Laptop Buying Tips For Students: Windows Or Chromebook
ByHenry T. Casey08 May 2019
As the school year begins, parents everywhere are asking the same question: Should I get my kid a Chromebook or a Windows PC? While Chromebooks once offered better battery life and cheaper prices, Windows machines have caught up on those features, but other key differentiators remain.
Currently, IDC forecasts that consumer Chromebook shipments will reach 3.9 million units this year, which is a 29.4 percent year-over-year increase. That’s a massive amount of growth, especially while the PC market overall is expected to shrink by 3.7 percent. So what’s attracting consumers to Chromebooks, and should you consider one rather than a Windows laptop?
What grade is your kid in?
The simplicity of Chromebooks makes them most suited to students from kindergarten through high school.
Older high schoolers, though, may require specialized apps that aren’t available on Chromebooks, especially if they’re working in music composition or coding.
What’s at school?
One important factor in deciding what laptop to get your kid is knowing what their school is giving them to use. Linn Huang, research director at IDC, told me that plenty of “K to 12 schools are wheeling in carts of Chromebooks” and “students grab one and sign in,” which is leading kids to feel incredibly comfortable on Chrome OS.
Chromebook Benefits: Simple, Safe, Secure and Shareable
Word docs or Google Docs?
MORE: How to Use Windows 10
Windows 10 still makes a compelling case for families and students
Best Laptop For Business Students Lenovo Thinkpad T460
When trying to determine the top laptops for college students, you need to consider a number of factors such as battery life, portability, durability etc.
With these factors in mind, weve determined the Lenovo Thinkpad T460 to be the Best laptop for Business Students.
The Thinkpad T460 boasts one of the longest battery lives currently on the market, managing to squeeze out 17 hours and 4 minutes.
This was possible with Lenovos Power Bridge Technology which allows you to hot-swap batteries without turning the laptop off, giving you a huge battery life boost.
With its Intel Core i5-6200U 2.3GHz processor and 8GB of RAM, the T460 will handle any business software you throw at it, and even massive spreadsheets.
A decently sized 240GB SSD will help you achieve quick load times and increase the overall responsiveness of the laptop.
The Lenovo T460 has a 14 HD screen with a 1366×768 resolution. Whilst I wouldve liked to have seen a screen with a higher resolution, the T460 should still get the job done nicely.
Durability is a key factor in a college laptop, and the T460 has been built according to military specifications and can take a beating.
At just 3.8 lbs and just .83 thick, the T460 is ultraportable and will be a breeze to cart around to your classes for the day.
Best Laptop For College Students Under $400 Acer Chromebook 14
The Acer Chromebook 14 is the best laptop for college students under $400. For those on a tight budget for college, theres no need to panic as there are still good laptops available in this price range.
Lasting an impressive 10 hours, the Chromebook has enough juice to keep you going through a whole day of classes and more.
The Acer has a 14 Full HD display with incredibly high levels of brightness, higher in fact, than most Chromebooks on the market. Very impressive for a budget friendly beginner laptop.
The display has an IPS panel which has wider viewing angles than traditional panels and fantastic color reproduction for vivid images.
Again, like most Chromebooks on the market, there is a lack of storage with only a 16GB SSD harddrive being included.
The reason behind this is that these Chromebooks are designed for students and to be used with cloud-based applications such as Google Drive where most of your files will be stored online to conserve space.
Despite the lack of hard drive space, the included SSD is still mighty quick and the lightweight Chrome OS ensures quick boot speeds.
A key feature is the backlit keyboard, meaning you are sorted for those late night study sessions in the library before exams.
Under the hood is an Intel Celeron N3160 1.6GHz processor and 4GB of RAM, which will be more than adequate for note taking and writing.
With the quality screen, great battery life and speedy SSD, the Acer Chromebook 14 is the best college computer for under $400.
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Apple Macbook Air 2018 $1099
Best for design-minded students
The Apple MacBook Air might be Apples cheapest laptop, but youre still looking at over $1,000 worth of tech, so its by no means a budget choice.
It should, however, last for years ideally seeing a student through from high school to college.
Packing an Intel Core i5 processor, the Air will happily cope with hardcore homework, and the 12 hour battery means that it can keep going from the breakfast to recess through to evening without needing a charge.
After a period of neglect, Apple is back to promoting the Air again, and the 2019 MacBook Air is one of the best MacBooks you can buy. If you’re keen on a Mac and fancy making a saving, you can still pick up the older MacBook Air model for under $1,000. It’s a perfectly good computer that’s still super-stylish.
Dell Inspiron 3000 156
The last laptop that we will look at as the best laptop for computer science major is the Dell Inspiron 3000. This has an Intel 10th generation dual-core processor and all of the other essential features that a modern computer science student needs to be successful.
