5 Best Laptops For Nursing Students 2024 Curriculum

Before you shop for the best laptop for nursing school, you should be aware of how a laptop will impact your performance in nursing school:

1. Reports, captstone projects and exams.
    – These will happen on a weekly basis. 
    – Thus you’ll be staring at a screen for several hours a day.
TL;DR: Good display for long study sessions.
2. Lectures are short & summarized.
    – they’ll be packed with details (which will show up in exams).
    – Thus note taking is EXTREMELY CRUCIAL.

TL;DR: Need a responsive & clicky keyboard for fast and easy typing.
3.  Bonus: Audio Recording
     – Chances are you’re not going to get everything down on paper. 
     – Recording CRYSTAL CLEAR AUDIO attached each slide is also nice.
TL;DR: Buy a high quality recording mic.
4. Clinicals:
    – Clinicals are held in different buildings usually between lecture hours.
    –  This means lots of moving all around campus.
TL;DR: Get a porble laptop with a long battery life.
This is an Ipad Pro. The Surface Pro is like the iPad Pro with the addition of having a full blown OS like Windows 11.

What kind of laptop has all those features?

Two kinds.

A) 2 in 1 device OR B) an ultrabook.

Both have very high quality DISPLAYS and weight next to nothing.

The bonus of A)2 in 1 devices is that  you can take notes with a stylus. 

Either choice is  EXPENSIVE (relatively speaking). However, ultrabooks are the cheapest of the two.

Don’t worry. We’ll list alternatives and budget machines besides these two choices.


Best Laptop Specs for Nursing School

Now let me be a bit more specific about what laptop specs you need for nursing school. Why? Because you may have to look for one on your own if you can’t afford the following models or you just can’t find them in your region.

If you’re in the US, all of these laptops should be readily available though.

I’ll be brief here but the last section has more tips & details.

Weight: 3lb

The #1 most important feature. Why? Because you NEED your laptop  ALWAYS. Be it for clinical, lectures, for off-campus study sessions, studying while commuting, etc. 

Why 3lbs?

Anything more starts taking a toll on your body. It’s okay to go slighly higher but avoid hovering around 3.5 lbs if you want your laptop to feel just like a physical notebook when carrying it.

Battery: 10h
No use of having a lightweight laptop that can’t turn on.

For a laptop to last you all day on a single charge, you want an 8-10 hour battery at the very least.

Ultrabooks & 2 in 1 devices, will get you that much. However, if refurbished batteries will go down to 6 hours.

Display: FHD(1920×1080) minimum
It’s not so much as the size of the display that lets you work with multiple windows at the same time. It’s resolution. The higher the resolution the more stuff you can see at once.

HD+ resolution is sort of OKAY if you don’t mind being limited to two windows next to each other.

The cheapest ultra books are  refurbished MacBook Airs. They have good batteries (7 hours on average) but poor resolution.

CPU: Min Core i3 or Ryzen 3
It isn’t a big concern unless you’re buying very old machines.

Note-taking, lecture recording and  3D medical animations and models do not require much CPU power. As long as you grab a recent CPU, it should be enough.

RAM: min 8GB
This is actually what will determine how FAST your PC will be when multitasking heavily. MINIMUM 8GB, anything less is not enough for Windows 11 or the upcoming Windows 12.

Although Windows requires 3.5GB-4GB, you still need lots of headroom for all the programs and background processes.

Storage: 256GB
If you buy a refurbished or used laptop make sure it has an SSD (if not upgrade it as shown here). New laptops have SSDs and even though they have 256GB or even 128GB. This is PLENTY of space for all the pdf documents & videos you’ll store during nursing school.

Top 5 Best Laptops For Nursing School

We’ll start with the two most popular devices for nursing students: The  2 in 1 laptop called “The Surface Pro” and the ultrabook everyone knows by the name of the “MacBook Air”. They’re both expensive!

Laptop #3 is the cheapest yet high quality ultrabook you’ll find (replacement for the Air or MacBook).

Laptop #4 and #5 are budget options that compromise a bit on portability and display resolution.

1. Surface Pro

Best 2 in 1 Laptop for Nursing Student

  12th gen Intel® Evo Core™ i5 or Core™ i7


  Intel Xe Graphics


  13” IPS ‎2880 x 1920


  +10 hours

The most popular devices for nusing students in 2024 is still the Surface Pro. There have been about 9 versions since its release and an extra one called the “Surface Pro X” which is a bit downgraded in hardware and uses a different versions of Windows.

