Back-to-School Laptops: Which System is Right for You?

This photo from a 2007 college classroom features a sea of Macbooks and their glowing Apple logos. If you look hard enough, you might be able to find a single Windows PC in there.

And that was five years ago. Imagine what college lecture halls look like now.

Laptops are pretty much essential for a college student these days, and if you’re getting ready to start your freshman year in the next few weeks, you might want to purchase one. But where to begin?

Technapex wants to offer a few helpful resources for learning which machine will be right for you.

Ars Technica recently posted a back-to-school edition of its 2012 PC laptop buying guide. IT professional Andrew Cunningham walks you through the whole process and offers buying solutions for a variety of budgets. He further divides his recommendations into “basic,” “gaming,” and “lightweight.” (Take it from me. If you want to get anything meaningful done in college, avoid purchasing a gaming computer. I’m surprised I even managed to get past my sophomore year.)

LaptopMag offers its Top 10 Back to School Laptops for 2012, and again offers choices for buyers of all budgets. Their best overall value pick was the HP Pavilion G6, coming in at under $500. Their list also included the recently upgraded Macbook Air, which at a reduced price costs $1,199.

It all comes down to whatever fits your learning style and study habits best. Do you like studying in public places and don’t want to worry about lugging around a power cord and adapter? You might want to look into the new Ultrabooks, which feature impressive battery life. (TechRader recently posted 16 excellent Ultrabook options.)

If you’re in graphic design or environmental science, your courses will likely require you to use heavy-hitting software, so choose a laptop with a good processor speed and lots of RAM. For those machines, you might want to check out Ars Technica’s gaming recommendations. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

There are laptops to suit every student’s need, and prices continue to go down every year. If you’re still not happy with the prices, why not go with a refurbished machine? Popular hardware retailer Newegg is one of the best options for purchasing refurbished systems, and though they may be a little older, they are just as reliable as laptops right out of the box. Three years ago, I bought a refurbished HP desktop for my parents and it still performs beautifully.

Are you currently considering purchasing a laptop for yourself for school? What kinds of systems are you looking at? Be sure to tell us in the comments below, and good luck making your final decision!