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It’s the back-to-school season, and many students have already had their first day of classes. Many more students will have their first day of class on the Tuesday after Memorial Day (Labour Day in Canada).
In order to get a degree, you need a computer. Professors publish course material on online portals like Blackboard at many colleges, and no teacher is going to accept a handwritten essay at the university level. Keep reading to discover a basic guide that will help any university student choose the perfect PC for whatever their needs may be.
Ask yourself the following questions in order find your ideal PC:
How much can I afford to spend?
This is the first question to ask yourself when you’re looking for a computer for university or college. Here is a basic guide to the price ranges on today’s laptop PCs:
$300 to $600: Don’t expect much for this price range. You’ll be able to get a cheap laptop with low-quality hardware, and it will probably break down within 1-3 years of the date you purchase it. However, many good netbooks can be found for around $300, so do research before you buy.
$600 to $1200: Laptops in this price range are considered mid-range, although desktop computers in this price range can be higher-end.
$1200 and over: $1200 is the splitting point for laptop PC prices. There are plenty of affordable laptops below $1200, and there are quite a few premium laptops that cost more than $1200. Once you spend more than $1200, you can expect to get a very powerful computer.
For students who are interested in Apple computers, expect to pay considerably more for the same level of hardware. Apple doesn’t sell any laptops for less than $1000. The most basic version of the MacBook Pro starts at $1229, while the MacBook Air, which is quite a bit smaller, starts at $1029. Meanwhile, the upgraded version of the MacBook costs well over $2,000, putting it outside the price range of many students.
$1000 to $1500: This is the lower-end price range for Apple laptops. Expect small screen size, low resolutions, and average hardware performance.
$1500 to $2500: Apple laptops at this price range are comparable to laptop PCs between $800 and $1200. These laptops feature better hardware and larger screens than their lower-end counterparts, but they’re not nearly as powerful as some of the higher-end hardware available on today’s PCs.
If you’re going into the first-year of a four year (or more) degree, then you’ll want to invest in a good computer. Instead of upgrading your computer several times during your university degree, it will be easier and more cost-effective to buy a good computer today and then keep that computer in good shape for the next several years. A good computer might cost an extra $300 to $400 today, but that’s considerably less than the cost of a new computer every two years.
Do I want a laptop or desktop computer?
Laptops are the most popular option for college students. Laptops are portable and they can be used to type out lecture notes in class. Whether dragging your laptop over to a friend’s house for a study session or taking your laptop to class, a good laptop is the ultimate blend of portability and functionality.
Today, consumers have several different types of laptops to choose from, and each laptop has its own strengths and weaknesses:
Netbooks: Small and affordable, but they can be flimsy and low-powered
Ultrabooks: Premium laptop PCs. High-powered, crystal-clear visuals, and cool features like touch-screens and more.
Desktop replacement laptops: These types of laptops are big, bulky, and powerful. They’re not designed to be carried around every day. Instead, they give users almost all the power of a regular desktop computer in a package slightly larger than the average laptop.
Desktops are the perfect solution for gamers who are going to school. However, if you’re buying an expensive laptop, you might want to consider investing in a good external monitor as well. That way, you combine the portability of a laptop with the screen size of a desktop. Desktops are also quite a bit cheaper laptops, particularly for those who want high-performance and large screen size.
Should I buy a Mac or a PC?
Once you’ve decided on the price and type of computer you need to make another important decision: Mac or PC?
Macs are a popular option for college students, but they’re expensive. As we mentioned above, you can’t purchase a new MacBook for less than $1,000 from Apple (and that’s not including any accessories, which can add several hundred dollars onto the price of the laptop). So if your laptop budget is limited to $1000 or less, you’ll have to stick with PCs.
PCs, on the other hand, are versatile and affordable. For the price of a lower-end MacBook ($1200), you can easily buy a top-of-the-line laptop computer that will last you through four years of college. Either way, the decision is yours to make.
How much performance do I need?
If you just plan on using your laptop to browse the internet and type of lecture notes or essays, then you don’t have to worry about performance. Any new laptop can do those things without problems. However, if you plan on using more resource-intensive computer programs, like PC games or AutoCAD (for engineering students), then you’ll need to invest a little more into top-quality hardware.
How big does my screen have to be?
Screen size is the final decision you have to make. Today, laptops range in size from 10” to 19” or more. Screen size is measured as the diagonal length across the face of the screen. Although screen size is important, it’s not as important as resolution. A 15” screen at 1366×768 resolution might not look as good as a 13” screen at 1920×1080 (full HD) resolution.
Take all of the above factors into account if you want to find the perfect laptop for your needs. Remember: finding a laptop isn’t as hard as you think. And if you’re just using your laptop for basic school tasks, then you can’t really go wrong.