Probably considered by all to be the most important piece of equipment when attending medical school, a laptop is your best friend. The reasons and uses for a medical school laptop are nearly endless, making it a crucial piece of equipment, and one that you want to make sure is the right choice.
Since there are hundreds of options for laptops in the contemporary technological market, there can sometimes be a lot of confusion in determining which may be the best to use. This guide will hopefully equip you with the knowledge and information to garner when purchasing the best laptop for medical school.
I have heard it said before that the devil shows himself in technology, and that is especially true for laptops. How often is it that work goes unsaved, programs crash, and battery power begins to diminish over time? When purchasing the best laptop for medical school, it is important to focus on several tenets that will guide your decision. These tenets are price, battery life, power, graphics, weight, memory and storage.
Requirements for a medical school laptop
Let’s start off with a processor.
First of all, I recommend getting Intel Core i5 or i7 U-series processor.
Good examples: i5-6200U, i5-7200U, i7-6500U, i7-7500U.
The more memory (RAM) the better, but after a while, it is moot when compared to usage. For instance, those only using a laptop for general things like internet browsing and email may not need more RAM, but those playing games or editing videos require more RAM to power their device.
- Budget laptops: 4GB of RAM
- Average $1,000 laptop: 8GB (recommended)
- For gaming and very demanding tasks: 16GB
Storage is equivalent to the amount of space that is available for data before it is empty. More storage equals more data, but also the type of hard drive is important in determining this factor as well.
There are 2 types of laptop storage drives: HDD and SSD. HDDs are generally larger and cheaper while SSDs are very fast but a lot smaller for their price.
I heavily recommend getting an SSD – since usually there is no need for a large drive for a student. And a faster storage will drastically speed up your laptop.
If you’re picking an SSD – you can go for 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB drive. I recommend getting at least 256 GB.
- Under $600: 128 GB
- Under $1,000: 256 GB
- $1,000 and up: 512 GB
If you desperately need a lot of storage – just go for 1 TB HDD. It is slow, but if you can’t afford an SSD and you NEED a lot of space for files – hard drive might be your only option.
Battery life is pretty self-explanatory, meaning the amount of time the battery can power the device before needing a recharge.
The weight of the device is incredibly important. When adding a few pounds here and there from textbooks, another heavy laptop is not what you need in your bag. Find a laptop that is not incredibly bulky or heavy and you will thank yourself down the road.
Graphics refer to the onboard graphics processor (GPU). These days, if you’re not a gamer, you can forget about this requirement. All laptop processors come with a basic GPU which is good enough for everyday work and entertainment.
But if you play all the latest games: you’ll need a discrete GPU from Nvidia. Good mid-range option right now is GeForce GTX 960M. For an upper-range option – prefer GTX 970M and GTX 1060.
Considered an entry level computer, this near $500 option is a good choice for a cheap medical school laptop.
For medical school, this laptop accomplishes pretty much the bare minimum of all requirements, checking the general user box. Lots of capability and potential to handle the load from school, like writing papers or sending emails. It also has enough power to handle streaming services without much trouble. For the price, this budget laptop does a great job of handling the stresses of medical school, but has the chance to need replacing a few years down the line.
A few more things to note are the IdeaPad’s comfortable keyboard, meaning that cranking out long emails or papers are not as strenuous on the wrists. One last downer may be the lack of USB ports, featuring only two. If you’re a user with multiple USB attachments at a time, it may be wise to grab a USB splitter or even upgrade to a laptop with a few more ports.
In all honesty, this is a wonderful laptop with great features, but it somewhat struggles to find its place. Not including many features that are different from the Acer Aspire (save for the SSD), an extra several hundred dollars is sort of hard to justify. Not a bad choice by any means, but it is worth considering spending a few hundred more to get an incredible laptop that wows you every time you open it.
The weight of the Surface Pro 4 is unbelievable, coming in at only 1.8lbs, something almost unheard of. For those looking for a small, versatile laptop option, this may be your choice, earning a great rating.
Battery life on the Surface Pro 4 gets stepped up a little, reaching up to 7 hours of use. A good rating for the price, this laptop will last nearly a full day of use.
Other notable options are its preloaded office suite with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access, making this laptop a plug in and go option without much hassle. It is great to carry around whenever you have to do some nursing.
In recent years, Surface Tablet hybrid laptops have been somewhat of a shot in the dark, due to their somewhat new technology. Some kinks are still getting ironed out, and this laptop is a good example of the latest and greatest. If you are the type of student who enjoys reading on their device, this may be the best bet for you, due to the versatility and lightweight design.
Many people will swear by their MacBooks. An article published gives a typical MacBook at least an average of 5 years of use, making it a worthy candidate for the stamp of longevity. Though they are more expensive, these laptops are an investment, just like your education. Since it seems like school never ends sometimes, getting a laptop that won’t break down on you or cause trouble may be the wisest choice.
Table of Best Laptops for Medical School
|Acer Aspire E 15 E5-574G-52QU||$500|
|Lenovo IdeaPad 710S||$800|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 4||$1,100|
|Apple MacBook Air MMGG2LL/A||$1,200|
Final thoughts on laptops
All of these laptops are acceptable choices for a medical school computer. From the bottom, the Acer Aspire will let you do everything you want to do if you are a general user. The only downside might an update be a few years down the line, due to it becoming outdated relatively quickly.
The Macbook Air is certainly the most reliable but comes in at the highest price. Many Macbook owners have owned their laptops for years and plan on owning them for even longer.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is the most versatile option. The tablet capability just cannot be beaten. The touchscreen is also incredibly desirable, making this one of the most innovative options.
Overall, this guide is simply that: a guide. It is up to you as the consumer to decide which laptop is best for you. Determine a budget and go from there, and do your homework on what laptop you want to give you success in medical school. Find something that will last you for several years, instead of just a couple. Buying and replacing laptops is never a fun thing to do, so investing in something that will endure time and newer technology will be a gift that keeps on giving.