21st September 2020

Tech guide: The best laptops for university

Zain Jaffal discusses his top picks for the best university laptops
Tech guide: The best laptops for university
Hatice Sosyal @ Flickr

As a computer science student, the nearing of university usually means one thing: debates on the best types of laptops. Especially in the current situation where applications like Zoom will be widely used, a reliable laptop is a necessity. I have compiled this list from my own experimentation and research of various laptops to share my opinions on what the best laptops are for general study use.

A general guide on what to choose

The main things to look for in a laptop are:

  1. Processor type
  2. RAM
  3. Storage
  4. Battery

The rule of thumb for choosing a processor is pretty straightforward: i5 is found in standard models, whereas i7 is typically used in high-end devices.

Depending on what you’re looking for, when choosing RAM the higher the better. 8GB or 16GB is suitable for standard devices, but if you’re looking for a more high-end laptop, 32GB might be the way to go.

For storage, SSD is, in my opinion, the best option. It is light and more durable than HDD, as well as faster.

The battery is generally overlooked by buyers but is still important. Admittedly, what makes a good battery is hard to measure, but 55WH batteries and higher tend to keep your device going without having to run to the socket every three seconds.

1. Dell XPS 15 – from £1,749.00
DELL XPS preview image
Photo by XPS on Unsplash

This is definitely a top of the line Dell laptop, but maybe I’m biassed as I’m using an older version to write this article.

It is very capable of running high-demanding tasks. Although on the expensive side, it comes with a full array of add-ons, meaning the price is flexible depending on what extra features you want. The one I’d recommend is the i7 16GB which has a FHD non-touch screen. There is a 4K touch option but it costs a steep £2,119.00.

2. New Inspiron 15 7000 – from £699.00
source @ Dell
Photo: Inspiron 15 700 @ Dell

Personally I think this is a really good, mid-range laptop and great value for money. It is good for everyday and university use. The baseline laptop comes with an i5 10th generation processor, 8GB RAM and 256 SSD storage. If this storage seems too small for you then for £200 more you could upgrade to a 512GB option. Dell’s website contains more information and also offers a student discount. If you have an interest in any Dell product, send an email to: [email protected] with the subject line  ‘Mancunion Discount’ for even more discounted offers. *

3. Lenovo YOGA C640 13 – £849.99
image for Lenovo YOGA C640 13
Creator: siavash mirzaei
Copyright: ©Huncel |

This 2-in-1 laptop is, in my opinion, one of the best in Lenovo’s series. It comes with high specifications: an i7 with 8GB ram and 512GB storage. Comes with a Full HD touch screen and a pen included. Being only 13-inches, this laptop is on the smaller side.  However, if lightweight is something you are looking for, this could be the laptop for you.

4. Any older Linux models
Photo: Thinkpad laptop by Jemimus @ Flickr

Originally when I was told about using an old bulky laptop with Linux I thought it was a weird option. However, if you are someone who loves experimenting with building computers, I’d recommend this option. eBay is a great place to find old devices, especially old ThinkPad laptops, which can then be improved by installing a new RAM and hard drive yourself.

Ultimately, whichever laptop you choose make sure you know exactly what you need. Try not to be tricked by aesthetics, sometimes you are better off with a mid-range device over a high-end option. Do your research, ask around and you will find the perfect digital companion for the online year ahead.


*DISCLAIMER: Dell did not promote this piece nor was any marketing agreement determined prior to the writing of this article. A representative came into contact with us to offer student discounts via the email above.*

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