Comprehensive Choosing Guide of Best laptops for students
What to consider to buy the best laptop for students?
It is well known that a student needs to write and read a lot, as well as watch graphics, videos, and many other multimedia contents. For this reason, choosing a notebook with a good display and also having the right size for your needs is of fundamental importance. Speaking of resolution,
it is usually good to stick to Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), which is a cross between simple HD (1366 x 768 pixels or 1280 x 720 pixels) and Ultra HD 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels).
The first is not enough to see how multimedia content should be, while the second is often exaggerated for the uses that a student can make of it. As for the screen size, ranging from around 10 inches to a maximum of 18 inches, it’s all a matter of preference.
Some may prefer a large screen to better watch videos and manage operations that require more precision, while others may want to bet everything on portability. It is usually best not to go beyond 15 inches, as a student often needs to put the laptop in the backpack anyway.
Another thing: do not make the mistake of thinking that size and resolution are always connected: this is not true and you may find notebooks with large screens at low resolution. In short, be careful and evaluate all the options well. Below you will find the classic screen sizes offered by the laptop market.
- From 10 to 12 inches: these are often convertible or detachable laptops that are usually referred to with the term 2-in-1, as they can be used both as a notebook and as a tablet. We are talking about easily transportable models, which often have a low weight and can be easily stored in the backpack. Put simply, we are talking about hybrid laptops that usually have Windows.
The performances, in general, are not the best, but surely this solution can be very useful for that type of student who does not need to carry out particularly expensive actions in terms of resources.
- From 13 to 14 inches: many believe they are the right compromise between portability and performance. A cross between 10 or 12-inch convertible/detachable and traditional 15-inch notebooks. They are not too difficult to carry and often have technical characteristics that are close to those offered by 15-inch laptops.
- 15 inches: the classic laptops, or the ones we usually see around. They are the most popular on the market and are considered the standard by many people, as the size of the screen allows you to easily carry out all the necessary activities, from document management to gaming.All this, however, is not too difficult to transport. Usually, this solution is chosen because it is also the one that offers more possibilities since there are 15-inch notebooks for all budgets.
- From 17 to 18 inches: although they are usually not very suitable for a student due to their poor portability, it is still good to talk about the existence of these laptops defined as “desktop replacement”.
As the name suggests, the models involved are able to replace a traditional desktop PC thanks to their high performance and are mainly aimed at those who want to focus on gaming or have special needs related to operations that do not allow compromises.
They can hardly be transported and often have a considerable weight, but it could still be an interesting solution in certain contexts.
The data sheet is obviously an aspect of fundamental importance to judge the goodness of a notebook. Although a student does not often have the needs of a professional and can therefore be satisfied with medium/low-end solutions, it is still good to understand what are the solutions offered by the market to be able to aim for the best possible laptop.
On the other hand, the speed of execution of the apps, the available ports, the presence of the webcam, and the autonomy depend on the internal components., just to name a few of the parameters a student should consider when buying a laptop.
Below you will find all the information about the components to be taken into consideration.
- CPU (processor): If I had to use a few words to describe this component, I would say that it is the brain of the computer. Its activities are in fact those related to calculations and data processing through the calculation units called core.
The laptops on the market usually integrate a multi-core processor, oftenQuad-Core (therefore an SoC that has 4 computing units available). However, there are also other solutions on the market, from Octa-Core to Six-Core.
Calculation units usually operate at equal frequencies, expressed in GHz. It can also happen, however, that there are CPUs that have computing units operating at different frequencies. In any case, what interests us is that these frequencies represent the raw power of each individual processor unit.
Furthermore, the higher the number of cores, the greater the ability to operate with multiple tasks at the same time. The processor market has long been essential in the hands of two companies, Intel and AMD. Below you will find the main CPU families.
- Intel Core i3 / i5 and AMD Series A: These are the processors most used by mid-range laptops. They are seen as an excellent compress, thanks to their good relationship between performance and consumption.
To find your way around these CPUs, you also need to know that Intel Core i3 processors are cheaper than Core i5, but the latter guarantee higher performance.
- Intel Core i7 / i9 and AMD Ryzen: designed for those who really want to aim for the top, these processors are at the high-end of the market and guarantee the user everything he is looking for in terms of performance.
Difficult to give you a golden rule to choose between these processors, but you should know that Intel processors are usually praised for performance and consumption, while AMD SoCs are appreciated above all for their low cost.
