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College Students Buying Laptops: Tips on Where to Spend and How to Save

written by: Amy L. Gouger•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 4/30/2010

Computers can be expensive, especially for college students. College Students buying laptops can save money by looking past the wrapping, buying when stores offer discounts, and utilizing the Internet. Read on for more helpful tips for college students buying laptops!

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    For most college students buying laptops, finding a laptop they can afford drives the students down the computer-filled isles at Best Buy or Wal-Mart. With tuition, room and board, new clothing, textbooks, and school supplies, finding the perfect laptop helps students, and their parents, hold on to their money for living expenses. These tips for college students buying laptops are here to help you make an informed decision prior to purchase. College students buying a laptop should look at whole picture presented by each computer’s specs before deciding which computer has the most bang for his buck.

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    Cutting Costs

    College bookstores sell Microsoft office at a steep discount to students with a valid college ID. This costs less than purchasing it already on the computer plus the student receives a hard copy of the program. Free versions of software such as Photoshop and Adobe Reader reside online.

    Don’t sweat the brand name. Computer purchasers pay more for a brand name computer than a generic one. Brand-name computers often offer a warranty for a limited period of time. Both Best Buy and Wal-Mart offer store-based warranties for an additional cost. Most often a college student doesn't need both.

    Consider purchasing online. Online computer stores like tigerdirect.com allows the purchaser to view many models quickly and check prices without a salesperson hovering over their shoulder. If the student purchases over a certain amount, then the company usually offers free shipping. This cuts gas costs.

    Wait for discounts. Around September or October, stores like Wal-Mart get rid of older models and floor models at substantial discounts.

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    Spend for Efficiency

    College students buying laptops should avoid extremely cheap laptops, because the manufacturers usually skimp on the necessities and wrap the inefficiencies with inexpensive extras such as web cams.

    Spend for speed. A small number after the type and make of the processor determines the speed the computer. In laptops, it rarely exceeds 3.0 gHz. College students and their parents will see the number as low 1.5 gHz. Higher number equals faster computer. To find this number check the computer specs posted or access the information via System Properties, located on the Start Menu under Computer. College students will see something similar to Intel ® Pentium ® Duel CPU T3400 @ 2.16 gHz. The last number followed by gHz defines the computer’s capabilities.

    More memory allows more windows to remain open at the same time. For Windows Vista or 7, the computer needs to contain at least 1 GB. Nowadays, students or their parents can purchase computers with two, three, or four gigabytes on the market.

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    For the next four years, college students buying laptops (and all students really) face the inevitable penny pinch. Making the right computer choice eliminates further hassles with repair and buying a new computer. In addition to these helpful tips for college students buying laptops, remember to shield the computer with antivirus and spyware software to prolong the longevity of the computer!