Buying Guide: Top 5 Tips When Buying a Laptop for School 2023

Looking for the best student laptop? Here are top 5 tips you should consider before buying one.


8/7/20239 min read

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With school starting up again soon, there is always excitement to start fresh and new, be it clothes, backpacks, shoes, or yes, laptops. All of us use laptops now. Be it Highschoolers, College Students, or University students. We want everything to be perfect and up to date. However, many of us can be on a tight budget due to student fees or being genuinely broke (a.k.a college/uni student life). We can always take a decision on what is necessary and what is not. Laptops in this day and age are a must. We do our assignments on them, use them for entertainment, attend classes, and complete basic day-to-day things (banking and shopping for example). If you are looking for a laptop, you should know that finding the best student laptop is not as easy as it may seem. So, let’s help you make the right choice. We have created a list of the top 5 tips you should consider before making your laptop purchase.

MacBook Pro near white open book
MacBook Pro near white open book

Obviously, the most important aspect to consider is the laptop price. Yes, everything else matters, be it the specs, brand, feature, etc. but for those of us on a budget the price is critical. Students, if you don’t have a budget, make one. Don’t think that regardless of what others say I want to get the expensive laptop, focus on affordability and functionality. Look for the most value you can get for the money spent. Unless you are rolling in cash, set aside about CAD$ 500 to CAD$ 1,800. If you can find one for less, even better. Typically, a new laptop from the big brands will cost you approximately that much. Look for older laptops from a year or so earlier, they’re usually priced less. That’s because stores and companies might be trying to get rid of old inventory. Yes… they may not have the latest and greatest features, but hey, are we looking for the latest and greatest or cost-effective and functional? Set priorities straight. And don’t be afraid to play devil’s advocate to a certain extent. Compare laptops, feature-wise and price wise until you find a balance you like. Don’t compare too many options, just 3 to 4. The more options you put on your plate, the worse off you will be.

Tip: Avoid going to shady or not-so-well-known places or stores to buy devices. Especially when shopping online. Ideally look on the Microsoft Store, big-name local stores, Amazon, Best Buy, Apple, etc.


a bunch of money sitting on top of a table
a bunch of money sitting on top of a table

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This is super important. For some students in high school, you just need a laptop for using MS Word, Excel, Google, and maybe PowerPoint. For College and Uni students, depending on what you do, you might be doing linear analysis or coding, maybe designing something on Adobe Illustrator, or maybe you’re an English or Law major that needs to write lots of content for assignments; the point is you need a laptop that is relevant and functional to what you do. It is up to you to ask your teachers or instructors what they recommend spec and feature-wise. Also, maybe, just maybe, if you are using this laptop for gaming consider those specs need to play your favorite games.

Money Saving Tip: You don’t need to buy MS Office unless you really need it or prefer it. You can always try using Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. Try checking if your school/college/uni gives you access to Office 365)


a computer screen with a bunch of code on it
a computer screen with a bunch of code on it


macbook pro turned on displaying music
macbook pro turned on displaying music

It is important to factor in the features your laptop has. Remember, make sure the features are relevant to what you are doing… even if that means playing video games sometimes.

Battery Life

Typically speaking you want a laptop that has good battery life while unplugged. Realistically, the ballpark for this is 8 to 10 hours. If you found one that can give you more juice, you have succeeded in battery life roulette. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. If you get some newer generation laptops like Mac books that are powered by Apple Silicone (M1 & M2 with their various subvariants) they tend to have more power saving and longer battery life. Heavy compiling tasks, and tasks that use lots of CPU and GPU like gaming, graphic design, and 3D modelling all can take a heavy strain on an unplugged laptop. Try aiming for approximately 10 hours of battery life in that case. Don’t worry too much about this as most schools and campuses have lots of power outlets everywhere. But it is a nice to have feature when the battery is good. The only issue is higher capacity battery means heavier laptops and heavier laptops are not good for noodle arms.

Processor, RAM, & GPU

Processors (think CPU) are important for enabling your computer to carry out tasks. It provides the instructions and power needed for your device to function the way it does. Typically, devices are running on Intel-powered chips. If you stumble upon one of these devices, aim for an Intel i5. You aren’t likely to need an i7 chip. They’re more expensive. Yes, they make things run smoother but they are costly. Everyone hates the i3. Unless you want the bare minimum processor that can allow you to just open documents and slideshows, maybe browse the web a little, then go for laptops with i3. Other than Intel, a good processor brand is AMD. Look for the Ryzen 5 and 7. Be careful to note that there are new generation variants from chip manufacturers, the newer ones supposedly being faster and better.