The Surface Pro 10 isn’t out yet but should be out around April 2024.

If you go to forums or youtube, you’ll see the Surface Devices being praised as the ideal choice for nursing or anyone in the medical industry.

There was a very famous post several years ago on the topic, it’s an old post but it will summarize why this is the case.



Although that post is quite old , it’s still relevant to the current Surface Pro which is the 9.

Only the hardware has changed since then. It’s still a good ol’ 2-1 laptop with a stylus just like the iPad Pro. Of course, the higher the model, the higher the quality of the sensitivity and precision of the Surface Pro when taking notes or drawing.


If you find the current model too expensive, go for the older models and you’ll have almost the same performance when taking notes and when running apps. 

As a general rule however try NOT to go too far back in time. There’s a huge difference not only in performance but also in the drawing sensitivity and accuracy from the 4th generation onwards

Taking Notes: What’s like?

There are hundreds of videos on this subject but it’s basically like taking notes on a physical notebook. If you ever used an iPad, it’s exactly like that with the difference of having a full blown operating system like Windows 11.

Equations & Diagrams

You can write formulas and diagrams accurately hence why this is also popular among math students. If you want to draw portraits or even 3D modeling, it’s possible to do it with the pen.

You can even draw precise and accurate portraits of people, hence why this is popular among artists.

TL;DR:  It pretty much feels like writing on a physical notebook.

Learning Curve: Using the Stylus

Not going to lie when I got my first surprise pro it took me a week to get fully used to ALL the features for drawing and note taking. After that it just becomes natural like you’re playing a game you already know how to play and you can’t even imagine how efficient you’ll be once you get used to it.

Note Organization

Learning how to organize and use the software to take beautiful notes will take one more week. By this I mean FULLY learning all the tricks to be fast when doing this. You don’t have to wait weeks to get used to this, it’s easy to use during the first few days it’s just that you’ll reach your maximum potential when using this device at least two weeks after using it. 

As for software, there are many but One Note seems to be the one that seamlessly blends well with the Surface Pro. If you want alternatives , you can check them out here.

Laptop Mode

The keyboard is sold separately. Of course, you should buy it.

You’re going to need to write reports and essays and sometimes some lectures will require you to take notes at a very very fast pace so  taking notes on a keyboard is just going to be more efficient.

You attach the keyboard the same way in every version of the Surface Pro. You magnetically attach it to the hinges on the bottom of the screen. Then it pretty much turns into a laptop. The keyboard is sturdy and has the same feel as a laptop kleyboard. The only problem is that it’s not so sturdy when using it on soft surfaces. When you use it on a hard surface though you will feel  no difference between your classmates laptop and your Surface Pro.

 Display: Pixel Sense Resolution

The Surface Pro 9” is 13” while past models are around 12.5”. However, all models have nearly the same resolution, the current one has the highest : 2880 X 1920 whereas the Surface Pro 7 has slightly less 2736 x 1824.

Nonetheless, all past versions of the Surface Pro stil have around x2 the resolution of regular FHD laptops and FHD is the minimum resolution required to deal with  histology images .


CPU: Core i5 vs m3 Chips

This is the least important part because ALL surface Pro models even the Surface Pro 4 have the required CPU power to run Windows 11 with zero lag.

Ideally, however, regardless of what version you pick, you should favor the Core i5 CPUs over the m3 or Core i3 Chips found on some models. That’s because the latter are CPUs made for tablets NOT for laptops or PCs that run the full version of Windows so you will experience some lag if you’re stuck with those chips.

As long as you pick a Core i5, you should be all set, regardless of generation, for all the insane multitasking that nursing school requires when studying.

RAM: min 8GB

We went over this. You need at least this much and this isn’t an issue for the latest 7 8 and 9 Surface Pro models because they all pretty much have 8GB RAM as the minimum.

However, if you go too far back in time and pick much older models, then you may encounter models with only 4GB. This is not enough for Windows and you will lag regardless of fast the CPU is. 

In summary, as long as you get a Surface Pro with a Core i5 + 8GB RAM, you should be getting the same benefits of the current Surface Pro 9 at a cheaper price (if you go for older models). 

Suface Pro Prices & Older Alternatives:

Below I’ve listed the cheapest models of the most recent generations. I decided to list Surface Pro up to the 6th generation because prices before that (4th and 5th gen) are pretty much the same. Note that these are all NEW surface Pros. You will find however cheaper prices for the Surface Pro 8 if you decide to buy refurbished or used.

