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What Should Students Consider when Buying a Laptop?

07/06/11

Heading off to college can be nerve-wracking.  You’re moving away from home for the first time and starting a new phase of your life.  Even more nerve-wracking, however, can be picking your companion for those four years. 

A laptop is, in many ways, a college student’s best friend; before picking one, take time to doing some research.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself before buying a new computer.

Do you even need a new computer?

If you already have a computer you feel comfortable with, feel free to bring it to BC. You can always consider replacing it during your college career.

Whether you buy a new computer or bring one from home, investing in a backup solution is a great idea. An external hard drive or subscription to an online backup service protects your files. If anything does happen to your computer, your files will be safe.

What do you need?

Many computer retailers sell baseline models and then offer upgrades in processing power, RAM, hard drive space, and other hardware features. Keep in mind, however, that you may want to keep your computer for four years, so make sure you are considering the benefits of hardware upgrades and how heavy of a computer user you are.

BC has recommended minimum specs available; make sure your computer meets them. If you’re planning on keeping your computer for four years, additional RAM and an extended warranty may be things to consider.

How much power do you use?

If you want to use your computer outdoors on the quad often, you will need some more battery power. However, if you think you will be studying more in the library where there are many spots to plug in your charger, go with a shorter battery life.

Do you need a warranty?

Warranties are highly recommended. Sometimes, computer problems happen that are out of your control, and warranties help assure your computer can be fixed with little or no extra cost. Most computers come with a one-year warranty. Check what your retailer offers for additional coverage and how it fits with your budget.

How big is your book-bag? 

Keep in mind the weight and size of your computer.  Getting a 17” screen can be great for watching movies but it will add weight and bulk that you have to carry around campus.  Make sure you are choosing a computer that is portable for you. 

What’s your budget? 

A computer is an investment and you must always keep your budget in mind.  The cost of upgrades and software can add up quickly.  Try and find a balance between the features that you need and the features that you want and keep costs down when you can. 

Remember, you still have books to buy in September!

Macs and HP laptops are available through the BC Bookstore, and BC ITS supports all makes and models, no matter where they were purchased.

Learn more about laptop options here, and be sure to visit bc.edu/itwelcome, which answers many more questions about technology at BC.