What’s the best laptop for accounting or business students?
Whether you are an accounting or business student you’ll spend a lot of time in front of the screen dealing with spreadsheets, running numerical simulations and preparing presentations. You’ll also be on the move going from internship events to group project meetings and back to lectures again.
You also have to consider the software you are going to use and the best features for their performance. After all dealing with troubleshooting and incompatible devices or “laptops” is not something you want when time of the essence especially in a business program.
Wait there’s more…
And depending on the concentration you choose you might be dealing more with advertising and presentations or complicated numerical computations instead.
Well it seems…finding the best laptop for accounting students or just business school in general is not that easy right?
It actually is ( if you do a little research) and if you go through this article. Besides getting a nice portable laptop with a long battery life there’s only one software to worry about and that depends entirely on what concentration you decide to focus on.
What will you get from this article?
Like every other article I write for students. I’ll go through your degree, concentration, software, classes and your program if you aren’t acquainted with it yet plus of course a list of the best laptops for accounting and business students out there.
- Top 5 Laptops for Accounting & Business Students
- How To Buy A Laptop For Business School
Top 5 Laptops for Accounting & Business Students
Before discussing everything there is to know about a business program: the software, classes and every feature your laptop should have. I’ll go over the best laptops first since the majority of you are probably acquainted with what’s coming and what you should be looking for. If not jump to the guide below to find out more about your program and if you want to find more choices by yourself.
Best MacBook For All Business Students
CPU: i5 dual core 2.7 Ghz | RAM: 8GB-16GB DDR4 | Storage: 128GB-512GB SSD* PCIe | GPU: Intel Iris 61000| Display:13.6 ” Retina Display (2560×1600)
Probably the most popular and one of the best choices for all students, while it may not be recommended as the best laptop for accounting or business students due to its operating system. It can be one of the best investment provided you can put up with dual booting into windows if your concentration requires heavy spreadsheet work: accounting, financing, etc.
Although, it’s highly configurable to pretty much any performance requisites you may need during your program or any concentration be it marketing, accounting or financing. Unfortunately, to this date it cannot operate Microsoft Office as efficiently as a laptop with Windows on it since the Office version for Mac is quite different from the one on Windows. In other words, if you choose to go for a Pro, then you will undoubtedly need to use bootcamp or parallels to use Excel on Windows.
A MacBook is not as unpopular as you may think, some universities have as much as 50% of their business students using a one. And if you’re dealing with a concentration that doesn’t deal with heavy financing or accounting classes (marketing, international business), then you can do just fine with the excel on a Mac without needing to dual boot.
Luckily all Macbook Pros are known for their latest SSD technology which offer the highest booting up speeds among laptops. Running Windows on BootCamp should be no problem and in fact it might take just seconds.
I recommend going for the minimum configuration presented here to make sure smooth performance when using any software you encounter: intel core i5, 8GB RAM and 128 GB for storage . It should be enough to store all of your files and keep the most intensive simulation software and spreadsheet work running flawlessly while using plugins and macros at the same time.
The retina display which has a far better than full HD laptops on this list should also allow you to see more rows and data when dealing with spreadsheet work as well as having a better time when using several windows open right next to one other (one for the slides and the rest for your resources/references) when preparing a presentation.
Despite the performance and the great display it still is portable enough at 3.5 lbs to bring everywhere with a superb battery lifetime of 10 hours. It’s reputation for the top quality keyboard and touchpad design is also retained with this model which is in fact seen as the best by the majority of this industry.
Alternatively if you wish something cheaper and lighter with almost the same performance as the MacBook Pro and actually even better keyboard quality and more battery life(+13 hours) but without the retina display, you can go for the MacBook Air shown here which is about to be discontinued.
The Best Laptop For Accounting & Business Students
CPU: Intel Core i5-6200u 2.5 GHz Processor | RAM: 8 GB LPDDR3 RAM | Storage: 128 GB – 256GB SATA | GPU: Intel Iris 61000 | Display: 13.3 Inch Full HD Screen (1920×1080 pixels)
Yes, there’s actually one laptop that can put up a fight with the top quality and expensive MacBooks and the best part: it’s a windows laptop In fact, the Dell XPS 13 has better overall features for accounting , business and all students in general. As you’ll it’s without doubt , it’s the best laptop for accounting , business students and all concentrations on a business program.