Link CPU RAM SSD New Price
Surface Pro 9 Core i5 8GB 128GB Yes $1099
Surface Pro 8 Core i5  8GB 128GB Yes $679
Surface Pro 7 Core i5 8GB 128GB Yes $474
Surface Pro 6 Core i5 8GB 128GB Yes $484

Surface Pro 10: I know the Surface Pro 10 is just a few months away but I wouldn’t advice you to wait because newer models have pretty much the same functionality is going to be the same with only the hardware being upgraded. For example the Surface Pro 10 will only add Windows 12 and a 13th generation Intel CPU.

2. MacBook Air

Best Mac Laptop for Nursing Students 

  8-core Apple M2 Chip

  8GB-24GB RAM Unified Memory

   10-core Apple M2 Chip GPU

  256GB-2TB SSD

  13.6” 2880×1864 (retina)


  17 hours 

I am featuring the latest MacBook Air here but this review is meant to talk about ALL MacBook Airs and how they’re all useful for nursing students. We’ll also go over the differences of the newer vs older models, their advantages and disadvantages, etc.

Don’t want to hear about older models?

Remember we are not focusing on HARDWARE but rather DESIGN. The best laptop for Nursing school doesn’t require good HARDWARE but rather GREAT AESTHETICS & DESIGN.


The MacBook Air’s Design

Just like the Surface Pro models, it doesn’t matter how much far you go back in time, the design of the MacBook Air is more or less the same. There are changed in how responsive the keyboard is (not necessarily better with newer models) and how much the battery last.

Weight & Thinness

With the exception of the 2023 MacBook Air.

The weight and thinness remain pretty much the same. For example , the oldest MacBook Air you should consider (due to hardware constraints) is the 2015 MacBook Air and it’s just as thin as the 2021 version (more or less).

MacBook Air Price Weight Thinness Display
2015 250-290 2.69 .68 in 13”
2017 250-290 2.96 .68 in 13”
2018 400-500 2.75 .61 in 13”
2019 450-550 2.75 .61 in 13”
2020 700-1000 2.8 .63 in 13”
2022 900+ 2.8 .63 in 13”
2023 1000+ 2.96 .45 in 15”

They all weight pretty much the same too. Of course, if you buy the 11” inch MacBook Air, it’s going to be even lighter (2.2lbs) but the display will be too small to get any meaningful multitasking done.

Note that the latest M2 MacBook Air which was released in June 2023 is the world’s thinnest ultrabook or laptop at .45 in or 11.5m . It doesn’t get any thinner than that. If you can afford it, by all means do it


MacBook Air Size Resolution
2015 13.3” 1440 x 900 (HD+)
2017 13.3” 1440 x 900 (HD+)
2018 13.3” 2560 x 1600 (retina)
2019 13.3” 2560 x 1600 (retina)
2020 13.3” 2560 x 1600 (retina)
2021 13.3” 2560 x 1600 (retina)
2023 15” 2880×1864 (retina)

There’s a lot of variation of resolutions depending on the year. The lowest resolution displays are found on the cheapest MacBook Airs. Although they are not FHD resolution, they’re still not HD resolution and be cause it’s a 13” it can offset the lack of space caused by low resolution.

The only problem is going to be dealing with digital pathology and histology images, the resolution is not ideal but you can still deal with it at this resolution.

Why would you go compromise resolution?

Simply because you’re not going to find a laptop that portable, thin with a great battery and keyboard at that price. The oldest models (2015 & 2017) can be found under 500 dollars !

Obviously, if you can afford it, you should opt for the NEWEST m2 MacBook 2023. It’s not only got a MUCH higher resolution than all previous models but it’s also got a BIGGER display AND it’s much thinner and on top of that the battery is  about 2 hours longer.

Battery: 6-17 hours

It is important you read this section because battery lives differ depending on whether the model is used , refurbished or new. I’m going to list the advertised batteries for the old models first:

MacBook Air Advertised Tested
2015 12h 9-10
2017 12h 8-10
2018 12h 10-12
2019 12h 9-12
2020 11h 9-11
2021 15h 12
2023 18h 15h

For all models except the 2023 model, advertised & tested batteries are taken while web browsing.

Refurbished: You’re not going to find new older models of the MacBook Pros, it’s likely that the battery has gone through dozens of cycles by the time you buy it, if not at least a hundred. If that’s the case then the battery may have been replaced and you might get a closer number to the tested numbers above. If they’re not replaced, you will get 6 hours on average.

