Choosing a laptop with the right size for college is just as important as its specifications are. You need your laptop to be light and easy to carry around, but also offer a large enough screen so you can easily follow your projects, homework and whatnot.
With online learning becoming more and more popular during these times, choosing the right size laptop for college is essential for your future. So… what’s the best size of laptop for college?
A 13.3″ laptop is your best choice for college, as it offers a good balance between portability and screen size. Our conclusion is also backed up by our own survey of 110+ college students who answered what is their favorite laptop size for college.
According to the survey, almost half of the students we questioned agreed that the best laptop size for college is 13.3″, followed by 15.6″ and 11.6″. Here are the complete results:
- 13.3″ – 48%
- 15.6″ – 28%
- 11.6″ – 11%
- 14″ – 3%
- other size – 2%
- 17.3″ – 2%
- Don’t know/any size: 6%
We were expecting to see the 13″ laptop size to be a favorite among students, but we weren’t expecting it to win by such a large margin. Especially since we’ve seen a lot of 15.6″ laptops that are very thin and light and portable.
And larger is always better in our opinion, at least when it comes to a laptop’s screen size. And as long as the device itself is not too heavy to carry around.
Also read: Do you need a laptop case for college?
Why 13.3″ laptops are considered the best size for college?
Not only that they usually give you the best of both worlds: enough screen space not to be considered tiny, a decent keyboard so your fingers won’t get tangled when you try typing something and the price is usually lower than that of larger devices.
If you want to play games or do some photo/video editing or other more intensive tasks on your laptop, you can still find a good 13.3″ laptop that can handle these jobs, like the amazing Razer Blade Stealth (affiliate link).
But generally, you will find them fairly priced, with options starting at around $200 (if you choose a Chromebook) and going up to around $600 for a more than decent laptop for college.
When to choose a larger laptop for college
Of course, a 13.3″ laptop might not be the best fit for all. We do believe that it will generally work for almost all students, but sometimes going for a larger screen can offer you some bonuses.
The “classic” laptop size is 15.6″ and that is where you will find a ton of options in all budget ranges, but also with all sort of specifications, from cheap and crappy to expensive and amazing.
If you are a college student that wants to do some serious gaming or if your line of study requires it (like video, design, programming and others that require more processing power and larger screens), a 15.6″ laptop with a dedicated GPU might be a better choice.
Yes, you can find 13.3″ laptops with dedicated GPUs (we already shared our top recommendation in this area already), but if you will be spending hours in front of the screen, the jump from 13.3″ to 15.6″ will be an eye saver and will make everything easier.
Do have in mind that if you go this route, your laptop will most likely be heavier and a bit more difficult to carry around. But it’s a price I am personally ready to pay for the advantages brought by the larger screen.
Related: How to make your laptop look cool.
Other things to consider when selecting your laptop for college
Size is not all that matters: you can have a small laptop that can run anything or a large one that can’t run most programs.
This is where you should look at the device’s specifications. Here is what will matter to you and will decide how much your laptop can handle:
1. CPU & RAM
These usually go hand in hand and are important for your regular, daily use. The better the processor (CPU) and the more RAM you have, the more tabs you’ll be able to keep open at the same time on your browser, and the more apps you’ll be able to keep running without your device getting laggy.
For Windows laptops, try to get at least an Intel i5 processor (or equivalent) and at least 8GB RAM. 16 is better, but anything above that can be considered overkill and would increase the price too much without any solid grounds.
2. Size and weight
Since you’ll be carrying the device around a lot, you will want it to be as light as possible. Depending on your preferences, choose the right size.
You don’t want a screen that’s too small so that you can’t see anything on it, but you don’t want a mammoth of a laptop either not to have enough room for it on the desk.
As we’ve seen already, the best laptop size for college is considered to be 13.3-inch, followed by 15.6-inch laptops.
3. Battery life
While it’s getting easier and easier to find a plug for charging your device in most colleges, it’s still best to make sure that your laptop can last you throughout the day on a single charge.
So look carefully and choose laptops that offer at least 6 hours of battery juice, but the more, the better.
4. Dedicated GPU (graphics card)
This is optional and only if your line of study requires it – or if your hobbies do. You will need a laptop with a dedicated graphics card if you plan to do some serious video and photo editing, but also play games (or create them on your laptop).
Have in mind that dedicated GPUs will increase a laptop’s weight quite a bit since they will have to come with better cooling. Usually, these laptops also have lower battery life than most because all those advanced components need a lot of power to run at optimal settings.
While this is definitely not extremely important, you should still make sure that you have enough storage for your files, projects and school-related documents (and not only).
Some very cheap laptops – like Chromebooks – offer extremely low amounts of storage, like 16 or 32GB which will most likely not be enough.
Try to consider what will be stored on your device and choose the storage accordingly (having in mind that photos, videos and games take a lot of space!).
Finally, make sure to only choose a laptop with a modern storage solution – SSDs over HDDs, as they are much faster and more reliable.
Hopefully this article helped paint a clear and complete picture of this often overlooked detail when going to college: what laptop size to choose.
If you have additional comments or questions, don’t hesitate to let us know by commenting below!