Times have changed. A laptop has become a necessity rather than a privilege for college students. To save study materials, complete assignments and projects, watch educational videos on YouTube, attend online classes, and socialize, you need to have one that fits your budget. Our buying guide below will help you choose the perfect laptop that will meet all your needs.
We also have recommendations for the best laptops for students available to buy online. Top companies like Dell, Apple, ASUS, Mi, and more have released both high-end and budget laptops for students of every field of study. Read through to know more!
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Table of Contents
The below sections will help you choose a laptop with the right features for your needs. Read through to know more about operating systems, storage, memory, and more. You can use what you learn below later while shopping from our top 10 list.
We recommend using Windows as there is an infinite number of applications available, most of them not available for other operating systems. macOS is developed by Apple and only comes with MacBooks. It is less prone to virus attacks, but the availability of apps is limited.
Of course, Microsoft Office is available for macOS, but if you need any other software for your studies, check its availability in macOS. You will also come across Chromebooks when you shop for laptops. A Chromebook is a portable computer (basically a laptop) that uses the Chrome OS. It is lightweight and faster than other operating systems.
The drawback of using a Chrome OS is that most of the apps require an internet connection to work. But Chrome OS allows installing apps from Google Playstore, which means you can download MS Office and use it for free (MS Office is a paid software for Windows and macOS).
A convertible laptop or a 2-in-1 laptop is a device that works as a laptop and as a tablet. A touchscreen, detachable keyboard, and control buttons on the sides of the screen are common features of a convertible laptop. This type is usually lightweight, portable, and cost-efficient.
Students who study fashion designing or interior designing will find a convertible laptop extremely useful. You can use a stylus pen to draw directly on any graphics editor or painting program like Microsoft Paint. There is no need to draw on paper and scan it to make a digital version of it.
Some convertible laptops come with a dual-camera setup. A front camera you can use for attending online classes and a back camera when you want to use it as a tablet. Convertible laptops can come with Windows or Chrome operating systems.
While shopping for laptops, you will come across the terms integrated and dedicated graphics card. An integrated graphics card is built onto the CPU of a laptop, while a dedicated graphics card is connected separately. Laptops with dedicated graphics cards will have more video memory than the ones with only integrated graphics.
If you study animation or if you are a video post-production student, consider a laptop with a dedicated graphics card or GPU (graphics processing unit) as it will render projects faster. AutoCAD is another designing software usually used by mechanical and aeronautical engineering students. Your college curriculum will most probably only require integrated graphics.
But if you want to develop your skills on your own or see yourself becoming a design engineer, we recommend referring to the Autodesk AutoCAD 2021 system requirements. Otherwise, invest in a laptop with as much RAM as possible so you won't face any lagging issues even when you have several applications working simultaneously.
Laptops commonly use three types of storage technologies—HDD (Hard Disk Drive), SSD (Solid State Drive), and eMMC (Embedded Multimedia Card). An SSD is the fastest storage type and the most expensive. On average, an SSD can provide 10 times faster read speeds and 20 times faster write speeds than an HDD.
On the other hand, HDD is the most commonly used storage technology in laptops. You can find laptops that have both SSD and HDD or just one of them. The boot time and software loading time of a laptop with an SSD will be much faster than an HDD. Affordable laptops will have 256 GB or 512 GB SSD, which can go up to 1 TB HDD.
You can find mid-range laptops with 1 TB HDD and 256 GB SSD. But check the specs to make sure other features you want are compromised. The third type, eMMC, is commonly used in convertible laptops. In terms of performance, eMMC comes between HDD and SSD. Laptops that use eMMC provide capacities of 32 GB, 64 GB, or 128 GB.
Would you want to take your laptop to your college? Whether you choose to carry it in a laptop sleeve or a bag, it's better to buy a lightweight one. The weight can range anywhere between 1 - 1.6 kg.
But high spec laptops (intended for 3D modeling, gaming, etc.) can go up to 3 kg as they have more components like extra cooling fans and storages, sturdy keyboards, and bulkier motherboards. It's not just the weight that matters, but the thickness too. A thin laptop has an elegant look and is easy to hold in your hand.
