What laptop do you really need as a student? Find one suited to your course and you could save a fortune.
For those who don’t know the technical jargon of laptops and their functionality, many people can find the purchase of a pricey commodity like this fairly daunting. Naturally people strive for the perfect balance between value for money and quality of product. But how do you do this when you’re not even sure what RAM stands for?
Being of the ‘digital native’ generation, I have always had commercial exposure to technology, and moreover laptops. I have seen the introduction and modification of trackpads, I’ve watched laptops get thinner and faster, and I am the last generation to remember when Apple didn’t rule the world (myself included)! So because of this, I made it my mission to know what improvements are made when new laptop models are released. Despite being blown away by the level of technological improvement and the release of powerful technology at high street prices, I learnt through my time in technical support that the most expensive and most impressive machine is not necessarily the one for you. Depending on what you are going to use your new laptop for, the majority of the time you are overcompensating in the pursuit of quality. In this case the use will be for university, and as I am only a year out of university life, and I went through two laptops and a tablet during my time there, I want to share what I learnt from my mistakes so you don’t have to.
So what is the laptop with best value for money, that is of quality and will last you – at least for your time in study? The reason I say this, is that I fell victim to buying a poor quality laptop without adequate research, hence two uni laptops. My first laptop was purchased in 2012 and died on me two months after its warranty expired in 2014. I was watching a YouTube video and that was apparently enough to corrupt my hard drive! That was my wakeup moment, and after a short spell with a 7” Asus tablet reduced to £50 by a friend working at a department store, I decided that I was going to buy a new laptop. By this stage I had also learnt which aspects of a laptop affected me as a student.
Firstly, believe me when I tell you that you want a laptop that is fast at waking when you open the lid, and one that will remain quick. One of the many justifications I had to not be writing my essays is that “it takes 20 minutes to turn my laptop on”. This will depend on both your processor and your RAM, but what many fail to remember is that lower end laptops are still perfectly suitable for most uni courses. My rule of thumb is that you should aim for 8GB RAM with an i5 processor. I would heavily advise against anything below this – e.g i3 or Pentium – for one reason, time. Granted, laptops with lower end processors and 2GB or 4GB RAM will be great for your word processing and streaming needs. They might even have excellent storage, but at the rate that tech advances they will be fossils within 12 months of purchase. It is worth the extra for still being able to use it in the future. Anything more than this is overkill unless you do a particularly tech or graphics style courses. If you do those courses you should already be aware of this.
In the sake of brands, I would avoid most Lenovo models (as in my experience they are most temperamental), and try and steer towards Asus, Dell, or HP. Look for good screen quality, and check that it is nice and light. Do not worry about a huge screen size, you can always connect it to a larger monitor with an HDMI cable at a later date if you feel you need to. I have a 13” screen and that is great for me as it makes my laptop roughly the same size as A4 paper, or folders. And if you’re thinking of getting a MacBook, remember that although you are paying for a fantastic and reliable machine, a notable percentage of the purchase price is the little Apple logo on the back. You will always find something of similar quality at a much lower price if you stick to Windows, and Windows is also more compatible. That’s about it really, I’ll leaving choosing the colour up to you!
If you do decide to make the leap and purchase a laptop then I would also recommend to get it insured. Thieves pray on students as they know their residences aren’t the most secure and see students as an easy target. MyMoneyComparison offer an excellent Gadget insurance comparison to find the best deal for you to get your laptop insured. The last thing you want when your assignment is due is your laptop stolen and no insurance to get a replacment! International students can also get laptops shipped directly to their university via a shipping service.
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