So you’ve finally made it to nursing school. It sure took a lot of effort to get there, didn’t it? As if getting in wasn’t difficult enough, getting out of nursing school will be far more difficult.
You’ll be dealing with tons of random reports, capstone projects, extremely detailed questions on your exams coming from several textbooks containing a thousand pages each, etc.
You’ll also be dealing with clinicals, simulations and go back to lectures back and forth.
Add on top of that the fact that there’s barely any money left after paying for your tuition and now you’re looking for the best laptop for nursing students you can afford to actually help you get through nursing school. Hopefully one that will last you throughout the entire program as there might not be sufficient funds to afford another one.
But you can relax, at least for now…
While this article won’t help you throughout all instances of nursing school. At least, it will help you make the right decision when it comes to choosing a laptop for nursing school and one that you will find extremely useful throughout your program. How?
Not only will you get the best laptop for nursing students from this article but also a buying guide that will go over your program, software, classes and more to make sure you can pick the best laptop for nursing school whether it’s here or in your nearby store.
For those who already know in nursing school or know what to look for, I’ll go over the best laptops for nursing students first.
Top 5 Best Laptops For Nursing School
This is a short list of the best laptops for nursing students based on the guide and your program, software requirements and the way a nursing student deals with school (constantly on the move without much time on their hands). If you find the top suggestions out of your budget, don’t worry just keep scrolling down. I assure you will find something extremely useful regardless of what your budget is.
Best Tablet or Laptop For Nursing School
CPU: Intel i5 Core | RAM: 8GB RAM | Storage: 256 SSD | GPU: Integrated | Display: 12.3” 2736 x 1824 Glossy | Weight: 1.7-2.2 lb | Battery: 6 hours
The Surface Pro might be the best laptop for nursing students however is it a really a laptop or a tablet or both?
Whatever it is, it’s actually one of the most recommended devices by nursing students today. Why? tablets and mobile devices are used regularly for note taking and quick references during the nursing program. However you would still need a laptop for all other instances: reports, downloading reviews, take your exams in some instances, etc.
Everything is solved by the Pro which is actually a convertible laptop.
It is highly configurable in terms of performance so you can always choose the configuration you prefer or the one you can afford, for nursing school and the applications and software run during the program, any configuration should be fine but if you are a heavy multitasker you might want to invest on the 8GB RAM version that’s recommended here to avoid being slowed down from time to time.
Although it’s definitely not cheap, it’s a worth investment. You’ll be able to replace your notebooks, pens, erasers, textbooks and just bring your Surface Pro 4 and nothing else, provided of course you get used to using a digital pen. It’s actually not that difficult, since the stylus has been optimized version after version to make note taking and drawing feel as if it were done with a regular pen.
Best Laptop For Nursing Students
CPU: Intel i5 Core | RAM: 8GB RAM | Storage: 256 SSD | GPU: Integrated | Display: 13.3” full HD Glossy | Weight: 3 lb | Battery: 13 hours
Although the MacBook Air has been around for ages on the market as you will hear from many students (both in nursing school and other majors), it’s without a doubt the best laptop for nursing students today or any student really. Why? Just look at the specs: 3lb with 13 hours of battery life. These are the two most important features for any student seeking to boost their performance in school by having a laptop near them at all times. You’ll never notice in your bagpack and some days you might even forget you brought it with you but guess what, it will be there. That’s how light and thin it is.
I’ve used a MacBook Air throughout my college years myself and I can testifiy to the long battery life but it actually lasted me a lot more ~15 hours with basic applications and nothing too intensive, one charge every two days indeed.
The MacBook air also offers you with a high performance CPU and Storage Device: i5 core and 8GB RAM is plenty to run just about any software during your program and to be able to multitask between your favorite apps for recreations (music) and run several dozens of tabs in google chrome or any other web browser for research.
The storage device by the way is a Solid State Driver, this will allow your laptop to boot up in merely seconds and the MacBook Air in fact is one of the fatest (if not the fastest) laptop to turn on.
There are only two issues that some of you might not be content with the MacBook Air: the resolution which is not full HD and the fact that it’s an Apple Machine. For nursing school and any other type of student, the resolution poses no problems unless you have video/image editing in mind while the fact that it’s an apple machine not running Windows can easily be overcomed by dual booting Windows on it for any software compatibility issues. On a side note, booting up into Windows will take you no time again thanks to the SSD that comes with it which is of the latest technology today (PCIe based) and in fact there are a few articles pointing out how the MacBook Air runs Windows faster than any other device with similar features.
