What’s the Best Laptop for a College Student

Look around a college lecture hall or classroom these days and you’ll see students taking notes with laptops rather than the traditional pen and paper. Laptops have almost become an unspoken requirement for college students. Schools around the country employ various learning management systems (LMS) like Canvas or Blackboard. These are essentially virtual campuses where students can log in to see their courses, syllabus, and assignments. Some college professors have done away with paper altogether, opting for students to email their written assignments, or attach them in an online dropbox. The need for a laptop is clear. However, with so many different types and models available, how do you know which is the best laptop for a college student?  

There are a lot of questions you can ask to help narrow down your options. All models have things they do well, and things they don’t. None of them are necessarily “the right one” or “the wrong one.”

What’s the Best Laptop for a College Student? | BayCCS

Mac vs. PC vs. Chromebook

Macbooks, made exclusively by Apple, are designed with aesthetic appearance in mind – both on the sleek exterior and in the elegant OS X operating system. Because they’re only made by Apple, all Macbook models have the same set-up. They’re very user-friendly, and simple to use because of their intuitive design.

Many of the Macbook models boast impressive battery life as well, with some offering upwards of 9 hours before you need to plug it in. However, these features can come with a hefty price tag, as there are no Macbooks available for less than $900, and most are upwards of $1,200. Also, there are only a few different models of the Macbook available at a given time.

By contrast, there are tons of different PC laptops on the market. This makes a PC’s design and function highly customizable based on the buyer’s intended use. There are some PC models that are better for running professional business software, while others are designed for gamers or people who use a lot of video or photo editing software.

Most PCs run Windows, which has had a facelift in recent years. Unlike Apple’s OS X, Windows is compatible with most downloadable software, and it offers plenty of apps that function both online and offline. Laptops that run Windows give you the ability to truly customize your computer and make it unique. Some PC laptops in the same price range as Mac also have more internal memory and larger hard drives.

Finally, there are Chromebooks, which are typically the least expensive of the three. They operate using Chrome OS, and they utilize custom apps and cloud-based programs rather than traditional software. They can perform all the necessary tasks that a typical college student would ask of them, however, the performance begins to suffer with more high-demand usage required for gaming and video-editing.


The type of computer is the biggest question to answer. Once you’ve chosen, then it becomes easier to narrow down the model. The next important factor to deciding the best laptop for a college student is the necessary portability and workload.

Initially, people thought that tablets would make laptops completely obsolete. However, when it comes to areas of typing and multitasking, many tablets just don’t measure up. That made it necessary for laptops to become more portable. It gets annoying when you have to lug a clunky, awkward laptop all around campus. If you take your laptop with you to your classes, the library, the cafeteria, or even outside around campus, you’ll want something light and unobtrusive in your bag. If your laptop mostly just stays in your dorm room or apartment, then the weight isn’t such a deciding factor.

Battery life matters for portability as well. You can have the lightest laptop in the world, but if the battery life isn’t very good, you won’t be able to go very far. If you use your laptop for taking notes, then you want to make sure you have a battery that will last your from your 8am lecture through to your afternoon classes with minimal charging.


Consider how much you’ll be demanding from your laptop. If all you need from your laptop is writing papers, taking notes, and doing internet research, then you won’t need something very complex. If you’re in a more visual field of study, such as graphic design or video editing, then you’ll need something powerful enough to handle the high level of data usage without becoming overwhelmed.

Take some time and think about what you’ll need from your laptop. Often, the best laptop for a college student is one of the simpler models – one that will get you through school. You can focus on getting something more professional when you land your first job.

Screen Features

The screen features of a given laptop will often affect the price. There are many models with very high-resolution screens available. Initially, you may not think you need an HD or retina display screen for simple school work, but these sharper screens can make a difference after many hours spent reading or writing.

Screen sizes can range from 11-17 inches. Smaller screens are good for light or average use of the laptop. Larger screens are ideal for video or photo editing, or for viewing documents side by side. They’re also convenient if your laptop doubles as a TV in your dorm room. Just remember that larger screens generally mean a more powerful computer, which also means a more expensive one.

Touchscreens are also available for several Windows models. You can get a 2-in-1 model, where the screen detaches from the keyboard and becomes a tablet or one where the keyboard can bend 360º. These models often have better battery life than those that completely detach, but both are good for students who need the functionality of both a tablet and laptop.

What’s the Best Laptop for a College Student? | BayCCS

The Best Laptop for a College Student Is…

Taking all of this into consideration, the best laptop for a college student is really a matter of personal preference. Every student requires something different of their laptop. Those who do more gaming on their laptop will likely prefer a PC model with a large screen, high resolution, and powerful processors. Those who want something sleek and easy to use might go for a Macbook. Graphic design, photography, or film and television majors will need something that can handle intensive design and editing software. It really all comes down to your specific college experience.

There’s no one-size-fits-all laptop. However, this guide can help you figure out the best laptop for a college student based on the type of work you’ll expect from it.

Once you’ve purchased the perfect laptop, remember it can still be susceptible to cyber and security threats. If you picked up a virus or malware during your researching or gaming, our team at Bay Computing and Consulting Services can help. We offer various computer repair services at competitive rates. Contact us today for your computer repair solution.

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