How to Choose the Right Laptop for University
Since a laptop is such an expensive purchase, it’s important to think carefully about what to buy. Your decision will influence much of your study experience, including what kinds of activities you’ll be able to carry out and how easy it is to complete assignments. Here are a few main considerations to bear in mind to ensure you arrive at the right choice for you.
1. Operating System
If you’ve been using a Mac operating system all your life, you’ll likely find it easier to stick with Mac OS than to switch to Windows — and vice versa. You should also think about what you need your laptop for, since one operating system may be more suitable than the other. For instance, certain software (such as for statistics) only runs on Windows, whereas students with creative majors tend to prefer Mac OS.
If you know you’ll be carrying your laptop to class and around campus, a lightweight model may be appealing. However, lower weight does mean lower processing power, which could be a problem if you require high performance, such as if you’re a computer science major.
3. Screen Size and Resolution
Whereas most students find a screen of 13 inches (or less) to be large enough, you may need something larger if you’re working on graphics. Keep in mind that screen size will impact weight, meaning if you want a model that’s not too heavy, you may need to choose a small screen. An alternative option is to have a second, larger monitor that you can connect to back in your room.
In addition, consider what resolution laptops offer. The standard today is 1080 pixels, which should be sufficient, unless you’re a design student.
4. Battery Life
The average battery life of a laptop is between 10 and 14 hours, which is likely to be enough for most students’ needs. If you want a longer battery life, you can find models that offer up to about 17 hours — although you should only expect to receive such performance for low-energy activities, such as using word processing software.
5. Random Access Memory
Better known as RAM, random access memory determines how many programs can run at once. Typically, the more RAM, the more powerful your laptop. However, as technology has progressed, just considering RAM has become insufficient to tell you about laptop performance. For instance, MacBooks are notorious for having much less RAM than their Windows counterparts, but they can still be quite powerful.
For basic needs, you should be able to manage with 4 GB of RAM. If you need much more than that, read the reviews for particular models to find if they’re likely to meet your requirements.
6. Hard Drive vs Solid State Drive
Laptops today come with either a traditional hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD). The advantages of an SSD include speed, reliability, and stability — since these drives lack moving parts, they’re less likely to break. The downsides are that SSDs are more expensive and have less built-in storage.
However, built-in storage is less of a concern today, since you can always use the cloud. In fact, it makes sense to keep all of your schoolwork saved in the cloud, as the last thing you want is to lose it. Just remember that you’ll need to either have an internet connection to access files (or you can download files before you want to access them).
It’s no use coming up with a big list of requirements, only to come to the conclusion that a laptop that meets your criteria would be far too expensive. Be realistic about what you need and what would just be nice to have.
Choosing the right laptop is just one of the big decisions you need to make when you become a university student. Another is selecting the right student housing. Oshawa has 17Hundred — student housing with all the amenities you need, including study spaces, fast WiFi, and card-controlled access to the building. Book a tour to check it out.