(KBOI-TV) - Whether it's writing papers, taking notes or playing streaming video games, it's important for college students to choose a laptop that can handle what they need it to do.
Consumer Reports says the first thing to do when shopping is check with your school. Often they have specific requirements when it comes to computers.
Most colleges will say you can buy either Windows or Apple. But some specific schools within the college, may use applications that only run on one or the other.
"On college campuses you're going to see a lot of Mac laptops. Except when you go to an engineering building, in which case you'll see a lot of windows laptops," said Rich Fisco of Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports’ laptop expert says price is the next thing to consider.
"Mac laptops tend to be expensive. You're probably going to pay a thousand dollars or more for anything they have to offer. But, in our survey, they are the most reliable. But Windows laptops offer a much wider range of pricing. You can pay as little as a couple of hundred dollars. Or you can pay as much as a Mac, or even more," Fisco said.
Then there's the size. Consumer Reports says 13-inch laptops offer a good compromise between screen size and weight for students on the go.
Recommended 13-inch models include the MacBook Pro for $1,300 and the $1,000 Dell XPS non-touch.
If you're looking to spend less - the 14-inch Acer Aspire is a Consumer Reports' Best Buy at $700.
"The small, thin and lights are great. They're cool. They're easy to carry. But if you're pulling an all-nighter writing that term paper, you're going to be looking for a larger screen than what those little guys afford you," Fisco said.
Consumer Reports also says to do your research and look for student discounts to save you some money.