Most college students will be heading back to class sometime over the next few weeks, and that means it’s time to stock up on school supplies. One of the hottest school supplies for college kids is the laptop.

Today, we’re going to show you exactly what you need to choose the best laptop for college. By paying attention to all of these factors, you can make sure your laptop does everything you need it to do.

Price versus performance

Many college students are on a tight budget, which means that you’ll have to ask yourself one fundamental question: do you want a low price or high performance? If you’re on a tight budget, you can’t afford the newest, most powerful laptop on the market today. Instead, you need to carefully weigh which hardware components are more important than others.

If you like playing video games on your laptop, then you’ll want a fast video card. If you just use your laptop for typing up lecture notes and talking to friends on Facebook, then RAM is the most important component.

Screen size does matter

Size matters in college. Screen size, that is. Laptop screens come in a wide variety of sizes, including everything from the massive 19” monitors to the smaller 10” sizes. In many cases, resolution is more important than screen size, as resolution determines how much information you can fit on your screen at any one time.

If you’re going to have multiple windows open at the same time on your laptop, then you’ll want a larger screen with higher resolution. But if you tend to focus on just one open window at a time, then you can save money by opting for a laptop with a smaller screen at a lower resolution, like 1366×768.


You’re probably going to be taking your laptop to and from class. That means you need it to be as portable as possible. Slim laptops are easy to carry around, but they might break more easily. Find a laptop that is light and sturdy if you want it to last for your entire college degree.  

Future proof your laptop

College is expensive enough without having to buy a new laptop every year. If you want your laptop to last for all four years of college (or however long your degree will take), then you need to future proof it. In other words, make sure your hardware is powerful and reliable both today and four years into the future. You might have to spend a few hundred extra dollars today to future proof your laptop, but that’s a lot cheaper than having to replace your cheap, low-powered laptop two years into your program.


If you’re talking to family back home from your dorm room, then you’ll probably want a good webcam. Most laptops have grainy, low-resolution webcams, but others allow users to upgrade to decent-quality lenses. If talking to friends and family over webcam is important to you, make sure the laptop you choose has a webcam with at least 2MP of resolution (preferably more).


Most college kids listen to music. If you want to play some music while you’re studying, make sure your laptop has decent speakers. Today, some of the more powerful laptops will even feature a basic subwoofer, although in most cases, laptop speakers are woefully underpowered. If sound is important to you, either spend the extra cash on a laptop with good audio support, or invest in a high-quality pair of headphones.


Choosing a laptop comes down to personal preference. If you’re only going to use your laptop for typing up lecture notes and browsing Twitter, then you don’t need much in terms of performance. However, if you’re taking an engineering or sciences degree in which you have to run complex programs like AutoCAD on your system, then you’ll want your laptop to have as much RAM and processing power as possible.

Of course, some people ignore all of the qualities we’ve listed above and simply choose their laptop based on how pretty it looks, or on how comfortable the keyboard feels against their fingertips. Whatever you choose, it’s your laptop, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to spend your money.

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