The best part about the DELL XPS 13’s performance is the fact that it’s highly configurable to what your specific needs are or what your budget allows: ranging from a measly (actually quite powerful) core i3 processor up to a core i7 processor, 4GB to 16GB and 128GB to 1TB for storage capacity. The highest settings however not only are expensive but unnecessary for an accounting or any business student.
The model presented here has only an Intel core i5 with 8GB RAM and 128 GB but there’s no need to go further than that. You can run numerical simulations, risk data analysis software, heavy excel spreadsheet work with addons, etc. Pretty much anything encountered in the most demanding classes during accounting or any business program.
The display comes in two configurations too: a full HD resolution and QHD ultrahigh resolution with touchScreen, the latter is a waste of money unless you fancy beautiful graphics even for watching videos or lectures. However, the QHD resolution, besides being extremely expensive your battery life will run faster so you are better off with the full HD Resolution. The full HD is sufficient for multitasking and having several windows open next to each other, so don’t fear going for it.
Regardless of which configuration you choose the display will have the “infinity edge” feature which just means there’s almost no bezels around it making the screen bigger than most laptops of its size. It may not make a world of a difference but it will be more entertaining to watch lectures or videos with it maybe even more engaging. This comes with the only drawback from the Dell XPS 13, the camera placement sits below the screen which is really unusual among laptops and you’ll have to re position your laptop to use Skype or any other video conferencing app.
The design is also quite comfortable for long periods of data crunching and numerical input or long sessions of typing. The outside made of aluminum while the inside is made of carbon fiber.
Keyboard and touchPad quality remain top quality. The keys have a nice feedback and the touchPad is responsive and will register anything you try to do with it, so no problems there.
It’s also got enough ports, actually more ports than most laptops shown here. Presentations and any external keyboards (numerical keypads for excel) or mouse should give you no problems.
The best of them it’s the thunderbolt 3 connectivity which will allow you to connect your laptop to two external displays (at 4k resolution each) for a more productive set up back home when you require to fully focus on a project, presentation or any assignment that may need several windows/screens to be opened or just a lot of data to be seen at once.
The best part is the battery life and weight: 10 hours and 2.7lbs. The battery’s almost as good as the MacBook Pro but is actually a little lighter yet and about the same performance. You can upgrade the storage capacity to 256GB before purchase if you plan to store other files not related to schoolwork . Sticking with this configuration however will make it relatively cheap (under 1000).
Best Laptop For Business Students & Accounting – Portable and Lightweight
CPU: Intel Core i5 3.0 GHz | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 128GB SSD| GPU: Intel Iris 540 | Display: 12.3 ” /1440×900
This is overall the best lightweight laptop for business and accounting students. It’s actually a convertible laptop (you can turn it into a tablet) but that’s what makes it special and why it’s on this list. It’s got nearly every feature the dell XPS 13 has especially in terms of performance so you don’t need to worry about the most intensive excel tasks or any other software during financing classes or any other class.
Just like the dell it’s highly configurable depending on your budget from an m3 core processor with 4GB and 128GB of storage up to i7 16GB and 1TB Storage. But as repeated many times, a core i5 8GB RAM set up will be enough.
The display is a bit tad smaller (12.3″) but the resolution is higher than just full HD and even higher than the retina display: 2736 x 1824.
The only issue is the keyboard. It might take some time getting used to an attachable keyboard (which you have to buy separately) when dealing with a lot of spreadsheet work or any task that requires a lot of data/numerical input.
However, you can also get a docking station to make it act like a desktop back home when you really need to a full blown computer for those long sessions of numerical input. Luckily, students dealing with more meetings, presentations and traveling such as marketing, international business, etc, or any concentration that doesn’t concentrate on advanced data spreadsheet work may not need to do this.
So why I even put up with this?
It’s the perfect combo of having the stylus and using OneNote for your classes: you get the ultimate note taking device.
