Student Laptop Buying Guide

When you’re going to college or uni you’re going to face new academic and social challenges. This Guide can’t help you with those, but it can help you find your perfect laptop for reaching your studying goals.

We’ll show you some of the critical things you’ll have to know before you buy a laptop and also some of our recommendations for the best laptops for a specific task.

You can also check out our best laptop buying guide to see a more in-depth explanation or skip straight to our list of independent laptop reviews on the home page. If you’re thinking about accessories, make sure to check our laptop accessories buying guide.

Top five things to consider when buying a Student Laptop

  • Battery Life: If you can’t be around a socket because you have lectures and seminars all day you’ll want a laptop that has at least 8 hours of battery life.
  • Fast wi-fi: Laptops have different wi-fi performance. Make sure to check out our reviews for any slow wi-fi that could perturb your activities.
  • Weight: If you have a light bag or a handbag that you also use for your laptop you’ll want one that weighs less than 1.5kgs so that it won’t drag you down at the end of the day.
  • Screen size: If you plan to keep your laptop within your college or uni halls you should go for a bigger screen size starting from 15.6 to 17.3 inches.
  • Performance: If you’ll be working only on basic essays and writing you don’t have to overspend on a laptop that’s too powerful and premium unless you want to. On the other side, you don’t want to underspend if you’re going to be editing videos.

Best laptops for research and essay writing

If you need a machine just for writing words you don’t need a very powerful laptop and you can get away with spending less money. Although if you think about buying a very cheap laptop be sure to check that your course won’t get more demanding later because cheap laptops won’t be able to adapt to more advanced tasks. Check out our top laptops for essay and research recommendations. It starts with the most expensive going down to the cheapest one.

Best Laptops for media and movies

With fast performance and excellent screens, you can rest assured that these laptops will let you see every detail of your favourite movies.

Look for high-resolution screens and fast processors like Intel Core or AMD Ryzen. Getting something less than that, although there are some exceptions, might make your movies play less smoothly and also ruin your experience on a less bright, less contrast screen. Check out our top laptops for media and movies recommendations.

Best Laptops for production, design and gaming

Your course might involve editing multimedia or 3D work (media production, audio production, architecture, design, fashion design). If that’s the case, picking a pricier laptop with high-end components will help you get work done when you’re away from uni/college. If you are a video editor, the first is ideal for you while the second one is ideal for 3D designers. For a bit of downtime, these laptops can be used for gaming as well.

You’ll want to have at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processors for a smooth experience. You should also look for ‘dedicated’ graphics from AMD or Nvidia. Check out our top laptops for production, design and gaming recommendations.

Student hardware deals

It’s worth saving as much money as you can when you are a student, so make sure to check deals before you buy anything. When you buy something as expensive as a laptop, especially if it’s a high-end model, those savings will mean a lot. Both Apple and Microsoft have discounts for students. All that you have to do is verify that you are a student.

You’ll be able to get a 10% student discount on the Surface range inside the Microsoft Store, though it won’t apply if you have any other discount already applied.

On Apple Store you can get 20% off AppleCare and depending on the Mac product you’re buying, different levels of discounts.

You can also get student discounts from other laptop brands if you buy directly from their website. About 20% off Lenovo laptops and accessories. Up to 20% off Dell and Alienware laptops. Up to 15% on Asus products and off tablets and laptops from Samsung.

Make sure to check other online retailers since they might also have student or non-student deals which may be better.

Student software deals and free alternatives

If you need specific software for your course you should also check for discounts or when possible, free alternatives.

If your course involves photography you may want to subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud for £10 a month to get Photoshop and Lightroom.

You can get a three-year free licence for some software packages, if you are a student, from Autodesk.

You might also want to check with your college/uni for free software because sometimes they subscribe to software that you may need and they’ll give it to you for free.

On the other hand, if you want to keep your money in the pocket, you can find free alternatives to popular software. For web-based word-processing and spreadsheets, you have Google Drive or Office 365. For 3d modelling, you can get Blender and for image editing either GIMP or Pixlr.