A Screen With An Unusual Resolution
Yes, the Surface Laptop Gos screen is more than an inch smaller than the screen of the smallest Surface Laptop 3, but many people wont find this to be a drawback. For one thing, a smaller screen enables the laptop to be slimmer and lighter. Also, the Surface Laptop Go maintains the relatively rare 3:2 screen aspect ratio of the rest of the Surface Laptop family. This is taller and narrower than the customary 16:9 orientation used on laptops, which means that you can see more of a vertical document, like a web page, or more lines of an Excel spreadsheet before you have to scroll down.
The only potential downside to the Surface Laptop Gos screen is its relatively low native resolution of 1,536 by 1,024 pixels, which makes for a density of 148 pixels per inch . Given the screen size, this is essentially equivalent to a full HD resolution, which is adequate for a sub-$1,000 laptop, but its significantly lower than the resolutions of both the Surface Laptop 3 13-Inch and the MacBook Air . The difference means noticeably grainy text at times when viewing the Surface Laptop Go from a comfortable distance of two feet. Still, the screen is otherwise high-quality, with 10-point touch support and more than enough maximum brightness to be viewed in a sunlit-flooded living room.
How Much Power Do You Need
Laptops offer a wide selection of processors across both budgets and usage casesyou can choose one that maximizes performance, or one that favors battery life. Or you can select one that plays to both strengths: Intel’s 11th Generation “Tiger Lake” Core CPUs confer the benefits of both power and battery efficiency. AMD’s Ryzen mobile chips are less common but are also emerging as a viable pick for ultraportable laptops.
If you desire all-day battery life, and spend almost all of your time in a web browser, you might want to consider going with a Chromebook. These typically run on low-powered processors , but these CPUs suffice for the kinds of workaday online tasks that Chromebooks excel at. If performance, on the other hand, ranks high on the list, a Windows 10 or macOS machine with an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPU gives you the most oomph.
The good news is that, in most other cases , integrated graphics solutions should suffice for the day-to-day tasks you’ll face. This is the graphics silicon built into the processors of most budget and midrange laptops. Today, that overwhelmingly means some form of Intel integrated graphics: Intel HD Graphics, Intel UHD Graphics, Intel Iris/Iris Plus graphics, or Intel Xe Graphics. Our reviews will detail their comparative performance levels, but none is a match for even a moderate dedicated GPU.
Asus Vivobook Flip $429
Best for: A long-lasting budget option
If you want to stick with good old Windows 10, then the Asus VivoBook Flip is a respectable, cheap laptop that should see you through college.
Like the Acer Chromebook, the Pentium processor will limit what you can do, and the 64GB of storage is hardly generous. You’ll need to save docs to the cloud, or get an external hard drive.
However, for around $429, you get a fully functioning 14-inch Windows 10 laptop. As the Flip name suggests, the screen can fold back on itself, much like the Yoga 720 above, but at a fraction of the price. Its pretty slim and lightweight too, for the price bracket.
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Best For Gaming On The Side
- High-refresh display with support for AMD FreeSync
- Potent Ryzen 4000 series processor
- 16GB of RAM in under-$1000 test configuration
- Good battery life and speakers
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Single-color keyboard, versus RGB keyboard of the Alpha 15
- CPU runs hot under load
- Can’t quite match gaming frame rates of GeForce GTX 1660 Ti notebooks
Top Things You Need In A Laptop
A processor controls how fast a computer runs programs or completes tasks. While a faster processing speed may raise the price of a laptop, it also makes them more efficient.
The processor is one of several specifications and components to consider when buying a laptop. You should also consider types of ports, RAM , and screen size. Some choices such as wanting a bigger screen come down to personal preference.
If you’re not sure what you need, contact the IT department at your school for advice.
Your laptop needs to be adaptable for outside applications. For instance, are popular computers for students because they’re cheap, efficient, and easy to use, but they come with a downside.
Chromebooks can’t install software that isn’t available on Google’s online store, including programs like Microsoft Word, which is a problem if your college requires students to download specific applications. Make sure your university’s remote learning platform is web-based before committing to a Chromebook.
There’s no shortage of debate about whether Windows laptops are better than macOS laptops, or vice versa. Regardless of your personal preference, it may be best to check with your school for specific system requirements.
Requirements may also vary between majors. For example, a film student’s computer will need more powerful graphics capabilities than a history student’s computer. Contact your intended major to find out what systems the faculty or IT service recommend.
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Back To School Deals On The Best Laptops For College Students
Back to school season is upon us, and that means sales on laptops for students are in their prime right now. Generally speaking, back to school season runs through early September, offering some of the best deals on laptops, backpacks, apparel, headphones, and tablets.
