6 tips to help you purchase the best back-to-school computer

Now more than ever, students need computers for school.
How do you know what type of computer is best for the 2021-22 academic year?
The six tips below can help you purchase the best back-to-school computer for your child:

1. Know your needs

Know what you want to do with the computer. Is it for gaming, do you want to watch, or edit video, or need a laptop that has good battery life? Or are you just looking for something to browse the web or work on office documents?

2. Budget

Have a firm budget. Leave a little wriggle room for extras like software, separate mouse, keyboard and external hard drive.
STATE OF OUR SCHOOLS: Back-to-school resources

3. Desktop vs. laptop

Most desktop computers have more powerful components, giving them a longer lifespan than a laptop. They are also less accident-prone, harder to steal, and easier to upgrade, according to Lifewire.
According to CNET, laptops come in three categories - ultra-lights, the everyday laptop computer, sometimes called notebooks, and the multimedia (or desktop replacement) laptops.

4. Windows or Mac

According to Digital Trends, dozens of manufacturers make PCs, and the quality and pricing can vary greatly. Many companies also tailor their PCs to a specific purpose, such as gaming or business. Windows is also more open-ended than MacOS.
Macs are very user-friendly. You'll know exactly what you are getting regardless of which MacBook or iMac you purchase. And because all Macs are made with the same specifications by Apple, the company's support can easily help with any problems.
Consider also Chromebooks. These are specialized laptops designed for online use. They are built around the Chrome OS operating system from Google. They are inexpensive devices that utilize cloud-based storage.

5. What to look for in a school computer:

This depends on what you'll use it for. For example, a computer engineering student will have different needs than an English major.
Here are some specifications to look at when assessing a computer's capabilities, according to Lifewire:
Storage capacity: 1TB is more than enough for the average user. If you need more space, you can purchase an external hard drive.
Processor: Processing speed should only be a concern if you plan to run hefty programs like video editing software or online games. In that case, you'd want a processor that can clock between 3.5-4 GHz.
RAM: 4GB is now the standard for laptops, and that's plenty for most people. It's usually possible to install more RAM if you need it.
Connectivity: All computers come with a wireless adapter, but not all laptops have Ethernet ports. You should also consider the number of USB and HDMI ports available.
Webcam: Most laptops come with built-in webcams, but they vary in quality. You can always purchase a better external webcam if you need it.

6. Looking for deals?

Check for discounts! Some schools partner with computer companies that offer vouchers for students to get free or discounted laptops. Your company may also have a benefits and discounts program that offers perks on computers and accessories.
Look for back-to-school sales during the summer and fall months.
If you can wait, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the best dates to find great laptop deals.
Also, generally, when a new generation of the same laptop is announced, the older generation will see a drop in price.
Need more help finding the perfect computer?
According to CNET, these are the top-rated laptops (click here) and desktops (click here) for 2021.