Things to Consider: Buying a Laptop for College
Finding the right laptop for college can be a daunting task and the amount of options can seem endless. While this guide can't promise to cover everything, it does provide a good starting place to begin when browsing for that perfect laptop.
Don't miss out on cheaper pricing for laptops by checking if there is education pricing available for students. Companies such as Apple, Dell, and Microsoft provide pricing discounts and other package deals for students going to college.
Fans of both laptops and tablets can buy devices that combine the functionality of each together in what is called a 2-in-1. These 2-in-1 devices allow for the screen to either be flipped over or detached for tablet use. Most often come with a digital pen for writing or drawing directly on the screen, which makes them great for taking notes in class or drawing sketches for art assignments.
While having a larger screen is great for media consumption and larger workspace for creative projects, it does come at the cost of portability with some devices. More premium and expensive laptops have solved this issue by being thinner in size and lighter in weight. However, cheaper models that have 15 or 17-inch screens usually are bulky and can be a lot to work to carry around campus in a backpack or your arms. A 13-inch screen is your safest bet for campus portability, with a 15-inch, premium model being a safe pick as well.
Creative and Gaming Use
Gamers and artists should consider investing in laptops that have premium video cards to ensure working in creative-centered programs, such as the Adobe Suite and movie editing tools, and playing games aren't slowed down. While getting a better quality video card can come at a price, it's a worthwhile investment for the future as one of the parts of a laptop that is usually not able to be upgraded. If you're planning to use a particular creative-centered program to play a specific game it's best to check their hardware requirements to ensure you purchase a laptop with enough power for the job.
If you're looking to spend a little bit more to increase the lifespan of a laptop the most worthwhile upgrades are either a solid-state drive (or SSD) or additional memory. Sometimes the only difference between two models of a laptop can be the type of hard drive. While traditional disk-spinning hard drives are cheaper for more space, they're slower in speed for nearly every operation on a computer ranging from transferring files to booting up the laptop. Solid-state drives are much quicker and more reliable in the long run.
Another worthwhile upgrade is expanding the amount of memory from the usual default of 4 or 8 GB to a more future proof size of 16 or 32 GB. Memory on a laptop affects nearly every operation and ensures programs launch quickly and remain running smooth during every day use.
Try Before You Buy
While not possible with all laptop models, the best way way to ultimately decide if a laptop is the right choice for you is to visit a physical store with one in stock to try out. Even if you end up buying the laptop online for a cheaper price, using the device in person allows you to see how the keyboard and trackpad feel and how the display looks with various types of media.
Feel free to post any laptop questions in the comments and I'll try my best to answer!