Back to School? Choosing the right computer
It’s almost time to get back to studying again – school or university. And some of you or your children will be starting at a new place of learning – a new school or starting out at university.
So, it’s a good time to ensure you are properly equipped with the right computer to suit your or your children’s lifestyle and academic requirements.
We’ve put our heads together here at PAAC IT to come up with the things you need to consider when buying a new computer. Like all things in life, there is no one right answer and the choice often comes down to how much you would like to spend.
Out and about?
- Will it be taken into classes / lectures? Consider a laptop with a small footprint
- MacBook Air
- Dell XPS
- Do you have a long commute? You might something sturdy and light
- MacBook Pro
- Dell Latitude
- Away from power for extended periods?
- Lenovo T470 with extended battery
English or the arts?
If you are taking a design course that may require a powerful software tools (such as Adobe Cloud) or video editing you will need a computer with a powerful graphics card, such as Nvidia GTX or Radeon R5. However, if your main requirement is for essay writing in subjects such as English or history – then an Intel i3 processor may do the job. If you are likely to run large scientific calculations as part of an engineering, science or maths degree consider an i7 processor.
Tired of waiting?
If you are an impatient person that can’t wait for your computer to fire up – then consider a solid-state drive (SSD). A conventional hard drive consists of spinning disks that stores your data. Although offering larger capacities than SSDs, they are more delicate and much slower. An SSD stores data on computer chips, much like a flash drive. The benefits being that SSDs respond faster (so programmes load much more quickly) and they are more robust and so last longer.
What about my music?
If you like keeping lots of music and / or videos on your local device, then you will need lots of local storage. We typically find a 500Gb disk suits most people. If you are going to store a collection of movies consider a 1TB or larger drive.
Apple, PC or Chrome book?
In our opinion Apple Macs and PCs are functionally equivalent and the choice comes down to your personal preference. We’ve had customers commenting that their Mac is much better than a PC – only to discover they were comparing a £300 PC with a £1,500 MacBook! A Chromebook has little processing power or storage itself (which makes it cheaper) and relies on fast access to the internet. Both Apple Macs and PCs can run the Microsoft Office suite, but with a Chrome book you would be restricted to Microsoft Office online. However, it’s really important to check guidance from your school / university. Some establishments have moved to an all Apple environment (so a PC would not be a good choice) and others have poor internet connections – so a Chromebook would not function very well.
We are not wedded to any single brand and are so ideally placed to provide impartial advice. We also see all makes and types of computers through our workshops and literally have an inside out view of what’s works well – and what doesn’t.
Now, just quickly before you go, don’t forget about:
- Security software – absolutely vital to keeping you and your information safe on line. If the computer is for a younger user consider parental controls to protect them at home and at school.
- Speakers – if you would like to really enjoy your music and videos;
- Printer – of course!!; and lastly
- Case or sleeve to keep your new computer safe.
Wishing you well in the coming year of study,
The team at PAAC IT.