OSX: Nursing School Software

It all sounds perfect so far. If you don’t have money, then you can get a very high quality premium MacBook Air under 500 dollars if you choose an older model and if you have money you can get the ultimate high resolution thinnest laptop in the world for about 1000 dollars.

But there’s a catch..

Some of you may NOT be able to buy a MacBook simply because nursing school software given to you for exams or for other purposes (3d simulations of the human body or database apps)  may not be compatible with OSX.

Now, it is 2024 so this is very very unlikely because a lot (if not most) students use MacBooks so whatever software you need to run should have an OSX (Mac) version too!

It is important you double check though.

If it happens that the exam software isn’t compatible with OSX, there are ways to install Windows on a pre-2020 MacBook and that should solve the problem. 

If you’re buying a post-2020 MacBook, then there’s probably no solution for this software compatibility issue. I’ll talk more about in detail at the end of this post.

  CPU & Hardware

When it comes to MacBooks, no matter how old they are. CPU and hardware resources on a MacBook are never an issue to run the operating system (OSX) plenty fast.

Even if you lack RAM and you only get say 4GB or even 2GB, the MacBook will stay run plenty fast for multitasking and the reason is because OSX is an operating system that is less taxing on MacBooks because it has been specifically designed for MacBooks.

This isn’t the case for Windows and that’s why it takes more RAM to get the system going at high speeds.

Note that there are discounts if you buy a MacBook from the Apple store. Please check that out before you buy a laptop

3. Newest ASUS ZenBook 14”

Best Windows Laptop For Nursing Students

  Intel Evo i5-13500H


  Intel Iris Xe Graphics


  14” 2.8K OLED 120Hz

  3.44 lbs

  10 hours

A great alternative to the MacBook Air to those with some CASH (though not enough to buy a new MacBook Air)  is the ASUS ZenBook.

It’s under 700 dollars and has pretty much ALL the features of the MacBook Air and there’s no catch! It’s not refurbished , it runs on Windows.

 Display & Design

Now there are several models of the ASUS ZenBook with prices ranging from 600 to 1000 dollars. You should be choosing either the one featured here or the 600 dollar versions you find. Other models only add more hardware which is unnecessary for nursing school purposes.

Let’s go over the dimensions of both these ASUS ZenBook:

Thinness Weight Resolution Size
ZenBook  14X .67 3.09 ‎2880×1800 (QHD) 14”
Zenbook 15 .59 3.o9 1920×1080 (FHD) 15”

The one i’m featuring here is slightly thicker than the one posted above that table. However, they’re the same weight and the 14X model has a much better display and it’s more portable (smaller). It pretty much has the SAME resolution as the M2 MacBook Air at a price that’s 400 dollars  cheaper.

The main reason WHY I urge you to pick this model over the thinner less expensive ZenBook 15 is just the resolution. It’s going to make a HUGE difference in your productivity, less need to scroll down, more windows next to each other, less tiring on the eyes, etc.

Battery: 14 hours

The battery of this ASUS ZenBook 14X has been measured to be 14 hours while playing a 4K movie. If you do some work like typing while watching videos it should be around 10 hours which is STILL enough to last you an entire day.

However, if you want a longer battery then pick the ASUS ZenBook 15,  because it has a much more power efficient CPU (Ryzen 5 ) and lacks a FHD, it consumes MUCH less energy than this model and should have the battery up there with the MacBook Air (14 hours).


ZenBook  14X i5 13500H 8GB ‎512GB
Zenbook 15 R5 7535U 16GB 512GB

For nursing school purposes, as long as you have 8GB RAM as the minimum and an SSD on a ANY laptop with a modern CPU, you will get literally unlimited resources to do ALL the multitasking you have in mind.

All modern laptops have 8GB RAM & an SSD and a decent CPU. The only problem is really now about ‘overdoing’ it. For example, having too much CPU power is a good thing but it’s unnncessary and it reduces the battery life significantly. The ASUS ZenBook 14X featured here has a pretty FAST CPU which is used for gaming so you’re wasting battery life for no reason.

The ZenBook 15 has a PERFECT CPU for multitasking (better multicore performance) and battery (lower clock speeds). The difference in battery is about 2-4 hours, the choice is totally up to you.

