How to choose a laptop for University

With matric season upon us, many of our nation’s high school graduates will be preparing for the next stage of their academic career and planning their next few years at university. If that’s you, one important question that you’ll need to deal with is which laptop to take with you.

Whether you’ve been looking forward to university for most of your life or just realised that your marks are good enough to squeeze in at the last minute, taking the right tools with you will be critical to success at tertiary level.

Many South African universities now insist that students bring a laptop or tablet with them in their first year. There are many reasons for this: coursework prepared on a computer is often easier to file and mark, and online research is vital for many courses. In addition, much university admin – such as registration – now requires access to the internet and extra learning materials are being placed online too.

If this is your first laptop, we can tell you exactly what not to do. Don’t walk into a tech shop and buy the first thing that catches your eye. Buying the right thing will make the difference between course success or constant frustration as it breaks down or isn’t fit for purpose. Spend too little and you’ll end up with a slow machine that will cause more problems than it solves: spend too much and you could still end up with something unfit for purpose or which is irreplaceable if it gets damaged.

Do your research and find out exactly what you should be looking for. If for instance you plan on typing up assignments, browsing the internet and sending emails look for a notebook that has a Intel Core m processor. The processor’s low power draw, efficient design and cheaper price means you’ll have all the power you need to get your work done.

If you require a bit more grunt and plan to do a bit more multitasking, then Intel’s Core range of i3, i5 and i7 processors should be your starting point. The Intel Core i3 is a great multi-tasker that will serve you well for doing spreadsheet work, typing up documents, and doing some light photo-editing. The Intel Core i5 sits in the middle of the range and will give you enough performance to do graphic design work, as well as catch up with your friends on Skype and dare we say play a few games during the time between lectures.

For the ultimate in performance the Intel Core i7 is the cream atop the cake. The processor is great and can go from editing video, to intense graphics design tasks and even immensely complicated calculations with ease.

The most important thing is to have fun with buying your first laptop, this will be your tool that will serve you for the next few years of your life so make sure you get the one you want that will give you the best experience.

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