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Laptop 101: Find the Computer That’s Right for You

A laptop is a critical tool for crushing it in school, but choosing the right one can be a challenge.

Let us help you. (After all, we are the nation’s No. 1 destination for laptops.)

We turned to expert Blue Shirt Steve Doiron, who works at our Best Buy store in Tempe, Arizona, just a mile from one of America’s largest universities. Here’s his advice for finding a laptop that will help you ace those classes (and provide some fun when you’re procrastinating).

How will you use the laptop?

According to Steve, the first thing you need to think about when buying a new laptop is how you will use it. There are three kinds of users: light, average or advanced. Which one are you?

  • Light user: You’re about the basics, such as surfing the Web, paying bills online, using e-mail and social networking, and organizing and sharing digital photos.
  • Average user: You do the basics but also like to store and stream music and movies. You also complete tasks like spreadsheet and document creation.
  • Advanced user: You’re a multi-tasker who always has several tabs and programs open. You also like to make sophisticated graphics and use your laptop for photo editing or video production.

How important is portability to you?

Portability is a big factor when choosing a laptop, Steve said. This will help determine what balance to strike with large or small screen and keyboard size, as well as how many accessories you want to carry with you.

If you value portability, you could also might want to look at 2-in-1s (also known as “hybrid” or “convertible”), which have the computing power of a laptop but can also be used as a tablet. If you’re looking for ultimate portability and not much computing power, check out tablets.

The four specs that matter

Understanding the nuts and bolts of laptops will also help your decision.

These are the four main specs you need to know:

  • Processor: This is both the brain and the muscles of the laptop. The faster and more powerful a processor is, the more work it can handle from your programs. (Think of this like the engine in your car.)
  • RAM: System memory, or RAM, is where your data and programs live while you’re working on the laptop. The more RAM, the more data you can be accessing and manipulating at any given time.
  • Hard Drive Storage: This is where your data (think photos, documents, music) lives while not in use. The more you have, the more files you can carry with you.
  • Battery Life: This one is important because you might not always have a handy outlet to use at the library or time to recharge between classes.

“A majority of students care about the battery life and believe RAM is important,” Steve said. “They [also] tend to store everything in the Cloud and know that they can always buy more storage that way.”

You can learn more about laptops online or stop in to a nearby Best Buy store to talk with an expert Blue Shirt.


Did you know Best Buy offers special discounts for college students with its Student Deals program? Sign up to get all the latest student-only offers. There’s even a deal on Geek Squad 24/7 support for one year.