Tuesday, September 20, 2022

What Laptop Specs Do I Need For College

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Check That Keyboard And Touchpad

How I Use My MacBook Academically For College!!

The most impressive specs in the world don’t mean diddly if the laptop you’re shopping for doesn’t have good ergonomics. If you plan to do a lot of work on your computer, make sure the keyboard offers solid tactile feedback, plenty of key travel and enough space between the keys. If you’re buying a Windows laptop, be sure it has Precision touchpad drivers.

Look for an accurate touchpad that doesn’t give you a jumpy cursor and responds consistently to multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. If you’re buying a business laptop, consider getting one with a pointing stick between the G and H keys so you can navigate around the desktop without lifting your fingers off the keyboard’s home row.

A Note On Specifications

All of these requirements and recommendations are the minimum suggested specs better/faster/larger/newer is fine as long as supported by applicable application software. More information on software compatibility.

Email questions regarding laptop build requirements should be directed to the CCS Helpdesk at .

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 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 13-inch 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 Microsoft Surface Pro Studio, the Dell XPS 15 or one of the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pros. You could also go big on the Dell XPS 17, the best 17-inch laptop around.

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Laptop Tablet Or Desktop

While laptops and desktops have advantages and disadvantages, most students find that a high-end laptop or tablet is more effective given their portability and the computational power available today. Laptops and tablets can be used in class to take notes, or to work with your classmates on campus. In the case of remote studies, tablets can be particularly useful for sharing your work with team members or with instructional staff.

Students do need to keep an eye on their computers to minimize the risk of theft. Also remember that laptops may feel heavier day-to-day in your backpack than they do for the few minutes at the store. For laptops, a docking station and a full-sized keyboard, mouse and monitor for use in the dorm is beneficial.

Tablets are also becoming very popular on campus. Many students use tablets for taking notes in classes, checking email, reading text books, surfing the Internet, and general communication they are also particularly useful for remote office hours and team projects. However, in most cases, a tablet will not replace all of the needed computer functions. Although tablet technology is changing quickly, and some of the new tablets are becoming as powerful as a laptop, software compatibility and ease of use must be carefully evaluated. A popular option today are the laptops that convert easily to a tablet format when needed .

I’m Broke What Are My Options

Mac vs PC For College: Should I Get A Mac Or PC For College?

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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Which Gpu Should I Get

Recommended: AMD Radeon, Minimum: Intel Graphics, Overkill: External Graphics Card

Mac uses either an Intel Iris Plus graphics card or an extra discrete AMD graphics card for better performance, which is more expensive. You will not need a discrete graphics card for any of your computer science classes however, if you can afford one, then get a discrete graphics card because you might need it for other things. If you want to learn intensive graphics modeling, a discrete graphics card would be a good companion. If you are learning parallel computing, then the GPU and CPU running side by side would speed up the program execution time.

What Does This All Mean

Components of the laptop understand exactly what you are looking for, and what you are buying.

Here I wanted to break down each aspect of the laptop so you know what you are looking for and why. The process of buying a new laptop, and parting with a good amount of cash can be a stressful one, and you want to make the most informed decision you can. Read on, and Ill explain the components as best I can.

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Best For Design/photoshop Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The Surface Pro 6 is flexible, versatile and ultra portable.

Price: | Features: Convertible design, touchscreen, 12.3 display

WHY ITS A TOP PICK: If youre in creative design, the Surface Book Pro loves to get drawn on.

With Microsofts Surface Pro, youre in for a treat. Fast, portable, and easy to set up. The Surface Pro 6 also offers two different uses laptop, and tablet . This adds to the portability, making it fantastic for the on-the-go student and one of our top picks for one of the best college laptops.

With the base unit starting with a 12.3-inch display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage, the Surface Pro 6 is perfect for the student that can handle the demands of Graphic Design and/or demanding software tools like CAD and Photoshop. From graphic cards, we suggest one from the GeForce GTX 16 series.

And the ability to transform the Surface Pro into a tablet is another great feature because it removes the need for another device. With this feature, you get a 2-in-1 laptop, which is excellent build quality. However, if your primary intent is to get a tablet, then the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a better choice. Its truly one of the best student laptops for college students. Dont forget the best laptop bags to protect your device.

