Every student needs to have access to their own laptop to help them complete their studies. Whether it’s just word processing, looking up information online, or even more specialized tasks, having the right laptop will make a tremendous difference to how easy it is for you to study and revise.
Depending on what and where you will be studying, your requirements for the size of your laptop will vary. If you need something highly portable, you will want to look for a smaller sized model. However, this will inevitably mean that you have to make sacrifices in terms of power – smaller laptops are generally less powerful.
If you are going to need a more powerful machine for your degree, this will usually mean buying a larger laptop, although even the largest and most powerful laptops today are still portable, and there is a plethora of accessories out there that make them even easier to carry.
When you are looking through laptops, you will find that the sizes are given by screen size. You will also need to check the dimensions to find out how big the laptop body itself is going to be.
One more thing to remember is that while weight and size are often correlated, the relationship is not necessarily linear – there are some bigger laptops that are designed to remain lightweight and easy to carry around.
Screen size is important, but it is not the most important factor when you are deciding on screen quality. The resolution of the screen will be given to you in a measurement in the format of A X B, where A is the number of pixels horizontally, and B is the number vertically. Most laptops these days are 1920 X 1080 or more (this is known as 1080, or full HD). Smaller laptops might use slightly smaller resolutions, somewhere between 1080 X 720 and 1920 X 1080.
Other things to consider include the brightness level that the display is capable of, and its contrast level. In isolation, these figures probably won’t mean a great deal to you, but they give you an easy and objective way of comparing different displays. If you look at online message boards and other communities, you will be able to get qualitative information about what the screen is like.
If you will mostly be using your machine for word processing and other simple tasks, you won’t need to worry too much about the quality of the screen. However, if you will be doing digital editing, you might need a more accurate and higher-quality screen.
Keyboard Type and Quality
Students’ laptops will go through some heavy uses in most cases. Even if this is simple things like browsing the internet and word processing, you will want to get a machine with a decent and well-constructed keyboard. Ideally, you will want to try it out beforehand and not go into it blind. Even if you plan on buying the laptop online, you should still try and sit yourself in front of it before you order so that you can make sure it is suitable for you and you find it comfortable to use. Whether you will be studying something that will involve a lot of typing, such as healthcare management associates or something a little more visual, such as CAD design, you need to make sure the laptop fits your needs.
The central processing unit is like the brain of your computer; it is here that the most important processing is done that enables your computer to function. There are a number of different processor models that you might find in a laptop, usually from Intel or AMD.
If you are only looking for a very basic laptop, then you won’t need to worry much about the CPU. However, if you plan on doing anything more complicated or demanding with your machine, then you will want to check out the requirements of whatever software you will be using.
Random Access Memory is akin to your computer’s short-term memory. It is here that important information that any running applications require is stored and retrieved from. You should look for a machine with a minimum of 2GB memory, but you don’t need much more unless you are going to be using more graphically demanding software.
If you are going to be using CAD and CAM software, or other digital design software, you may need more RAM. You should be able to find out what software you will be using for your course and what the system requirements are for this.
Storage is a little different to memory. If the RAM is your computer’s short-term memory then the hard drive is the long-term memory. It is on the main hard drive that all of your main files will be stored. As with your memory, the amount of storage you will need depends on what you will be doing with the laptop. 3D modelling and HD video will require a lot of space.
However, many students will be able to opt for something with relatively little storage and can supplement it with USB sticks and other external drives. There are also cloud storage services that will keep your files stored on remote servers and enable you to access them through the internet when you need to.
USB and Other Slots
If the course you are going to be studying will require you to attach other peripherals to your machine, you will need to get something that is compatible and has all the necessary connectors onboard. Some laptops have SD card slots, which offer an easy way of upgrading your storage for cheap, as well as an easy way of pulling files from cameras.
Physical Build Quality
Finally, but by no means the least importantly, the physical build quality of the laptop is important to know. Obviously, you don’t want a laptop that isn’t going to be able to withstand being carried around in your bag all day. There is often an association between laptop size and its sturdiness – thinner and trendier laptops can be much more fragile than larger machines.
With all that in mind, you should be able to find the right laptop for your individual circumstances. Make sure that you give the decision the consideration that it warrants – an unsuitable laptop will make your life much harder.