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Two graduates get their degrees online. May 9, 2017

Need a New Laptop for Your Grad?

4 great, but different options

Written by Darla Palmer-Ellingson in Residential

As laptops evolve and become more feature rich, the three factors that drive price have not changed: screen resolution, processing speed and memory. These are the most important features to compare when searching for a new machine.

 

Are you shopping for a recent graduate who will be heading to college this fall?  Before jumping into research, consider the needs of your grad, and how they plan to use the laptop.

Do they need a general machine for word processing and accessing the Internet? Are they into gaming or high-end graphics? Is your grad on the go, looking for machine portability? Or maybe you just want to find the best overall machine for a low price.

Keeping use in mind will also help assess the importance of features such as weight and battery life.

 

Two Super Values for General Use

Acer Chromebook 14- $265.  
This great machine is packed with features and quality, considering the low price. The Chromebook 14 has adequate processing speed, a large 1080p HD screen, slick body and almost 12 hours of battery life. The larger screen size is great for working on documents or spreadsheets or watching videos. Here are the specs:

Processor Name: Intel Celeron N3160
Processor Speed: 1.6 GHz
Operating System: Google Chrome OS
RAM: 4 GB
Graphics Card: Intel GMA HD 3150
Storage Capacity: 32 GB
Screen Size: 14 inches
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Weight: 3.7 pounds
Battery Rundown: 11:50

Asus Chromebook Flip- $237.

For a budget option with a convertible design, the Asus Chromebook Flip delivers a lot of performance for less than $300, including decent processing speed and amazing battery life. The slick aluminum construction folds into a tablet, and includes a touch screen. Here are the specs:

Processor Name: Rockchip RK3288-C
Processor Speed: 1.8 GHz
Operating System: Google Chrome OS
RAM: 4 GB
Graphics Card: Rockchip Mali T764
Storage Capacity: 16 GB
Screen Size: 10.1 inches
Resolution: 1280 x 800
Weight: 1.96 pounds
Battery Rundown: 11:15

Best Middle of the Road

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming- $800. Those of us working in digital media know that a gaming computer is often a great choice for graphics applications because of fast processing speed, memory and a high- end graphics card. Dual fans keep the machine cool under heavy use. A plethora of ports expands usability, including a combo headset and mic jack, 2 USB 3.0 ports, USB 3.0 Powershare port, HDMI connection, Gigabit Ethernet, Noble Lock security slot and a media card reader. Order directly from Dell, with options to upgrade to a screaming fast, high capacity version, still less than $1,000. Here are the specs for the lowest version:

Processor Name: Intel Core i-5-7300Q
Processor Speed: 2.5 GHz
Operating System: Windows 10
RAM: 16 GB
Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Storage Capacity: 256 GB
Screen Size: 15.6 inches
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Weight: 5.84 pounds
Battery Rundown: 11:01

Lightweight with Bells and Whistles

ThinkPad X1 Carbon- $1,329. Lenovo’s ThinkPad continues to receive industry accolades. The latest offering, ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the thinnest and lightest one yet, weighing in at less than 2.5 pounds, while still packing serious computing power and an outstanding 16 hours of battery life. While $1,329 a starting price, the ThinkPad still runs about 40 percent less than its competitor, the Microsoft Surface Book, with expanded options. Here are the specs before upgrades or customizations:

Processor Name: Intel Core i-5-7300U
Processor Speed: 2.6 GHz
Operating System: Windows 10
RAM: 8 GB
Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage Capacity: 256 GB
Screen Size: 14 inches
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Weight: 2.45 pounds
Battery Rundown: 15.6

The Used Market

After a beverage spill wiped out yet another of my daughter’s laptops, I spent $250 on a high-end used laptop, which would have sold for $1,200 new. Look for certified refurbished laptops on Amazon, TigerDirect or Newegg. Manufacturers also have refurbished machines. While prices may be higher, some makers, such as Dell include warranties on used equipment.

Still looking?

These are some of the industry’s best current offerings based on features, performance, and price. For a more comprehensive list of laptops, check out PC Magazine’s Laptop Product Guide.

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