College Advice Blog

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May 27, 2011

The Top 7 Laptops for College Students


  Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5134 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black)It's that time of year again. Millions of high school seniors are graduating. That also means parents will be buying new laptops for their college-bound kids. Colleges and academic departments usually offer basic laptop specifications. Find them at the schools' website, often on the "Welcome" or "Orientation" pages. Once you have found your specific schools' requirements, follow my recommendations for a laptop your grad will truly love. Technology salespeople recommend keeping it simple and buying based on your personal preferences. Here are the basics you need on operating systems, memory and speed, followed by my recommendations for the 7 best laptops for the college student.


Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Student (Disc Version)Software
You will want to purchase the software package Microsoft Office Home & Student; Word, Excel, Power point, and One Note. Many retailers offer an in-store coupon for dollars off when purchased with a new laptop

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade Family Pack (3-User)Windows
Choosing a Windows machine may be complicated. You'll find a variety of options from many manufacturers. Specifications vary widely, and there are a few different versions of Windows. So shop carefully. Go with Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate. I recommend a 64-bit version. You can use more RAM for speedier performance allowing the machine to not lag if you open several programs simultaneously.

Processors
Select an Intel Core i5 or AMD Phenom processor, if possible. A dual-core model is fine for most students. Don't waste your money on a top-of-the-line processor, such as an Intel core i7. In fact, older Core 2 Duo or Turion II processors will satisfy general computing needs.

Ram
At minimum, go with 4GB of RAM for 64-bit Windows. More than 3GB of RAM won't be supported by 32-bit Windows; save your money. Storage space is important; as well. Don't settle for a hard drive smaller than 250GB. Purchase an external hard drive for more storage space, because protecting current information is a must. Currently, many 2.0 version external hard drives are clearance priced, as the faster 3.0 (625MB/sec) is making it way to the retail market place. Current 2.0 devices operate at high speed 60MB/sec.

Convenience
Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections should come standard. You also want plenty of USB ports and a DVD burner. Don't underestimate the importance of a large keyboard and screen. The laptop will be more comfortable to use with those features.. You'll need to balance this with weight. Anything over five pounds may be too heavy to carry.

Pricing and Financing
A machine meeting these specifications starts around $500. Watch for retailer weekly advertisements. Many ads promote laptops at an astonishing price, only to be achieved with online or mail in rebates. That means you will pay more initially.

HP g7-1070us Notebook PC - SilverThe Top Picks 1. Hewlett-Packard (HP g7-1070 us)
  • Intel® Core™ i3-380M Processor (2.53GHz)
  • 4GB installed memory
  • 500GB hard drive
  • LightScribe SuperMulti DVD Burner
  • 17.3" diagonal High Definition+ HP BrightView LED Display
Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7107 17.3" Laptop, Dual Core, Blu-Ray Disc BD-ROM, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD, Webcam, HDMI2. Toshiba Satellite L675D - S7107
  • AMD Phenom™ II Dual-Core Mobile N660 Processor (3.0GHz)
  • 4GB installed memory
  • 500GB hard drive
  • 17.3' diagonal widescreen
Acer AS7741Z-4839 17.3-Inch Laptop (Black)3. Acer Aspire AS7741Z - 4839
  • Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core Processor P6200 (2.13GHz)
  • 4GB installed memory
  • 500GB hard drive
  • 17.3" HD+ Widescreen LED-lacklit Display
4. Toshiba Satellite A665D - S5175
  • AMD Phenom™ II Quad-Core Mobile P960 Processor (1.8GHz)
  • 4GB installed memory
  • 640GB hard drive
  • 15.6' diagonal widescreen
New Lenovo Notebook 0679ALU G560 320GB P6200 15.6inch LED Backlight 4GB DDR3 802.11bgn Windows 75. Lenovo G560 0679ALU
  • Intel® Pentium® P6200 Processor (2.13GHz)
  • 4GB installed memory
  • 320GB hard drive
  • DVD Single Layer Burner
  • 15.6" LED HD Widescreen display
6. HP Probook 4520s XT991UT
  • Intel® Core™ i5-480M Processor (2.66 GHz)
  • 4GB installed memory
  • 15.6" diagonal LED-back-lit HD anti-glare
7. The Big Mac
  • Intel Core 2 Duo processor
  • 2GB Ram
  • 250 gigabyte hard drive
  • 13.3" LED back-lit screen
  • The entry-level MacBook ($1000.00) should meet schools' requirements. Mac's are best for students who create graphics, art and music.
PC vs. MacBook
For the money, a windows based product will far outsell a MacBook. The perception that Mac is all powerful is just that...a personal opinion. Macs are built strong, aren't as susceptible to viruses, and have undeniably superior graphics for creative work. If you are an art student, the Mac may be best for you. However, keeping personal preference out of it, all PCs out perform the MacBook in RAM, screen size and built-in hard drive storage space.

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About The Author
Charles Tran blogs for CreditDonkey.com, a site that helps consumers compare credit cards, letting them find the best card for their needs.
 

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