Laptop Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Laptop for Students

Shopping for a brand new laptop can be a tough task, given the sheer amount of choices available in the market now. If you’re a student on a tight budget, it gets even harder; it’s not easy to find for an affordable laptop that also offers good feature set for students.

But just because you’re limited by budget doesn’t mean you’ll have to settle for a sub-par laptop. In a bid to make the shopping experience easier for you students out there, this buyer’s guide will highlight what you need to prioritise when shopping for a shiny new laptop to get your assignments done.

It Has to Be Affordable, But Not Too Affordable

Granted, different individuals have their own definition of what “affordable” really is, so here’s a general rule of thumb: any laptop below the RM3,000 mark is deemed affordable. Of course, the lower you can go, the better! But you have to be careful about not looking too far down the price range.

How far down is too far? Well, full-fledged laptops below the RM2,000 price point are usually not that great. Sure, these machines will work as intended, but if you want a pleasant user experience, it’s best to spend a few hundred more now than regret later.

See, laptops in this price range usually compromise on many crucial aspects, including processing power, RAM capacity, and especially the type of storage you’re getting. The bottom line is, it’s simply not worth the headache just to save a couple hundred ringgit. Unless…these sub-RM2,000 laptops can still fulfill the following criteria, though they usually cannot.

Good Processing Power

When you’re going through the spec sheet of any laptop, look for an Intel Core i5 processor – from the U series family – as the bare minimum. Also, make sure it’s (at the very least) from the 8th Gen family. Compared to their 7th Gen counterparts, the newer 8th Gen Core i5 chips from the U series now come with four cores instead of only two. The extra two cores will offer noticeable performance gain.

What about graphics card? Generally, you don’t need a dedicated GPU for most productivity tasks; the integrated graphics from the processor will suffice. Plus, having a beefy GPU would only drive up the price of any given laptop.

SSD Storage & Good RAM Capacity

Now this is the reason why we’re looking for laptops above the RM2,000 mark. Regardless of your usage scenario as a student, always, always get a laptop with an SSD storage; never get a machine with only a hard disk drive as the main storage solution. Trust us, an SSD makes a ton of difference. Programs open quicker, you get faster loading times, and the laptop itself will feel far more responsive.

On top of that, look at how much RAM the laptop comes with out of the box. Ideally, you want at least 8GB of RAM for the best usage experience. The more RAM you have, the more applications you can have opened at the same time, among other benefits.

Thin & Light Design

Can you imagine lugging around a thick, heavy laptop wherever you go? Students are usually always on the go, so it’s essential to get a laptop that is both thin and light. Shop for laptops that weigh as little as possible while still sticking to the sub-RM3,000 budget. Less than 1.5kg is ideal, and it’ll be great if they’re also thinner than, say, 15mm.

Essential Software for Students

Chances are, you’ll need a number of important applications as a student, and no software is quite as essential as Microsoft Office. Whether you need to work on a lengthy assignment on Word, familiarise yourself with Excel’s range of formulas, or prepare for a presentation with PowerPoint, having Microsoft Office on your laptop is a godsend.

Unfortunately, not many laptops come with the full version of Office applications. While most are pre-installed with the software, you’ll need to purchase it in order to gain full access. Needless to say, this will cost you quite a bit.

Is There Any Laptop That Fulfill These Criteria?

As a matter of fact, there is: enter the Acer Swift 3. Not only is it an affordable laptop with great value for money, it also comes with an activated copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2019 pre-installed worth a whopping RM529. This gives you lifetime access to the full version of the application, including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Naturally, the Swift 3 also fulfills all of the criteria mentioned above. It comes with a Core i5-8265U quad-core processor paired with 8GB of RAM, a generous 512GB SSD storage, a 14-inch 1080p IPS display, and tipping the scales at only 1.35kg, it’s a lightweight laptop. It also has a pretty slim chassis, measuring only 14.9mm thin.

As an added bonus, you can even purchase a variant of the Swift 3 with a dedicated GPU in the form of the Nvidia GeForce MX250. If you plan to play popular games like Dota 2 and Fortnite on the side, this GPU can definitely manage.

More importantly, the Swift 3 is a very affordable laptop. The base model with UHD Graphics 620 retails at only RM2,399, while the MX250 model costs merely RM2,699. Beyond the choice of GPU, other specifications of these two models are exactly the same. Did we mention this laptop also comes with a two-year local warranty?

Thanks to its great value for money, generous storage capacity, and portable nature (not to mention having full access to Microsoft Office), the Acer Swift 3 is definitely the ideal laptop for many students. If you’d like to learn more about the Swift 3, head on to Acer’s official website.

Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Acer Malaysia.

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