Although it took tantalizing efforts from our part to pen down this thoughtful guide, we haven’t used any catchphrase to bring you to this topic. We wanted to keep things ‘as-it-is’ without the usual sugarcoating that most website creators indulge in. Although this may not seem normal, our attempt is to introduce you guys to the best laptop for online college classes to enhance your learning and productivity at a budget. Makes sense, right?
Before we begin, let’s keep things real. Being a online college student is equivalent to not having a lot of disposable income. Even if you are someone who gets little extra pocket money, it’s never enough. After all, a student and his/her money can be easily parted. Isn’t it? So, you shouldn’t aim for the moon over here. The crux of the matter is that you can’t expect to have a laptop with the best specs in the world at a shoestring budget.
So, what’s the best way to get a laptop that’s functional enough to meet your online college needs without tanking your budget?
Qualities of the Best Laptops for Online College
The key over here is to find a functional over a flashy laptop. For instance, you might want to forego the looks or the weight of the laptop. After all, these are not the major requirements for online college. On the other hand, you cannot afford to cast a blind eye to the processor or the storage capacity of the laptop. To give you a better idea over here, let’s list down the major and minor product requirements for the best laptops for online classes.
Major / Must-Have Requirements for Online College Laptops
1. Good Processor
The processor is the heart of a laptop. For starters, they can consider an Intel Core i7 processor. But, those who can afford to spend more don’t have to necessarily settle for the Intel Core i7 processor. They can consider something better so that they can beam with pride over their smart decision. Let’s put it this way: If you can spend more than $750, do not compromise on anything less than the 5-th generation i3/i5. For others, the Intel Core i7 processor should be a good bet.
2. SSD Storage
Anyone who has owned a laptop in the past may already know that SSD storage is way faster, lighter, and reliable than its HDD equivalent. Basically, HDD is a thing of the past. On the other hand, SSD is a newer technology. They use less energy and keep the laptop cooler than usual. Don’t you think that this is strong enough information to build a case in favor of SSD storage? Depending on your budget, the chart below will tell you what you can expect for your price point.
- Under $800 – 1 TB HDD
- $800 to $1150 – 250 GB SSD
- Above $1150 – 500 GB SSD
If your budget exceeds $1150, you can also consider 1 TB HDD instead of 500 GB SSD.
3. 8 GB Memory
The combo of a good processor, SSD storage, and RAM is needed for a laptop to perform at its efficient best. 8 GB or higher memory should be the ideal pick over here for the laptop to operate easily and fast. So, you should aim for at least 8 GB. Let’s put it this way: 8 GB is good, 16 GB is perfect, and 32 GB is OMG. Of course, online college students might hardly ever utilize the full 32 GB capacity. So, don’t stress too much to acquire 32 GB. As hinted above, 8 GB should be fine. Go for 16 GB only if you are an engineering, architectural, photography, computer science, or video editing student.
Key Notes: Keep in mind that the majority of the laptops out there above 13.3″ have slots for a memory upgrade. So, getting an 8 GB RAM is not the end of the world. You can always upgrade it to 16 GB or a higher RAM in the future depending on your growing needs. Basically, you can go the extra mile anytime down the road.
Minor Requirements for Online Classes Laptops
1. Battery Life
Since physical presence is not needed for attending lectures, students taking online classes or courses can afford to latch on to a laptop with not-so-great battery life. Given that battery life is not a crucial feature, you can say ‘yes’ to laptops with average battery life. The idea is not to duck out crucial features to get a good performing laptop without paying a jaw-dropping price for it. So, have the nerve to prioritize performance over battery life. For online studies, you should be better than ‘fine’ making this decision.
2. Graphics Card
This is an extra feature that online college students can consider to enhance the gaming experience in their free time. Now, here’s a powerful reminder. Not every other laptop out there may unexpectedly feature a dedicated graphics card. Not sure if you will be stunned or not, but most laptops under $800 don’t come with a dedicated graphics card. If you can afford to spend more than 800 bucks, you can consider GTX 950M and GeForce GTX 960M graphics card. Both are good entry-level graphics cards for video editors and gamers.
Key Notes: If you are someone who is an intense gamer, you might want to go for a high-end graphics card so that your laptop doesn’t slow down when playing games. That said, be prepared to spend at least $1500 for a laptop that features high-end graphics card. The GeForce GTX 980M graphics card is a good choice for those who can spend two grand or more on a laptop.
A touchscreen is another great additional feature that can be considered on laptops for online college for a tablet-like experience and easy navigation. A touchscreen will greatly benefit someone who is a online student plus a working individual. It’s good for Internet surfing and entertainment as well. This isn’t to say that a touchscreen is the smartest idea ever in the evolution of the laptop. Well, the deciding factor will depend on the price vs. performance output.