So if you need a laptop for school, keep your eyes onthe HP laptop sales, Dell laptop sales, and other retailer-specific seasonal sales. During this time you can find some of the best MacBook deals and best cheap laptop deals of the year. Keep checking our ultimate back to school guide for the latest updates on the best deals this year!
Reasons to avoid
College students learning to make a dollar stretch can learn a lesson from the Acer Swift 3. That lesson? You don’t need to pay a premium for great performance. Its AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU is snappy and it’s got exceptional battery life all packed into a lightweight design. Plus, its USB Type-C, HDMI and USB-A ports mean you’re able to do more with any adapters or dongles.
On top of that, its keyboard is great for typing out term papers, with quiet, clicky keys that won’t irritate your roommate. Just don’t expect it to replace your Bluetooth speaker: we wish its audio had a bit more kick. Its slightly dim display isn’t great for Netflix either, but its mix of performance and price is so strong that you’ll be able to look past that minor concern.
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
If youre a PC purist , then the Microsoft Surface 3 is your best bet for a college laptop. The Microsoft Surface 2 is a little cheaper, but the Surface 3 is overall a stronger laptop for relatively the same price. At a light 2.79 pounds, it probably weighs less than a textbook and can slip right into a bag with ease. Youll be able to keep your charger at home, too: the Pro 2 boasts an all-day battery life running normal applications, but if you need to get your Netflix on when you get home, you can charge it up to 80% in just one hour. Thanks to the Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM and sharp 13.5-inch display, this is one of the best laptops for college students under $1,000. This laptop lacks an HDMI port but does have both USB-C and USB-A ports. Plus, there are several fun colors to further differentiate yourself from the Apple set, should you choose.
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Testing The Surface Laptop Go: A Capable
The quad-core Core i5-1035G1 in the Surface Laptop Go is from Intels 10th Generation “Ice Lake” chip family, introduced at the end of 2019. Its been superseded by the latest 11th Generation chips unveiled last month , but its still plenty capable. It runs at a low base clock speed of 1GHz to keep power consumption down, but can boost up to 3.8GHz when required. It also features Hyper-Threading, which means each core can handle two instruction threads at once, for a total of eight.
Coupled with 8GB of memory and Intel UHD Graphics, this Core i5 was able to handle pretty much every simple task I threw at it without sluggishness, from web browsing with multiple tabs open to writing part of this review in Microsoft Word. When it comes to theoretical performance as measured by our benchmarks, though, its clear that the Surface Laptop Gos performance is middling against its comparably priced peers. Its slightly faster than the Core i3-equipped Lenovo Yoga C640, but significantly slower on most complex, CPU-intensive tasks than the AMD Ryzen 5-equipped Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14. In the chart below, you can see the specs of the versions of each of these laptops that we reviewed, along with two more comparable systems: the Acer Spin 3 and the Surface Go 2 tablet mentioned earlier on.
What Is The Best College Laptop
We feel strongly about the Envy 13 and the Envy x360 13 as the best laptops for college students. Not everyone is on a budget, but most folks will want to save as much money as possible so they can pay off student loans. If you’re in this group, the Envy 13 and Envy x360 13 deliver premium specs and features at a reasonable, sub-$1,000 price.
The Envy 13 might be a mid-range notebook but it looks and feels like a more premium machine. The Envy also delivers fast performance from 11th Gen Intel CPUs, it has a great screen, and it’s portable enough to carry around campus. Then there’s the Envy 13 x360, which has all of those traits in a convertible chassis and is assisted by AMD’s powerful new Ryzen 4000 CPUs. Need a larger screen? The HP Envy 14, as the name suggests, is essentially a 14-inch version of the Envy 13.
Apple fans who prefer macOS should opt for the new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. The fanless MacBook Air with M1 is a good choice for those on a budget but the 13-inch MacBook Pro delivers longer battery life and sustained performance. If you don’t have a budget, consider the 16-inch MacBook Pro or the Dell XPS 15. You could also go big on the Dell XPS 17, the best 17-inch laptop around.
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Who Should Buy A Laptop For College
Of course, you dont have to be straight out of high school to be in the market for a new college laptop. Whether youre unpacking your bags in a dorm away from home for the first time or returning after a long hiatus to finish up your masters degree, buying a fresh laptop before classes start in the fall is always a solid investment.
What classes you plan on taking, as well as the degree youre pursuing should have an impact on the best college laptop you eventually choose to go with. If you need something sleek and powerful that can turn on instantly for rapid-fire notetaking, the Dell XPS 13 or Zenbook UX360AC should suit the job just fine. But, if youre worried about spending a ton of cash on the best college laptop that not might last more than a few months without getting beer spilled in the keyboard, the HP Stream 13 and Acer C201 are cheaper, durable options that can weather any alcohol-related storm.
