some money and an inconvenience by purchasing a smaller model. A good option is to check out Chromebooks or notebooks as they offer a small but powerful system that is perfectly suited for on the go use.