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What Is The Best Laptop To Buy For College

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The Best Devices For Creative Arts Students

How to Buy the Best Laptop for College

Film students, graphic designers, animators, video game designers, and other creative types need a high-resolution screen and powerful processor to handle high-end design, editing, and rendering programs. A dedicated graphics chip can also be important. Always check with your college about computing requirements they may have specific devices they want you to use. If you’re free to choose, here are a few options.

How To Choose The Best Laptop For School College Or University

How much should I spend on a student laptop?

Depending on what your studies involve and whether you plan on using your laptop for play as well as work, you can spend anywhere between a couple of hundred and a couple of thousand pounds on a student laptop.

If you’re on a tight budget or buying a laptop for your child to use for schoolwork, we recommend checking out our list of the best cheap laptops and the best laptops for kids.

However, if you want a device that will last you a number of years and has the capability to support a spot of light gaming, we recommend spending between £500 and £1,000. In this price bracket, you’ll find laptops that offer impressive performance coupled with attractive build quality.

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Do I need a fast processor and loads of RAM?

Processors and RAM arent too important if you just want a laptop for writing essays on even a cheap Chromebook is good enough for Google Docs and searching the internet.

However, if your studies require the use of more demanding software for photo or video editing, 3D design, or crunching databases, its worth putting money towards a more powerful CPU. Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors are a solid choice, while AMD’s Ryzen range of processors often rival Intel’s in terms of performance but come with a smaller price tag.

How much storage do I need?

What else do I need to look out for?

Microsoft Surface Go 2

Why should you buy this: You wont find a better Windows 10 tablet for taking your notes in class and then working on papers back in the dorm.

Whos it for: College students who want to replace paper with electronic notes.

What we thought of the Microsoft Surface Go 2:

The first Surface Go was designed to be an ultra-portable computing device that could fit just about anywhere, and its one of the best tablets overall. The second-generation is a bit heavier but also has a larger 10.5-inch HD display and performance options up to a new Intel Core m3-8100Y processor. At a low price, its clearly a competitor for Apples iPads and a strong choice if you like the iPad but need a Windows-oriented device for classes.

It also offers class-leading active pen support, with the Surface Pen providing the lowest latency in a Windows 10 tablet, 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, and tilt support. That means its awesome for taking handwritten notes and making quick drawings, something that can certainly come in handy for todays college students. However, Windows S Mode can be frustrating to use at times, so we suggest disabling it if youre using the Surface Go 2 for more complex tasks.

Read our Microsoft Surface Go 2 review

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Price Of Tablets For College Students

Inexpensive: Between $50 and $200, youll find entry-level and mid-range Android tablets. Screen sizes tend to be smaller, although there are a few ten-inch options that are worthwhile. When it comes to tablets, inexpensive doesnt mean cheap, so if youre looking for a moderately powerful tablet thats good as a secondary device, you dont have to spend a lot.

Mid-range: Between $200 and $500, youll see tablets that are plenty fast and have big, beautiful screens. Models in this price range are a little fancier and come with nicer finishes. Some models even include LTE connectivity, so you can get web access without WiFi . If youre looking for a tablet that will last several years and has a high-quality screen, this is the price range to keep in mind.

Expensive: Between $500 and $1,400 are the tablets that strive to be laptop replacements. Models in this price range pull out all the stops: tons of onboard storage, enormous 13-inch screens, and ten-hour battery life all cost at least this much. If youre looking for a tablet that can act as your main machine for your entire college career, this is how much youll need to spend.

Can You Game On A Laptop For College

Top 10 Best laptops For College Students Under $500

If you’ve already got a gaming PC, it’s worth asking yourself if you actually need a laptop that’s capable of serious gaming as well. Even the most basic laptops will be able to play older games and indie titles without much problem, so if you need to scratch that gaming itch, then there are other ways of doing it. Alternatively there’s always streaming services like Stadia, Project xCloud, and GeForce Now that will work on any laptop.

If you’re determined to get a machine that can throw its weight around with the latest games, then be prepared to throw a lot more money at your machine, even for middling graphics you’re basically looking at $1,000. That sort of money will generally net you a 1660 Ti, or if you’re lucky a 2060, although you generally have to spend a bit more for that. Both of these will happily handle modern games at 1080p, provided you’re happy playing with the display settings .

Another option is to rely on the improvements made to integrated graphics. Intel and AMD have both been throwing silicon at the integrated graphics side of their chips, and they’ve come a long way recently. If you can’t afford to fork out for a discrete GPU, then the likes of the Ryzen 7 4700U will be able to play competitive games at fairly reasonable settings, and while you may have to drop down to 720p in more demanding titles, you can definitely hit playable frame rates with sufficient tweaking.