Without going into details, it will feel like a real pen and paper and it will be sure to replace every textbook , pen and notebook you bring to school while keeping everything neatly organized.
That along with the portability and battery life : 1.7lb (2.2lb with the keyboard) and 7-8 hours of battery life (enough for an entire day) will make it a joy to bring to class as you may not need to carry anything else other than the Pro’s small keyboard.
Best Laptop for Accountants & Business Students
CPU: i5 dual core 2.7 Ghz | RAM: 8GB-16GB DDR4 | Storage: 128GB SSD* PCIe | GPU: Intel Iris 61000| Display: 13.6 ” Retina Display (2560×1600)
Best Budget Laptop For Accounting and Business Students
CPU: i5 dual core 2.3 Ghz | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB SSD | GPU: Intel HD 5300 | Display: 13 ” 1920×1080
Lastly, if you still want to get a high quality laptop which is portable enough and with a decent power for accounting classes and any business program, this is your best bet. As you’ll it’s without doubt the best laptop for accounting students & business students on a budget.
It’s got the same performance of nearly every model here with just the right set up for any software or assignment encountered in a business program: intel core i5, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD.
The display is still full HD and 13” of size, perfect for multitasking and having two windows open next to each other.
It has every port you may need too: one HDMI, plenty of USB ports, an USB-Type C port (for fast ultra transfer data transfer) and a micro SD Card Reader.
It’s portable and actually ligther than the Pro, Lenovo and Dell at 2.6 lb. The battery life lasts up to 10 hours without having to bring a cell battery too.
So what’s the drawback? The Keyboard not being as high quality as the Lenovo’s, Apple’s MacBook or Dell XPS 13. They are flat and quite sensitive to force, in other words, you won’t get the best typing experience with this model but shouldn’t present an issue if you aren’t used to high quality keyboards.
Other than that, it’s got nearly every feature you want for business school, accounting and is much more affordable than the Surface Pro, Lenovo, Dell and the MacBook.
How To Buy A Laptop For Business School
The Business & Accounting Program
Whether you are an accounting student or graduate student in Business, you might want to check your department to see what’s their take on laptops or computers to get an idea what kind of laptop you should be looking for or see if they recommend any specific brands for you to consider. Many schools recommend all their students to have the same exact laptop to avoid compatibility issues. And perhaps you could be just fine with the laptop you have in possession right now given by your workplace (internships and business jobs usually provide you with a laptop) or your own personal laptop.
Concentration & Curriculum
If you are a freshmen or you are not in a Business program yet. You probably need to know that different fields of study require different software and how in depth each software needs to be studied or practiced.
Finances, accounting and information systems are more software heavy than marketing or international business concentrations. However the rules can vary from school to school which is why it’s a good idea to check your curriculum and what classes are you mostly going to have to deal with.
Generally, if you see a lot of financing and statistics classes in yours, chances are you will be most likely bound to Windows OS rather a OSX as you will have to become a master in Excel.
Software & Operating System
Most schools teach more on the Windows side and ,as you probably know, they rely on Microsoft Office especially Excel and PowerPoint. While some schools might allow you to use a Mac others are strictly Windows: they run their Computer Network based on Windows and use a Windows Software for their exams if you happen to take them on a computer too.
Excel: What it all boils down to
Although you might run a bunch of unknown simulation and statistical software ( RISK Palisade for example), all schools will require you to use Excel. How much of Excel you need to know determines which operating system you could go with and what kind of laptop you have to get.
Excel is much more efficient and productive on a Windows Machine than on a Mac. This is the reason why it’s often recommended to buy a Windows PC for accountants and business majors who focus on heavy spreadsheet work whereas a Mac machine would be fine for those not dealing with advertising or international business.
Here’a few of the differences between Excel on a Windows and a Mac:
- Ribbon composition/Tool Side Bars
- Keyboard ShortCuts
- Add ons and Plugins availabilitty may vary : Data Analysis ToolPak and Solver for Excel are only available in the latest Excel Version of Mac.
*On a side note: The OneDrive interface(developed by Microsoft), ironically, is better on a Mac.
