In the past, it was a requirement to go to a physical classroom to get an education. In the age of the internet, that is no longer necessary! You can “go to school” from the comfort of your own home - you don't even have to change out of your pajamas! While many students don't have a lot of money, it's fairly obvious that every student studying online needs a PC or laptop to be able to participate.
The important thing to know while shopping for a new laptop is what to look for. While the basic specifications are important, a student is going to need a laptop with long battery life, a good wireless card, and word processing software. If you are a student, stick around for a list of the best laptops for online schooling!
The Top 5 Best Laptops for Online Schooling
CPU: 2.1 GHz MediaTek MT8127, Memory: 4 GB LPDDR3, Graphics: PowerVR SGX543, Screen: 11.6 inches, Storage: 64 GB, Battery Life: 10 Hours
If you are comfortable with fully committing to the world of cloud-based productivity suites, the Lenovo Chromebook C330 may be the laptop for you. Weighing 2.6 pounds and being 1 inch thick, this is the perfect traveling laptop. The 360-degree rotating touch screen display gives this laptop all the features of a tablet as well. The one large red flag with this is the lack of a wireless card that can handle 802.11ac connectivity.
- 360 degrees rotating touch screen display
- Lightweight for travel
- Decent amount of storage for a Chromebook
- Not wireless 802.11ac compliant
- The 11.6-inch screen may be too small
- MediaTek processor
CPU: Intel Core i5 1.6 GHz Processor, Memory: 8 GB DD4 RAM, Graphics: Integrated graphics card, Screen: 15.6-inch display, Storage: 1 TB SATA Hard Drive, Battery Life: 5 Hours
The VivoBook is a great option for someone looking to save money with the purchase of their laptop. It’s very easily portable and has an 802.11ac wireless card - perfect for the student on the go. Although it doesn’t have a solid-state drive, there’s plenty of storage space for anything you may need. There are sacrifices to be made for such a low price point. The lack of a solid-state drive and a dedicated graphics card, as well as short battery life, may turn buyers away.
- At 3.7 pounds and 0.8 inches thin, it's very portable for a 15.6-inch screen
- Lots of storage space
- Loads of connectible ports
- Short battery life
- Non-dedicated graphics card
- No solid-state drive
CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5, Memory: 8 GB, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX150, Screen: 15.6 inches, Storage: 256 GB SSD, Battery Life: 15 hours
This laptop costs a little more than the VivoBook - but the Aspire may be one of the best values on the market. The Intel Core i5 processor, dedicated graphics card, and 15-hour battery life make this compatible with laptops at a higher price level. On top of all that, this comes with a 256 GB solid-state drive with lots of storage space. On-the-go students may find this laptop to be a little heavier than other laptops on the market.
- NVIDIA dedicated graphics card
- Long battery life
- Solid-state drive with plenty of space
- At 5.27 pounds, it's heavier and bulkier than the competition
- More expensive than other comparable laptops.
CPU: 2.3 GHz Intel Pentium 4, Memory: 4 GB DDR4, Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 610, Screen: 14 Inches, Storage: 129GB PCIe SSD, Battery Life: 8 Hours
The Flex 14 has all the bells and whistles that you’d want out of a 2-in-1 laptop. It rotates and turns into a tablet, has a touchscreen and a compatible pen-type stylist, and a fingerprint reader. The 14-inch screen and lightweight make this an easy laptop to travel with. The sacrifices that come with the super low ($419) price point include a non-standard solid-state drive and slower Pentium 4 processor.
- Integrated fingerprint reader
- Touchscreen and compatible with the Lenovo
- Lightweight and portable
- Slower Pentium 4 Processor
- Non-standard solid-state drive
- Below-average battery life
CPU: Intel Core i5 1.6 GHz Processor, Memory: 8 GB, Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617, Screen: 13.3-inch display, Storage: 128 GB Solid State Drive, Battery Life: 12 Hours
The MacBook Air is the dream laptop for every budget-minded Apple fan. The all-day battery life, Intel Core i5 processor, and solid-state drive are everything that you’d want out of your MacBook. Compatibility with the Microsoft Office productivity suite makes this just as suitable for a student as any Windows product. As long as users can get used to the 13.3-inch display, this device should meet the needs of students everywhere.
