Getting ready for college can be a busy time. You have a new campus to navigate, new coursework to get your head around and a busy induction week. So, to make the entire process a little easier we have attached a few jargon tips to help you choose what laptop is best for you. So, you can get back to enjoying the first few weeks before the assignments start flooding in!
Random Access Memory - This is part of your computer’s memory system. The more RAM in your laptop the faster it can function with several applications open at once. Don’t confuse this with your storage memory. You won’t be using this to store your photos or videos! Think of RAM like the arms of a juggling octopus. The more RAM you have, the more arms so the more your laptop can juggle at any one time.
As a rule, buy as much RAM as you can afford. If you plan on running photo or video editing software, then you will need at least 8GB of RAM. If you plan to use your computer for document editing and web browsing than 2 to 4GB will suffice.
The processor is the brain of your computer and decodes instructions from programs and files to make your computer run smoothly. It works together with the RAM to optimise your computer’s performance. If you have loads of RAM but a mediocre processor than your computer will not run to its maximum potential- so you will end up with RAM which you cannot use! Similarly, if you have a high-end processor with 4GB of RAM you are limiting the processor’s functionality.
If you plan on using your device for gaming or video editing than you should consider an AMD A10 or Intel i7 processor. The entry level Intel processors are Pentium or Celeron models. These are perfect for moderate users who use the device primarily for online browsing, social media and document editing.
Your hard drive is the computer’s storage system. Think of it as a set of drawers to store all your documents. You can minimise onboard storage use by keeping your documents, music and photos stored in the cloud or an external hard drive. However, your programs and operating system need to be stored on your onboard hard drive. You should aim for at least 128GB of storage if you plan on using your laptop to store documents and other personal data. For example, Windows 10 uses 16GB- 20GB of your storage so you need to make sure you have enough left for your required programs.
It is always good practice to back up your information to an external hard drive. This safeguards you from losing all your documents and photos if your device is stolen or you damage the laptop and the files are corrupted. Be sure to back up your files regularly, especially during assignment and thesis season!
Your Solid-State Drive (SSD) can be used in place of or alongside your hard drive. These would be preferred to a hard drive because of their greater speed. You really see this when your laptop is powering on. A device with an SSD will boot up in seconds whereas the HDD models can take a minute or two to get going and can be slightly louder. An SSD has no moving parts so it is less likely to corrupt if you accidentally drop the laptop. There are plenty of pros for purchasing SSD but it can bump up the price of the device. If you have the budget aim for SSD, if you are limited than opt for plenty of RAM and the best processor within your budget.
-Pick up a printer to keep at home for printing your essays. Many courses require both electronic and physical copies of your work. Having a printer at home can save on library queuing and extra stress on submission days!
-Be sure to add anti-virus to your computer. Especially if you will be using the device for online research and downloading files from unknown sources. This will help prevent any horror stories of computers crashing the night before an assignment is due!
-Get a good case to protect your device, especially if you commute to college. Some cases will have pockets for your notebooks and chargers or you can get a sleeve which can be fit in your rucksack and just protects your device.
-Double check what software you may require during the year. Start of the term is often a good time to purchase as many developers will have school sales on