Purchasing a Laptop as a College Student

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Another key theme of college life is limited ability to charge devices in some settings, so you need a strong battery in your laptop. You should be looking for one that will last at least 10 hours during normal operations.


There are several distinct groups who tend to benefit in particular ways from high-quality computing devices, and a great example here is college students and laptops. A laptop is often one of the key major purchases upcoming college students will look to purchase, serving as their central hub for not only schoolwork and important class documents, but also entertainment, social connection and much more.

At PC Laptops, we’re proud to offer a huge variety of computers and laptops for sale, including many that are ideal for students and those in similar positions. We’ve assisted a wide range of college students with identifying and purchasing the ideal laptop for their needs no matter the type of work they plan on doing, their travel and mobility needs, or computing and processing power needs. While each student will be different and will have some unique areas to consider when purchasing a laptop for school, there are also several variables that will be similar and should be considered by all in this position. Here’s a primer.

Course and Work Requirements

One of the key areas where college students differ from one another is in the kinds of courses they take and majors they pursue – plus the differing types of workflow and needs that these varying departments carry. For certain majors or areas of study, relatively moderate computing power will be necessary: Students in fields like business, language, history or various social sciences might generally only need basic office suite products and a simple web browser, and affordably-priced laptops that come with all these basic features are easy to source.

In other cases, of course, the needs here are much more significant. If you’re going into graphics or video editing, for instance, you need a more powerful machine with a larger screen, plus one that’s capable of running certain specialty programs. Luckily, modern laptop templates and customization make it easy to find a great option no matter your specific course requirements.

Operating System

Right from the start, one of your most important decisions for any laptop you purchase will be one most are already familiar with to some level: Which operating system are you choosing? The two most common here are Windows and Mac operating systems, while some also opt for the Chrome OS that comes in Chromebook web-based computers (these systems utilize cloud storage rather than hard drive storage, making them more affordable and ideal for some students).

Broadly speaking, this choice mostly comes down to personal preference, plus your budget. Some people have been using one OS or the other for most of their life, and will be comfortable with it and prefer to use it. If you’re not in either of these groups, you might be drawn to Apple’s student discounts; on the flip side, Windows offers free upgrades to Windows 10 Education, plus discounts on features like Adobe Creative Cloud and others.

And of course, there might be specific courses or majors that require you to use one or the other, though these are usually just a few specialty courses.

Mobility and Weight

Few groups maximize the mobility of a laptop like college students, who regularly have to lug theirs to and from classes and around what are often large campuses. For this reason, while the above areas are obviously the most important considerations, you should also be paying close attention to weight and the ease of packing or moving the laptop.

Screen Elements

There are a couple important screen elements to keep in mind for a school laptop:

  • Screen size: As we touched on above, this is often dictated in large part by the kinds of courses you’ll be taking. Those who have to edit graphics, deal with CAD illustrations or manage large spreadsheets will need a bigger screen, such as a 15” option. But for those who only need basic office suite and web browser features, you can usually do fine with a smaller screen in the 10-14” range.
  • Screen quality: In addition to screen size, you should also consider screen quality. Resolution is important here – most modern laptops come with at least 1920×1080 resolution, but be sure to check on this. In addition, consider viewing angles and related themes. If you are considering purchasing a touchscreen, just be aware that these are glossy screens that sometimes have some pretty strong reflective qualities, so you may have to mitigate this.

Processor Quality

Another important factor to consider is the processor quality, which relates directly to performance levels during use. You obviously want a laptop that runs fast, but these needs vary depending on the programs you’ll be running – if you have to do design or multimedia work, you should go for a multi-core processor plus at least 8GB of RAM. If you don’t have these needs, you might be able to go with a slightly less expensive setup.

Battery Life

Another key theme of college life is limited ability to charge devices in some settings, so you need a strong battery in your laptop. You should be looking for one that will last at least 10 hours during normal operations.

Entertainment Capabilities

And finally, it’s a simple reality that many college students can’t afford a whole host of entertainment options like a big-screen TV, speakers and more. Many will be using their laptop as their sole entertainment hub, so you need to be sure yours can handle basic needs like downloading and playing music, watching movies or shows, handling online streaming and even playing the games you’re into.

For more on how to choose the ideal laptop as an upcoming college student, or to learn about any of our laptop and computer repair services, speak to the staff at PC Laptops today.

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