That’s not where all the good stuff ends. The Keyboard and the track pad are of top notch quality. In fact the keyboard is extremely comfortable and responsive despite having low travel, this is also a top choice among writers and authors Writing your reports and take notes from your lectures with it should be a pleasent experience for all of you. It doesn’t come with a CD-ROM which might be useful for review courses for the NCXLE exam or any reviews from textbooks that nursing school usually requires you to run but you can buy a separate CD ROM reader with it (I did) and the problem is solved.
It’s all worth for the battery life, portability and thinness that only the MacBook Air can give you. Without a doubt the best laptop for nursing students today.
Best Lightweight Laptop For Nursing Students
CPU: Intel i5 Core | RAM: 8GB RAM | Storage: 256 SSD | GPU: Integrated | Display: 13.3” full HD | Weight: 2.9 lb | Battery: 9 hours
This is a great option (if you are not a on a budget) for those who wish a laptop to replicate the same performance (or even better) as the MacBook Air while not having to deal with the Mac Operating System.
It’s actually about the same weight as the Air however with a reduced battery life of 9 hours as opposed to the Air’s 13 (or even 15) hours, the reason is most likely the display which has better quality than the air as a result it will consume more energy.
The Performance is highly configurable too but this should be sufficient for nursing school and any other instance within your career, there’s no need to go beyond these specs for school and basic home use: intel core I5, 8GB RAM and 256 SSD for storage.
It’s worth mentioning that unlike the other choices above, this one comes with an thunderbolt 3 port. What’s special about it? Sure both devices above can be connected to an external display to make reviewing for exams and researching journal papers for more productive and easier to manipulate. However this port allows you to use two external displays (one screen for studying or writing, another one for references).
Its own display however is special , it doesn’t bezels around the screen so you get more screen size than the reported 13” and the fact that it’s jsut a display with almost no bezels around will make watching any type of multimedia in full screen (movies or lectures) much more engaging and fun too. The drawback is that there is no place for a webcam so it’s been oddly positioned near the bottom of the display, this can make video conferencing quite uncomfortable for some people, but that’s about it.
If you choose to go for the DELL XPS 15, remember to stick with this model (full HD) there’s a touchScreen version with far more resolution and better displaying features that might be tempting to go to but the price becomes extremely high and the battery life will be reduced as well both are of course important for you to get through nursing school.
The 2 Best Laptops For Nursing students on a Budget
CPU: Intel i5 Core | RAM: 8GB RAM | Storage: 256 SSD | GPU: Integrated | Display: 13.3” full HD IPS Matte | Weight: 2.6 lb | Battery: 8 hours
I have to admit, the above laptops aren’t quite affordable they are below 1000$ but not that much. But don’t fear you can still get a high quality laptop extremely useful for nursing school if you are on a budget. If your budget is not too restricted, this is your next choice.
Yes, not only does it look similar to the Air but it actually has about the same performance. It’s got the same processor and RAM as well as storage to replicate it’s performance and speed ( though not the latest SSD but it’s still an SSD ).
The display is actually a bit better than the MacBook Air with a full HD Resolution and Matte finish. The Matte finish will protect your eyes from reflections either when working outside or when working in highly illuminated areas such as your library. It’s a bit lighter than air but the battery life is only 8 hours. Another issue is the keyboard, it’s not as high quality as the Air (who can compete with Apple’s keyboard quality anyways) and the design is solid aluminum as the other high quality laptops either.
If these two issues aren’t as important then this is the best laptop for nursing school with the best performance and portability you can get at that price.
CPU: Intel 3700 | RAM: 4GB RAM | Storage: 128GB eMMC | GPU: Integrated | Display: 14” full HD | Weight: 3.3 lb | Battery: 10 hours
If you still can’t afford any of the laptops above, this is actually one of the best deals you will find even in 2017. The Asus VivoBook has just the necessary features that make it the best laptop for nusing students on a very low budget.
The only downside is the performance, though this might not present an issue for those who are trying to use their laptop for school purposes only it might for those who do want to heavily multitask between applications or any other type of intensive activities(itunes, Skype, Adobe, youtube videos all open at the same time). But it’s enough for writing reports, web research, playing back videos, taking notes, etc, without having any lag. Surprisingly the storage is not bad either only half of what the other choices offer but it’s still plenty for all of your files unless you try to store several dozens of full HD movies within it.
The display is actually better than the Air and on par with most laptops here : full HD and Matte finish while having the biggest screen size than any of the laptops here. Sure you can find laptops with better specs and around the same price but will you find one with the battery life: 10 hours and portability that the VivoBook offers: 10 hours? And a machine that can run your software (Windows)?
I can assure you will not. On top of all it has a high quality keyboard too. There’s really no better deal if you are a nursing student on a budget looking for a productive and useful laptop indeed.
