Most upcoming college students will sooner or later have to invest in a computer.
It’s common that people either buy an overkill device or a cheap that breaks down.
This can be tricky. You want something that are capable of fulfilling the necessary tasks, while not accidentally charging unnecessary money for features that you won’t use.
It can be hard to navigate the market when every website is trying to push their products down your throat..
That’s the problem we’re going to discuss & solve today. To help you find the type of computer that is good enough to fulfill your needs while not being overpriced.
What you need to ask yourself is: What’s my budget? & What programs am I going to use?
Ask your school if they have any recommendations or/and requirements for computers in order to run programs related to the courses you’ll be attending.
If you’re going to work with programs like Photoshop you’ll need at least 8GB of RAM and an i5 processor. 2GB is possible but not recommended according to Adobe’s website.
On this list we are assuming that you will not be using the computer to play demanding games with hardcore graphic. The main focus is around work & studies, not entertainment.
Laptops vs Desktops
Ultimately, we decided to mainly have laptops on this list. Why? The reason we choose laptops is because of how flexible they are.
- You can bring them with you easily.
- Where the student goes, the laptop goes.
- Compared to Desktops you will get more computing power for the same money when buying a Desktop.
However, desktops are too big to bring with you, which means you won’t be able to take notes or research anything until you get home.
Some people may prefer writing by hand and researching library books, but the most of don’t in this era of tech.
Extra: Chromebooks vs Laptops
Tablets like Ipads are very portable, however they are not good to write on.
Some versions have a 2 in 1 design that can provide a detachable keyboard, but these can generally just recreate a fraction of a real laptop experience. This is because they often are of smaller size & have a restrictive design.
Touch tablets will also always require some manual operation on the touchscreen regardless of the pros a detachable keyboard gives. Thus, there are no tablets included on this list.
So, the solution? Chromebooks.
Chromebooks give you “the best of 2 worlds” by combining a touchscreen together with a keyboard. The chromebook we have included on this list has a display with 4 different modes.
Our top 3 picks
Best All Around: HP Probook M serie
The HP Probook M serie has many computers and most of them are being sold at a justified price for what you get.
Almost all of them are perfect for doing school work and won’t end up getting destroyed after 2 years like many other cheap computers.
HP Probook MT41 is one of the most popular computers in this serie for students in high school and collage.
The M serie from HP is designed with a aluminium and magnesium case that is very thin. This makes them easy to move from place to place which is perfect for students switching classrooms.
According to us, most of the HP computers are also good looking so don’t you worry about that!
The only negative is the high price & angle sensitive display. When working with it, you want to sit right in front of the screen. If you turn the screen too much up, down, left or right this will affect the screens visibility.
- Screen: 14 inches
- Memory type: DDR3 SDRAM
- Memory: 128-960 GB SSD
- Processor: AMD, 2 cores, 2.5 GHz
- Ram: 8GB
- Operating system: Windows 10
The price ranges from £270 to £500 depending on the specs you want to have. This computer is all around the best on this list because of the performance you get for the price. It is not the cheapest but not expensive either. Also because of the multiple spec choices you have, this laptop could be a good fit for many people.
- Cheapest option cost around £270
- 4GB RAM & 128 GB memory
- The most expensive option cost around £500
- 8GB RAM & 950 GM memory
Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 has a simplistic design and performs well for its price.
- CPU: Intel Core i5 or i7 (8th-generation)
- Graphic card: Intel UHD Graphics 620
- RAM: 4GB to 16GB
- Screen size: 13.3 inch
- Storage: 128GB to 1000GB (1TB) SSD
CPU and RAM is enough for using more demanding editing programs like photoshop or even adobe after effects for example. It will always be best to use these on the right kind of desktop but it’s good to keep in mind.
It has an anti-glare display which is great for external bright light. This makes it easier to see the display on a sunny day outside. Most students will probably study inside so this feature may not be the most necessary feature. However, with this in mind maybe you should try to get some fresh air while studying?
Dell XPS 13 comes in multiple colors so you can choose one that you prefer. What’s negative though if you change the color is that it get slightly more expensive. Yet, the price is relatively cheap for what you get in my perspective.
According to us this laptop is appropriate for all students and even for more advanced work. It will not break quick if you treat it with normal care (like you would do with any computer of course). It is the most expensive on this list but also the best. You can decide if you want to have Intel Core i5 or i7 as CPU and what RAM ranging from 4GB to 16GB.
Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible
Nominated as the best Chromebook 2016 by verge this one had many reasons to end up on this list.
The screens ability to flip 360 degrees together with the touch screen makes this a hybrid between a touch pad and computer. With both touch and an in-built keyboard you have a lot of options on how to use it.
What kind of computer is this?
It’s the cheapest “laptop” on this list and also the one with fewest features. This however does not mean the other 2 are better. It’s all about preference. The price lies around 300£, and there are no other versions with different specs.
- Easy to bring with you
Being small & portable it’s easy to bring with you & use at different places.
- Reasonable price
It comes at a reasonable price point to, which is always appreciated for college students with a tight economy.
The ability to switch between tablet and laptop mode makes it good for both relaxing and working.
Material and colour
The computer is made out of plastic with a white finish. This is not exactly “premium looking” but more simplistic. It’s not something that will draw attention from people in awe, but not in a bad way either. It’s plain and simple.
The laptop has a comfortable grip when you grab it. Also thanks to the plastic it does not have that “cold” touch that aluminium or metal can get.
Size & Weight
Size and weight are one of the main benefits. It weighs around 2.76 pounds (1.25 kg) and its dimensions are 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches (29 x 20.3 x 1.9cm) (W x D x H). This is not heave to carry around but still gives you a screen large enough to work on.
There are 4 different display modes you can have the laptop in.
- Laptop mode
- Display mode
- Tent mode
- Pad mode
Besides the touchscreen you also have a touch panel on the keyboard.
- Processor: Intel Celeron N3150
- Ram: either 2GB or 4GB.
- Storage: 32 GB
- Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics
- Camera: 720 Webcam
- Weight: 2.76 ibs (1.25 kg)
Comment on specs
Judging from the specs this is not something you will be running photoshop on. Overall this is a computer meant for google browsing and maybe a few apps. It’s named “Chromebook” after all.
In conclusion this is for someone that want a cheap laptop to run browser based programs like google docs. If your college duties is mostly about writing essays on google documents then this would definitely be enough.
Guest article written by: John Andersen is a tech enthusiast that writes daily about tips and tricks related to home electronics on his blog electrotip.com.