Top Ten Laptops for College Students

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No matter how strong and socially enabling smartphones get, a student will always need a computer to get the job done. Laptops have undergone heavy changes over the past year, and now present a much wider range of hardware to choose from.

I’ll agree that coming up with this list was tricky – we have to include the fact that college students are often already under the heavy debt of college loans, so buying a laptop is an expensive yet high-priority task.

The kind of work that students need a laptop for requires the machine to be break-proof, crash-proof, and handle heavy data-crunching. That is, of course, if you’re doing more than just social networks, watching videos and installing cute widgets that serve no real purpose. There is a real need for efficient hardware and software that comes with as long a battery life as possible. More often than not, a student will find a desktop to be far cheaper, easier to upgrade, and faster (you basically end up with better hardware for the same price range of a lower end laptop). Thus, the final need to buy a laptop comes to mobility. You’ll be using the laptop in lecture halls, in the cafeteria, in your dorms, or at cafés; which is just about everywhere actually.

  • Display : 15.6 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Processor : Intel Pentium B980 2.4 GHz, 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Graphics : Intel GMA HD 3000
  • Cost : $399

This laptop offers comfort on both, the keyboard as well as the touch screen. Low battery life is one of the very few downsides to the ASUS model.

HP Pavilion g6-1d80nr
  • Display : 15.6 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Processor : 1.9 GHz AMD A4-3305M, 4 GB SDRAM
  • Graphics : AMD Radeon HD 6480G
  • Cost : $467

A great buy for its price. The display quality is good and the processing speed is fast enough to use low-and-mid-level software, along with smooth browsing.

Dell Inspiron i15R-1633sLV
  • Display : 15.6 inches, 1366×768 pixels
  • Processor : 2.4 GHz Core i3-2370M, 6 GB DDR3 RAM
  • Graphics : Intel HD Graphics 3000 (SB)
  • Cost : $471

Decent performance for its spec. The laptop has no backlit keyboard or a 1080p display, but works well otherwise.

  • Display : 15.6 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Processor : 2.4 GHz Core i3-3110M, 4 GB DDR3 RAM
  • Graphics : Intel GMA HD
  • Cost : $517

One of the best lower-end laptops to use Windows 8 on. Very basic and utility-oriented. Light-weight yet sturdy, with near-noiseless keys make it great for classroom runs and typing in lectures.

HP Envy dv6-7210us
  • Display : 15.6 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Processor : 2.8 GHz A-Series Quad-Core A8-4500M, 6 GB DIMM RAM
  • Graphics : AMD Radeon HD 7640G
  • Cost : $564

Easy to use, decent battery life, a comfortable keyboard and added security with a fingerprint reader make it worth a look for most students.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z570 1024DCU
  • Display : 15.6 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Processor : 2.5 GHz A110 with 6 GB DIMM RAM
  • Graphics : Integrated Intel HD 3000 Graphics
  • Cost : $600

Excellent features at a reasonable price. Comes with its own fingerprint and face recognition software, along with passive surveillance. A great product it you’re not into heavy gaming.

HP Pavilion dv6-7010us
  • Display : 15.6 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Processor : 1.9 GHz A-Series Quad-Core A8-4500M, 6 GB SDRAM
  • Graphics : AMD Radeon HD 7640G
  • Cost : $609

Great price for these features. Works well with image manipulation software. The Beats Audio technology delivers a great sound output. Four USB ports allow seamless use of multiple external devices.

ASUS VivoBook S400CA-DH51T
  • Display : 14.1 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Processor : 1.7 GHz Core i5-3317U, 4 GB DDR3 RAM
  • Graphics : Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • Cost : $689

Well-spaced keyboard and touchscreen make the problem of the jumpy touchpad go unnoticed. If you can overlook the lack of a built-in DVD drive and no Bluetooth connectivity, then this is an excellent product. The small screen and light weight make it a great choice for college students.

Lenovo ThinkPad W530
  • Display : 15.6 inches, 1600 X 900 pixels
  • Processor : 2.60 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB DDR3 RAM
  • Graphics : NVIDIA Quadro 1000M
  • Cost : $1,299

This one is for those who need a workstation. The laptop is a great alternative to a powerful desktop at the added cost. If you can afford it, buy it. It works beautifully and can handle all heavy-duty work (including the latest AutoCAD and Crysis) with ease.

MacBook Pro
  • Display : 15.4 inches, 1440 x 900 pixels
  • Processor : 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7, 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Graphics : Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • Cost : $1,709

One of the most sought-after laptops of today, the MacBook Pro can do pretty much everything that an arts student would want. Of the few reasons I put the MacBook here are good display, and the consistency of a lot of music professionals using Pro Tools as the preferred DAW (Which works smoothly on the MacBook). If you really want the MacBook, you can try getting around the price by looking for refurbished or second-hand ones.

If you’re considering other alternatives to laptops, then I’d suggest a Samsung Chromebook. It’s for those who just need something light, cheap, and efficient to carry around. Priced at $320, it’s an excellent option that you can use to run lower-end software, browse the Internet (Chrome OS allows for a great browsing experience), and store and edit documents and spreadsheets. The only problem with the Chromebook is its crippling dependence on Wi-Fi Internet. Most of your stuff (both apps as well as Google software like Google Docs) can be accessed and edited on cloud servers, so the Chromebook ends up being a paperweight when you don’t have an Internet connection.

With so much competition in the market, you’ll find multiple laptops with the same specs from different companies. So it may also end up on your affinity towards a brand, may be because of the design, or if you’ve heard good things about the company. It’s more important to know the spec that you want; the brand and price can be decided after that.

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