Keep in mind that a touchscreen will add a few hundred dollars to your laptop budget. Moreover, the advantages are not flabbergasting. Furthermore, you won’t use it as much as you think you will. Therefore, we have labeled it as a minor requirement. So, don’t make it a hungry piece of equipment. You will do well without it as well.
4. Illuminated Full-Size Keyboard
Compared to a standard keyboard, it’s far more convenient to use a full-sized backlit keyboard. A keyboard with a number pad is ideal for online students who do a lot of ‘number’ typing. An illuminated keyboard also helps one operate the laptop easily in the dark. Not to forget the fact that a fully illuminated keyboard looks quite flashy as well. Therefore, it gains a slight edge over laptops that don’t feature an illuminated full-size keyboard.
Key Notes: If you are deciding whether an illuminated full-size keyboard is necessary or not, it’s most likely not. But if you don’t mind spending a little extra, you can go for it. A full-sized backlit keyboard will help, but it won’t make a world of difference. So, you will be able to live without it. It’s just weight and cost for those who don’t appreciate the number pad, aesthetics, or the backlit display.
Top Picks for the Best Laptops for Online Classes
1. Dell XPS9560-7001SLV-PUS
This 15.6-inch Dell laptop comes with good enough specs to be considered for online classes. For those who don’t know, it features a fingerprint scanner to make the user’s life easier than usual. Moreover, the 4k display on this touch-friendly laptop is simply breathtaking. The battery life doesn’t disappoint either. Even at full brightness and non-stop activities, it can last for 6+ hours on any given day of the week.
Furthermore, the laptop is equipped with 170-degrees wide viewing angles to avoid glares. And, it runs on 7th generation Intel Quad Core i7 3.8 GHz processor. Combine this with the fact that the laptop has a 16 GB RAM, a dedicated GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, and plenty of storage space (1 TB or 512 GB SSD drive); you have a powerhouse of a laptop for online classes. Imagine all these robust features packed in a slim and sleek body. Yes, this Dell laptop is only 11-17 mm thin. It almost feels like the laptop has some gym background.
The dark cloud behind this individual laptop is that the camera placement is not perfect for video conferencing. Basically, it’s not centered correctly. Even if you were to look straight at the person you are talking to, the person on the other side will see that you are looking towards the right. This flaw aside, the performance of this laptop clearly justifies its price tag.
Not to forget the fact that the laptop does not have a serious weight to it. At a mere 4lbs, it’s easy to carry the laptop from one place to another. In fact, it’s a joy to use a laptop of this quality. Dell has definitely created a winner laptop for online college and other general purpose use. It can be used daily for studies or work. Therefore, we would recommend this laptop for online classes without any reservations. This little jewel is indeed a star performer!
2. ASUS ZenBook UX550VE-XB71T
The ASUS ZenBook UX550VE-XB71T is a well-configured product for online college studies or general use plus gaming. The good speed, power, and performance make this 1080p 15.6″ screen laptop an excellent choice for anyone looking for good value for money. And, this touchscreen aluminum built device is light and compact. Therefore, you will find it easy to carry in your backpack.
Moreover, the specs on this laptop are a cut above the scope. To make it a perfect machine for everyday use, the laptop is equipped with 512 GB Samsung SSD and 16 GB of RAM. Then you also have this truly robust i7 7700HQ 2.8GHz quad-core processor that makes this device a mean machine. Better yet, it has generous port options and good speakers. The Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti graphics card with 4 GB RAM is an attractive addition as well.
The laptop is blazing fast. To top it all, the inclusion of 178 degrees wide viewing angle makes the display on this device simply outstanding. The battery life on this laptop is also amazing. For normal use, it can easily last for more than 12 hours. Moreover, this workhorse does not heat up easily. The fan on this device runs smoothly all the time. It’s inaudible even when you are highly active. It keeps the machine cool during extended laptop use as well.
Furthermore, the setup process is fairly quick and automated. Therefore, it won’t give you the feeling of walking on pins and needles. A user simply needs to power up the laptop and follow through the typical five minutes process of account setup. Moreover, the 15.6″ screen is large, bright, crisp, and welcoming. Also, the fingerprint login is a charming feature on this laptop.
The only grudge that you might have against this laptop is that the maximum RAM capacity cannot be extended beyond 16 GB. That said, it’s not really a major issue because 16 GB RAM should suffice for online classes. Everything said and done; this ASUS ZenBook UX550VE-DB71T laptop has enough speed, power, and connectivity for online college studies. In fact, this laptop can put its competition to shame while being extensively cheaper than the rivals.
