When you’re shipping off for college, you want to make sure you’re bringing the best gear with you. Of course, you want only the best backpack, binders, pencils and such, but that’s not where you need to really worry about quality. The most important consideration you need to make for your college gear is in your laptop.
When you’re studying, you’ll need to use your laptop to find the information. During class, when you’re taking notes, you’ll need to be able to quickly navigate your note-taking app and get everything in order while the professor is lecturing. When you’re writing essays, you need to be comfortable with the laptop’s keyboard. And, of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re aptly entertained when it comes time to unwind.
First off, when you’re shopping for a laptop for college, make sure it’s light and easy to throw in a bag and carry around with you. You’re already going to be sporting a ton of books and carrying all of your scrap paper and pencils to and from class. The last thing you need is to also have to worry about lugging a heavy laptop with all of this stuff.
Remember, though, that a lot of your time using the laptop will involve typing and writing essays. This means you’ll want to have a good-sized trackpad and keyboard for the most ergonomic experience. If you do have to sacrifice on keyboard size to keep the laptop to a reasonable size and weight, of course, you can opt for a USB keyboard and mouse to keep in your room for heavy-lifting tasks.
You probably don’t need a massive, 17-inch OLED screen for the laptop you’re going to be using mostly for schoolwork. Also, per our last tip, you probably don’t want a laptop that big taking up so much space in your backpack. A 13- or 15-inch screen will likely be more than enough for scholastic purposes, so don’t go overboard when you’re looking at screens.
If you’re looking for something to serve as a great entertainment device for when you’re back in your dorm, consider getting a Roku and a small HDTV. Alternatively, if you’re wanting to play video games, you could probably find a good deal on a Nintendo Switch, which would dramatically lighten your load compared to buying a full-fledged gaming laptop.
When you’re considering what kind of storage your laptop needs, make sure you’re getting a solid state drive. SSDs are more expensive than conventional hard drives, but they are well-worth the extra money. That’s because SSDs are stationary, unlike hard drives that spin in your computer, and so they travel much more safely. The less moving parts a portable computer has, the better!
SSDs also load information significantly faster than hard drives. Keep in mind, however, that it’s hard to notice this bump for the types of tasks you’ll likely be using a school computer for. If you often use Photoshop or render graphics, such as for video games or design, however, you’ll see a marked improvement in speed for SSDs.
Finally, we get to the big question. What kind of power should your school laptop have? Budget-conscious students will say “nearly none,” while gamers and tech fiends will say “all of it,” but neither is accurate.
For the purposes of research, writing papers and browsing the web, all while not tearing too hard into the laptop’s battery life, the best option is more measured. A Coffee Lake processor, for instance, will offer a great balance of power and performance. However, if you’re looking for a more budget, school-focused machine, something like a Chromebook might be the best option.