Bottom line is…
How much of Excel will you need your laptop to support really comes down to what your curriculum/most of your classes consist of. Financing and modeling classes will require you to run Excel at its full capabilities whereas marketing and strategy classes will use Basic Excel for which either Operating System will do just fine.
Recommended Specs for Accounting & Business School
Weight & Battery Life
As a business student whether you are in graduate school or not. You’ll be constantly on the move from different classes to networking events, meetings for projects, career activities, etc.
Needless to say you want as much as portability as you can afford. Portability can be expensive but think about the benefits. Being able to have a laptop right next to you the entire day without making you uncomfortable or tired from carrying is a good investment.
Try keep your laptop around 4lb but the lighter the better.
Battery life is important too. Although there are tons of outlets available at any educational institution, it is extremely time saving not to be spending time looking for one all over campus. It is much safer to have extra battery life for any special occasion.
Class outlets might be all occupied meaning you’d have to show up 20 min earlier just to secure one. Definitely not something to look forward to. There might be many trips from your workplace or internships to your school and back, it’s nice to be able to use your laptop on the go without having to worry about battery when you get to either place.
A minimum battery life of 6 hours should be more than sufficient provided you do not spend too much time on graphical applications or intensive applications. Watching videos in low brightness doesn’t come much battery life though.
The most important feature of any laptop display is the resolution. It makes a world of a difference to have a high resolution display in terms of working with excel, writing reports ,essays and taking exams. The higher the resolution the more windows and the more space you’ll have available for multitasking.
Spec #1: Go with a 1080 resolution if possible, 1,440 x 900 being the limit.
Ideally we would want a laptop with a gigantic screen to deal with large excel files and be able to see tons of rows and columns at once while making using a laptop easy on the eyes too.
Unfortunately this can affect portability. Lugging around a gigantic screen along with your documents or textbooks just isn’t ideal for students who are constantly moving round from meetings to classes. Don’t go below on 13’’ though, it can be very tedious to work with excel or any program which contains a lot of numerical data below that.
Spec #2: Aim for a 13’’ screen laptop with a 15’’ being the maximum size.
Probably the most important feature for any accounting or business student. As mentioned before, virtually all of you whether or not they are not into accounting and financing will deal with excel. A numerical keypad is a must for you to be much more efficient and productive with it. A keyboard shortcut used in class without having a numerical keypad can throw you off and you’ll be unable to keep up with the lecture lessons.
Having a numerical keypad on a laptop’s keyboard can unfortunately make the laptop much larger (display size) and affect portability in general. But no worries you can always buy a numerical keypad and plug it in on any laptop/computer you decide to buy.
In fact, it is recommended you take such route to focus on other features that are just as important.
Make sure whatever laptop you decide to buy has dedicated F keys as well, you might need those than down the line. Right now I am dealing with F keys that need to another key to be pressed so they are activated, definitely not good for quick access and software in general.
Spec #3: Get a laptop with a numerical keypad or buy a numerical keypad as an accessory.
CPU & RAM
Business and Accounting students in general do not need to worry much about speed these days. Why? For most of you, the most intensive task is going to be complex spreadsheets with macros.
Therefore any modern processor whether it’s an i3 or an i5 or a current celeron( just as long as it’s not labeled with the word “pentium” next to it) would do just fine for your applications and simulation software.
Of course it’s always a bonus to have an fast processor but it’s not required. If you do decide to upgrade your machine’s CPU, try not to go an i7 as it will drain your battery life as well as your pocket and might be unnecessary for business school altogether.
Spec #4: Any Processor would do fine. I3-i5 processor is recommended but not required.
As far as RAM goes, for business & accounting related apps 4GB RAM would do just fine. But it really depends on how much multitasking you usually do. If you are multitasker that loves to have iTunes, Video Lectures, Excel, PDF documents and tons of web tabs all open at the same time you might notice a slow response from your laptop in which case a bump to 8GB wouldn’t hurt.
RAM is cheap anyways so feel free to upgrade it to the max, but you might not notice a difference between beyond 8GB until you start dealing with editing software be it videos or photos for marketing.
