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Tips for buying the right laptop for university

A new laptop can make uni life a whole lot easier. You can do everything from take notes at lecture, nail your coursework or just catch up with friends and family on zoom calls. 

To help you pick the right laptop our partners at Currys have put together a guide to make even the techiest of jargon easy to understand. 

CPU 

The CPU (central processing unit) is the brain of your laptop. Whenever you move the mouse, open a program or load a file, the processor makes it happen. 

The kind of CPU set up you have can tell you about the kind of laptop you’re getting. 
 
More laptops are built with Intel CPUs though, so here's a brief guide to how those are ranked. 

Core i3 - If you're buying a budget laptop, it may well feature this. It's a dual core CPU which should do the job for basic, everyday computing. 

Core i5 - This is Intel's main processor. Coming in dual and quad-core, this processor will be found on many 15-inch laptops. 

Core i7 - You're not likely to need this much power, unless you're studying video editing at university or playing heavy-duty games in your downtime. Having a multi-core CPU means the processor can work on multiple tasks at the same time. This is great if you're working on assignments while also having a peak at your socials, monitoring your emails and multi tabbed window shopping. 

Hard drive 

The storage of the all the contents of your laptop from precious assignments and research to all your music, photos and films. 

Hard drives come in two main types: platter hard drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SDD). Most laptops now tend to opt for the speedier SDDs. 

Solid state hard drives use flash memory. With these you can not only expect your machine to boot up faster, but applications and programmes to load quicker too. 

Hard drives are measured in gigabytes, and the more you have the better. Movies, tunes and hi-res pics take up quite a lot of space - so look for laptops with hard drives with at least 250GB, while also considering those with 500GB or 750GB (they don't cost much more). 

If you do find yourself needing more space further down the line, external hard drives can be purchased and plugged into your laptop via USB.

Uni laptop guide

RAM 

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. The more RAM your machine packs the better it will run. Not enough RAM and it will run slowly. 

Don't settle for less than 4GB of RAM but look for 6 or 8GB to futureproof your purchase. The more RAM you have the better set up you'll be for doing more than one thing at a time.   

Operating system 

The operating system, also known as OS, runs much of what happens on your computer. Most laptops will either come with Apple or Windows OS. 

Apple's OS X only runs on Apple laptops and computers, while Windows primarily runs on PCs but there's also a version for Mac. 

Graphics chip 

If you're just planning on surfing the web and watching video, an integrated graphics chip should be fine.  

Integrated means the graphics chip shares the computer's memory, which can make it slower to process video and images. 

However, unless you're playing high end games on your laptop, this shouldn't be an issue. If you do plan on some serious gaming, you'll need a want an upgraded graphics card. 

Graphics cards usually have their own dedicated RAM - the amount you need depends on what you plan to do but it’s recommend to ensure you have at least 256MB in memory. 

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