Looking at its design, the Inspiron 3000 is not the lightest laptop out on the market. It weighs 4.45 pounds, which is a little on the heavy-side as far as laptops go, but it is still slim and easy to carry around. It has a 15.6-inch touchscreen display. It is a 1366 x 768 display that has high definition. The keyboard does not have a backlighting option.
The design also includes 2 USB Type-A 3.0 ports as well as 1 USB Type-A 2.0 port, allowing you plenty of option to plug in the devices that need a USB connection.
There is also a port for headphones as well as a place for an RJ45 and HDMI cable. It also has a webcam, so you will not need to get a separate one if you need to video conference or have a class over Zoom.
This laptop is made to perform. To begin with, it has an Intel 10th generation dual-core i3-110005G1 processor. The CPU speed is 1.20GHz as well, which is not the fastest processor, but it will still get the job done. This will reach up to 3.4GHz with 4 MB cache and 2 cores. The laptop has an 8GB DD4 SDRAM as well as a 128GB solid state drive as well as a 1TB HDD.
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Best Student Laptops: What To Consider
If the laptop is going to be used by students studying specialised subjects, then you may need something that’s a bit more powerful for example, graphic design students may benefit from a laptop with a modern graphics card. You’ll certainly want something that will last at least three years, if not longer. What you don’t want to end up with is a laptop that halfway through a course gives up the ghost.
But not every student will need massive specs. Many Chromebooks make excellent student laptops, replacing massive storage with a super speed. This is because the apps they run don’t take up much space, and with built-in support for Google Drive, it means your documents are all saved in the cloud as well.
The best student laptops also offer excellent battery life. You’ll want something that lasts all day in lessons and lectures , and when the battery does run out, it needs to be able to be recharged quickly.
Hp Spectre X360 13 Battery Life
HP’s Spectre laptops consistently nail our Laptop Mag Battery Test and this 2021 model is no different, lasting 12 hours and 32 minutes while browsing the web with the screen set to 150 nits.
That outstanding result tops both the XPS 13 , the Spectre x360 14 and the category average , falling victim to only the MacBook Air .
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What If I Need To Learn To Code And Do A Bit Of That On My Laptop As A Part Of My Computer Science Project Home Task
Dont look into the dollars while buying a laptop if youre planning to learn to code. You need at least:
- i5/i7 CPU Processor
- 8GB RAM with extended RAM up to 16 GB
- 1920*1080 resolution display for running a coding application on your laptop if youre looking for a laptop where you need to learn and practice coding.
Huge Variety And Selection
The online platforms around the world are growing exponentially in size, and that applies to the selection of products as well. As they get more popular, more and more brands sign up to sell their products on online platforms.
They have a wide range of products across many categories, divided and organized well. This helps you find exactly what you are looking for easily. You may even get software-generated recommendations for products you may need. This includes hp laptop for college and many more.
Having a huge variety means that you can assess your preferences and choices. You can choose from a range of alternatives before purchasing. This is often not the case in most physical stores, where there is a limitation to the number of brands.
Which Best College Laptop For Students Is Right For You
Need something powerful that can handle the demands from Photoshop and/or CAD? Then the Microsoft Surface Book and Dell XPS 13 are laptops that are right up your alley.
Alternatively, if youre looking for something more humble for doing your everyday tasks at college and maybe a little media consumption when you have some time off, then the ASUS X551MA or HP Stream 13 are both laptops to consider.
Choose a laptop based on what it does, not how it is marketed. For instance, some business laptops are great for school situations, but not all are.
And, then there are Chromebooks, web-based best college laptops. Some are hesitant to jump on the Chromebook bandwagon, and might not consider them the best laptops for college students, simply because you cant use Windows-based software on it. You might be surprised, but more often than not, we just dont use the programs on Windows, strictly using web browsers like Chrome and Firefox for all of our computer use.
Some popular laptops that you might want to consider are Lenovos Legion y530, the Legion y530 is solid, Chromebook x2, Zenbook Pro, Acer Nitro, Asus Vivobook, Acer Aspire, Macbook Air, Asus Zenbook, the Huawei Matebook, Envy 13t, the Macbook Pro 15inch, Lenovo ThinkPad, HP Chromebook x2, HP Envy 17, Lenovo Yoga, and the X1 Carbon just to name a few. These are some of the best laptops you can buy. Also some of the most powerful laptops.
What You Need To Know About Mac Laptop Prices
When you first start comparing Mac laptop prices, it might seem as though MacBook deals for college students are not that cheap. However, once you dive deeper into your search for the top computer on the market, youll not only find many cheap Mac laptops, but realize that even the most expensive models are completely worth their price, due to their exceptional longevity and overall efficiency.
Besides, if youre a registered student, youre eligible for the Apple college discount to use towards your new Mac from Apples Education Store. Occasionally, there are some back-to-school deals too, usually during the summer months the right time to buy a MacBook.
Want to find additional ways to save money but still get the best MacBook for college? Consider shopping at Apples refurbished store or buying a cheap Mac laptop secondhand.
