This is a frequently asked question in the PC World forums, especially in the spring & summer, as many students (and parents of students) contemplate buying a laptop for themselves or their soon-to-be college student. Here are some tips from the PC World community.
Before deciding on any computer, including the OS it will run, you should check with your school to see if the school, or the department/major you have selected, have any requirements or suggestions. The requirements for a music major will likely be different than that of an engineering student or a computer programming student, so what you plant to study and use the computer for will be a major deciding factor in which one is right for you. Some schools offer specific recommendations due to particular uses and they way their systems are setup. While in today's world, it is not any where near as difficult to interject something like a Mac into a non-Mac environment, it can still present some "issues". Thus, if the school you are going to attend has a strong preference or recommendation, that might cause you to look in another direction.
It is also a good idea to check with the school to see if they have any special buying programs or discounts for students. A lot of schools have special deals that they have arranged for with specific computer manufacturers. And if you do decide to go the route of a Mac, then a lot of schools give you the abilty to purchase at Mac at the "educational" price, which will save you some money. Apple often runs promotions in the summer and early fall where students purchasing laptops for college get a free iPod with purchase.
Technology changes fast, and it would be great if your investment could last you through your college years and beyond. Much like purchasing any computer, you should buy one with as much RAM and as fast of a processor as you can afford.
Just like a heavy business traveler, college students are on the go. Think about how you are likely to use your laptop. Most students take theirs to classes, study groups, libraries, friends' houses... practically everywhere. Consider how large and how heavy your prospective laptop is, and how that factors into your priorities for a machine. There are many ultra-portable laptops on the market, including ones that run Linux (Asus Eee PC), Mac (MacBookAir), and many that run Windows.
This depends somewhat on what you want to use it for and how much it will be moved around. A 17" is probably too big, and maybe a 15" is too. For most people, a 13" or 14" is probably a good balance between size and portability. You can go to an 11-12", but that'll likely be an eye strain, and ones that small often have under-powered CPUs. Finally, there is the 10" Intel Atom netbook option, but the screen is very small and you don't get much power. However, they are very portable. Remember that you'll likely want to put it in a backpack and take it around the campus, so don't go to big.
A ULV CPU gives performance that is similar to that of a regular CPU, but with better battery life. Getting a larger battery, like a 9 or 12-cell, will last significantly longer than a smaller one. Also, remember, one with a dedicated graphics card and powerful CPU will have less battery life than one with a ULV CPU and integrated graphics. Some laptops can switch between dedicated and integrated graphics, depending on whether you need battery life or power.
This document was generated from the following thread: thread