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How Much Should I Spend On A Laptop For College

If you just need a laptop for everyday browsing, some streaming, and light work, then you can generally get away with spending as little as $400 . If you need more horsepower for serious work, programming and media editing then you can expect to be looking at pricing up to $800. If you’re looking for something that will handle games, then expect to start at around $800 and go up from there.

Always have a budget in mind though, and don’t just go for the cheapest laptop you can find. It can look like there are loads of ‘bargains’ out there, but once you get them home and start using them, you can see why the retailers were keen to clear them off their shelves. Keep what you’re buying the machine for at the front of your mind, there’s no point going for a cheap machine if it doesn’t actually do what you need, you’re just wasting money at that point.

Likewise, it’s all too easy to spend more than you actually needmore expensive laptops can absolutely do everything you need, but if you’re not using all those features, then you’re wasting your cash. There’s no point going for a laptop with a mid-tier gaming GPU if you’re never actually going to play AAA games on it.

Microsoft Surface Pro : Design

Microsoft hasn’t reinvented the wheel here. Like its predecessors, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a somewhat chunky tablet that can transform into a laptop thanks to its rear-facing kickstand and optional Signature Type Cover keyboard. We tested the Platinum model, though I’m partial to the sleek Black variation.

My biggest design gripe with the Surface Pro 7 is that its roughly 0.5-inch-thick bezels look positively massive for a laptop or tablet in 2019, especially compared with those of the iPad Pro and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, the latter of which has a barely noticeable 5.2mm edge. The Surface Pro X, with its thin bezels, looks much more modern by comparison.

While the Pro 7’s 0.3-inch-thin design feels top-heavy when you’re using it in conjunction with a keyboard , there’s still a lot to like about its versatility.

My biggest design gripe with the Surface Pro 7 is that its roughly 0.5-inch-thick bezels look positively massive for a laptop or tablet in 2019.

The kickstand rotates from 0 to 165 degrees, so you can easily prop it up for laptop use or tilt it slightly above desk level for when you’re drawing or taking notes. The Type Cover keyboard attaches seamlessly to the Pro 7’s underside, and the optional Surface Pen can attach to the side of the tablet magnetically .

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Which Type Of Laptop Is Best For You

General laptops: Where the best cheap laptops are found, devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability or power. Thats not to say they cant be fast, but youll typically find a non-Ultrabook clamshell laptop with an HD screen and spinning drive-based storage for less than $600 or £400.

Ultrabooks: Where youll find thin-and-light notebooks sporting SSD storage and display resolutions that exceed 1080p. Paired with powerful, albeit mobile-centric components and especially long battery life, the best Ultrabooks will cost a pretty penny $700 or £500 to $2,000 or £1,800.

2-in-1 laptops: Where notebooks that double as tablets are located. The Surface Book 2 might be a ways off, but many of the best 2-in-1 laptops are available right now. Outfitted with both detachable and 360-degree rotating hinges, these hybrids are the most versatile way to experience Windows 10 on a touchscreen.

Chromebooks: Where youll find the best Chromebooks running Chrome OS. These do much of what Windows and macOS can in the browser, focused on cloud storage over local, while recently getting Android app support for touchscreen models. They generally cost less than $300 or £200 and some can even withstand a slight tussle.

How Much Ram Does A Laptop Need

TOP 5: Best Laptops for College 2020

RAM is an important specification to look for in a laptop. Youll want 4GB at the very least for a Windows laptop though wed actually recommend for many people to go for 8GB. That will ensure that the laptop runs well for years to come. Budget Chromebooks can get away with less RAM, such as 1GB or 2GB.

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What’s An Ideal Size And Weight

Most people searching for a general-purpose laptop should choose one that measures about half an inch thick and weighs 3 pounds or less. In general, these are the maximum dimensions and heft a laptop can have for us to consider it an ultraportable, and for most users, portability is the key to maximizing use and enjoyment.

Aiming for that weight and thickness, in most cases, will limit the laptops screen size to 13 or 14 inches, although a few models with 15-inch or larger screens now fit into the ultraportable category. At most of these screen sizes, you can find models in either the conventional clamshell laptop shape or a 2-in-1 convertible design. The latter has a hinge that rotates the screen 360 degrees so you can use it as a makeshift tablet or prop it up like a tent for watching movies.

Some Windows and Chrome OS laptops do have smaller displays, such as 10 or 11 inches. Some of these are not technically laptops in the pure sense, but rather tablets with detachable keyboards. Unless youre specifically looking for a part-time tablet or the lightest possible laptop, avoid these designs. Theyre lighter than most 13-inch ultraportables, often less than 2 pounds, but theyre not as good at being tablets as the Apple iPad is, and their detachable keyboards mean theyre not much good at being laptops, eithertyping on most of them tends to be subpar.