4. Lenovo Ideapad 1 14

Best Budget Laptop for Medical School

  Ryzen 3 7320U


   AMD Radeon 610

  512GB SSD

  14”  FHD

  3.5 lbs 

  10 hours

  WiFi 6 AX

We finally get to budget laptops. The following two laptops are well under 500 dollars. You’ll have to compromise a few things though but the most important features (portability, keyboard  & RAM) are kept in place.



This laptop is thicker than any of the ultrabooks we went over at .7in which isn’t that far from .67 in actually.

The weight goes up a little up to 3.48lb.  Do note that this is a 15” laptop so it is OKAY for the weight to go up like that. Most 15” laptops actually on average are about 4-4.5lbs.

This one is under 500 dollars and yet it still remains portable and this is why I picked out of dozens of laptops under 500.

Display: FHD

It is common for laptops under 500 to ditch the FHD display in order to afford having the latest hardware (CPU) and stay portable. But this model still keeps the FHD resolution, please do take that into consideration if you can’t find this model and start shopping for other models. It is likely you’ll find much cheaper laptops with the same hardware but with a much lower resolution.


When you shop for laptops under 500 dollars, you’ll find Core i3 & Ryzen 3 CPUs and occassionally. It’s very unlikely you’ll find Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPUs and that’s actually a good thing a Core i3 or Ryzen 3 CPU is MUCH more power efficient and has JUST enough clock speed & power to blaze through everyday school tasks and multitasking too.

That means you save a lot of energy which means MORE battery.

This laptop has the 7th gen Ryzen CPU which is currently known to be the most power efficient CPU as of 2024 (at least on laptops) so you’ll get the most battery out of models with this kind of CPU.

5. Acer Aspire 5 A515

Best Cheap Laptop For Medical Students

  AMD Ryzen 3 7320U


  AMD Radeon 610


  15” IPS full HD 

  3.9 lbs

  8 hours

This is the cheapest laptop on this list and in fact it’s the cheapest laptop that can run Windows 11 ( it will run Windows 12 too)  with ZERO LAG.

Hardware: CPU & RAM & Battery

It’s got the LATEST generation Ryzen CPU  and 8GB RAM under 350 dollars! Although it comes with Windows in S mode which is basically a nerfed version of Windows that has limited software compatibility.

You can upgrade it to the full version of Windows by going to the app store and clicking upgrade.

Now because it has the latest Ryzen 3 CPU and 8GB RAM, it will run the full version of Windows 11 with no issues and you bet it will even run the upcoming version of Windows: Windows 12 too. Note that this is the 7th gen Ryzen 3 CPU and that also means that battery will be long.

Other laptops under 350 dollars:

It is very common to find laptops with just 4GB and a much older CPU at 299 so this laptop is sort of a rarity. Now those 4GB RAM laptops aren’t necessarily a bad choice it’s just that they won’t support the full version of windows (well they will  but unless you upgrade RAM to 8GB things are going to be slow.

  Display & Design

There’s zero compromise on the display either. While other options may have an HD+ resolution , the manufacturer still managed to fit in a FHD display on a 300 dollar laptop.

The only real issue is going to be the dimensions of this laptop. It’s ‎3.92 pounds and .74 inch. While the thickness isn’t a deal breaker, the weight can be. It approaches 4lbs and that’s where it starts to get a little too heavy to be carried around campus the entire day. Well it’s an individual thing actually but for me that doesn’t feel great. If you are a guy reading this however then go for it, I’m sure you can handle a bit more weight.

If you are a girl, you’re probably better off either investing a bit more on the ASUS ZenBook or if you can’t afford that and only have around 300 dollars, then considered a refurbished MacBook Air as explained in the 2nd review.

How To Choose A Laptop For Nursing School

Use this section to buy a laptop on your own in case all of the models or the alternatives in the preceeding section are no longer available or just not available in your region.

The Nursing Program

It’s always wise to check your department’s website and what they have to say about computers. There could be a windows requirement as some of the software they use only runs on Windows or they may even have a partnership with some laptop brands that can get you discounts for laptops. 

Laptop Requirement and Other Devices

There may also be a requirement to bring a handheld device like a tablet because classes will perhaps be tailored for the student participation through the use or tablet or some apps used during lectures may be required too. Clinicals are most likely the place where apps and tablets become almost a requirement as access to records and clinical information is much efficient to use through tablets.