3. Microsoft Surface Laptop
If you are not a Microsoft fan boy, you might become one to make the purchase of this lightweight and beautiful laptop count. Microsoft has really stepped up to the plate with this beauty of a beast. For user convenience, the Microsoft Surface Laptop comes with Windows 10 installed in it. It houses a 7th generation Intel i5 processor along with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB memory storage to handle everything you throw at it with great ease.
Although the laptop has minimum external styling, the 13.5-inch screen is sharp and beautiful. Your eyes will be attracted to the screen as if there was some divine pull. The images look true to life. For something that weighs less than three pounds, this device is highly optimized for performance. For instance, the touchscreen and the face recognition unlock feature is crazy fast and responsive. The keyboard is excellent as well. You can’t type on the keyboard and not feel good at the same time. The battery on this thing is a killer too. You can go days without charging it.
Another plus is the sound and video quality of the Microsoft Surface Laptop. That said, the small selection of ports might annoy some students. However, you won’t complain about it for the size and internal power of the machine. As long as you don’t soak this laptop in a bucket full of water, there is no reason why this laptop for online college would disappoint you. Simply put, this device is spectacular in every imaginable way. For online classes, this laptop is indeed a deal maker. It may not be the perfect gaming laptop out there, but it’s a highly productive laptop. It works flawlessly for its purpose.
4. TOSHIBA Laptop Tecra A50-01R01S
For anyone looking for portability with power, the TOSHIBA Laptop Tecra A50-01R01S should be a perfect choice. This laptop boasts of a 7th generation i7 Intel dual-core 2.7 GHz processor, 1TB SSD hard drive, and a 4 GB DDR4 RAM. Of course, if you were to use more than the allocated 4 GB memory, things will slow down. That said, the CPU on this machine makes it really fast and energy efficient for general purpose use. It lets you multi-task smoothly like a child’s play.
The keyboard on this TOSHIBA also has a nice feel to it. The key action is fast and crisp. The 15.6-inches laptop screen is large and smooth as well. And, the laptop is beautiful from the inside and out. With a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, you will easily notice that the display quality is up a few notches. And, the battery doesn’t drain easily. Even if you are a heavy laptop user, the battery will survive for five-plus hours at a stretch. Better yet, the laptop has best-in-class connectivity that you would ideally expect from a high-end device.
The only thing that might irk you is that the laptop does not come with a touchscreen. Other than this minor hassle, the laptop has all kinds of pleasing features and performance for the money you pay for it. Therefore, it’s unlikely for a online college student to end up with buyer’s remorse by considering a laptop of this quality. It’s a great laptop for online classes. So, this laptop should be the end-game for online college students.
5. Dell Inspiron 5000
This laptop is inexpensive, yet very versatile. It has plenty of horsepower to be a people-pleasing product. The makers have really gone against the grain to come up with such a good quality laptop at a budget price. The laptop is more than reasonably fast and easy to use. It boots up and shuts down within a few seconds. The credit for this goes to the 7th generation Intel Core i5 3.1 GHz processor, 1TB SSD hard drive, and an 8GB DDR4 RAM that the product houses within itself.
Performance-wise the laptop is right on the money. The touchscreen makes browsing and navigation a fun affair on this laptop. The sound and video quality are also second to none. The keyboard is in line with its high-end rivals. Therefore, you will find it a breeze to type long reports or essays on this keyboard. Also, the battery life is sufficient to help you get through hours and hours of lectures without any hiccups. Unless you are doing engineering major, the 1080p resolution should suffice.
For those who are not aware, the touchscreen on this 15.6-inches laptop can be flipped back and forth at any angle. Another stand out quality of this laptop is the promising face recognition feature that’s designed to help you login safely and faster than usual. The connectivity on this laptop is faultless too. It pairs up well against everything it is supposed to connect without any maddening pauses or delays.
The only thing that might make you wear your grumpy pants is the location of the power button. It is literally situated at the dumbest place. That said, it will keep up with the demands of online college classes. So, you won’t feel like ditching this laptop for the stupid location of the power button. Overall, this Dell Inspiron laptop is a great option for online classes studies.
Hopefully, we were able to address all your burning questions through this post. For a quarrel-free decision, you can choose any laptop from the recommended list for online college classes and run with it. Given the price to performance ratio, you won’t see a lot of ups and downs with any of these laptops. You will surely get your hard-earned money’s worth and a little more from these laptops. That said, it’s time to part ways with all you guys out there. Happy laptop shopping!