How to choose the cheapest and best performing laptop (notebook) for school / college

I've been looking at a few lately online shops a laptop (notebook) with decent performance and a correct quality-price ratio. Decent performance, but enough to cope with the suite Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint), for an Skype and support an online school platform. A laptop that is suitable for a child primary school, gymnasium or student at a college without pretensions of digital architecture, graphic editing, 3D and other wonders for which a PC or laptop with a high-performance graphics card, generous RAM and CPU over 3 Ghz are a "must have".

Broken by the "world" of laptops and PCs with Windows In recent years, I have been shocked to see how much have laptops become more expensivewith the pandemic and moving classes from physical school to online school, and how hard it is to find a commonplace webcam, which until 2020 was on "all roads". Also on "all roads" I found laptops with decent performance at affordable prices for most people. That is, at 400 Euro (2000 RON) I found a laptop capable of supporting all the requirements stated above and whose components to withstand macwould 4-5 years.
Watching closely prices for a laptop model, we found that currently (February 2021), the same laptop model is 300 - 400 lei more expensive than last spring si with 700 - 1000 lei more than in the fall of 2019. So, those times we could say are gone, and even when children need these devices more, the prices are no longer affordable for all pockets.

I don't know how justified these price increases are, but they are present all over the world. This clearly tells us that it was not the stores that raised prices, but the manufacturers. Most likely due to the pandemic period in which the continuation of the production process involves additional costs. So, don't throw stones in stores, because this time they are not "guilty". At least not completely.

I made a comparison for an identical model of Lenevo Thinkpad, between eMAG (Romania) and OTTO (Germany). On eMAG we have a price of 4.195 LEI (EUR 860), while OTTO sells it for EUR 979 (4.773 LEI). Model with identical characteristics. It is true that eMAG lists it as coffee reduced from 4.819 LEI, a price close to that of OTTO.

lenovo thinkpad

If you are looking for a laptop for your child, first of all you need to consider a few points:

  1. With or without operating system Windows
  2. The performance of the laptop, so that it can meet the above requirements.
  3. Screen size (display) and technology should not spoil the child's vision
  4. The price should be the right one
  5. The store where you buy it to be reliable

Buy an operating system laptop Windows or without? 

When you start looking for a laptop, you must first know that those with pre-installed operating systems, are a bit more expensive than the ones "Free DOS”(Ie without operating system Windows). Comparing laptops with the same features here. Recommended is to buy a laptop without a preinstalled operating system. Windows 10 is available for free download, and license from Windows can be bought at decent prices. Yes, in the price of a laptop, 400 lei represents the operating system, you better choose to buy it separately for 150-200 lei.
Also pay attention to the laptops that come with it Windows 10 S. This version, "Windows 10 S"Is one with many restrictions and does not allow the installation of programs and applications except from Microsoft Store. If you need to install a program that is not present in Microsoft Store, upgrade from Windows 10 S la Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Home involves purchasing a license. Money.
Besides the operating system Windows, a child will also need some applications from Microsoft's Office suite. Word, Except, PowerPoint are the most common. In this sense, do not rush to throw money on licenses purchased from third parties, except from Microsoft. There is Office 365 for education - access here - where the web version is free (applications will be run in Microsoft Edge, Chrome or Firefox), and applications desktop au decent subscriptions. No need to buy one more expensive license for Microsoft 365.
I do not recommend in any way to use operating system or hack applications on a PC / laptop dedicated to education. You would not want to see yourself in a situation where the child cannot participate in online classes or cannot do his homework because a "hack" license has been blocked or a virus has come with the application.

Laptop performance required for school / college

I heard parents say, "I want to buy him a slightly better laptop", or, "to be a little cheaper… to do his job at school".
Now I know that everyone is oriented according to possibilities / budget, but when choosing a laptop, the one who gives the money on it must know and what are the necessary characteristics for the applications used at school. A "high-performance" laptop would also have a price, and this "high-performance" thing is relative to me. "Performance" is defined depending on what you are going to install and work on. If for some "performance" means 1200 EUR, for the device to start in 2 seconds, for advanced video editing and graphics programs, the price easily reaches 5000 EUR, and this without asa without external monitor, which is imperative and other auxiliaries.

For the suite of Microsoft 365 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access), Microsoft recommends a processor (CPU) with a frequency of at least 1 GHz si 2 GB RAM (64-bit). Of course, these resources are a bit fanciful, because in addition to the operating system that will put processes on the CPU, there will also be an antivirus and a browser (Edge, Chrome, Firefox) and possibly a video session (and video sessions require resources) that will run in parallel.
What you need to understand before buying a laptop, are the important terms in the "technical specifications". CPU frequency, type si RAM frequency, storage unit type (Hard Disk or SSD) and the type of monitor (display).

CPU Frequency - Nominal Frequency and Turbo Boost

For a "school" laptop it is good to focus on a process minimum 1.8 GHz nominal frequency. You will see that most online stores say "up to 4 GHz" when it comes to CPU frequency. This is the frequency "Turbo Boost“. You can find a laptop with a nominal CPU frequency of 2.3 GHz and Turbo Boost up to 4.9 GHz. This means that the processor operates at a normal frequency of 2.3 GHz when running applications do not require a higher frequency, and the frequency will increase as the applications need it. "Turbo Boost" is a technology developed by Intel si AMD to limit the consumption of energy resources and to increase the battery life of a laptop.
In terms of the number of cores, it does not always reflect performance. You can choose an Intel Core i3 with two cores or an AMD Ryzen 3.


Theoretically, 365 GB of RAM is enough for Microsoft 2, but considering that open files can be complex, and in addition to Office, other applications will run, minimum recommended RAM is 8 GB, DDR 4 with a frequency above 3200 MHz.

Hard Disk or SSD

Many are tempted to look at it first Storage capacity than the type of storage unit when they want to buy a laptop. Most classic HDD laptop models offer generous storage of over 1TB. But you should know that a laptop with SSD (be it 128 GB) will run much faster than one with a classic HDD. Data write and read speeds are significantly higher than SSDs.
In addition, you will find laptop models that support parallel installation of HDD and SSD. The operating system will run on the SSD, while the data will be stored on the HDD.

Screen type - Display

For a decent budget and the display will be decent. It's good that it is IPS LED. At affordable prices you will find LED TN, but you should know that the differences between TN (Twisted Nematic) and IPS (In-Plane Switching) are very high, and the performances are clearly in favor of IPS. Without going into too much detail, the difference is the arrangement, orientation and control of the liquid crystals in the panel. An IPS has a much larger angle of view, brightness, vivid colors and clarity than a TN. These characteristics of the display can be decisive in time for the visual health of the person working on it.
Another important aspect is the screen size. The recommended diagonal is at least 14 inches. Ideally it would be a 15.6 inch.

Armed with this minimum knowledge above. can you look for and find a laptop suitable for school or college, a low price. Use sites that compare product prices from multiple online stores, make sure the store is a trusted one, then place your order.

Passionate about technology, I like to test and write tutorials about operating systems macOS, Linux, Windows, about WordPress, WooCommerce and configure LEMP web servers (Linux, NGINX, MySQL and PHP). I write on since 2006, and a few years later I started writing on iHowTo.Tips tutorials and news about devices in the ecosystem Apple: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, HomePod, iMac, MacBook, AirPods and accessories.

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