Where To Start: Buying A Computer for College

Buying a computer for college can be overwhelming. It is the most expensive investment that you’ll be making your first year (beyond tuition of course) and can be totally confusing when you have no idea where to start. As a junior computer science major at Transy, I’ve been through the buying process and keep up with the newest laptop tech. Let me share some guidance.

The laptop that I trust the most is the Lenovo Y50, it’s the newer version of the laptop that I’m rocking. You’re likely going to have to choose whether you want a small & sleek computer with great battery life, or a tank that has all of the power in the world, but is bigger and needs to be plugged in often. I love my Lenovo gaming laptop, I don’t game as much as I could– but it’s there if I want it. Plus it performs great with anything from Photoshop to web browsing.


How much will I use my laptop at Transy? 

It depends. As a CS major, it’s pretty often, but mostly because I like doing stuff outside of class. Most of your laptop use will be for writing papers, checking email, listening to Spotify, and watching Netflix. Most of the work that you’ll do will be on Google Drive, using Google Docs, so you may not even need Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint! Only a few of the classes that I’ve had at Transy actually require a laptop, and some of the professors that I’ve had don’t really welcome laptops. You can use a laptop in class, but you may not need to. So, most of the work that you do on your laptop will be in your room, or in the library. You’ll probably want more than 4 hours of battery, but there are a ton of outlets in the library and classroom that you shouldn’t have a problem staying charged up. Plus, you’re at most 5 minutes from your room if you ever need to grab your charger!

What in the world is an i5? Should I care about RAM? Here are computer specs explained! 

Good Brands: 

  • Apple: the most popular college laptop, these are everywhere, and they’re quality. But be warned: you’re partly paying for the Apple logo, and that little glowing fruit on the back of your lid has a $1000 starting price.
  • Lenovo: the brand I use, it’s an offshoot company of IBM and I have had zero problems with mine. They carry laptops from as cheap as $350 and up to fancier $1000 rigs.
  • Dell, HP, Asus, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba all make solid stuff too! I may be missing a couple.
  • Tablets: Some students make a tablet work for notes and stuff, this is not me.

Not sure what you want? Check this guide out, it’ll ask you some questions and narrow it down based on your preferences: http://blog.laptopmag.com/laptop-finder

Make an Amazon wish list, then look for deals from there! Just off of Amazon, here are a couple that stood out to me: 

Beyond the specs and models of laptops, I highly recommend checking these sites out:

  • Newegg: Flash sales and discounted computers
  • Slickdeals: Flash sales and spur-of-the-moment discounts from across the internet

Reviews, reviews, reviews: definitely research up before you buy! I spent a stupid amount of time researching– hopefully gathering some of this for you will save you time:

Of course this all depends on your price range, and what you want out of your laptop. Investing over $500 will ensure that it makes it all 4 years of college (and beyond) though! Let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to run any laptops that you’re liking past me if need a second opinion!