- Intel Celeron / Pentium and AMD E Series: Made to meet the needs of those who can’t afford too much for a laptop, these CPUs come with notebooks that don’t cost too much and often offer below-average performance. However, the processors are still “calibrated” to be able to carry out the most common operations, from simply surfing the Web to running the least demanding programs in terms of resources.
- Intel Atom or AMD Micro: If you need a certain kind of autonomy, you should take a look at the laptops that are equipped with these processors. In fact, their focus is on energy saving and usually, these are interesting solutions for those who often do not have a power outlet available during the day.
- Intel Core m: A compromise between performance and autonomy, a sort of middle ground between the Intel Atom and the Intel Core. They consume little and have overall good performance. Laptops with these processors can certainly be of interest to a student.
- ARM: ARM architecture is not a new reality for electronics and information technology. In this case, however, only in recent years the most important brands have decided to use this family of microprocessors not only in smartphones or tablets but also in notebooks. Their characteristic is to perform all functions (even with high performance) with low power consumption.An advantage that makes them suitable for use on ultra-thin notebooks (in some cases even without a cooling system without fans) but also in desktop computers. To most sensationally implement these chips in its computers was Apple, with its Apple Silicon chips (eg M1), capable of providing superior performance to many Intel and AMD processors with significantly lower consumption.ARM SoCs are however also present in some products with Windows and are destined to be increasingly protagonists of the market. But beware that they require dedicated software, programs written for X86-X64 processors run in emulation, therefore with potential drops in terms of performance.
- GPU: defined as a visual processor, this is the component that is used to complete all the graphics processing. In many laptops, the GPUs are integrated into the same package as the processor, but if you have particular needs, especially in terms of gaming, 3D modeling, video editing, or high-level photo editing, you should aim for a dedicated video card (with its own RAM memory ). The integrated solutions are good in many cases since they are economical and consume less, but the integrated cards guarantee more power and are able to run heavier applications. The main manufacturers of dedicated video cards are AMD and Nvidia.
- RAM: is the volatile memory where data is temporarily “stored” to be used by the computer when it is needed. Generally speaking, a notebook with more RAM is able to open multiple applications at the same time without performance problems.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you just need a lot of memory of this type to have a powerful laptop, but you still need to have a CPU that can handle the workload. A standard value that can be fine is 8GB, but if you have particular budget restrictions and don’t have to make advanced uses of the laptop, you may be satisfied with 4GB as well.
- Storage: non-volatile storage devices, i.e. memories in which the computer saves all that data that remains accessible even after restarting the notebook. Below you will find all the relevant information on the different types of storage.
- SSD: the fastest memories. A solid-state drive can make your laptop load programs and operating system faster. The improvements over a common hard drive often make themselves felt since many use SSDs to “revitalize” old PCs.We are also talking about silent units and able to withstand more shocks. Clearly, the price is higher, with the same capacity, compared to that of common hard drives.
The existence of various types of SSDs should not be underestimated. PCIe ( often in M.2 format ) are generally faster, while SATA III is slower, although their performance is still excellent.
- eMMC: these are flash memories or those that we have come to know mainly with USB sticks and SD cards. They are mainly used in entry-level notebooks, in those inexpensive models that are purchased by those who do not have a large budget. The performances are configured in the medium/low range and are lower than those offered by SSDs. Despite this, the low cost usually makes this memory an attractive solution.
- Hard disk: the good old traditional mechanical disks, better known as “hard disks”. They can’t quite keep up with solid-state drives in terms of speed, but they often come at a low cost that might still make them attractive.
The main aspect to watch out for in this case is the rotational speed of the disks, which typically ranges from around 5400 to 7200 rpm. Trivially, the higher this value, the higher the read and write speeds. To give you a concrete example, program uploads with a 7200 rpm hard drive may be faster than those guaranteed by a 5400 rpm hard drive.
- Battery: the component that allows you to use the laptop even when it is not connected to the power outlet. The classification is carried out taking into consideration the number of milliampere hours (mAh) and the number of cells available.It is important to note that the autonomy also depends a lot on the laptop since there are countless hardware components on the market and often it is also the software optimization that makes the difference. Put simply, don’t think that the same battery lasts the same time in all notebooks.However, generalizing, we can say that the higher the mAh number, the longer the duration of a system. In some, the battery specifications may be indicated in Wh and V. To find the mAh, you must then divide the Wh by the Volts and multiply the result by 1000.