Now that you know everything about Mac education pricing, lets explore some of the best laptops for college students on the market right now.
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The Best Laptops For College Students In 2020
Select is editorially independent. Our editors selected these deals and items because we think you will enjoy them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time.
Whether its a slim, light word processor or a powerhouse for design and engineering, college students can be sure: Sporting a laptop will make their courses much easier. But figuring out how to buy a laptop that, ideally, lasts through four years of college can be stressful there are lots of models to choose from. After all, this is the machine thats going to power Netflix nights, note-taking, essay writing and, depending on the college major, programs like video editing or 3D modeling.
Subjects that make use of complex software such as engineering, video production or architecture will require more powerful laptops, for example, while those studying art or design might prefer a laptop with a touch-display for digital sketching.
Before taking the plunge, check with your college whether they recommend any one platform over others. Colleges usually do not require a certain model of a brand, but you want students to be able to get their computers serviced quickly by on-campus technicians who are certified in brands of computers, says educational technologist Kathy Schrock.
Choose The Operating System
Windows 10 is one of the most popular operating system today. You may find it pre-installed in pretty much every laptop these days. It is easy to use. You can install any software, be it productivity to entertainment to games. Depending on what youre studying, there might be specific system requirements such as Mac OS or Linux.
This is something to consider. Of example, if you need a software package that runs on a Mac, you wont be able to do that on a Windows laptop. However, a MacBook or a MacBook Pro is expensive, but you can choose to install Windows on it as well. Laptops running Linux might be more affordable than ones that come with Windows pre-installed. This might save your money, but youll need to spend a bit more to get a copy of Windows.
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Acer Swift 3 Sf314 Budget Laptop For College
Acer is a brand that people grow to like. If you have not used an Acer laptop before, it is likely that you wouldnt know how good their devices are.
The Acer Swift 3 is one of the best available laptops in the market, especially because of the kind of features they pack in and the budget friendly price they come for.
It is quite thin and lightweight as well, which makes it easier for you to carry it around the college.
It is equipped with a 14 FHD widescreen IPS LED-backlit display with a screen resolution of 1080p. Coming round to the processors, it is powered by the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U octa-core mobile processor with Radeon graphics for smoother user experience.
It also comes equipped with all the connectivity options, which further ensure better performance as well.
For a device that is 0.63 thin and weighs 2.65lbs, this is likely one of the best available options, if not the best. It is also equipped with 512GB SSD along with 8GB RAM for smoother functions and operations without any hassle.
The device also supports around 11-12 hours of battery life, depending on your usage, which is pretty cool as well.
Should I Buy A Chromebook For College Or School
A Chromebook differs from a traditional laptop. These low-cost models run the Chrome operating system rather than Windows or macOS. The ethos behind the Chromebook is cloud-first everything is stored online. Although Chromebooks do come with some built-in storage, its usually small.
You dont get Word or Excel either, but Googles nearly identical alternatives Google Docs and Google Sheets as well as other apps such as presentation software. Importantly, you can open and edit Microsoft files with these tools.
Chromebooks tend to be speedy to start up too, utilizing an SSD and not bogged down by unnecessary programs. Its a very well streamlined platform that runs the same way your Windows laptop did when you first took it home, but everyday.
Chromebooks are also very light and portable, strengthening their justification as a worthy consideration.
The main reason to go for a Chromebook? Price. You can buy a respectable model for under $300, and it will run fast and look slim and modern. If your child is only going to need a laptop for spreadsheets, essays and web browsing, a Chromebook can be a great choice.
And if you’re a student yourself and headed to college, the same logic applies. Your average Politics, History or English major will find they get along great with a Chromebook. But, for anyone who needs some processing power, like those on a Design or Engineering course, will find them sorely lacking.
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Best For A Solid Basic Classic Clamshell
- Comfortable keyboard and touch pad
- Multiple color options
- Attractive styling and excellent build quality
- USB Type-A port
- No face recognition camera or keyboard backlighting
- Internal storage tops out at 256GB
- Middling audio quality
For students, a laptop is as essential as textbooks and a school IDand not just for taking notes and doing homework. It should also be able to handle your big extracurricular activities: keeping up with your social networks, streaming movies, listening to music, posting photos, gaming, video chatting with the ‘rents back home.
Laptops have been more essential than ever for students in 2020 and 2021, as many colleges and universities implement a mix of in-person and remote learning to meet social distancing requirements made necessary by the ups and downs of the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re learning from home a few days a week and heading to campus the rest of the time, a laptop you can use wherever you are is essential.
And especially in these trying times, a laptop for a college student needs to respect your budget while lasting for the long haul, preferably through four years of undergrad and maybe a year of grad work. Lucky for you, we have a bunch of recommended models that fit that description perfectlyand since most of them are below $1,000, they won’t drain your savings account in a big way .
Here are the basics you should keep in mind while looking for a laptop for college.