The time to head back to school is fast approaching, and we imagine many of you are gearing up for the new semester. Excitement must be building as you look forward to the prospect of new schools, classes, and reuniting with friends.
For some of you, a new PC might be on your shopping list. However, the decision can be daunting, considering the cost and the potential for making the wrong choice. Fear not! We’re here to guide you on selecting the ideal PC that suits your needs for acing your classes.
Navigating the PC purchase can be confusing. You might find yourself torn between wanting a new PC and not wanting to overspend on unnecessary specs. Sure, spending more can get you a high-performance PC, but nobody likes paying extra for features they won’t use.
To resolve this dilemma, it’s crucial to identify how you’ll be using the PC. Consider factors such as the types of programs, courses, and jobs you’ll undertake, as well as your daily usage patterns.
Laptop PC Specifications Trends for 2023:
As of 2023, the general trend in laptop PC specifications includes:
Intel Core i3 – i7 13th Generation (13xxx)
AMD Ryzen 3 – 7 (4xxx – 7xxx)
8GB – 16GB
256GB – 1TB
13 – 15 inch
High-End: Above CA$1500
Middle Range: CA$750 – CA$1500
Low End: Below CA$750
Choosing the Right Laptop PC:
A high-end PC, including gaming models, boasts powerful capabilities and versatility. While they come at a higher price point (above CA$1500), they are fit for demanding tasks like programming, graphic design, video editing, and 3D modeling. If your courses align with these needs or you can afford it, a high-end PC is an excellent investment.
Intel Core i7 or higher
AMD Ryzen 7 or higher
16GB or more
1TB or more
15 inches or larger
GeForce RTX 3xxx or higher
Radeon RX 6xxx or higher
For coursework that mirrors office work but requires a bit more computing power, a middle-range PC strikes a balance between cost and performance. It can handle entry-level programming, engineering, graphic design, and video editing. Expect some extra time for resource-intensive tasks compared to high-end PCs.
Intel Core i5 – i7
AMD Ryzen 5 – 7
8GB – 16GB
512GB – 1TB
13 – 15 inch
CA$750 – CA$1500
If your coursework mainly involves light tasks like writing and spreadsheet work, a low-end PC will suffice. These are affordable options suitable for temporary or basic use.
Intel Core i3 – i5, Celeron, etc.
AMD Ryzen 3 – 5
Up to 8GB
Up to 512GB
13 – 15 inch
Up to CA$750
Tips for Laptop PC Selection:
Estimated Laptop PC Lifespan:
On average, a laptop PC’s lifespan is around five years. Over time, components like the keyboard, processor, battery, and monitor wear out. Unlike desktop PCs, laptops have potentially limited upgrade/repair at low cost, so backup your important data to an external storage or the cloud to avoid losing it if your laptop fails and is replaced.
The Pitfalls of Low-End PCs:
Opting for a low-end PC might seem cost-effective, but their slower processing times can add significant delays to your tasks. As a student, time management is crucial for your overall well-being. Investing in a better-performing PC ensures you can accomplish your work efficiently, safeguarding your health and study time.
Windows vs. macOS:
Choosing between Windows and macOS depends on your familiarity and needs. If you’re accustomed to Windows, you’ll likely find better support from school technicians and teachers. Windows-based programs dominate educational environments, offering more assistance and compatibility. However, if you’re comfortable with macOS and require it for specific tasks like graphic design or app development, go for it.
Google Drive vs. Microsoft Office:
For basic tasks like word processing and spreadsheet work, Google Drive’s Docs and Sheets provide viable alternatives to Microsoft Office. Google Drive offers automatic data saving, collaboration, and accessibility across devices. Additionally, some schools provide free Microsoft Office licenses to students such as UBC, SFU, and BCIT.
Chromebooks can be appealing due to their affordability, but they differ significantly from traditional PCs. They run on Chrome OS, which primarily relies on web-based applications. While suitable for tasks involving Chrome and Google Drive, Chromebooks lack the versatility of Windows and macOS. If your coursework requires diverse applications, a Chromebook might not suffice.
Refurbished PCs offer cost savings, but they come with potential risks. Ensure you purchase from reputable sources to mitigate the risk of hacking and potential problems with the hardware. Research reviews to gain insight into any potential issues.
Embrace the Learning Experience:
Selecting the right PC is essential, but don’t fret if you make a mistake. Each choice, whether successful or not, offers a learning experience that will serve you well in your IT journey. Your PC is a valuable tool for your studies and future career, so choose wisely, and remember: “Bon voyage!” Have a great IT journey!
Source: Microsoft 365 Office for Students | UBC Information Technology, Microsoft 365 – Information Systems at SFU, BCIT: Downloading & Activating Microsoft Office 365