How To Buy A Laptop For Nursing School
If you haven’t found the options above enough for your budget or your specific preferences, then you can try and find one yourself. This guide will tell you exactly what you need to look for when shopping for laptops with nursing school in mind.
The Nursing Program
There’s no one better to recommend you what features or specs your laptop should have than your department itself. The reason is simple, they know what’s compatible with their curriculum. Should they require you to buy laptop from their department, it is better to go with their advice. This however may vary from school to school:
Laptop Requirement and Other Devices
If you are intrigued by what I mean with “Other Devices” is that today some schools actually go as far as requiring not only to buy a very specific laptop but also a handheld device along with it. The reason: their curriculum integrates such devices in the classroom and clinical settings as well. Which is a very good move as technology especially hand held technology is being used more and more in today’s clinical setting for extremely easy and fast access to information.
Next check if you have the option to choose the Operating System or if they require you to use one and any software they’ll use in their curriculum. This is the most important aspect you should find out. It will dictate exactly what kind of laptop you should be aiming for.
For example, these days usually most nursing programs use specific software for you to take their exams, you might have compatibility issues and not be able to run their software (or take the exam) properly if you miss this vital information.
If there’s an issue with your device you’ll be given one of their computers but if they are taken , you might have to wait for them to be unoccupied. Yes, you won’t be the only one making that mistake or not having a proper computer around for their exams. Usually it’s the OS that will give you problems or a laptop from 20 years ago or not having a laptop but a mobile device for exams. As long as you don’t buy a laptop that can’t have a Windows OS within it you should be fine (MacBook can run Windows by the way).
You might also miss out on important study material if you choose the wrong system. The NCLEX review courses they offer might only run on Windows. Some of the online review courses for your classes might only run on Windows as well.
It’s always a good idea to have a list of what type of software you’ll use in your studies. Some of them will be applications which will be best run on tablets, ipads and handheld devices. As far as computer and laptops go, usually the software used is pretty basic:
- Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc)
- Adobe Reader (for lecture notes, homework assignments, etc)
- Flash, Shockwave,Java,QuickTime (To run videos, quick animations, instructional videos,podcasts, etc)
And applications such as the following (it varies from school to school):
- Typhon clinical logs(track patients data during Clinicals)
- Lexicomp (a library of medication information)
- Epocrates (all encompassing reference)
Any modern computer or laptop (even older computers) can run all the above software above, so it shouldn’t be an issue in terms of buying a laptop with suitable performance. The issue with nursing school software is mostly compatibility i.e. if it’s compatible with Windows or if it can only run a computer and laptops (not tablets and mobile devices).
Since this article is written for the general public and incoming freshman, it’ll be useful to consider what classes are like in a typical nursing program to have a better idea on what laptop/devices are best for them.
Classes will be just old school with the lecture accompanied by power point presentations. Usually the slides will be handed to you for you to take notes with them. You can open up the slides with your laptop or tablet device and take notes on top of it. If you have a touchscreen laptop with a stylus that might even make it easier for some of you.
Most people go as far as recording lectures usually with a tablet (although a laptop can also be used) and take notes along with it attaching both the recorded lecture and notes (typed by using an external keyboard) to each slide.
This might sound very extreme to incoming freshman or those interested in nursing school. But such measures are usually taken to avoid reading several hundred of pages from textbooks when you have the professor’s notes and lectures giving a much better and concise summary of what’s important for you to know.
As far as textbooks go, most of them, if not all, will have digital copies which is very convenient. Who wants to carry tons of textbooks back and forth all over campus? You can avoid that with a laptop (a portable one at that) or a handheld device for ebook reading such an iPad or any other tablet.
Your professor might also use the assignments and activities in your TextBook’s CD ROM or you might find useful to use the CD ROM to understand your lectures and for any exam reviews within it, in which case a laptop with a CD ROM reader is a must. However you can always buy a portable CD Driver these days, that is in case you do not have a desktop back home.
Alternatively you could transfer all of your textbook CDs to an USB Device.
Recommended Specs For Nursing School
You probably already knew everything that was mentioned above but it’s a good idea to go over it anyways not only for incoming freshman but as a reminder for all of you to have in mind when choosing a laptop suggested by any website. You know some might just go overboard with the requirements.
I’m assuming you are using your laptop for writing reports and term papers mostly. If that’s the case ( you can always use a desktop at home) then consider getting a high resolution display for your laptop. A 1080p resolution would be nice in order for you to have multiple windows open next to each other and at the same time and be able to clearly distinguish between them, super useful when collecting information from research journals for your term papers or making quick summaries of each chapter from a digital textbook for your exam.
You could go as far as 1,440 x 900 but try not to go below that otherwise you might as well use a windows 98 machine.