- All-day battery life
- Compatibility with Microsoft Office productivity suite
- Compact and portable
- Very small display
- Lack of storage space
- Incompatibility with other Windows-based software
7 Features To Consider When Choosing a Laptop for Online Schooling
Processor Speed and RAM
The first question a potential buyer asks before buying a laptop is “Is it fast enough?”. There's nothing worse than a slow PC. Processor (or CPU) speed and the amount of RAM are the two biggest factors in PC speed.
As far as processing units go - the number of cores and clock speed are the two biggest components to CPU speed. The amount of cores multiplies the efficiency of the processor. The clock speed, measured in GHz, is a great numeric indicator of speed.
RAM (Random-access memory) is measured in gigabytes. The more gigabytes available, the faster the laptop will be. The smallest amount of RAM that can be found today is around 2 GBs.
Graphics and Screen Size
The level of how much graphics and screen size manner depends on the purpose of the laptop. As far as screen size goes, different sizes can be used for different purposes. A student who is often on the go may want a smaller laptop that is lighter weight and fits in a bag easier. Some students may want a larger screen size for word processing.
The same goes for graphics cards. If you are only using a laptop for web browsing and word processing - then it's probably not worth investing an expensive graphics card. Most students won't need to invest too much in a good graphics card.
There are two things to look at when data storage comes to mind - drive type, and storage capacity. SATA (Serial AT Attachment) drives are the most popular drive today. They are readily available and offer a large amount of storage space per dollar. Students using software local to the PC may need to utilize a SATA drive for storage space
SSDs (solid-state drives) are also rising in popularity. They respond much faster than your standard SATA drive, but storage space costs more per dollar than with a SATA drive. A student that uses more cloud-based products, such as Google Docs or Office 365, shouldn't be concerned about storage space and can benefit from an SSD.
Battery life is a simple concept. When you shop for a laptop online, very often the battery life is advertised in hours and minutes, without any other specifications. An online student should expect to spend a lot of time on the laptop and doesn't want to be tied down by a power cord. Because of this, a battery that will last a long time is essential to productivity.
Most online students live an “on-the-go” lifestyle. For this reason, a fast, reliable wireless card is essential. Whether you are connecting from home or at a coffee shop or library, uncertain wireless setups call for a consistent connection so that you get get the best out of an unreliable network.
Most new laptops now support an 802.11ac connection. If you are looking at purchasing one that doesn't move on to the next option. The 802.11ac technology much faster and much more resilient than any technology before it. Along with an 802.11ac supported card, make sure that your wireless router at home supports this technology as well.
Another feature that 802.11ac-capable wireless connections have is the choice between 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz. If given the choice between the two, keep in mind that while 5 GHz is a faster connection, 2.4 GHz signal travels further and maybe a better connection depending on the situation.
Word Processing Software
Every student needs access to word processing software for preparing essays and reports, and possibly a spreadsheet for calculations and slide presentation software for public overviews as well. In the past, Microsoft Office was the only suite of tools that were acceptable for these situations. Still today, this is one of the most preferred software options.
In recent years, other options have emerged. Google has created Google Docs, a free, cloud-based productivity suite that has comparable features to the Office suite of tools. In response to this, Microsoft created Office 365 - its own cloud-based suite. One last option would be OpenOffice - another free productivity suite that can produce documents that are compatible with the Microsoft Office products.
Being a student generally means that you don't have a lot of spending the money available. It can be really, really tough to be able to come up with any money as all to purchase a laptop. Luckily, just because a laptop has a lower price, it doesn't mean that it won't get the job done.
Most of the highest-rated laptops on the market cost at least $1000 - probably too much money for your average student. The good news is that there are many fully functional laptops on the market for around $500. If you'd like to save even more money and are OK with using cloud-based software - there are plenty of good Chromebooks on the market for an affordable price.
Finding the funds to purchase a good laptop for a student is hard. Luckily, now more than ever, it’s not terribly hard to find a device that will fit into anyone's budget. For as low as $255 dollars, you can purchase a laptop running the Chrome OS operating system to use cloud-based products. For a few hundred more - students are in the market for fully functional Windows laptops. It’s important to know that an effective, efficient laptop is a part of the investment into any student's future - so sit back and enjoy the journey!