What to Look For in a Computer for College

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Modern learning has caused computers to become a permanent fixture within schools, with many assignments and projects relying heavily on the internet and learning software. Nowadays, there is no question that a reliable computer is often necessary to study and learn effectively. Especially for college students, the value of computers has only increased, notably after the pandemic when remote learning increased. While in high school you were likely provided a computer to use to borrow for studies if you didn’t have access to one, college usually requires the student to get their own reliable computer. 

As students transition from high school to college they must consider which type of computer will be the best fit for their chosen studies. In this article, we’ll explore important factors to consider when choosing a new computer. We will also list different computers available for you with advantages and disadvantages to consider. With the help of Bible College Online, you’ll gain the insight needed to tackle this investment successfully.

Computer Components

Computers are complex machines capable of accomplishing countless tasks depending on the user’s needs. Let’s highlight some of the most prominent computer components to look for when shopping for a computer. 

  • Processor: A processor is the main integrated circuit chip responsible for interpreting computer commands from basic arithmetic to other chips running in the computer. The majority of a computer’s functions are based on the commands input through the computer processor. When choosing a school for school, the processor should be considered. Depending on the workload, a student can go for a medium speed to prevent purchasing a computer that frequently locks up or freezes in the middle of a presentation or class. 
  • Memory (RAM): Memory, or RAM, provides computer applications with storage for data on a short-term basis for quick access. The information actively used in the computer is stored within the computer’s RAM. A computer with larger RAM allows you to open many applications and browsers without freezing. Most basic computers have 4GB RAM, though some people love 8GB for the regular coursework. Memory capacity determines the speed with which your computer operates, more programs running in the system requires more memory storage.
  • Power Supply: Many people confuse power supply with a computer’s battery life but they are quite different. The power supply is a computer’s hardware, supplying all the computer components with energy to function. The supply converts high voltage alternating current AC into a low voltage direct current DC that computers utilize. Alternatively, battery life is understood to mean the duration your laptop battery optimally performs before it powers down.
  • Hard Drive: The computer’s hard drive is where all data for the computer is stored long term. The data include things you save, codes for running the operating system, accessory drivers, and the framework for browsers for internet access. The hard drive is another factor worth considering as a college student. Currently, most computers are endowed with 250 and750 GB worth of hard drive space. All data you download temporarily or for permanent storage are registered on the hard drive. Since many programs are now cloud based, a computer’s current hard drive will likely suffice for college schoolwork. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Computer 

Choosing the best computer for your collegiate needs depends on more than just the computer’s components. Now that we have reviewed important computer components, let’s consider how these components affect your computer choice for school.

Technical Requirements

If your school work involves lots of browsing, designs, and displays, you might need a computer with an advanced processor. The computer’s RAM will also be worth considering because processing speed is of the essence for such courses as software engineering or designs. However, if a student’s coursework involves little browsing and more word application use, you may not necessarily require a computer with the strongest processor on the market. A less technical course of study can get by with an average laptop. 

Size and Weight

Computer companies make laptops and desktops in a variety of sizes, thus providing numerous options to consumers. Nevertheless, students often prefer portable laptops to accommodate carrying the computer while commuting or while at school. A computer’s size also matters depending on the complexity of coursework. Small and light laptops work effectively for college students performing basic tasks on their laptop, but some studies, such as the computer engineering field or a course that requires high-performing and large screen computers, suggest investing in a larger laptop or even a desktop computer.  

Average Battery Life

No one likes when their computer dies, student or not. A computer’s battery life is of utmost importance for a college student to avoid the embarrassment of the laptop shutting down mid-class or presentation. A laptop with a battery life of at least 8-10 hours for simple tasks is suggested for most college students. However, if the student intends to spend a lot of time utilizing the internet, a 5-hour battery life will suffice.  

Budget and Price

Computers and laptops come in a large spectrum of price points depending on their quality and performance. Generally, laptops with powerful hardware, higher performance, larger RAM, and hard drives will cost more than those with lower performance. Students should always compare several brands to determine the best computer that falls within their budget. Most college students’ entry-level laptops range between $300-$600. If your coursework requires advanced hardware, you may need a more expensive computer rather than a more cost effective one. 

Desktop vs. Laptop

Having a personal computer, either a desktop or a laptop, has become a necessity rather than a luxury for college students. The style of computer, such as desktop vs. laptop vs. tablets, plays a role in student preference as academics are now relying on computer technology more than ever before. Though most students choose a laptop over a desktop, the latter can also provide high-level performance. Here are the major differences between a laptop and a desktop. 

Size

The obvious strength of a laptop over a desktop computer is their practical sizing. Laptops are usually small in size, portable, unlike a desktop that is disintegrated and occupies lots of space. A laptop is self-contained with in-built keyboards, trackpads, and displays. A desktop has a keyboard, mouse, computer, and monitor disintegrated, taking up more real estate within a student’s life and less accessible going class to class. 

Portability

Another difference between laptop and desktop is related to size. Since desktops are huge with separate monitors, moving from place to place is cumbersome. It does not have the best portability for a college student. However, students can use them in a single location, such as at school or home, performing just fine.  A laptop is easy to carry in your backpack and take it anywhere, perfect machines for on-the-go use. With the increased popularity of online learning, some students may prefer a desktop since portability is less of an important factor. 

Internal Storage

Laptops only have one internal drive, whereas desktops are furnished with several internal drives when it comes to internal storage. Additionally, it’s easier to customize a desktop’s storage to accommodate more data if needed. If a student suspects they’ll want additional internal storage for a laptop, they might be forced to replace the drive or invest in an external hard drive to accommodate some of the data.  

