Student laptop advice


I've posted this on the techie thread as well, but thought someone here might be able to offer insight/experience.

My daughter starts 6th form in Sept, at present she has an ipad and uses my laptop when needed. I think she's going to need something of her own so have been looking at what's available. TBH a bit shocked at prices!

I thought it would be better to buy something good quality now which would last the 5 years of A-levels and Uni, but I got conflicting advice in PC World, one person said 5 years isxa ling time to expect a laptop to work well and I should consider buying cheap and cheerful now and then something decent if and when she gets a uni place.

Can anyone give me any advice or share experiences of what's actually needed for studies? She's doing sciences and maths.




  • Carrot007
    Carrot007 Posts: 4,534
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    He sort of has a point.

    Unfortunatly in the current market "cheap and cheerful" usually means a cpu worse than one ten years ago. Basically a tablet masquerading as a laptop.

    I'm sure you will be reserved at the idea and she will hate it, but get a nice refurbished business model from the places that do that sort of thing. That's where the sensible money is (or spend £2000 odd on a current business model if you prefer).

    And quite frankly any current machine is good enough for studies. Even for computing subjects (as long as it's x64). It's just a matter of patience. It always has been. no need for anything expensive if you cannot.
  • I had a laptop which I used for years throughout school [dyspraxia and terrible handwriting] and used the same Laptop throughout years 8-13. It was some sort of mid-range Toshiba, don't know the exact model. It was fine for the first 2 or 3 years but then started to go *really* slow. From looking at the performance of it, it seemed that the hard drive has started to deteriorate and become slow.

    My mothers PC is also terribly slow, and the limiting factor of that is also the Hard Drive which again is very old.

    This would lead me to suggest getting a laptop with an SSD (solid state) inside is more likely to last the longer span of 5 years. In case you don't know: SSDs don't have any moving parts, compared to normal magnetic hard drives which has lots. These moving parts can be prone to failure which can cause hard drives to fail or become slow. While SSDs can degrade, it really isn't in the same way as a hard drive and I think this would get you a laptop which is much more likely to last longer.

    3 years is generally the expected life-span of computers so there is logic to his reasoning!
  • themrcox
    themrcox Posts: 7 Forumite
    Changes in technology means that unless you need the latest and greatest for a specific purpose such as heavy duty CAD, gaming etc, it's best to go for middle of the line and expect it to last 3 years with anything more as a bonus.

    There are some really decent machines out there at a sensible price but my advice to most people is that, if the budget will stretch, a laptop with: a known name and preferably decent ratings from users, an i5 processor, 8 GB RAM and SSD (256GB or higher ideally) will serve you well for most purposes without any major lag. If you need to compromise, start by changing SSD to HDD as running on an i3 or with 4GB RAM will make it slower.

    Remember you'll probably need Office software (Student edition is a good price). I personally find Windows 10's built in anti-virus is enough but I'm a fairly cautious user. It may be worth considering AV if there are concerns that the machine is likely to end up picking up malware.

    Last but not least, make sure homework is stored on the Cloud - there are enough services out there to choose from that give a lot of space for free - OneDrive, G-suite, DropBox etc; you'll be grateful when the machine gets the latest ransomware, the last months Maths project is encrypted but you can recover a previous version from Cloud restore.
  • agrinnall
    agrinnall Posts: 23,344
    First Post Combo Breaker
    themrcox wrote: »
    If you need to compromise, start by changing SSD to HDD as running on an i3 or with 4GB RAM will make it slower.

    I disagree entirely with this, changing SSD to HD will make the machine feel far slower than changing either the processor or the RAM. It also makes the machine far more vulnerable to the sort of physical shock damage that is not uncommon for students. If I had to change one thing from your spec (which I'd agree is good to aim for) then I'd go from i5 to i3 as most people aren't using anywhere near the full capacity of an i5.
  • I had a laptop at the end of year 11 (2011) and I am now doing a MSc and still using it lol. Depends on what they need it for tbh or if they need something lightweight to travel etc.
  • jyeom12
    jyeom12 Posts: 176
    First Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    If it helps, I'm now in my fifth year of undergraduate study (nearly there!) and in that time, I've been through two laptop PCs and a Macbook.

    Admittedly this is a combination of my clumsiness as well as technical issues, but I felt it was worth mentioning!

    The tech forum are probably better placed to advise though, because as far as I'm concerned, laptops are just magic boxes!
  • blannweil
    blannweil Posts: 19 Forumite
    There are cheaper laptops for students. Try the HP or Acer brand, they have good quality and features that are very useful for students.
  • agrinnall
    agrinnall Posts: 23,344
    First Post Combo Breaker
    This bundle may appeal. It's under £300 for lots of things - but I see the laptop itself is available for under £200. And it's a Dell. It's at the xxxxxx website - sorry can't post a link on here.

    Hmm, signing up solely to suggest buying from a particular website, has a distinct whiff of processed pork product about it.
  • agrinnall
    agrinnall Posts: 23,344
    First Post Combo Breaker
    steve9 wrote: »
    I bought this student bundle from xxxxxxx for my nephew and forgetting the "smell of processed pork" it really is a good deal !

    And you've also signed up to say the same thing, that scent is getting stronger all the time!
  • blannweil wrote: »
    There are cheaper laptops for students. Try the HP or Acer brand, they have good quality and features that are very useful for students.

    I don't recommend Acer, I had one for uni thinking it's cheap but will do the job. The trackpad went dodge after about 7 months and it appears to be a common fault with them. I would never buy another cheap laptop as they just aren't worth it. I have a MacBook now which works like a dream and hasn't gone funny at all yet and I've had it about 2 years, still works like it's brand new.

    If she's going to uni to live there can she make do between her tablet and using library computers to see how she gets on?
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