The thickness can be as little as 0.52 inches (Apple MacBook 12-inch) or go over 1inch like the Acer Nitro 5. Even if you plan to buy a laptop bag to carry your books, too, go for a thin and lightweight laptop for optimum portability.
Battery life is one of the commonly overlooked laptop's specifications because we prefer performance over everything else. But what if you want to take your laptop to college? There won't be a power socket for every student in the classroom, and you don't want to lag behind others because your laptop dies quicker than the others.
We recommend buying a laptop with at least 7 hours of battery life. But note that laptop manufacturers mention the battery life based on in-house tests like continuous video playback and internet browsing. If you run background apps(like an antivirus), browse the internet, and run multiple applications (like MS Office apps) simultaneously, your battery life can go down significantly.
You definitely won't see the battery life promised by the manufacturer. Your best is to find a laptop that strikes a balance between performance and battery life. When you need more battery backup, adopt practices like shutting down unwanted background apps, limiting the number of open browser tabs, switching to power saver mode, and more.
Click to purchase
Gives You the Best Value for Money
Has a Battery Life of 15 Hours
Comes With Ample HDD and SSD Storage Space
Features a Secondary Touchscreen
Suitable for Graphic Designing and Animation Students
With Fast Charging Capability
Useful for Light Multitasking
Get Windows 10 Home OS and MS Office Home and Student 2019
Laptop-Tablet for Ease of Use and Portability
Offers a Battery Back up of 8 Hours
The Mi Notebook 14 gives you the best value for money. It comes with a 256 GB SSD that allows the operating system to boot up fast and applications to open quickly. The 10th generation Intel Core i3 works with 8GB RAM to give you lightning speed even while you have applications running in the background.
The laptop comes with Windows 10 Home and Office 365(one-month trial) preinstalled. It is easy to hold and carry as it weighs only 1.5 kg with a thickness of 17.95mm. With a battery life of up to 10 hours, this laptop will last an entire day at college. This laptop is suitable for students of any discipline who want to run multiple applications for doing extensive research and projects.
If you are looking for a powerful laptop that is thin and lightweight, the MacBook Air is just for you. The 256 GB solid-state drive enables faster boot times, and the 10th generation Intel Core i3 and 8 GB RAM can run multiple applications without any lag. It can run for 15 hours continuously even while connected to WiFi, making it suitable for after-college hours project works too.
The Retina display can produce life-like colors and sharp text clarity. In terms of security, MacBook comes with TouchID that requires your fingerprint to unlock the machine. We recommend this laptop to mechanical or aerospace engineering students who want to run graphics and processor-intensive applications like AutoCAD.
Dell INSPIRON 3505 is a 15-inch laptop with two types of storage. It has 256 GB SSD in which you can install your software for fast loading times; Windows 10 coms preinstalled in the SSD. The laptop also has a 1 TB hard disk which is more than enough for storing your important files and documents.
It comes with a full HD display, and the backlit keyboard enables you to work even in low light conditions. You also get a 15-month subscription to the McAfee security software, which includes antivirus software, anti-spam software, online browsing protection (from dangerous downloads and phishing attacks), and many more.
ASUS ZenBook Duo is perfect for students who are studying designing, video editing, or music production. It features a secondary touchscreen that can be used for designing or drawing using a stylus or as a work area for photo/video editing students and music production students. The dedicated 2GB NVIDIA graphics make it suitable for animation students too.
With the secondary screen on, the laptop can run 10 hours and without it for 11. Editing and animation software are memory and processor-intensive applications. But with 10 generation Intel Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, and 512 GB solid-state drive, be assured that nothing will slow you down. It is easy to carry as it weighs only 1.5 kg, and the magnesium-aluminum alloy body makes it durable even with rough usage.
If you study graphic design or animation, this laptop will meet all your requirements. Yes, it is categorized as a gaming laptop, but the specifications are exactly what designers and animators want. The laptop comes with 4GB dedicated graphics, 8 GB RAM, and 512 GB SSD. You can run 3D graphics software like Blender, Maya, and Cinema 4D smoothly.
