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What to Look for When Buying a New Laptop

Recently, my laptop of six and a half years died, so I had to look for a new one. This was one of the first big purchases I was going to make on my own during my adult life, so I wanted it to be something that was good and that was going to last. Before buying my new laptop, I did a lot of research and ended up finding out a lot more about laptops than I knew in the beginning. I also found that there are not a lot of easy to read comprehensive lists of what a college student needs in a laptop. Never fear, though, because here are my tips to help you shop for a new computer:

Operating System

There are three main type of operating systems that computer stores tend to carry, which are Windows OS, Mac OS and Chrome OS. Windows is the most common operating system and is the operating system most main brand laptop computers use. Mac OS is the operating system Apple uses and is what is carried in all Macbooks. Finally, Chrome OS is the operating system that runs in Chromebooks, and it is made by Google and functions solely off of Google Drive and other Google based applications.

Ram and Hard Drive Space

Ram is essentially how much memory your laptop will have. For most people an adequate amount of Ram would be 8 GB, but for those who run a lot of gaming programs or video applications, 12 to 16 GB is the best amount. Hard drive space is also a large factor when looking at laptops. If you get too little, you will need some kind of external storage device to keep your computer functioning properly, but if you get too much it is essentially just money down the drain for storage that you will never completely use. Most experts say that the average person is okay with around 250 GB to 500 GB of storage. I opted for one TB of storage, however, because it is what my old laptop had, and I enjoyed not having to keep track of how much storage I had already used up on the device.

Size and Weight

Size and weight tend to be pretty important to most college students as their laptop goes with them pretty much everywhere. Therefore, everyone’s preferences on the size and weight of their laptop varies. For me, I like a laptop that does not weigh a whole lot since I am constantly carrying it in my bag. I also like a laptop with a screen that is no smaller than about fourteen inches because I like to watch a lot of movies, and I find it easier for me to use a larger screen for schoolwork.


As newer models of laptops come out, the processors also begin to evolve into smaller, but more powerful, machines. My opinion on processors is go with whatever is the newest because it will last you the longest. The newest processor is currently the Intel Core i7 processor, so if you can splurge a little bit, try and go for the i7 as opposed to the i5, which is still a nice processor, but it will not have as many new updates, so it may not last as long as the i7. Also, another capability of many newer laptops is the 2-in-1 feature where your laptop can essentially turn into a tablet by either the screen being detachable or where the screen is able to flip over on to the keyboard. These laptops are great for students who want something that they can write on, or for someone who just wants to be able to write notes by hand on a digital scale.


This is solely a question of what you like in a laptop – whether you want it to have a touchscreen, what kind of ports you want or if you want a DVD-ROM drive. It is believed that most students should have at least two USB ports, a HDMI port and an SD card slot in all laptops due to the magnitude of projects that they will be working on. However, these features can also add to the price, size and weight of the laptop they are looking at.


Finally, there is price, which is important to consider when making a large purchase, such as a laptop. Laptops can range, but are not limited to, a price anywhere from $299 to almost $3,000. Most students are looking to get the most bang for their buck when shopping for any high priced item. When looking around, it seemed like a student could get a nice laptop for between $600 and $800, which is pretty reasonable for most students. However, when buying laptops you should check prices on models from different stores since a lot of retailers will use a Pricematch guarantee, where if you bring in a current ad for another store that has the same computer for less, they will match the price of that ad. Sales are also a good thing to look out for when buying a new laptop, as they tend to save you a good amount of money on the more expensive models.

In the end, these were all the main key factors that I had to look at when I was shopping for my laptop. I ended up going with the HP Pavilion with a 15.6 inch touchscreen display, one TB hard drive and 12 GB memory model at Costco which was on sale for $749.99 when I bought it, but is now $899.99. So far it has been a great laptop, and I hope that this guide has made it a little bit easier for you when shopping for your next laptop. 

Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Cover

Autumn is a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University studying Forensic Science with a concentration in Biology and minors in Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry. She has an addiction to Starbucks and Panera Mac and Cheese and can usually be found with her nose in a book during her free time. She is also an active member of VCU's Rowdy Rams and the Forensic Science Student Club. In her free time, she loves to watch movies and hang out with her friends and family; including her beloved dog, Jake.
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