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What’s my machine going to be? As a soon-to-be college student you’ll definitely find yourself mulling over this question, raking the net and bugging people for answers. Websites flashing incredible deals on laptops and back-to-school promos, really don’t help either. It can be tempting to look no further than the first “state-of-the-art” laptop that catches your eye. But before you whip out the credit card, spend a little time to figure out what you really need for college.
Simply put, my laptop is my college lifeline. I’m on my laptop several hours a day, whether I’m typing code, writing an essay, playing StarCraft or checking Facebook. A laptop that lets you multitask this way should support at least 2GHz of processing speed; no compromises. Next comes storage. As a student you’ll find yourself storing word documents, downloading gigabytes of music (pssht legally of course), saving thousands of images and PDF files or running complex programs. In such scenarios, having at least 4 gigs of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive often suffices.
Two staple features of the laptop: battery life and portability.
If you choose to carry around a 7-pound laptop and a cumbersome charger everyday, you don’t get to whine about the load. As for indulging your inner gamer, high-end gaming laptops like the Razer Blade Pro support everyday functions, with expensive memory configurations. If you’re into graphic design or even architecture, you might just appreciate what the extra processing power will do. Honestly though, there are other laptops for much less, more than equipped to thrill the gamer in you.
That raises the question: how, then, do you find that ideal machine for work and play? For starters, make sure you do your research. Sort reviews by price, size, operating system, portability and features that matter to you.
Let’s talk sense, a laptop can’t run a 175W graphics processor, have terabytes of memory, feature Beats Audio and still weigh less than 5 pounds. It’s also a common misconception to think that the most buck will get you the best machine. Case in point: myself. When I got my 15” MacBook Pro, I thought that it was a pretty sweet deal. Now, three years down the line, I struggle when lugging it around for classes. Sure, you forget that problem when staring at its retina display while pulling all-nighters, or noticing just how good it looks and feels around the house. However the processor speed isn’t the best, there are overheating issues and you can get almost the same features for much less. Recently Apple, and pretty much every other manufacturer, has incorporated the latest Intel processors into their machines; however their products still remain way too overpriced to clinch the deal for most college-going students.
Don’t only sweat the jargon, try them out yourself. I found it particularly useful going through local electronics stores to get some hands-on experience. And then, finally after scouring through reviews and asking college students what they thought of their laptops, I’ve hashed out here a list of 5 Best Laptops for College.
Acer Aspire V3-571G-6407
(Discounted Price of $499.9 from Acer)
The Acer Aspire Series takes the cake, with its high-end features that come at a decent price, affordable for any college student. The Aspire V3 just over 1” thin combines Intel’s latest i5 processors with 4GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB Hard Drive, USB 3.0, Ethernet and HDMI ports along with other basic features. And if you’re into gaming, the supported NVIDIA GT 630M graphics card with 1GB dedicated VRAM is not going to disappoint you. It’s the complete package at the perfect price.
Dell Inspiron 15R-i15RM 15.6-Inch Laptop
(Price: $530 and up from Dell)
When it comes to affordable mainstream laptops, Dell has long had a stronghold on the market with their decently spec’d machines, much like the Inspiron 15R. The 1” thin laptop slips perfectly into your backpack for carrying around campus and has notably good built-in speakers. Other features include an optional touch screen if you want to keep things really simple. Housing 6GB of RAM, Intel’s latest i7 processors and up to 1TB of internal storage, this machine is perfect for most school and even office work.
Lenovo Idea Pad Y500
(Price $999 from Newegg)
Though slightly more expensive, the Lenovo Idea Pad Y500 is definitely at the frontier where cutting-edge design meets high performance. With graphics good enough to handle gaming, this notebook incorporates Dolby® Home Theater® v4, an i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a whole Terabyte of storage space. (Editor’s note: The Lenovo website has frequent deals and coupons that shave off hundreds. Just search in slickdeals.com or dealzon.com!)
ASUS Zenbook UX32VD-DB71 13.3-Inch Ultrabook
(Price $1099 from Newegg)
Popular among college students, the Zenbook is a performance powerhouse with its aluminum alloy build, light weight and a sturdy battery that lasts around 6 hours. This machine maybe one of the best contenders against the MacBook when it comes to performance. Though it may require some upgrades for memory, the sleek 13” with the latest Intel i7 processors and NVDIA graphics is bound to impress the average tech-junkie.
MacBook Air 13.3”
(Price $1200 from Apple)
In my opinion this is the best of the current MacBook breed and undoubtedly the best laptop for college. Try putting up a Facebook post asking for laptop suggestions; someone is bound to mention the MacBook Air. Perhaps the most mainstream recommendation, with 8GB of RAM, Intel i7 processor and 512 GB storage, it’s easy to see why that’s the case.