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Find the Perfect Laptop for College

[ Edited ]

Picking out the right laptop before heading to college is a big decision. If you choose correctly, it can save you time, money and frustration in the long run.


And good advice from the right expert can help.


Best Buy Blue Shirt and college student Josef Januta from Lubbock, Texas, is that expert. He’s a management information systems major at school and computing consultant at Best Buy. We turned to him for tips on how to choose the best laptop for your studies. He starts every conversation with a customer asking about their degree path so he knows exactly what they’ll need throughout their coursework.


Josef says that question is important because different majors require different hardware. When students come into the store, he walks through the school’s requirements with them.


Find the Perfect Laptop for College

Blue Shirt Josef Januta
MIS Major and Best Buy Computing Consultant in Lubbock, Texas


Here are three questions Josef says you should ask when buying a laptop for school:


What am I studying?

Your major will influence the type of laptop you’ll need, especially when it comes to the programs you’ll be running for classes.


While every student’s preferences are different, here are some general recommendations by major:



  • Architecture: Microsoft Surface Book has incredible graphics and offers the versatility of a laptop, tablet and portable studio in one, making it a great option for architecture students. Plus, it’s packed with power to support multitasking.


  • Engineering: A lot of engineering programs require Windows to operate. Dell Inspiron has a quad core processor, meaning it offers high power needed to run engineering programs. And it has a long-lasting battery to keep your computer going during long hours at the library.


  • Photography and design: Many photo and video editing programs run smoothly on MacOS. MacBook Pro holds a lot of storage for your photo files, too.


  • English/languages: Find a laptop you feel most comfortable typing on. An i5 processor is a good starting point for your schoolwork, whether it’s a MacBook Air or an HP ENVY x360 2-in-1 Laptop.

And if your assignments are mostly done on Microsoft Office or browsing on the web, Josef suggests looking at Chromebooks. They’re a budget-friendly option, typically under $500, that run on a cloud-based storage system.


What specifications are most important for me?

Laptop specs — like processors, RAM and internal storage — make up the core of the laptop and how it will run. Here’s a quick vocabulary list.


  • Processor: Think of the processor as the brain, Josef says. The faster and more powerful the processor is, the faster the work will get done when you have multiple programs running.


    There are two great choices for students – AMD Ryzen (advanced processors for multitasking) and Intel Core processors (found in every new MacBook and most Windows laptops). “An i5 processor will have enough power for most students, but if you’re doing workstation projects – video production, audio engineering, content creation – lean toward an i7 processor because it’s going to run your programs more efficiently,” he says.


  • RAM: Also known as system memory, RAM helps your processor manage projects. The more RAM you have, the more data you can access at one time. For basic computing, 4GB of RAM is required. However, Josef recommends starting at 8GB to keep up with software updates.


  • Internal storage: The laptop’s internal storage collects your photos, documents and music. There are two storage options: solid state drives and hard disk drives. Solid state drives (Josef’s storage preference) have a quicker response time and are typically lighter, but offer less capacity. Hard disk drives have larger storage capacities and are usually less expensive, but ultimately add to the laptop’s weight. And some laptops are a hybrid to give you the best of both.

What’s my route to class?

Portability is another important thing to consider, Josef says. If you’re trekking around campus all day, a 13-inch screen size is recommended as the travel-friendly laptop.


“Carrying around books to class can be a heavy burden, especially if you’re adding a huge laptop, so cutting back on the weight with a smaller screen size can really help out,” he says.


For more information on laptops for back to school, visit our Student Hub.

Michael M|Social Media Specialist | Best Buy® Corporate
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