Don’t Sweat The Storage
Once upon a time, the rule for buying a computer — any computer — was “buy the largest hard drive you can afford.” These days, it’s usually preferable to choose speed over size. That means forgoing the 1TB traditional hard drive in favor of a smaller-capacity solid-state drive , which will make even a lower-end laptop run at a faster clip while at the same time helping extend battery life.
OK, but can you really get by on, say, 256GB of storage, or even 128GB? That’s what you’re likely to find in a lot of the more affordable laptop models. But remember, we’re living in a cloud-powered world: Most students stream their music and movies from services like Spotify and Netflix, and therefore don’t need a ton of local storage for media. Documents consume very little space, and will likely be housed on Google Drive or Office Online anyway.
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Choosing The Best Laptop
Gone are the days when a computer was an option for a college student. All college students would agree: choosing the right computer is a big decision. College students know a computer is not just a tool to keep up with email or surf through social media. College life is demanding and academic reliance on computer technology is only growing.
Students know their computer is where the bulk of coursework is created and completed and where tons of research happens. There is no clear replacement of the computer for serious word processing, required for essays and term papers.
Having a fast computer is not a luxury anymore, it is a necessity. For all the things that phones and tablets can do, the need for a computer is still a must. Luckily, college students have a plethora of computer options, more today than ever before. From small, lightweight little notebooks to fully-loaded laptops, options abound.
Having a solid computer is also necessary for the ever-growing trend of online courses, and for interacting with professors and classmates.
Data storage on the hard drive or a cloud gets saved through the computer. Security features protect data and even the students identity and personal information. This is all before even mentioning the things that college students use their computer for in their free time: from gaming to streaming movies, surfing the web, or just keeping up with social media.
Best Premium Windows Laptop
The Dell XPS 13 has been one of the best laptops for anyone, for years, and that’s still true today. It combines a lightweight chassis, with excellent battery life, a sturdy frame and powerful internal hardware for a uniquely all-round combination. It looks good, is easy to use and the webcam is even mounted on the top again!
Under the hood of this 2021 version, the XPS 13 9310 features a powerful quad-core Intel Core i7-1185G7 Tiger Lake processor combined with 16GB of high-speed memory and half a terabyte of fast SSD storage. The onboard graphics are more than capable for entry-level 3D work and basic gaming, and there aren’t any research or office tasks that the CPU can’t handle.
The display is a real standout with this laptop too. It’s 1080p, but itâs supremely bright at up to 500 nits and the contrast is excellent. Combined with the InfinityEdge tiny bezels, this screen looks way bigger than it actually is, making this 13-inch laptop one of the best for any student with bigger projects in mind. It’s not cheap but you get a lot for your money.
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Choose The Graphics Card
There are two types of graphics solutions found on laptops integrated and discrete. The integrated ones are typically slower while the discrete ones are more geared towards performance. If you are going to use your laptop for playing basic games or just for browsing, watching movies, a laptop with an integrated graphics card is perfectly fine.Discrete graphic card solutions on laptops are typically powered by AMD or NVIDIA. AMD calls their cards Radeon, while NVIDIA calls their solutions GeForce.
These GPUs come with dedicated graphics memory which lets them handle graphic intensive software and games. If you are studying a 3D or computer graphics course, a discrete graphics card is essential.Of course, the other benefit is being able to play high-end games on your laptop. NVIDIAs entry-level graphics solutions are labelled as GeForce 930M, 940M, whereas the mid-range offering start with the GTX 950M and above. AMDs low-end graphics solutions start from the Radeon R5 going up to the R9 series of GPUs.
I’m Broke What Are My Options
For starters, watch for sales. This is exactly the time of year when stores like Best Buy and manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo start offering back-to-school discounts on laptops and accessories.
Right now, for example, Walmart has the Acer CB3 15.6-inch Chromebook for just $149. It’s about as bare-bones as a laptop can get, but it’s also about as inexpensive as they get.
Dell has also kicked off its big summer school sale, with one particularly good deal for cash-strapped students: The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 laptop for $329.99, which is $60 off and includes a $100 rebate in the form of a prepaid Visa card. You can also get two years of premium support for the price of one .
Wherever you shop for your new laptop, be sure to see if there’s a cash-back option by way of a service like Rakuten or TopCashback. Rakuten, for example, is currently offering 7% cash back on Lenovo computer purchases, while TopCashback will give you 4% back on Dell items. That may not sound like a ton, but if you’re spending a few hundred bucks — or more than a few hundred — this is definitely a savings.
Do you have any advice of your own to share for college-laptop shoppers? Shout it out in the comments!
Originally published on Aug. 8, 2017. Added new information.
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