Purchasing a Computer for the New School Year

Categories: End Users Information Upgrades

As the summer is winding down and the beginning of a school year is rapidly approaching, we are receiving a lot of questions about purchasing new computers. For 4H Roundup, I put together a presentation, which covered what to look for in a new computer, and I thought it might be useful to share some of these concepts in a short blog post. I hope these ideas help!

Buying a new computer can be overwhelming! With so many options on the market, it’s hard to narrow down what will be best for your individual needs. The first thing you should consider is what the computer is going to be used. For this purpose, let’s stick with a computer that you will use for school. Most likely, this will narrow us down to a portable laptop.

One would think this would narrow down the possibilities, but alas, the next decision you have to make is what KIND of laptop. Considerations here include, weight, size, functionality. If you are “tossing” your laptop into your bag every day to take notes in class, you may want to consider a lightweight, smaller option. Perhaps an 11” or 13” laptop would be a nice option for you. The primary drawback with a small laptop is the screen size. A small screen size can make writing large papers, doing extensive research or major projects difficult. If a small portable laptop is still a priority and you find yourself needing a larger screen, a great solution is to purchase a secondary monitor for your home workstation. A docking station may allow for flexibility for attaching your laptop to the monitor as well.

If a tablet is something you are interested in but you also want a device with a little more power, a 2-in-1 is another great option. A 2-in-1 gives you the flexibility of a tablet as the screen folds over into a flat device but also the functionality of a laptop with a full keyboard. There a several 2-in-1 options ranging from the Dell Inspiron and XPS lines to the Windows Surface Pro.

Once you’ve figured out what to buy, make sure to consider specs. Often we will see “great sales” on laptops this time of year, but in many cases, there is a reason the device is so cheap. If you are aiming for a laptop to last several years, make sure you get a minimum of an Intel i5 processor, 8 to 16 GB of memory (RAM) and a hard drive with plenty of storage OR a solid state hard drive. *Note, a solid state hard drive (SSD) do not offer a large amount of storage space and can cost a good deal more compared to a 1TB SATA drive. Your speed or storage needs will affect the decision of what kind of hard drive you should purchase.

I hope some of this information helps you make a successful purchase for the upcoming school year!



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