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Deciding on Laptops for College

squiggly tree, laptop, and tablet

*Originally Published on Natasha Igl’s domain by Natasha

College is just around the corner, which means the headache of purchasing a laptop.  Stores spout out brands, facts, and prices, but it’s all drowned out by the dribble in your head.  What should you even be looking at?

Best Buy provides a list of the top picks for laptops. They divide the devices by look and purpose, so check it out to form an idea of what to look for.  St. Norbert College’s ITS also has some recommendations and requirements for laptops.  SNC is not picky about what model laptop you purchase; however, ITS offers some things to keep in mind.

Types to Look At

Consider what type of laptop you want. There really are only three options: Windows, Apple, or Chromebook.  Windows has a variety of choices as well as Chromebooks, but Apple really only has two kinds–the Macbook Pro or Macbook Air.  All are great machines, but some people have preferences. Here are some points on each type:

Windows:

  • Most common computer
  • Most machines can act as a 2 in 1 (i.e. either as a tablet or laptop)
  • Touchscreens, foldables, and stylus are available
  • Can run virtually any program you would need at SNC
  • Good quality Windows computers start around $500-$700
  • Great for Computer Science Majors
  • Con: More potential for viruses and malware

Mac

  • Excellent hardware
  • Can install most programs you will use at SNC
  • Tend to last longer
  • Works well with other Apple products
  • Most recommended for Art majors
  • Con: A bit more expensive than windows–Expect to pay over $900 to start

Chromebook

  • Less expensive for better hardware–Ranges between $300 and $700 for good quality Chromebooks
  • Great for anyone who’s major doesn’t require special software (Education Majors)
  • Extremely fast
  • Most secure
  • Best for doing everything on the web
  • Cannot run some specific software used in certain disciplines

All of these should survive through all 4 years of college unless something tragic happens, like a coffee accident.  In the end, you can choose what fits you best!

Other Points to Consider

Pay attention to the RAM, processor, and what programs are all inclusive of purchase.

  • 8GB of RAM and an i5 processor for Windows and Mac is perfect.
  • At least 4GB of RAM and an Intel Processor for Chromebook is generally best
  • 128-256GB of SSD storage is fine for almost everyone on Windows and Mac
  • 32-64GB of storage is great for a Chromebook 
  • St. Norbert primarily uses Google Suite, which has unlimited storage for students and staff
  • For more information, take a look at my more in depth article on choosing laptops

Another point belongs to making sure the laptop can last backpack travel.  Many classes require a laptop (SNC has a Bring Your Own Device Initiative), so be sure that it will fit in your backpack, withstand backpack handling, and not strain your muscles carrying it around.  

  • I.e. look at slim and mobile

For a specific example, the most recommended laptop (according to Best Buy) is the Lenovo Yoga.  

Lenovo Yoga 2 in 1 Touch Screen Laptop–most recommended for quality and budget. Costs $679.99.

It includes:

  • Recommended 8GB of RAM
  • i5 processor
  • Long lasting battery life that will last a student through a whole day of classes  
  • Price around the average $600 mark

Other questions?

Still unsure of what to buy? Talk to your store associates, whether Best Buy, Amazon, or  so on. They should be knowledgeable about these products and can see a more connected trend than other novice people.

Other ways to collect information can be done by:

  • Doing your own personal research: Ask other college students what laptops they purchased and if their laptops worked out well for them.
  • Look at ratings, forums on laptops, and play around with the laptops at stores.
  • Do what I did and adventure to Best Buy or whatever your retail store and pepper them with questions more than once.

Good luck!

Like what you’ve read?  Check out Natasha’s blog for more!

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