- Ports: Speaking of connectivity, laptops on the market can have a myriad of different configurations. Generally, the ports that are almost always present are the USB ones, which are found in the classic format (USB A, that of the sticks) or in other more compact ones (micro USB, mini USB, or USB Type-C, which you have probably heard about in smartphone field).There are also standards related to the maximum data transfer speed. To give you a concrete example, the second generation USB 3.1 ports are capable of transferring data up to 1250 MB/sec, while the USB 2.0 ones reach up to 60 MB/sec. As you can guess, the difference is clear and it is therefore worth taking a careful look at these specifications as well.For the rest, notebooks often have Ethernet ports (100 Mbps Fast Ethernet or 1 Gbps Gigabit Ethernet) to connect the laptop to a cable network, and HDMI and/or DisplayPort, which are used to connect to an external monitor. As for wireless connectivity, Therefore connecting to a wireless network, pay attention to the fact that the notebook supports Wi-Fi 802.11 (no ac, also dual band with support for 2.5 and 5GHz frequencies) and Bluetooth.Some high-end laptops, such as Apple’s MacBooks, have Thunderbolt 3 ports, which have the classic form of USB-C but can be used for the most varied purposes: to recharge the computer, connect external memory units, and transfer data at a very high speed, to connect the computer to external displays and more.
- Other components: Unlike a desktop PC, a laptop is a “360-degree” device. For this reason, it is very important to also pay attention to the keyboard, since the latter can have an island, mechanical (mainly suitable for gaming laptops), or membrane keys and may or may not have a backlight. Do not underestimate the presence of the webcam (useful, for example, to make video calls), an optical drive, and a card reader for reading and writing SD cards.
- Materials: Build solidity is very important and is a factor to consider if you want to buy a durable laptop. On the other hand, a student’s notebook can encounter unpleasant inconveniences and it is, therefore, good to take the necessary precautions.
In particular, you should know that laptops can use different materials for the casing and the display shell. Usually, the less expensive models make use of polycarbonate. The latter is less resistant and unpleasant to the touch of material compared to aluminum or metal alloys that are instead found in higher-end notebooks.
The operating system is the software that interfaces with the hardware to make everything work as it should. This is one of the most important parameters on which to base your choice in terms of notebooks.
In fact, a student needs to use programs that are often standard for all schools.
This means that you can hardly get away from laptops that have Windows or at most macOS. Count that a good percentage of the user experience depends on the OS, as the hardware could essentially act as a paperweight without it.
Just to give you a concrete example, in the midst of the myriad of tasks performed by the operating system, the driver managed to exploit peripherals done by the OS itself.
The operating systems on the market have important differences, from compatible programs to the interface. Of course,
There are obviously some common aspects, such as support for “standard” files (for example JPGs for photos or AVI for videos), but you have to keep in mind that there are several differences. Below you will find all the details about the operating systems on the market.
- Windows: the most popular solution on the market. A student is on the safe side with Microsoft’s operating system, as it implements all the functionality a user of this type needs. The most popular applications are compatible, and Windows 10 is now pre-installed on most laptops. Pay attention to the S Mode edition of Microsoft’s operating system, as it only allows you to install applications downloaded from the Microsoft Store and could therefore limit you from this point of view.
- macOS: Available only on MacBooks, this is Apple’s official operating system. It offers almost everything you might need “out-of-the-box”, and is compatible with many popular applications (eg Office and the Adobe suite), but some specific software available for Windows may not be available (forcing the ‘user to virtualization or dual boot installation of the Microsoft operating system).
It is appreciated by students who love the ease of use and have a certain budget available to be able to buy laptops from the Cupertino company.
- ChromeOS: The operating system found on Chromebooks. Its focus is mainly on the cloud and the main applications available are the classic ones offered by Google. We could say that it is an OS that is in some ways closer to the world of mobile devices rather than that of computers, placing itself in the middle between the two types of products.
I recommend that you find out about the possibilities offered by ChromeOS before buying a laptop with this operating system.
- Android: known mainly for its use in the smartphone field, the operating system of the green robot has now landed on a myriad of devices, including laptops.
On the other hand, it is a very customizable OS and some manufacturers have therefore decided to use it also in this market.
The main compatible applications are those available on the Google Play Store, just like with mobile devices. Before proceeding with the purchase, therefore, recommend that you take a look at the software park. In many cases, Android applications can also be installed on ChromeOS.
Those mentioned are the main solutions on the market, but you may also find yourself facing laptops that say FreeDOS. Well, this occurrence is quite rare, but suffice it to say that the notebooks that are indicated in this way do not have any pre-installed operating system.
This means that you have to proceed manually in the choice and configuration of the OS. These are therefore products intended for expert users who may have already carried out these operations in the past. Usually, with these products, you can save money, but I advise you to consider this option only if you are really sure of what you are doing.