Screen size is a personal preference based on how much you value portability. If you plan on taking your laptop to campus and clinical settings constantly then consider not going over 15 or 17’’. A 13’’ screen laptop is the sweet spot for portability and usability, you don’t want a screen too small for you to write your term papers neither a screen way too big for you to carry all day long.
As far sanitizing your display and your laptop/tablet: I can’t really give you any advice. It’s always best to ask the manufacturer for tips. Why? In case you mess something up hopefully you get a replacement but I doubt it.
Although sanitizing it’s really important for your to learn at this point. Apple and Microsoft have specific instructions and recommendations if you check their websites. The Surface Pro is reported by nursing students as being easy to sanitize by the way.
As you may have noticed by reading this article and been told by your own school as well, you don’t need a high performance laptop. Honestly any laptop with a CD-ROM drive will probably do. The issue is always compatibility with the software they’ll use at your university.
However, it’s always helpful to have a laptop with a decent performance to get things done quickly and increase productivity.
CPU & RAM
Try to go with i3-i5 processors unless your department requires an i5 processor for some reason. Don’t even think about i7, you won’t need it at all. It’ll only drain your battery life and make your laptop way more expensive without any benefits to your usage. Why? You will not notice the difference between an i7 or an i5 processor for your purposes.
The same thing applies to memory RAM. You can go as low as you want. However if you are a heavy multitasker (itunes, adobe pdf, several dozens of browser tabs and apps at the same time), consider upgrading your RAM to 8GB. Otherwise 4GB should be fine. I don’t think many laptops today offer 2GB though so you might be stuck with 4GB should you decide to buy a new laptop.
If for some strange reason you still have money left after getting into nursing school, go for an SSD. It will speed up things faster in terms of looking for files and specific passages within your digital textbooks, loading up programs, improve battery life and it’s also more resistant to physical damage should you drop your laptop and lose all of your files.
Again, it’s not a necessity but if you have the cash. Go for an SSD Drive. If not any hard drive with any amount of storage will do PDF files and nursing school software doesn’t take that much space at all.
Regardless of what you plan on doing with your laptop. The lighter the better of course. If you want something easy to carry around campus and from lectures back and forth opt for a laptop around 3lb. If you go too above it will start to feel heavy as the days goes on. Unfortunately portable laptops are not cheap at all and this is an issue for nursing students who are most likely tight on a budget.
What can you do? I suggest you sacrifice performance to go as low as you can in terms of weight if you have to. As mentioned before, performance isn’t much of a deal for nursing students. You’ll be using your laptops for simple software, playing animations, quick instructional videos and reading/writing papers. Having a lightweight laptop near you at all times is much more useful in getting you through nursing school than a heavy high performance laptop that will be sitting at home.
Get the longest battery life you can afford.
I know you won’t beat up your laptop so much so as to drain it’s battery life but you still want a battery life that can last you throughout the entire day. Otherwise it can become quite frustrating to be wasting time looking for an outlet instead of spending that time studying for your next exam. Time is something you want to maximize as much as possible during your studies too.
Any graphics card will do, don’t mind this feature. Regular Videos and flash animations as well the interactive activities from textbooks don’t require a good graphics card at all. In fact, any computer from ten years ago can run them no problem.
Accessories and Connectivity
Lastly consider the following accessories. For nursing school some of these are required:
- Headset with built-in microphone and WebCam: Some schools do use video conferencing for online classes as well as substituting regular classes with them when the weather does not allow the school to be open.
- Printer: your school probably will provide you with unlimited printing if not then consider buying one
- Additional battery: again you don’t want to be stuck with no battery life and wasting time looking for an outlet should they all be occupied during finals for example.
- VGA adapter for connecting to a projector: the most portable laptops lack many ports that regular old school laptops do, consider buying an adapter should your school not provide you with one at the time of your presentations.
Tablet vs. Laptop
Tablets are really popular among nursing students in general. You’ll probably find a large majority of them using a tablet and bringing them to lectures.
You could get away with just a tablet provided you have a desktop computer at home to run the DVD/CDs from your textbooks and to make writing those term papers comfortable and your tablet for note taking and web browsing, etc. But your school might still require you to run specific software that can only run on laptops especially during exams.
Needless to say a laptop, especially a well chosen laptop, becomes invaluable and extremely helpful for nursing students to succeed. Unlike a tablet or a desktop sitting at home you can write papers, make presentations, do heavy online research on the go, taking notes from your lectures much more efficiently and faster .
Most importantly with a proper laptop you will be able to run the software your school provides and to study for the NCLEX itself. A handheld device can be a nice complement to use for clinicals and quick references for information.