Thinking about buying a new computer? About to start another semester of nursing school? Picking out a new laptop can be overwhelming. especially because it is such a big purchase that will live with you for the next 4 or 5 years. Included below are a few things to think about as well as a few recommendations from yours truly.
Feel free to email me with questions. I love talking about computer stuff! Also, check out my recent post "5 Best Computers for Nursing Students" that lists my favorite computers for nursing school!
What kind of processor does it come with?
The processor, or CPU, is the speed of the computer measured in gigahertz. Modern computers computers usually range from 1.5-3 GHz with the higher the number the faster the computing speed. The speed also depends on how may processors the computer has and how sophisticated they are. Always looks for the newest generation and a "multi-core" processor. Right now, you're probably going to want the Intel 4th Generation Core i5 or i7. As you might expect, and i7 is always faster than an i5, and as you might expect, usually more expensive.
If you plan on using your computer exclusively for school (writing, reading textbooks, watching TV shows, streaming music, etc.), an Intel i5 will work just fine. If you plan on using the computer for school AND photo/video editing using Adobe products, I would recommend an Intel i7. If you plan on using the computer for school AND video gaming, I would also recommend an Intel i7.
Many computer come in two models, one with an i5 and another with an i7. Be sure to check the specs before making the purchase.
What kind of hard drive do I need?
The computer hard drive refers to the amount of storage on your computer. Namely, how much music, movies, and files you can store. There are two types: hard disk drive (usually abbreviated HDD) and solid state drive (SSD) both measured in gigabytes (GB).
The SSD is newer, faster, quieter, and better. I would highly, highly, highly recommend getting at least an SSD. Some computers come with an SSD and HHD, which is completely fine and just means that you will have more space to store your files. The only downside is that the more SSD & HHD in your computer, the heavier it becomes.
If you are using the computer for school, look for a 128 GB (will suffice) or 256 GB SSD. Nowadays its only smart to backup your files using cloud storage such as OneDrive or Google Drive, which doesn't take up any space on your computer at all. If you are using the computer for school AND photo/video editing and/or gaming look for something bigger like 512 GB.
How much memory does my computer need?
Computer memory, also called RAM (random access memory) is measured in GB. Always look for a computer with at minimum 2 GB of RAM, but I recommend 4 GB or more. The more memory the better. Memory is important because it allows you to run multiple programs at once, have multiple tabs open in your browser, and prevent your computer from lagging (running slowly). As you have probably predicted, more the memory you have the better but also the more expensive.
So which is the best? Processor, hard drive, or memory?
Obviously it doesn't matter how good the processor is if you don't get enough memory or hard drive space. It comes down to picking out the best of all three worlds: processor, hard drive, and memory. Luckily, I've spent a lot of time researching for you and I made a list below that includes recommendations for every budget.
Best Bang for Your Buck ($699 or less)
Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Good ($700 to $1000)
Go Big or Go Home ($1000+)
Feel lost? Email me! Have a great computer and want to share? Include it in the comments below. Want me to review your computer? Check out my product review policy and contact me.