Price: View Price | Features: Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 15.6 FHD touchscreen

WHY ITS A TOP PICK: The Acer Chromebook 15 is perfect for work or play on campus.

Desktop Vs Laptop: What Do I Really Need As A College Student

What Computer Specs Do You Need for Programming

When deciding between purchasing a desktop or a laptop computer as a college student, youll need to consider a handful of criteria and determine what best fits your needs.

Although most students opt for laptops, modern desktop computers offer a number of exclusive perks that leave the debate wide open.

According to HP, 2008 marked the first year that laptop sales surpassed desktop sales, and since then, the popularity of portable devices has surged.

So, here are some distinctions in the Desktop Vs Laptop debate:

  • Size
  • Repair

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Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Laptop For College

Dont make the mistake of buying the wrong operating system. Some school programs will specifically require either a Windows or OSX-based laptop for programs like Photoshop and Gimp. If your learning is strictly reading books, writing papers, and taking quizzes, then you might not need the aforementioned operating systems. In that case opt for a Chromebook, especially if all your activities will be Web based.

Another thing to avoid is having too little RAM or hard drive space. A solid laptop for students will have just enough storage capacity and RAM for studying, completing assignments, and play. If your degree program requires a lot of heavy-duty software, find a laptop that has 4GB of RAM or more and a hard drive with 500GB of storage space or more. This will be enough to ensure that any software you throw on your computer runs smoothly without any hiccups. And keep in mind that an SSD hard drive will result in better performance and increase speeds as well, especially start up time.

And never buy at full retails. As a student always be on the look for those student discounts, even if something already seems cheap!

Additional Resources For College Students

Feature Image: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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What Kind Of Laptop Do You Need For College Work Really

It truly depends on your major field of study

You might be thinking about what kind of laptop you need for college work as you get ready to go back to school in 2021. It isnt as easy of a decision as one might think. A good student laptop has different requirements than a premium machine for a professional or a gamer. You may be tempted to buy a maxed-out MacBook Pro, for instance, but considering the price, it might not be the most ideal solution.

A powerful laptop might be needed for college work depending on your major. Engineering students will need powerful CPU and GPU to handle their projects, as will anyone doing video editing or 3D design. However, a Chromebook with just 4GB of RAM should be more than enough for any student whose biggest projects consist of term papers.

To help you figure out what kind of laptop you need for college work , weve gathered some tips to guide your search. That way, you can find the perfect notebook for your specific needs, especially since what works for one student might not work for another. In fact, you may end up saving some money by buying a more appropriate laptop for your specific studies.

What Computer Requirements Are Needed To Take Online Classes

Laptops for High School Kids under PHP 15K

Many students already have the equipment required to take online classes with no problems, but its important to know if what you currently possess will do the trick. A computer that was manufactured recently should be able to handle any online school program. Of course, the minimum requirements may also be dependent upon the course management system your school will use, such as Blackboard.

A computer with the following basic specs should be sufficient for online distance learning:

  • 250 GB hard drive or higher
  • 4 GB RAM or higher
  • 2.0 GHz Intel or AMD processor
  • Windows 10 or MAC OS 10.10 or later
  • Microsoft Edge, Firefox 48 or later
  • Safari 11 or later
  • Computer microphone and speakers
  • Web Camera
  • High-speed Wi-Fi connection obtained either at home or via an outside source, such as the library, a quiet restaurant, etc.

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How To Choose A Pc Or Laptop For Online Learning

You’re about to start your online classes and you want to make sure you have a reliable computer. When you start looking for a new computer, there is a lot of technical information that is important to understand. Before you get caught up in marketing gimmicks and sleek designs, take a moment to think about your technology needs. If you’re one of those people who travel frequently and are able to concentrate while being surrounded by loud noisey people, a laptop is the best option for you. Laptops are portable and will help you get your work done in all kinds of situations. A laptop will help when you have to:

  • Type a paper in the doctor’s waiting room.
  • Read your e-book at the airport.
  • Post a question during your lunch break at the diner.
  • Finish school work while you’re on the train.

