Today’s Tech

June 6, 2017

Taryn BitterlyStaff Writer

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For graduation season, there’s nothing that says “Yay, you did it!” quite like a new laptop. Not all high school grads wait until they are shipping off to campus to get their college computer.

Getting your laptop at the beginning of summer means more time getting acquainted with your new study-buddy (and procrastination-buddy). You know what they say: College is all about working hard … and playing hard too.

We chatted with Best Buy Blue Shirt and computer expert Jamie Orr from Brentwood, Tennessee, for advice on choosing the perfect laptop for grads.

Think portability

It’s important to pay attention to device size, because who wants to be lugging a giant computer around campus, or squinting to read notes?

“I usually recommend a 13-inch laptop. That’s mid-level for size,” says Jamie.

However, there are other options for students who want something even smaller. Consider a super-portable tablet, or a 2-in-1 convertible, that offers a smaller size but still helps you bring a powerful device with you to class. Back at the dorm, you can also hook it up to a docking station and monitor to create a larger workspace for an ideal studying set-up.

“Ultimately, the size of your laptop comes down to your personal preference,” Jamie says.

A major deciding factor

When it comes to picking your operating system, Jamie says, “a lot of it has to do with your major.”

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Certain majors have specific programs that require OS X or Windows. For example, many landscape and design programs require Windows, while photo and video editing programs run on OS X.

Do a little research on what programs you need for your major so you and your laptop can crush it all four years.

Speed and battery

Now, let’s talk about the engine that gives your computer life: The processor. (You know, that thing that tells your computer what to do, when to do it and pretty much everything in between.)

“There are processors that teeter-totter between really good battery performance and strong battery performance and speed,” Jamie says.

Translation: Some computers will be rock stars at multitasking; others will survive all-nighters at the library without being plugged in. It all comes down to how you will be using the device.

“I always recommend at least an i5 or Ryzen 5 processor because students use their computers for more than just browsing and studying,” she says. These processors will be able to handle streaming, gaming, editing and more.

It’s not just about the laptop

When it comes to an awesome laptop experience, the device itself is not the only thing to consider. “There are so many things that go with the computer,” Jamie said. “For example, the network is just as important, if not more important, than the laptop itself.”

Some dorms allow students to bring their own router to connect to the room’s Ethernet access, which lets you create a private network. This is recommended because it’s more secure, and there’s a better connection because not every device on campus is sharing the same network.

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Every computer needs some form of protection. Anti-virus software is necessary to keep your computer safe from various forms of malware, while travel cases will keep your computer safe from bumps and spills.

And of course, Geek Squad protection plans are available to help your computer live a long and happy life.

For more information on finding that perfect laptop, stop by your local Best Buy and chat with one of our expert Blue Shirts. And for the tech (and money) savvy students, check out our Student Deals to save big on your back to school shopping.

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