Power Usage

Desktops consume more power than laptops since they have many components and a monitor. Since desktops do not have an internal battery, the document you are working on and is not saved might be lost if there is a power outage. Laptops utilize less power because they have smaller components. The internal battery on a laptop makes it ideal for places with fluctuating power as you will retain your unsaved work even if the power goes off. 

Price

Desktops have many components with a wide range of prices. However, their starting price is relatively lower than laptops. With a somewhat powerful system, a full-package desktop computer can start as low as $200. Meanwhile, laptops can also have various components, though they are limited. Their prices begin from $300-$1500, depending on the specifications. The quality of the machine will also determine the price point, so students should compare prices before pulling the trigger on a laptop or a desktop. 

What to Look for When Buying a Laptop 

Every laptop has a range of specs on each model, but filtering out important features will make your decision-making easier. You will have different types of laptops, such as Chromebook, Notebook, MacBook, Ultraportable, Convertible, and much more that you can choose from. Let’s explore a few of the most popular laptop types for interested students. 

The Chromebook is a laptop that runs on the ChromeOS operating system. Chromebooks easily accommodate data you intend to save on the cloud, a student favorite. The MacBook is Apple’s product, running on a macOS operating system, and is rather expensive compared to other laptops. Ultrabook laptops are also suitable for college students who need on-the-go machines since they are light, thin, and portable. However, if students are running heavy projects that require strong processors and high-speed operations, they should opt for high-end laptops like a MacBook. 

As you choose a laptop for college, you want to avoid making some common mistakes in connection with size, keyboard, and battery life.  It is essential to choose the right laptop size. A slimline 14-inch or 15.6 inch is suitable for a college or university student, rather than choosing heavy and large screened laptops. Ensure your laptop’s keyboards are of high quality because, as a student, writing is part of learning. You also want to ensure that the keyboards have backlit buttons with comfortable keycaps, fast bounce, and a tactile feel. Since some college school days are longer, you want a laptop with longer battery life, a minimum of 10 hours if possible. Chromebook and MacBook Air are excellent examples of laptops that will last you longer, thus allowing you to fulfill your project needs without charging. 

What to Look for in Desktop Computers

If you are setting up a desktop computer, you need one that will efficiently help you with school work. However, before you rush to buy a new computer, take some minutes to ask yourself some important questions. What do you intend to use the computer for? What features do you want to install? What programs does your school work need? You also want to consider your budget, dictating whether you are buying parts bits by bit or the computer at once. Since buying a quality desktop at once may be expensive, consider building it up by buying piece by piece. 

Some of the things students need to consider when buying a desktop computer are desk space, if the computer will be Windows or Mac computer, and what course of study they will pursue. If your desk or workplace is smaller, you will need desktops with a small-sized monitor.

The debate between Windows or Mac will root down to your personal preference but plays a role in which computers to compare. If your schoolwork involves graphic designs or developing creatives, you will need a desktop with stronger processors. Nevertheless, while choosing a desktop, there are many things to keep in mind and avoid making wrong decisions. 

Tablet vs. Laptop or Desktop

Though laptops and desktops have dominated classrooms, with many students preferring their reliability, tablets are also excellent options. Tablets, such as Apple’s Ipad or Microsoft’s Surface Pro can provide even greater convenience and portability for students. Tablets may not be ideal for graphic designs and multi-tasking, but they can come in handy when taking notes in a classroom or conference. Furthermore, you can access the internet with ease wherever you are due to its portability. Their battery life is also longer than a laptop’s, and they can function as computers, especially the 2-in-1 tablets.

What is the Best Tablet for Schoolwork?

The computer world has continued to evolve as companies manufacture new portable laptops and tablets. Several tablet models are released at an unprecedented rate with different specs suitable for students. We see some Chromebooks and laptops converting into tablets, and students are spoilt for choice with these designs. They are especially popular with students majoring in art space, such as with drawing, architecture, and graphic design students. 

Modern tablet designs have the advanced ability to operate office suites and creative apps, making them ideal for schoolwork. After studying, students can relax with their tablets as they play games, browse social media, or watch Netflix. You can examine the tablet’s specs you want and use the same criterion of choosing a laptop or desktop to select a suitable tablet. Some factors to consider when choosing a tablet for school work include:

  • Reliable Touchscreen:  A reliable touchscreen is essential for easy writing and operation on your school tablet. The touch screen acts as a keyboard, and when they are active, you can easily operate the tablet. 
  • Battery Life: Battery life is vital for every portable computer, especially schoolwork. If you have long college hours, you want your tablet on power longer; otherwise, your project or coursework may be halted. 
  • Attachable Keyboard: If you have chosen a tablet as a laptop alternative for your writing, you will need a keyboard extension. Since there is a lot of writing within collegiate schoolwork, a keyboard extension with backlit keys and a soft bounce rate will help complete work. 

Understand the Benefits of a Tablet vs. Laptops vs. Desktops with Bible College Online!

Whether you are learning in a small school or a brick-and-mortar school, it is essential to have a reliable computer to succeed in modern-day higher education.  A computer is even more valuable for a student undertaking an online degree since classes and learning materials are accessible online. Bible College Online provides you with a trustworthy computer buying guide to ensure you attend your classes with reliable technology. We are interested in helping you achieve your potential in class which will translate to your success in life. We also help you find the right college that suits your faith-based lifestyle, thus achieving your career goals. Check out BCO’s featured schools today to learn more! 

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