If you have a fairly regular routine, and you prefer to study alone without distractions, then a desktop computer may be a better option for you. Though you aren’t able to take a desktop on the road with you, they are typically less expensive than laptops, and are less likely to have hardware and software problems.

Ask yourself some quick questions about what kind of machine you’d like to have for your online classes:

  • Will you be traveling a lot during your classes?
  • Is there one place in your home where you can study?
  • Will you be studying in small increments, or in big chunks of time?
  • Are you able to study anywhere and with distractions?

See Whether Your School Offers Any Discounts Or Programs

Given the essential role technology plays in modern education, many colleges now provide inexpensive or free laptops for college students. Some schools may include laptops in the cost of tuition, while others may offer them completely free of charge. Certain colleges may also lease laptops to students for the duration of their program, with some allowing learners to keep their laptops after graduation.

Not all colleges provide laptops, so check with the admissions departments to determine what type of technology accommodations your school offers.

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Battery: Bigger Is Better

A handful of business laptops, including several ThinkPads and Latitudes, are available with a choice of regular- or high-capacity batteries. In many cases, the cost of upgrading to a larger battery is as little as $15.

The real trade-off is that you’ll add a few tenths of a pound of extra weight. However, considering that you’ll usually get at least double the endurance, you should always choose the extended battery. For example, on our test, Lenovo’s ThinkPad T470 lasts 7 hours and 33 minutes with its three-cell battery, and 16 hours and 1 minute with its six-cell battery.

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What Screen Size Should I Choose

Do Architecture Students Need Laptops? Should I Buy a Laptop for Architecture School?

Recommended: 15 inches, Minimum: 13 inches

As a computer science student, you will have multiple windows open, such as a window full of code, a window of the running program, a browser window and a notes window. Having a bigger screen is always a better choice. In fact, most professional developers have at least two computer monitors. If a larger screen or dual monitors is not in your budget, a 13-inch screen will suffice.

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Requirements For Specific Classes Labs And Programs

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering students

  • Recommendations are posted on the College of Engineering IT website:

ABE 271, 272, 273 and TSM 216

  • Recommended specifications on this page meets minimums

ABE 413 / ME 413 , Fluid Power Engineering

  • Recommended Windows machine meets minimum requirements for JMP\
  • Students need to use Automation Studio to generate fluid power schematics required for the class. The software is not accessible through VDI and the students must install the software on their computers to complete these required tasks.


  • Be able to run MATLAB, which is free from ISU. Please review MATLAB specific requirements:

DS 202 , Data

  • Windows 8 or 10, or MacOS 10.13+, or an up-to-date Linux OS


  • Laptop needs to be able to handle Excel
  • Economical specifications on this page will suffice

ECON 301 , sections 3 and 4

  • Access to a webcam

ENT 201 and ENT 211

  • Recommended specifications on this page encouraged

Geographic Information Systems classes

NREM 446/546, NREM 489L/589L, NREM 345 Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise Windows 8.1 Basic, Pro, and Enterprise Windows 7 Ultimate, Professional, and Enterprise

HORT 281 : Landscape Graphics

  • Recommended specifications on this page meets minimums

HORT 481 : Advanced Garden Composition

  • Recommended specifications on this page meets minimums

Best College Laptops In 2021

The best college laptops for students, from budget laptops to workstations

Included in this guide:

MacBook Pro
Swift 3
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Pro 14-inch

If you’re a student, you’ll want one of the best college laptops so you can ace your exams then stream TV or play games when it’s time to relax. But with so many choices at so many different prices, it can be homework in itself to find the very best laptops for students.

When you’re buying a laptop for school, make sure it has long battery life and fast CPU performance. You can find a lot of these units on our main best laptops page, which gives you a wide selection of the top notebooks to choose from. And if you prefer to take notes by hand, buy one of the best 2-in-1 laptops. We’ve also ranked the best gaming laptops for those who like to unwind after the coursework is wrapped up. We’re still in a process of reviewing some laptops that could find their way on this list, so be sure to check back in regularly for the latest and great laptops for students.

Whichever laptop you get, you’ll also want to pick up a few extras, such as a comfortable mouse, a well-appointed backpack, and perhaps a . Without further ado, here are the best college laptops, including some budget picks for those dreading tuition payments.

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