Education has gone entirely digital, and without a laptop coping is difficult these days. Laptops are not a luxury anymore, but it is a crucial part of every student’s backpack. So, if you are starting your college career and thinking about whether you should get a new laptop or not, mostly the answer is yes. But the needs of a school student and a college student are pretty different than most realize. Even if you are already up for buying a new laptop, there are specific key points that you can not overlook.
There are various segments of laptops available which are meant for different types of consumers. Before buying, you should understand your requirements, which would determine which segment or specs you should go for. Even generalizing all the college students in the same category would be wrong. Because the requirements of a medical student and a mechanical engineering student are not the same, likewise, a student of Physics Major and a student of a film school have different types of needs.
Without talking much about laptop configurations and hardware in detail, we would be straightforwardly discussing the crucial points to consider.
You Need a Smooth Experience
No matter what purpose you are using your device for, you need smooth computation power for the best experience and reliability. That can be ensured by a decent CPU only. So, it is forbidden to opt for a second-hand laptop or a laptop with an old gen CPU as a college student. Talking about generations, you must opt for the latest gen or one gen older CPU, but not older than that. You will be using your laptop for multitasking, assignments, presentations, keeping digital study materials, and watching online tutorials. So, you need your laptop to be vibrant enough so that it does not show any lag at the time of utmost need.
So I would recommend you cut down the GPU (if you don’t need it) to save some budget and choose 8 GB RAM (minimal these days) only, but do not compensate for the CPU. 12th gen Intel Core i5 or i7 would be the best choice for a college student. Alternatively, you can choose the latest-gen Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 CPUs. Check out the HP Pavilion Laptop 15-eg2009TU, which comes with a 12th gen i5 CPU and Intel Iris-X GPU for Rs. 68,000.
Make Sure to Have Enough Power
The life of a college student is a busy one. Classes, online lectures, practical training, library, workshop, canteen, internship, projects, assignments, LAN parties, and many more would keep going on all the time. In this busy lifestyle, you will need a reliable laptop all the time but will not get enough chances to charge it. It would help if you depended on your laptop battery, so opting for a long battery backup is a crucial callout. I would recommend opting for at least 10+ hours of battery backup, which suits a college student’s lifestyle.
Having a long backup is not enough. Investing in a laptop for a college student is a long-term investment, so opt for a battery that features 1000 life cycles and at least 2-3 years of warranty on the battery. Only HP provides 3-years of warranty on batteries on their Pavillion, Omen, Elitebook, and Probook products. You can check out the HP Laptop 15s-eq2146AU that comes with a Ryzen 3 5300U CPU and 9+ hours of battery backup within just Rs. 38,000 price tag.
Reduce the Weight of your EDC
While portability is one of the biggest features of laptops over desktops, it needs to be as portable as possible to increase the ease of carrying. On the other hand, who better than a student to feel for the portability of their everyday carry (EDC). A college student carries books, notes, files, instruments, etc., all the time in their backpack. Adding on a bulky object will increase their hustle instead of decreasing it. So, opt for a laptop that is very lightweight and easy to carry. Consider getting a laptop with less than 1.5 Kg weight to avoid those aches in your shoulder. You can go for the HP Pavilion Laptop 14-ec1003AU that comes with Ryzen 5600U, 10+ hours of battery backup with a weight of 1.4 Kg only.
I would also recommend opting for a laptop with a smaller screen size to reduce the weight and increase the device’s form factor. 14″ is the perfect size of the display for a college student, and it looks premium as well.
Evaluate GPU Necessity
These days without a graphics card, a computer is just incomplete and unreliable mostly. That is why CPU manufacturers like AMD integrated an inbuilt GPU within their CPU platform. In comparison, Intel keeps up developing a supportive, dedicated GPU platform to provide the nominal GPU power needed to run smoothly.
“But do you need a dedicated graphics card as a college student” this is a frequently asked question in all the forums? The truth is mostly; that you don’t need one unless you fit into a special category.
- A student laptop powered by a powerful CPU will suffice all your computation needs with a smooth performance. And you won’t notice any performance issues even if your laptop does not have a dedicated GPU. But if you are a student of Animation, Cinematography, or Videography, you will need a dedicated GPU’s nominal support. Though Video Editing, Animation, and graphic designs are mostly CPU-intensive, it requires the power of a dedicated GPU and VRAM to render the output. Nvidia GeForce MX450 (2 GB) or higher is just enough to do the job for such users.
- But a Data Science or IT student will need a powerful GPU to work with Big Data modules and machine learning algorithms. Many CSE students don’t realize this early, but they require a decent computational power that can give their creative wings. With the support of 1000+ cores of dedicated GPU, the Data Crunching, Data refining, Data modelling, Big DB Structures, and AI & ML algorithm development will be way smoother. As the inbuilt GPU typically contains 4-8 cores, and the best Laptop CPUs contain a max of up to 56 Cores, having a GPU on the side would be much more helpful in Data Science operations. Nvidia GTX 1650, RTX 3050, or Radeon RX 6500 XT would be good choices to satisfy these requirements.
- Also, if you are interested in playing video games and want to explore this as a career option, you have no choice but to opt for a powerful dedicated GPU. Here I think you should opt for a gaming laptop instead of a premium student-segment laptop. Because as a gamer, you will have other collateral needs which only can be satisfied by a dedicated gaming laptop. You can opt for the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15-ec2048AX, which is one of the most affordable laptops with Nvidia RTX 3050 (4 GB GDDR6).
Consider a Premium Build Quality
Build quality is more important than you realize. As a college student, your device will definitely see some rough days in its life. So, you need a robust body, spill-proof design, and scratch-proof casing panels. I would suggest going for laptops with a metal (Alumunium) build body with a spill-resistant keyboard. Not all aluminum build laptop bodies are not robust, and to avoid this confusion, opt for a device that features Military-grade test certification. All HP Probook & HP Elitebook laptops go through “MIL-STD 810G” tests.
Stay Connected Always
To keep your device always connected and synced, you need to opt for the best up-to-date connectivity features like Wifi 6.0. You might not have Wifi connectivity everywhere, so having an RJ45 input is always helpful. These days many laptops come with a 5G Micro SIM slot for seamless internet access. Bluetooth 5.2 is also needed for connecting peripherals and transferring data between devices swiftly without any app. Apart from wireless connectivity features, USB 3.1, Thunderbolt, USB Type-C, and 3.5mm Audio port are some of the most significant.
Connectivity features are incomplete without a decent webcam. While most laptops feature either 480p or 720p Webcam, I would suggest going for HP Elitebook Laptops, which come with a 5 MP 1080P webcam (unique to HP) and an inbuilt mic.
Don’t Run out of Storage
As a college student, you will have lots of study materials, collateral files, videos, movies, apps, and many more, in that single device of yours. You might also be keeping a backup of your mobile data, some games, music, etc., which also consumes a lot of space. So, having a 512 GB SSD is a must. Having an extra 1 TB HDD will also help you a lot. So, opt for a device with an internal expansion slot for SSD or HDD, USB 3.2, USB Type-C, etc., for external storage expansion. Any HP Pavilion Laptops contain an extra HDD expansion slot, and all Omen Gaming laptops contain an extra SSD expansion slot.
So, depending on the requirements, choose carefully and invest in a laptop that gives you value for money. A decent laptop will not only help you in your career, but it will boost your creativity and enrich your life with good experience.