Also, if you are taking a lot of classes in Databases or doing a lot of work with them, an 8GB RAM is recommended . RAM, for all business students in general , will affect the laptop’s performance much more than a faster CPU.
Now speaking of Excel if you are an accounting student or a business student taking a lot of financing classes that deal witih complex macros and large data sheets (I mean really large), it’s safer to go with 8GB RAM but not required.
#Spec 5: 4GB is fine for regular applications and everyday use. 8GB is for database work and heavy multitaskers.
Any decent size storage would do. The type of files you’ll deal with won’t take much space. However an SSD (Solid State Drive) can be extremely useful for all business students regardless of concentration.
It’ll load up all of your applications much faster than regular drives and it’ll be able to look up particular lines of code or data within huge databases and excel files much faster as well.
Not only that, it will make your system boot up much faster(nobody likes to wait 10 min for your computer to start when you have to do some work before class starts right?).
Any cons? Except for price, none. In fact, it can increase your battery life and make your laptop a little bit lighter compared to one with a regular drive.
#Spec 6: SSD Storage. Any size would do just fine.
Even if you happen to work on video editing work for marketing classes, any modern graphics card will do just fine (unless you go into real professional work). Don’t pay attention to this feature at all but try to settle for a integrated graphics card to boost your battery life and your bank account as well.
Connectivity & Accessories
Don’t worry about USB Ports, you are likely to need an HDMI port more than USB Ports and headphone jacks. Unfortunately, modern portable laptops lack an HDMI Port which is useful to connect to flat screen monitors and projectors ( for presentations). But fear not, you can always buy an adapter if your institution or workplace isn’t able to provide you with one. It’s better to be safe than sorry so get one right now if you can.
What about a Touchscreen and Tablets?
Tablets and touchscreen devices can’t really replace a laptop for business students. It might be fine for other majors but not for you. If you want one in addition to your laptop, it can become extremely useful for reading e-books/textbooks/reports on the go. Don’t use it as a laptop replacement even if your classes aren’t excel heavy, you have to become proficient with computers and laptops (especially excel and office apps) after you graduate.
However there is nothing wrong with convertible laptops(tablets that turn into laptops or vice-versa) as laptops replacements. The Surface Pro 4, Lenovo Yoga 700 and the HP Spectre being really good options for business school. They’re light, versatile, can run any program you need (including Office), extremely useful for note taking during meetings and lectures as well.
Windows or Mac?
MacBooks are not uncommon in Business School. Students do have to partition their drives though to run Windows for most of their software which includes Excel. As mentioned before, excel performs and runs much better on a Windows for heavy and complex spreadsheet work.
For any other software you can also run Parallels which will allow you to access Windows without having to reboot your Mac.
A combination of BootCamp and Parallels will keep you from having any software compatibility issues in school. The issue becomes having to take all these extra steps just to have a Mac. If you love OSX , then I’m sure you can put up with it.
If you are a business student who can get away with using a Mac (without having to dual boot or use parallels to access Excel in Windows), I advise you to avoid doing it especially if you are planning on going into finance (work in Private Equity, investment banking, etc.)
You should get used to Excel in Windows anyways as companies will be reluctant to let you use a Mac for financing and accounting tasks. Using a Mac for heavy duty spreadsheet work can be very time consuming and sometimes detrimental to your performance as well especially as you start using more advanced features and applications (Addons) for Excel.
Before you make a decision, if you are an accounting or financing major, consider the fact that you’ll have to deal with a lot of spreadsheet work and therefore will have your Mac on Windows Mode for a majority of your work.
The same specs are recommended to all business students in general including those in marketing or accounting: a modern processor, 8GB RAM and any storage size while keeping the device as portable as possible with a fully size keyboard or an external numerical keypad.
However the choice of which operating system (MacBook or PC) comes down to how many excel-heavy classes or electives are you going to deal with.
A PC or a MAC (w/ bootcamp or parallels) is recommended for those who choose quantitive classes which require excel like financing, accounting and modeling.
Either Mac or PC , without having to resort to bootcamp or parallels, is fine for those who will focus into marketing, strategy, etc. Since most of your classes will consist of basic excel usage and many presentations from group projects.