If there’s one item you’ll probably want when heading to college, it’s your own computer. As a college student, it will be useful for everything, from writing papers and doing research, to coordinating weekend hangouts on Facebook. It’s hard to overestimate just how essential a reliable, useful computer can be to the average student.
And in picking a good computer, laptops usually win out on campus because of their portability for study sessions, working at the library or even taking notes in class. But balancing cost with dependability is a tough concern, so we’ve run down a few of the best, most affordable laptops for college students.
The right option for you
The first thing you’ll want to do before buying a new computer for college is checking to see if your school has any requirements. Some colleges require a certain operating system – namely, Windows – in order to keep machines used on its network and passing files between its computers to be as compatible as possible.
If you’re in the market for a Windows machine, among the best and decently priced are Sony’s VAIO E15 and the Toshiba Portege R835-P88. Both machines slide toward the lower end of the pricing scale, at about $750 and $850, respectively, and pack a fair amount of power. Most students won’t need to do anything crazy with their machines like render highly detailed graphics, so both will meet the average needs. You’ll find the Portege to be extremely portable, weighing only 3.2 pounds, while the VAIO is heavier but includes a third-generation Intel processor that gives it some decent power.
One of the most affordable laptops you’ll find out there, though, is the Acer Apsire 5349-2635. You can’t beat the price – a mere $350 or so – and it doesn’t skimp on features and hardware, somewhat surprisingly. You’ll find a full keyboard and a 15-inch monitor, as well as hardware and capabilities that are pretty decent considering the low cost.
If you feel like going against the grain and getting an Apple computer, the 13-inch MacBook Air is both popular and pretty dependable. It’s also at the higher end of the price scale, but you’re paying for a machine that will be less likely to experience problems in the future, relatively speaking. Check Apple.com to buy your MacBook direct for about $999, and get as much as 1.5 percent Cash Back on the purchase.
You’ll find all these computers at Best Buy, where you can expect as much as 2.5 percent Cash Back, at TigerDirect.com, where you’ll snag 4 percent Cash Back, or at Newegg. The best thing you can do is shop around and pick the laptop that balances what your needs are as a student with what your budget can handle.