This product is also suitable for you if you study VFX (visual effects) and use software like After Effects for incorporating animated models into videos, which is a heavy process that utilizes a lot of resources. It weighs 2.2 kg, so you may need a laptop bag for carrying it to your college.
You also get a one-year International Travelers Warranty (ITW), so if you face any issues with this laptop, you can get it fixed anywhere in the world where Acer service centers are available.
ASUS VIVOBOOK X515 has enough features for everyday use. It comes with Windows 10 preinstalled, a one-month trial of Microsoft 365 and McAfee security software. The touchpad has a fingerprint sensor integrated for added security and quick unlocking.
You get a one-year international warranty, so your laptop is protected if you go abroad for projects or as part of a student exchange program. The laptop has an IPS level LED display, which makes it viewable from any angle without inaccuracies in color production and consumes less power.
It gives a battery backup of five hours, and if you find it with less charge during an emergency, you can fast charge it up to 60% in 49 minutes. We recommend ASUS X515 for everyday tasks like preparing presentations, browsing the internet, attend online classes, and project works.
With 4GB of RAM and an AMD Ryzen 3 processor, DELL Inspiron 3585 is suitable for light multitasking operations. You won't experience any lag while browsing the internet and running MS Office applications at the same time. Try to use light web browsers like Microsoft Edge (comes with Windows) and Opera rather than heavy ones like Chrome.
You may experience some lagging if you have multiple applications and browser windows open. The 15.6-inch screen is adequate for watching videos, attending online classes, and reading text without straining your eyes. We recommend buying a laptop bag to carry this laptop as it weighs 2kg, which is a bit on the heavier side.
You don't have to purchase an operating system or Microsoft Office separately. The HP 15s-gr0006AU comes preinstalled with Windows 10 Home and Microsoft Office 2019 - Home and Student Edition; both of them are lifetime-activated. It lasts 6 hours on a full charge if you run moderate tasks like word processing, web browsing, and video playback.
The 15-inch display and 720p HD camera are apt for attending online classes, and the dual speakers produce clear audio, which is essential for proper listening while watching educational videos. Customer reviews show that the build quality is decent and provides good value for money.
Lenovo IdeaPad D330 is a convertible laptop. You can detach the keyboard docking to use it as a tablet. Students who need to do minor sketching works relating to fashion designing, interior designing, etc., will find this laptop-tablet to be extremely comfortable to use. It has a dual-camera setup, USB ports, and button controls on the tablet for ease of use even after undocking.
You only get 128 GB of storage which may be a drawback if you have lots of study materials to store. It offers a battery life of 12 hours, which is more than enough to last an entire day at college. The slim and lightweight design makes it portable, and the touchscreen makes carrying out operations easier.
Avita Magnus Lite is the most affordable laptop on our list. It is a convertible laptop that you can turn into a tablet, depending on your needs. The laptop offers a clear and stunning viewing experience with its 12.2 inch full HD IPS display. You can use a stylus to sketch on the touchscreen or switch between multiple apps quickly.
The laptop-tablet only has 64 GB of storage which is a huge drawback. But if your requirement is sketching, browsing the internet for writing assignments and projects, and preparing presentations, this laptop will prove to be adequate. Avita Magnus Lite is slim, lightweight, and has a battery life of 8 hours.
A laptop running out of storage space is not uncommon. Buying an external hard disk will help you during those times and also back up your assignments and projects. Talking about assignments, having a printer at home will save your time and energy you spend running to a shop.
While you are attending an online class or watching a YouTube video, playing the audio on the laptop speakers may be disturbing to the people around you. If you wear earphones, you won't be able to hear if your family calls you. A wearable speaker will play audio that is audible just to you. Follow the links below to learn more about these products and shop from our top 10 list.
Most people will have a budget in mind before buying a laptop. To make an easier decision, we recommend focusing on what's most important for your studies. Do you want more storage, speed, or graphics memory? If you research a lot, download and save videos for future reference, storage will be of utmost importance.
If you study 3D animation, video editing, etc., you need to consider speed, storage, and graphics memory while shopping for a laptop. Find the product that meets your requirements even if there are compromises like a smaller screen and bulkier design.
Author - Arun F Xaviour
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