If you are like most student’s, money isn’t exactly growing on trees. Choosing the right laptop can be a matter of saving yourself a lot of heartache and money at the same time.
In this article I am going to over the most common uses that a student has for a notebook as well as talk about the most important components you should have for these uses.
Most student’s will list the obvious things that a laptop is needed for; stuff like word processing, e-mail etc. The reality is that today’s student’s are using computers more than ever for a lot more. The average student’s list may look something like this:
– Word Processing
– Music Downloads
– Possible Video Editing
– And More…
Every one of the above can now be part of the student’s functions when using a notebook. You may or may not need some of the above, so I will also go over that below.
Let’s go over the 5 most important notebook components for today’s student.
CPU – In short, the CPU basically evaluates and executes commands given to it. So a faster CPU will be able to execute commands quicker, right? Yes, but having the latest Intel or AMD chip is definitely not needed. Depending on your memory and operating system you can get by just fine on a 1.0GHZ processor, or even less. Most of the newer systems come with more than 2.0GHZ, and you may want this if you are doing any video editing or something that requires faster processor speeds.
Memory – The amount of memory that your prospective notebook features has a big impact on how fast applications will load, and generally how fast your computer will run. For this reason, memory is one of the most popular computer upgrades available. Newer machines will come with at least 256mb of RAM (memory), but if you are going to be using Windows XP I highly recommend getting more. You can get by running 256mb of memory while using Windows XP, but it will slow.
I remember when I replaced my 256mb stick of RAM for 512 megabytes — It felt like a totally new computer. If you are on a very strict budget stick with 256mb. If you need more, either find a laptop that already carries 512+ megabytes of RAM or get a RAM upgrade. Getting a memory upgrade actually isn’t that expensive.
Hard Drive – If you are the type of student that loves having a lot of music files or videos, you are going to want a bigger hard drive. Getting at least a 60 gigabyte hard drive would be the perfect solution in this case. If you aren’t going to be downloading music all the time or putting big files on your notebook, than 40 gigabytes or lower will work fine. Most new laptops come with at least a 40 gigabyte hard drive.
CD-RW – This is probably one of the most used parts on a student’s notebook, hands down. If you download music and want to transfer it to a CD, you are going to need a CD burner. If you want to burn DVD’s you are going to have to go one step further and get a DVD-RW drive. If you don’t need any of these functions, having a normal CD or DVD reader drive will work great.
Internet – Pretty much every student needs to connect to the internet. With such a wealth of knowledge available online, virtually every student is connected now a days. Pretty much every laptop you find will be able to connect to the internet in some way, but you most likely want something that will work on your campus. For this, you want your potential notebook to have a wireless internet card.
Ok, those 5 parts can’t be everything to look out for, right? You are right; there are a few more things that can actually be quite important to some students.
Weight – If you are constantly carrying your laptop around campus you don’t want something that will break your shoulder. If weight is important to you, look for something in the 6-7 pounds range.
Display – If you don’t need something ultra big, look for a screen size of around 15 inches. Most people agree that 12-14 inch screens do not provide comfortable viewing. Bigger than 15 inch screens are nice, but also add more weight to the laptop.
One last important note before you head out and get your baby… Plug in to an outlet as much as possible. Laptops do not run on batteries forever, and you are wise to save your batteries power for when you really need it.
Taking the time to really go over what you need a notebook for and then finding something that will meet those needs will save you where it matters most — The pocketbook.