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Student Laptop Buying Tips

Many students going back to school this fall will need a new laptop, not only for their schoolwork but for after-school R&R. There are literally thousands of laptops on the market, so what should you be looking for? Here are some quick and simple pointers:

Screen size: Students tend to prefer 13 or 14 inch laptops as they are easy to carry and the batteries can last eight hours or more. Larger screen machines are more powerful and clearer, but there’s a trade-off in weight and limited battery life. Whatever screen size you go for, make sure it has a resolution of at least 1080p.

Keyboard: Students type a lot, so get a keyboard you’re comfortable with. The recommendations are generally for a key travel of 1.5 to 2 mm, with a required actuation force of 60g+, but it’s best to test it first.

Ports: Make sure that your laptop has all the ports you need. A USB Type-A port is essential for many applications, and a Type-C port can offer quick charging capability. HDMI ports allow you to plug your computer into a TV, and you’ll want a headphone jack for entertainment. A slot for an SD card is also useful.

Ram/processor: Get a laptop with at least 8 GB of RAM; anything less and you’ll find yourself waiting… and waiting… any time you want to run more than one application simultaneously. With processors, don’t buy anything that is more than one year old and go for the i-series processors.

Touchscreens and 2-in-1s: Touchscreen laptops are not recommended. The limited extra functions don’t compensate for the extra price and shorter battery life. 2-in-1 machines are different; these have detachable screens that become tablets when required. These are great for presentations and very useful for engineering, math or science students who needs to write down formulae that would take too long to type. However, bear in mind that these are rather more expensive and have a shorter battery life.

Storage: Solid state drives are much faster than ordinary hard disc drives, but they are also more expensive. If price isn’t your main concern, a solid-state drive of 256 GB+ is a great option.

Operating System: Windows is ubiquitous, and offers you a massive range of choice. Mac OS is lovely and integrates easily with iPhones, but is confined to the very pricey MacBook. Google Chrome-based laptops are cheap and cheerful and integrate well with Android phones, but have limited functionality.