Choosing student laptops is not as straightforward as it may sound, as long as you want something more than decent.
How to choose a laptop for the education
They need a stable, robust, and secure platform, as well as affordable, so they don't have to worry about excessive maintenance. That way, they can focus on what really matters: learning. Also, they will not have to worry too much that problems could ruin their work, notes, etc.
Choosing student laptops is not as straightforward as it may sound, as long as you want something more than decent. So if you are a student, tutor or parent, and you feel the need to buy a computer, you should consider some recommendations...
How To Choose The Best Laptops For Students
There are several strategic points where you should pay special attention if you need the laptop to be of quality and suitable for the student. Those key points are:
- What would you study? It is the first question you should ask yourself. A student pursuing a STEM career is not the same as a college, high school, or literary degree student. In the first case, the hardware should have the adequate performance to meet your needs. For example, compile, work with mathematical apps, CAD / CAM software, manage virtual machines, simulation, etc. On the other hand, if you work with office software or less heavy workloads, you will not need such demanding hardware.
- Price: Students do not usually have a buoyant economy, so it is preferable to choose models that do not skyrocket too much in terms of price. In principle, in this case, you should download some expensive laptops, such as Apple, if you cannot afford it.
- Reliability and security: one of the most hateful things for a student is working for hours, days or weeks on some project or job, and having a technical problem with their equipment ends up eliminating their work. Therefore, you should always choose robust platforms that allow you to work with confidence and avoid as many problems as possible. That has displaced Microsoft Windows versus other operating systems such as GNU / Linux, ChromeOS, and macOS. In fact, one of the best-selling and most successful laptops among students has been the Chromebook on the Amazon platform.
- Autonomy: it is important if you need good mobility, that is, if you are going to take it to classes to take notes, or you will work in public places, transport, etc. Efficient hardware paired with a decent battery capacity is what you should be looking for. You should also know that large screens directly undermine autonomy, so you should opt for ultrabooks with 13 ”if you need greater autonomy and mobility. Also keep in mind that a larger screen implies greater volume and weight, making it difficult to transport it.
Now, once you keep the above points in mind, it is likely that you doubt between some models. To choose the right one, you also have to know which hardware you should select :
- CPU: I do not recommend that you buy computers with Intel Atom, Celeron, Pentium, or AMD V-Series, Athlon, or similar. These processors are not very powerful and can frustrate you. Therefore, the idea is that you opt for one of the mobile versions of Intel or AMD, such as the Core i3 / Ryzen 3 (recommended option for less demanding users), Core i5 / Ryzen 5 (recommended option for most users), Core i7 / Ryzen 7 (for those who need a performance bonus).
- RAM: with 4GB it should be enough for the less demanding. 8GB would be fine even for some who need to run more demanding software. In principle, more than that should not be necessary unless you are going to use specific software, such as a hypervisor to run several virtual machines simultaneously, which would require 16, 32, 64 or more GB.
- GPU: you shouldn't be too obsessed with it if you're not going to use it for video games, graphic design, rendering, etc. In principle, even with an integrated GPU, it could be enough (better if it is AMD). And if you want something more powerful, then consider some dedicated NVIDIA or AMD.
- Storage: It is preferable to choose a laptop with SSD to speed up the software's loading compared to slow HDDs. In terms of capacity, it is very relative. Some users have enough with 128 or 256GB; others need 1TB or more ... It will depend a lot on the use, since if you use it to download content, you work with a large number of high-resolution images, videos, virtual machines, etc., you will need greater capacity.
- Screen: you should not obsess over OLED, LED IPS, TN panels, etc. Any one of them is good for student applications. But it should have a high refresh rate or high response time, a high resolution (at least 1920 × 1080), a decent pixel density, and better if they have some eye protection technology. This way, you will damage your vision less if you spend many hours glued to the screen.
- Battery: laptop batteries are usually Li-Ion or Li-Po cells. Both have similar characteristics and do not present a tangible difference to the user. But you do have to keep in mind its capacity. This is usually measured in mAh (milliAmps per hour) or in Wh (watts per hour). The higher the number, the longer the battery will last. For example, an 81Wh battery could deliver 81W for one hour, or 160W for half an hour, 40.5W for 2 hours, etc.
- Connectivity: this will depend a lot on the use you are going to give it. It should have the ports and wireless technologies you need. Usually, a few USB ports and WiFi should be sufficient. Others may need HDMI to connect to external displays, etc. Keep in mind that there is not much space on the flanks in ultrabooks to accommodate ports to have less than in larger notebooks.
- Others: don't forget the new normal, as they have called it, or this pandemic situation. Outbreaks or instability could lead to a return to lockdown or online classes. Therefore, the laptop must have a good quality built-in webcam and microphone (or purchase them separately).
Some recommended laptops for students
If you want something more specific, here are 4 recommended laptops, and very diverse, that can be great options for students:
- Acer Swift 3 SF314-57-5217 : a team that for just over € 730 includes a powerful Intel Core i6-1035G1 microprocessor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, 512GB of NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD, integrated Intel HD GPU, LED display 14 ”FullHD (1920 × 1080), 48Wh battery, WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, built-in webcam and microphone, USB, HDMI, and Windows 10 Home pre-installed.
- Acer Chromebook 314 CB314-1H : This laptop is a computer that has very modest hardware, but that works smoothly thanks to its ChromeOS operating system. This allows you to have a secure, reliable, and robust platform to run Android apps natively. It has an Intel Celeron N4020 chip, 4GB of RAM, integrated GPU, 14 ”screen, WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB, MicroSD slot, webcam + micro, 32GB eMMC flash storage, and autonomy for 12 hours. All for about € 300.
- Microsoft Surface GO 2: if you need the Microsoft Windows platform for your work, then you can buy one of these touch devices, one of the smallest on the market, for about € 450. It integrates an Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y processor, integrated GPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB internal memory (expandable by microSD), 10.5-inch PixelSense FullHD screen, autonomy up to 10 hours, compatible with Surface Dial, integrated webcam + micro, Windows 10 Home, WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and TPM 2.0 business security.
- Apple MacBook Air 2020: if you can afford it, along with ChromeOS, it is one of the most reliable platforms you can have. Its price can go up to € 900, but you will have a computer with an Intel Core i3-i7 chip, integrated Intel Iris Plus GPU, 8-16GB of RAM, from 256GB to 2TB PCIe SSD, webcam + micro, WiFi, a lifespan of long battery life, and an excellent quality 13 ”screen.