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Which Laptop Should I Choose for College?

Oct 06, 2021

A girl looking at her laptop while sitting on a beanbag chair

College can be a stressful time, which is why it’s important to have the right tools. One of those tools you might need is a laptop. What kind of laptop should you choose for college? Laptops come in all sizes these days, so which one will best meet your needs at school? In this article, we’ll discuss which types are most popular and which features you’ll want to keep an eye out for when shopping around.

Why Do I Need a Laptop for College?

Having a laptop at college can be a huge help when it comes to keeping up with your coursework, which is why they’re so popular with students. It’s a great way to take notes and do research on the go without having to carry around heavy books all day! Also, given the unprecedented shift to online learning over the past year and the future uncertainty of learning from a physical classroom, it is a near requirement to have a laptop that will allow you to watch your lectures and complete online assignments from the comfort of your dorm.

Types of Laptops

There are several types of laptops that work best for college students, but the right choice can vary depending on how you will use it.


A standard laptop is a traditional laptop that focuses on being able to do moderate tasks like browsing the internet or watching streaming services. It will generally be able to run multiple programs at once, which is a plus, but it will usually not be designed to run heavy applications like photo editing or video rendering.


A tablet is a device that is designed primarily for touch, i.e., it doesn’t use a mouse. It typically has weaker hardware that cannot do as many things at once, but tablets are lighter in weight which makes them easier to carry around campus. It is possible to use a Bluetooth® keyboard with a tablet to act as a computer, but it can be uncomfortable to type on the tablet keyboard, which can make it less suitable for typing out long papers.


A hybrid laptop is a mix between the traditional laptop and tablet, and it has the best features of both. It tends to be more expensive than a standard laptop, but it also can do things that a standard laptop can’t, such as drawing on the screen with a stylus or handwritten notes.

How to Choose the Best College Laptop for You

When picking out a laptop, it’s important to figure out which features you value most. A laptop can be a big investment, but it’s worth spending time finding one that has everything you need for the next four (or more) years of your life.

Operating System

Determining what operating system to choose is also important. If your school requires you to use a particular operating system such as Windows or Mac OS, then that should be the first decision you make. If your school doesn’t mandate which operating system you use, then we recommend going with the one that you are most comfortable using.

Screen Size

Making sure that you find a laptop with the right screen size is important. You don’t want to go too big for your needs, which can make it difficult to carry around campus and fit in backpacks or other carrying cases. On the other hand, you also don’t want to have a small screen, limiting how much content you’re able to see on one page at once — this could cause tasks to take longer which can be frustrating.

Battery Life

The battery life of a laptop is important because you don’t want to always be on the lookout for a power source on campus if it runs out of juice. You’ll also need your computer powered on throughout the day, which means that it’s necessary to find one with good battery life.

Computer Weight

The computer’s weight is also important because a heavy computer is one you won’t want to carry around campus. There are plenty of lightweight laptops on the market, many of which can easily fit into a backpack or purse for on-the-go transition.

Processing Power

When it comes to processing power, or how quickly your computer can complete tasks, your laptop’s battery life and which programs you’re using will have an impact. If you only use a word processor application for writing essays or taking notes, you’ll be able to get away with less power than if you want to edit video footage on the go.


Finding a laptop that will last you for years can be a challenge, which is why it’s important to look into the warranty. Read over what type of service and parts will be covered under your plan before making a final decision so that you know what to expect if something goes wrong.


Lastly, the price of your laptop is a factor to take into consideration. Even if you find one that meets all your requirements, but it’s out of your target price range, you might want to reconsider what features you actually need and which ones would just be nice to have.

So, Which Laptop to Choose for College?

Which laptop you ultimately decide on will be based on your own unique set of needs and wants. So, the best way to make your decision about which laptop to choose is by considering which one will suit what you need it for the most. You should also think about how much money you have available to spend on a computer as well as which operating system would work best.

How Can Acima Help?

Acima can help you find an electronics retailer that works through our lease-to-own program*. Our alternative to financing will allow you to find which laptop is the best for your needs and desires while ensuring that it’s at a price you can afford.


What is a good size laptop for college students?

In general, we recommend a laptop with a screen size of around 13 inches. This size is large enough to comfortably watch movies and do work on, but not so large that it’s hard to carry around campus.

How long do laptops last?

Laptops will typically last around three to five years, depending on how often they’re used and how they’re used.

Are headphones or earphones better?

When comparing headphones and earphones, headphones generally have better sound quality. Earphones are more comfortable and less bulky, which can be nice if you’re trying to study in the library or workout.

Could you get by with a tablet and keyboard?

It is possible to get by with a tablet and keyboard, but that might not be the best option if you need to do a lot of typing. Keyboards that connect with a tablet aren’t typically ergonomic, which can eventually lead to problems like carpal tunnel and other wrist issues.

Do I need to get Microsoft Office?

Getting Microsoft Office isn’t a necessity but it does make the most sense if you’re choosing a PC. This is because Windows computers come with Microsoft Office preinstalled, making things simple and easy for students heading into their first semester of college.

What other accessories do I need?

Additional accessories you may need to shop for include a mouse, a printer1 and a nice pair of headphones.


1.       1. “Best all-in-one printers in 2021”tom’s guide, August 16, 2021