For new college students, few purchases are as important as the laptop. So, if you’re heading off this fall, check out our going-off-to-college buyer’s guide, with suggestions courtesy of Consumer Reports’ Electronics Content Editor Donna Tapellini.
For the Gamer
The Model: Alienware 17
The Price: $1,499.99, plus customizations
Why You Need it: The Alienware 17 allows you to immerse yourself in any game with its 17-inch HD screen that can be built with a Nvida GeForce GTX 980M GPU for outstanding graphics.
For the Music Major
The Model: Apple Macbook Pro 15-inch with Retina Display
The Price: $2,000
Why You Need it: The Apple Macbook Pro 15-inch’s recording and audio capabilities are better than most, and, with 16 GB of memory, it has excellent storage space for music, music videos, and editing programs. A 256-GB solid-state hard drive accesses files quickly, making music editing simple.
For the Photo Major
The Model: Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series
The Price: $700
Why You Need it: This 10.8-inch laptop has a rear-facing webcam, so you can take pictures without worrying about lugging around heavy equipment. The laptop is perfect for viewing and editing HD photos and videos quickly, and it has a bright display with colors that are accurately reproduced with a natural appearance.
For the Dual Major
The Model: Acer Aspire Switch 11 SW5-111-102R
The Price: $367.77
Why You Need it: You’ll spend more time in class than anywhere else, so ditch the detachable keyboard and convert this laptop into a lightweight tablet—leaving more room for those too-heavy books. Its 11.5 inch-screen is larger than most laptop/tablet hybrids. And, since you can’t always find an outlet in class, the 7.5-hour battery life will let you take all the notes you need.
For the Penny-Pincher
The Model: HP TouchSmart 15-g059wm
The Price: $349.99
Why You Need it: If all you need is a basic laptop—something for email, word-processing, and web-browsing, this one is perfect, and it won’t break the bank. The HP TouchSmart is a no-frills laptop, but it will get routine tasks done efficiently.