Best Computer For College: How Much Does it Cost?

best computer for college picture of an old computer

The best computer for college probably seems like it would cost a ton of money.

I know that when I was picking out laptops back in the day, it felt like it made sense to go with one that was about $1,000. At age 18, that wasn’t exactly pocket change for my part-time movie theater salary.

Before you put your life savings into what seems like the best computer for college, ask yourself a few important questions.

What Will You Use It For?

The computer you choose may depend a lot on your degree. For example, if you go to school for something related to filmmaking or media, it might make sense to get a computer that can handle heavy-duty video editing software.

Because of the processing power required for your video projects, those do tend to get expensive. In some cases, you can get a less-expensive but still very powerful desktop for under $1000. However, if you need to bring the computer to class and create videos on the spot, course requirements may say that you a need a laptop.

Most laptops that are suitable for video-editing will cost you upwards of $1,500 dollars. If you need something to really last, expect to spend closer to $2,500.

Other Majors and the Best Computer for College

Filmmaking students aren’t the only ones who might need to make a big investment. Engineering students will need powerful CPUs and graphics cards in their best computer for college.

The same goes for architecture and design students who need to create vibrant simulations in software programs. If you need to use anything from Autodesk to do things like practicing making prototypes, it will probably require a big investment in your computer.

Even though those majors mentioned do require that you spend a lot, there are tons of other ones that don’t need fancy rigs.

Best Computer For College: The Low-Cost Majors

Most business majors don’t need fancy computers. I was an accounting major and overspent on my laptop big time. You can easily get by with a laptop or a desktop around the $300-$500 price range if you plan to study business in school.

Every project that I did either involved using Microsoft Word or Excel, which are very low-power applications. In fact, you could even buy a Chromebook for under $250 and use Google Docs or Google Sheets to really save some money.

That being said, your best computer for college may be the extra few hundred dollars with a machine that has a bigger hard drive and a reasonably powerful CPU/graphics card. My laptop is 9 years old now and while it has slowed down, it still has a few years of life left.

The Laptop or Desktop Question

You will need to make a choice between getting either a laptop or a desktop computer. A lot of people go with laptops for college because of their portability. At the same time, though, you won’t necessarily need to worry about that.

Many colleges have computers all over campus. You can usually find one in the various designated study areas like the library, student union, and other places.

Since my laptop was pretty heavy, I typically found myself leaving it in the room and using campus computers instead. If I could do it again, I might have gone with a more powerful desktop. Typically, they will pack more of a punch than a laptop that costs the same amount.

The Best Computer For College: Making Your Choice

Ultimately, choosing the best computer for college will come down to two things: your needs and your budget. Many majors don’t need to spend $2,400 on an iMac, but many will do that. There’s nothing wrong with those, they are really reliable computers.

However, there are plenty of options to save that $2000 and still have a solid computer that easily lasts throughout your time in school. You can even get away with not having one altogether as long as there are enough available in the media center.