Also important, is the amount of RAM. This is the amount of short-term memory your device will have. It’s used to immediately store and retrieve data to the processor. Most of the time 8GB of RAM is pretty good. Unless you are doing super heavy multi-task activities, then you want 16GB (which may be more costly). Make sure to remember the purpose, and what you’re doing on the laptop. For gaming, coding and heavy video editing, think Intel i7 with 16GB RAM. Basic writing, slideshows, etc., think i5 with 8GB RAM.

GPU is important for the graphical elements of activities you do in video editing, 3D modelling, and gameplay. Look for Nvidia or AMD-powered graphic cards. Bare bones minimum for gameplay (will likely be choppy) go for an Nvidia 3050 or 3050ti (ti variant is faster) or the AMD RX 6500 XT. Otherwise, aim for the Nvidia 3060 or 3060ti or RX 6600 XT. You do not need to worry about GPU too much if you are solely using it for documents, slideshows, and web browsing. In that case, anything will do!

Operating System

This genuinely boils down to 2 main operating systems. The first being Windows. The other being MacOS. Your decision here should depend on what you have been used to for a while and what your school or course instructor tells you is required for the course. Sometimes a course or educational institution will recommend you own a MacOS device, others might say any is fine. Do your research there.


Storage is where you store files, documents, images, etc. If you have low storage, it may prevent you from launching or installing applications or downloading more documents. Always aim for SSD storage. SSD storage is more efficient, lighter, faster, and more compact. Although I personally dislike opting for the smallest storage space, it is the most budget-friendly option (that is 256 GB). I personally recommend getting something with more, 512 GB or even 1 TB. But if costs are high, then maybe go with a 256 GB storage space and get an external hard drive which is likely to cost less…or just use Google Drive or some other cloud storage service. The point is there are alternatives. Use what is most comfortable and affordable to you.


The screen size and resolution are very important for those looking to use the laptop for more than school (yes, we mean Netflix and Disney+). Aim for a Full HD screen or the 1920 x1080 pixel resolution. The higher the resolution the better the experience (i.e., 4K is super good), but also remember that it will drain more battery.

Size also matters. Ideally, look for a 13- or 14-inch screen. Nice, light, portable. If you want to have a better view then opt for a bigger screen. Beware though, they are not cheap. Also, they may be heavier and more difficult to use in cramped places like lecture halls with small tables.

Another factor to consider is whether there is a touch screen or not. Touch screens allow a different form of input other than the keyboard and mouse. Some laptops have a touch screen and can even be used in tablet form. Many people like this option as it enables them to use their laptops in a more convenient way.

macro photography of black circuit board
macro photography of black circuit board

Big brand stores like Microsoft and Apple provide student discounts to students with valid student IDs at eligible educational institutions. This can enable savings for you! It may not be a lot for some but 10% off at Microsoft can be a lot! And Apple just goes above and beyond. A few years back we bought a MacBook Air and they threw in a free Beats Studio 3! They sometimes do that and more! Think Apple Gift cards, AppleCare+ discounts, and more.

Student Discounts

a close up of a red sale sign with a van in the background
a close up of a red sale sign with a van in the background

This is important. Here you want to purchase from a brand that will support you in the event your laptop will fail or be defective, or if you need your laptop repaired. Always. I cannot emphasize this enough… Always go with the brands that are well known. If you’re not buying directly from the laptop company, go through the Microsoft Store, Best Buy, Amazon, or any trusted local big box retailers. But first, as always, do your research to make sure they will provide you with the post-sales support you may need. If some shady website called PearBook is selling laptops for $299.99 don’t jump on that. Think about the brand, search them up. We are not affiliated directly with any of the big laptop brands or the aforementioned stores, but here are several brand names that are just reliable, known brands:

  • Apple

  • Microsoft

  • Lenovo

  • ASUS

  • HP

  • Dell

  • Razer

  • Google

  • Samsung

  • Acer

Brand Reliability

a post with a sticker on it that says fake
a post with a sticker on it that says fake

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