What to Look for When Buying a College Laptop?

Whether you are a tech student or not, today, you’ll need a laptop in college. The market is flooded with different models with different price ranges, so buying one can be a daunting task once you decide to take the plunge. Just where do you begin? How do you find a laptop that works, looks and feels right for a college student? Here’s what to look for, plus a few sample laptops with specs that match the needs of an undergrad.

Portability – lighter weight, modest size

Being a student means you virtually live on your feet; from class to a library, and back to your hostel – plus many instances when you hang out in the yards with your mates. Most of the time you have your backpack with you. And it’s not just the laptop you’ll be carrying around; there are books and other items too. The lighter the better, so be sure to go portable. Buy a laptop that weighs 4 pounds or under, preferably with a corresponding modest size. Anywhere between 11 and 14 inches is not a bad choice for display.

If you are overly passionate about bigger displays, a 14-inch screen will be great. Otherwise, you may want to go for something smaller, such as a 12-inch display.


It will be easier to carry around as it takes up a rather small space. Laptops that size can fit in most standard-size backpacks and still leave adequate space for your other items.

While an 11-inch display is generally cool for younger schoolers, the typing space may not be enough for older students with larger hands. Ensure you balance between portability and usability – which makes a 13-inch display an ideal pick. If you are in arts or tech, however, you’ll want to go bigger with the screen size – a 14-inch laptop.

Longer battery life 

Most students charge their laptops overnight. A typical day in campus is full of activity and there’s always very little time eft for recharging the machine in the course of the day – especially when you carry your laptop to class most of the time.

Ideally, you want a laptop that can store power for between 6 to 8 hours or more before running out of charge. There are a lot of cheap laptops with longer battery life so you don’t have to break the bank or cash out your entire student grant to be able to afford one.


This 11.6-inch Lenovo Ideapad 110s 80WG0001US, for instance, will cost you less than $200 on Amazon. But you are assured of a decent 7 hours off of a single charge. That’s nearly a whole day’s classwork without having to run for your dear charger.

A good operating system

Your laptop requires an operating system, or OS for it to perform any task it’s designed for. The OS injects your laptop with the brain power to execute tasks. Normally you can choose from a Windows OS such as Windows 10, a Mac OS such as Mac OS X, or Google’s Chrome OS.

Various laptops run different operating systems. If you want to use a Mac OS X then you’ll have to buy a MacBook computer; a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. The Chrome OS, on the other hand, runs only on Chromebook. These are machines designed to be used primarily with an internet connection. A Chromebook has most of its applications and documents in the cloud.


Other than the two categories any other computer runs a Windows OS. Each OS has its advantages over the other, so it’s important to check with your university about their software requirements when deciding on which OS to use.

Generally, OS X is great for art & design while Windows operating system is best for everything else that makes you productive in school. Both of these may be equally good for students so your taste and preference may be what plays out chiefly to determine your selection, although the competition from Chromebooks and Windows laptops is steep. Chromebooks will, however, limit you to use only where there is Internet connectivity and are considered more suitable for kids.

Durability: how long will your laptop serve you?

It can be extremely costly from a student’s standpoint to have to replace a laptop every now and then. When you fork out your money to buy a laptop, it should be a machine that will stay with you preferably for the entire duration of your schooling. Anything less durable is a bad investment.

Laptops made of aluminium metals or magnesium alloy tend to be costly but very durable. So are those made from carbon fibre. Though you’ll likely pay more money off the bat, you’ll be glad you did. The machine will withstand most of your spontaneous moments that would easily crash other laptops. You can always tell if a laptop is durable from the sturdiness claims that the manufacturer makes. Such claims are often supported with long warranties for added assurance.

Examples here are the Acer Chromebook 11 N7 student laptop that is designed to withstand drops from some a great deal of height. MIL-SPEC 810G durability tests can also help point you to the right direction. A laptop that has passed this test will double as a great business and a student laptop.

The right specs 

While any student will find elegant hardware components appealing, it is equally important that you pay attention to the machine’s internal components. These includes the CPU power, the hard disc size, the technology or generation, the random access memory or RAM capacity and the solid-state drive unit.

Go for a display that is sharp enough with a resolution that will fit text well on the screen; you’ll need this when writing your papers or theses. Any display with a minimum resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080) should be great. Intel Core i5 or Core i7 is perfect for CPU, preferably the latest generation. 4GB or 8GB RAM is ideal, while a 256GB for SSD and 802.11ac for Wi-Fi standard are the best choices respectively.

Made your selection yet? This guide should definitely help you make the right choice of computer to see you through your college studies.