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Best Laptops for College 2016

So you’re packing up, and saying bye to mom and dad this fall. More importantly, you’re leaving that beautiful desktop computer behind, unless you’re insane. We can only ever do our best when trying to make up for this loss, thankfully college is by no means strenuous on computers. Among most college students, your priorities might be battery, and affordability. We know, however, that there are some out there that need a laptop with more capabilities than whats required to run Microsoft Word. Some might need video/photo editing software, or 3d modeling software. Or perhaps you’re an avid gamer, and are just looking for some gaming sessions during your off time. We’ve taken all of this into consideration for the Best College Laptops 2016.

 

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 (Average Student)

This is you’re classic college laptop, no matter what kind of person you are you want a sturdy machine, with a nice display, and a long lasting battery. To top all that off it is very affordable making it a great college laptop. With the base model this machine is not a powerhouse by any means, so if you need your laptop to play games or edit video, this is not the laptop for you. The base model includes

  • 2.3-GHz Intel Core i3-6100U
  • 4GB of Ram
  • 128GB SSD
  • 13.3 inch display

The average student wont need more power than this, but the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 comes in 3 different configurations to suit the needs of each user. I would, however, recommend the base model, its other configurations are expensive, and other machines would be better for the price.

 

Dell XPS 13 ( Science or Computer Science)

So why the XPS 13? Despite the fact that it is a bit more pricey, it is truly going to be a great college laptop for students who need a little more power. The XPS 13 is a great example of power and portability. It works perfectly for everyday use, and performs under heavy load making it a very flexible option. Inside the hood is

  • 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U
  • 8GB Ram
  • 128GB SSD
  • 13.3 inch display

You can see the clear benefit of upgrading from the ThinkPad 13 to the XPS 13, you maintain the portability that a machine that small provides, while getting a great boost in CPU power and Ram. The XPS 13 also has received a great battery life upgrade since 2015, and features a gorgeous and colorful display.

 

Apple MacBook  Pro (Art and Video Editing)

The MacBook Pro comes in 12 13 and 15 inch models and depending on what you do with your machine you may want to upgrade to the larger sizes. At the upper end is video editing, and at the lower is your fine arts student. What makes the MacBook great? A strong CPU, a beautiful display, and ease of use. It is very expensive at it’s most powerful configuration, but you pay for what you get in build quality. On the inside you have a lot of power

  • 2.5-GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7-4870HQ
  • 16GB Ram
  • 512GB SSD
  • 15.4 inch display
  • AMD Radeon R9 Mc70X

With that much Ram and CPU power the MacBook has more than enough power to be the perfect college laptop for the young film maker  or animator. Beyond all that it has a beautiful IPS display that makes it an equally great entertainment laptop as well.

 

Dell Precision 5510 (Engineering and Design)

This is a sleek and powerful, low profile laptop. It doesn’t feature anything flashy but is clean and well designed. The 5510 is another great flexible option, though it is a little expensive. It is powerful and very pretty. Not only is the exterior good looking, the display is among the best on this list save the MacBook. With a discreet graphics card, and a fast processor this machine is perfect for students using design software.

  • Intel Xeon CPU E3-1505M v5 @ 2.8GHz
  • 8GB Ram
  • 512GB SSD
  • 15.6 inch display
  • 4k resolution
  • Nvidia Quadro M1000M

The 5510 doesn’t excel in anyone area, but sets it self apart from more consumer model dell products with its excellent design mixed with more than enough power for an engineering or design student.

 

ASUS C201 (Budget)

The C201 is a chromebook, which is becoming more and more popular with college students. Why? Because they’re cheap, light, and work. The C201 isn’t very powerful, but it doesn’t need to be. Say all you need from your laptop is taking notes, internet browsing. This laptop can handle these menial tasks. And for $179 this machine works just fine.

  • Rockchip 1.8 GHz Processor
  • 4GB  RAM
  • 11.6 inch display
  • 16GB SSD

On top of being an ultra affordable machine, it has 13 hours of battery life. That’s more than my iphone 4.

 

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (Simplicity)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is not the most powerful, or even close to being the best Laptop on this list. It’s in fact not really a laptop at all. It successfully achieves it’s goal of being both a notebook and a tablet, and does both very well. Thanks to the cloud software included the Surface Pro works fabulously as a notebook, and its stylus and very responsive touch screen make it work great as a tablet. As far as portability is concerned there may not be a better option out there.

  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5-6300U CPU
  • 8GB Ram
  • 256 GB SSD
  • 12.3 inch display

The one thing that mildly detracts from the value of the Surface Pro is its less than amazing battery life, which is a common flaw in tablets as well. One more thing to note, is that without the attachable keyboard (which often comes separately) this machine is useless for taking notes.

 

The MSI GE62 Apache Pro (Gaming) 

This is the most powerful machine on the list so far, and one of the most expensive. Being a gamer does take a toll on the wallet. However, as far as gaming laptops go you get a lot of value from the MSI GE62, it very often goes on sale and I would suggest only picking it up then. For the gamer, it has enough power to run most games on high and ultra settings, and if you’re willing to move down to medium settings you can run anything at 60 fps relatively easily. On top of that it comes standard with a free year of Xsplit. It’s a big and heavy machine, but most certainly not heavy enough to prevent it from being portable.

  • Intel i7 6700HQ
  • GTX 960M
  • 128 GB SSD
  • 1 TB HDD
  • 16GB Ram
  • 15.3 inch display

The Apache can easily get through the daily needs of a college student, and will satisfy the hardcore gamer away from home.

 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Business) 

This laptop is high class first and foremost. It you want to feel like a businessman with your computer this machine will be perfect. Other than being a sleek and sexy beast, this laptop has a beautiful and bright display, a long lasting battery, and a fantastic keyboard.

  • Intel Core i5-6300u
  • 8GB Ram
  • 256GB SSD
  • 13 inch display

One thing that does bother me about this machine, is the presence of a micro SD card reader, and not a full sized SD card reader. I don’t know about everyone, but I have needed a micro SD card reader pretty much never. On the other hand, a full sized SD card reader is something I find very useful.

 

Asus Zenbook UX305LA (Ultra Portable)

For the average student the Zenbook is going to reach most criteria concerning power, what sets it apart from the other laptops on the list is its ultra thin size, and 13 inch monitor. Its build quality is far and away one of the best on the list, opting for an aluminum body instead of plastic. Add all that with an IPS display and this laptop holds its own on the best college laptops list.

  • Intel Core i5-5200U 5th Gen
  • 13.3 inch display
  • 8GB Ram
  • 256GB SSD

Certainly not an incredible powerful machine, but at only half an inch thick, its easily the most portable.

 

HP Stream 13 (Budget, Non Chromebook)

If you were looking at the earlier budget option, but aren’t interested in a chromebook, perhaps you might prefer the HP Stream 13. For not much more money,  the HP stream offers a lot of the same with the added bonus of an SSD, and less need for cloud storage. Depending on your choice of configuration you can also purchase this laptop with a display of only 11 inches.

  • Intel Celeron N3050 1.6 GHz Processor
  • 2GB SDRAM
  • 32GB SSD
  • 11.6 inch display

Honestly unless you have a serious problem with Chromebooks, the other budget option on this list is a superior machine.

Novice writer, and creator. Currently writing a documentary about The Canadian Improv Games. Overall coach potato, and cant stop watching Game of Thrones.

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