Laptop decisions for school

I’m going back school in January 2017. I will start my Master Programme at NUS, taking night classes a couple of times a week. In between lessons, assignments need to be done, project work completed, reports written. I would require a laptop for school.

I have been researching for quite a bit on what is the ideal laptop for my needs, especially as a part time student. Sure I could go and get a Macbook Pro, which was just recently updated, or the popular Windows laptop, the Dell XPS 13. I could even be adventurous and use the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for all my lecture and school assignment needs. But do I really need to get a high-end laptop, some of which costs more than S$2000?

After thinking hard about it, I decided, that I do not need a high-end laptop. My part-time Master Programme is only 2 years. I only need something simply and most importantly light for the duration of my course. Light,  because I would need to bring it during lectures after work, and possibly on group meetings, project assignments and for general purpose study. And because of that, I prioritise weight over performance, since all I would  be doing on the laptop is just word processing, web surfing, and the occasional video streaming like YouTube, or online lectures.

But having a lightweight machine, with a relatively long battery life, surprisingly comes at a hefty price.

The Dell XPS 13 is a perfect candidate for being portable, light and having a pretty long battery life. The cheapest model based on my desired specs; at least an 8GB RAM, full-HD screen and core i5 model, comes in at around $1699, give or take. It may sound quite reasonable, but it is still a little bit pricey for me. The purpose of using the laptop does not justify the cost. I would be more than willing to make the decision in going for the Dell XPS 13, if it would cost around S$1400 at the very most. Anything higher is a tough sell for me.


There are other cheaper models from Asus and Acer, some with pretty good specs, respectable battery life and light weight construction, but most of them feels rather flimsy, despite the fact that they may use premium materials. Others, jittery trackpad, 2-in-1 laptop tablet functions, which I don’t obviously need, and some, just outright ugly.

The only other option I have is one from Lenovo. The Lenovo Thinkpad 13 is the entry level laptop from the Thinkpad series. The screen is 13 inches, sporting a full-HD screen, core i5, 6th gen processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB RAM. And the price; S$1020. This is a special price for students. Lenovo have a special dedicated online store for students and educators, where the prices of their laptops are heavily discounted, some by more than S$300. With these specs, and at S$1020, I believe that it is a steal. The design is nothing to gawk about. The screen is just ok, but at least it is full-HD. The keyboard is excellent, although not backlit, which I can live with. On the upside, the laptop is Mil-Spec, meaning that it is rugged and suitable for everyday use outdoors. It is not the thinnest, but not thick either and the weight was surprisingly light. An ultrabook class laptop, battery is respectable. Everything is just average, nothing is terrible, and nothing is fantastic either. The price is hard to resist. And for the specific purpose for a laptop, I think this is the perfect laptop for my needs.

A laptop that is business-like in looks, yet with specs that are suitable for college use, and a budget that hits the sweet spot among college students on a budget.



I would need to purchase Lenovo Thinkpad 13 online through the Lenovo online store for students and educators.


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