Guide to Buying a Laptop for University

AFS Team·7 October 2015·5 min read
Guide to Buying a Laptop for University

What will you be using your laptop for?

Before shopping for a laptop, ask yourself what your usage will be like and what you will be using your laptop for. If you are a low-user, you will only be using your laptop for personal use, using Word to write essays and PowerPoint to look at lectures. A high-user will be somebody who uses their laptops for personal and general university work but will also needs to use extra software for their course. Establishing whether you are a low or high user will enable you in choosing the right laptop for the right price.

What are the differences between a laptop, a MacBook, a Chromebook and a tablet?

Let’s look at the first difference, Macs are run by the IOS software whereas laptops are run by the Microsoft software. Depending on which computers you have a history with; it is usually easier to continue using the same software you have grown up with. However, it is worth mentioning that most universities offer Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc.) for free, which is compatible through Microsoft laptops and computers. Generally, laptops and computers are usually cheaper than Macs and Macbooks. If you are on a budget, it is definitely something worth noting. Chromebooks are internet based laptops, instead of having Microsoft, you have Google. Generally, I wouldn’t recommend this as your primary computing source. If you already own a desktop then a Chromebook may be a nice portable edition to your computing needs however they do not have enough software or power for the everyday student, the same goes for tablets and iPads.

Advice for low-users

I recommend you look into buying a laptop or a 2-in-1 tablet. Laptops are great value nowadays, look for something lightweight that doesn’t have many problems with overheating, apart from those issues; most laptops will provide you with enough power to get you through university. Personally, I would recommend a 2-in-1 tablet as it provides you with the tablet portability, meaning you can take it to lectures but also use it as a traditional laptop. The best part is that you can write on these tablets as if they were paper, which makes it a great asset when annotating your lecture notes. Always make sure to speak to somebody in store and let them know exactly what you’re main wants and needs are and your budget.

Top Recommended: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Advice for high-users

If your course requires you to use specialist software or you need a high powered computer for such things as editing, you’re probably looking to be spending a little bit more money than a low-user. Here are your two options; either invest in a high powered “gamers" laptop as these laptops have the fast processors, high graphics and memory. Laptops give you the freedom of working from any location however if you truly want a device which will not fail you, then I recommend you split your money into a desktop and a portable device. Simply, desktops are larger so therefore can process much more than a laptop, as they aren’t portable, they come in at a better value for money as they are less desirable than a laptop. As desktops are usually better value, this could leave you with a portable option. These options could be a smartphone, a tablet or a Chromebook which can all be found for a good price. These smaller but portable devices allow you to still use PowerPoint, Word documents and will allow you to do smaller tasks when out and about. If you like to work from home or need a device that will not fail you, a desktop should be considered however if you want the portability of a laptop then go in store with your budget and tell a sales advisor about the types of software or activities you will need to do on your laptop, they will find you the best laptop for the value.

Top Recommended: Toshiba Qosmio X70-B-10T

Finally, if you have gone in store and found the best laptop for your needs, don’t buy it immediately. Take a note of the name and see if you can get a better deal online or in another store. In terms of buying warranty, I recommend looking at an insurance policy which covers repairs so that even if your laptop breaks down whilst at university, you can take it in to get repaired, relieving you of the stress of saving for a new laptop.