How To Find The Best Mac For Education

The process of choosing the best MacBook for college depends on the kind of student you are, the type of assignments you get, and what youve generally come to expect from your computers. Apple is known for making their products to last, so even if you decide to buy a cheap Mac laptop for university, it should still be in good shape long after your graduation.

Since your studies will include both theory and practice, its crucial for your laptop to be able to support all the apps necessary during your time in college. If youre not anticipating to be working on any complex projects over the course of your studies, then a cheap Mac laptop will be a reasonable purchase for you.

To ease the process of finding the best Mac education pricing and quickly resolve the age-old question of whether to get MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro for college, take a look at the following aspects.

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Best Laptop For College

College kids are justified in spending a bit more money than other age groups. Some can expect to do some fairly demanding work. Assad Abid, an electrical engineering undergrad from Pakistan, needs to run simulation software for his assignments. Aakash Chandra, a student at New Horizon College of Engineering in India, does a lot of coding, in addition to creative work in Premiere Pro and Photoshop, and gaming. Students also noted that its worthwhile to pay for a laptop that will last for a few years after graduation. That means you wont have to worry about finding and financing your next device until youre settled into a job.

But among high-end, capable devices theres still a wide range of options. Students stressed that a college laptop should be light. Expect to bring it between classes, meals, meetings, the library, and other locations on campus. Its a boon that I can carry my laptop as well as some notebooks without feeling like Im carrying too much for six hours a day, says Haseeb Waseem, a senior at Villanova University.

The Dell XPS 13 has a variety of configurations. Students with light workloads may prefer the base model, while gamers and creatives can add a GPU.

Another universally-lauded feature: battery life. Waseem, who uses an HP Spectre, says the all-day juice gives him the flexibility to study in a bunch of different locations, and even outside.

Check out:

How We Test The Best College Laptops

The 14 Best Laptops for College Students to Buy in 2018

College students, no matter the season live in a highly mobile situation, where they’re going to want a laptop that can last a while on a single charge. That’s why we test laptops with our afore-mentioned web-surfing-based battery test, which involves setting each laptop’s display to 150 nits of brightness and measuring how long it can last while loading an endless stream of web pages.

On top of that, we test each laptop’s performance with a mix of every day usage, and performance-measuring benchmarks such as Geekbench for the CPU and our own storage speed tests to see how fast these laptops can clone big blocks of data.

We measure each laptop’s display via the readings recorded by our light gun, one of two pieces of hardware that we use to measure how bright a screen can get and how much of the sRGB color spectrum it can produce.

Be sure to check out all of our guides to get you ready to go back to school:

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Black Friday And Cyber Monday

Black Friday is in vogue. The only difference is that you dont have to wait up for shopping deals in a supermarket. Many students do not know that Monday after Black Friday are called cyber Monday and deals are still low.

There are some shops that it is easier to get laptop deals on cyber Mondays than black Fridays because of coupons and discounts.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Review: Ports

  • Only two Thunderbolt 4 ports

A power button, two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, and a Surface Connect port rest on the Surface Pro 8’s right side. Youll find volume buttons and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left side. You can connect monitors and external hard drives and GPUs to the Surface Pro 8. The latter option is something youll want to take advantage of if you plan to play games on the 2-in-1.

The minimal amount of ports initially seems like a negative, but in reality, the two USB-C ports and the Surface Connect port are all thats required for daily use. Thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, you can pair devices such as the Microsoft Ocean Plastic Mouse or any number of Bluetooth gaming controllers. Being able to snap a Surface Pro Signature or Surface Pro X keyboard to the bottom of the device also frees up the USB-C ports.

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Should I Get A Longer Laptop Warranty

Most laptop makers offer one-year warranties on parts and labor. These standard plans are limited, so they won’t cover accidents that stem from spilling a drink on the keyboard or dropping the system on the sidewalk. Fortunately, your credit-card issuer likely covers such mishaps for a short period of time after you buy a new product, and it also may extend the manufacturer’s warranty. Check your account benefits guide for details.

If your credit-card issuer doesnt cover you, some laptop makers will happily sell you extended warranties. Apple, Dell, HP, and Lenovo all offer wide ranges of extended warranties and coverage for accidental damage. Expect to spend $100 to $300 for these options. Our rule of thumb is that if a warranty costs more than 15 percent of the laptop’s purchase price, you’re better off spending the money on backup drives or services that minimize downtime.

Of course, you can’t put a price tag on peace of mind. There are instances when the logic board or the displaythe most expensive parts of a laptopfail, and while rare, such a catastrophe can cost you half of what the laptop is worth in repair costs.

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