Operating System

This is probably your #1 concern: check IF Windows is a requirement. Fail to do this and you will face compatibility issues with software that may be run during class or even during exams. Now, if you buy a MacBook, the issue can be fixed by installing windows (even the latest macbooks support windows) so its more of an issue for laptops with Windows in S mode & Chrome OS.

Exam software : a good example of this is ExamSoft. Only compatible with Mac OSX and Windows and not Chrome OS. If they use another software and it doesnt run on your laptop , don’t panic they always have extra laptops for this situations.

Review courses: some  NCLEX review courses apps and programs   only run on Windows too.

Software Used in Nursing School

Some of these are going to be obvious but they are listed here for the sake of completeness.

  • 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)

Some obscure apps to you right now (these are examples, alternatives may be used depending on your school):

Virtually every laptop can not only run all of the software above fast but also let you open all of them at the same time and just as fast any ‘fast’ and ‘expensive’ laptop. In fact, even tablets, can run all of the software above with ZERO issues (if they are compatible with tablets of course, the first three apps can all run on tablets though while the latter three may be accessed through web apps).

Note Taking

Before we go over the computer specs, its important you’re aware WHERE exactly a tablet or a laptop will come in handy:

  • Record a lecture  
  • Take notes on top of the slides (Type it if laptop or writte it if tablet)
  • Attach audio clips on top of slides (both laptop and tablets have microphones).

Doing any of the above may sound too extreme but most nursing students do that anyway, after a few weeks you’ll realize how important it is to extract as much information as possible out of a lecture to avoid wasting time reading extra dozens of pages off a textbook. Remember the lecture has been prepared so you can get the most important details, that along with the homework, is what will show up on tests. 

Recommended Specs

Since you’re only using this laptop for study purposes , hardware is not an issue. Instead, it is better to focus on ergonomics.

A) Weight

Number one feature to look after and the feature you should spend most of your budget on is weight.

3lbs and under:  Laptops with this much weight are SO easy to carry you are likely to bring it EVERYWHERE with you and that’s a good thing in terms of productivity.

These laptops also easily fit in a back because they are very very thing.

Only laptops under 13” will have this much weight. Unfortunately, they are very very expensive to manufacture. You can find them as low as  700 dollars on a good day. Im talking about Windows laptops, chromebooks may be cheaper but they dont support a lot of the software we talked about.

3lb-3.5lb:  This is still somewhat portable but it’s still going to be expensive. They’ll be either ultrabooks with too much power or high quality laptops (MacBooks).

3.5lb-4lb:  best weight you can hope for a cheap laptop (350-450 dollars). Anything higher than 4lb is too heavy to carry.

Q: Is there a lightweight laptop for less than 300 dollars? 

There are two options:

  • ChromeBook: the only problem you’ll have is examsoft or software similar to examsoft not being compatible.
  • MacBook Air (old): there are no compatibility issues. This would be the best solution. The laptop will be refurbished (pre-2017 models) but it will still last just as long, if not longer, than your average brad new windows laptop.

2. Battery Life

You want a battery life that’s got at least 8 hours, this is enough to last you a full school day with a single charge (assuming you don’t run any heavy apps unrelated to school).

Here’s a few things to know about laptops and their batteries:

  • Ultrabooks (3lb thin laptops) can output at least around 10 hours. Ex: MacBook Air, ZenBook, Dell XPS.
  • Core i5 and Ryzen 5 laptops (450-600 dollars) will output 7 hours.
  • Core i3 and Ryzen 3 laptops (350-450) will output 8 hours.
  • Laptops with higher than FHD resolution (QHD) will output 1-2 hours less.
  • Laptops with HD or HD+ resolutions will output +1 or 2 extra hours
  • Any laptop with a dedicated GPU (gaming) will only output 3 hours tops.
  • All Chromebooks will have +10 hours of battery.
  • Newest MacBooks will have 13-15 hours

3. Display

You want to get as much screen area as possible out of a display. Why? Well it’s not a MUST but if you have a high budget, it is much better to spend money here rather than on hardware you’ll never put to good use. A bigger screenarea means more stuff you can simultaneously have on your screen (notes, videos…etc) without having to ALT+TAB between applications.

Because getting a bigger display means getting a bigger and heavier laptop that means you don’t want to increase the size of the display to achieve this.


What you want to do is increase the resolution. Increasing resolution means having more pixels and when you have more pixels your computer can render more stuff in the screen (think of pixels as if they were buckets of paint).

Thus you want the highest resolution you can afford.

HD+: This is low resolution (900p) you’ll find on this on budget machines mostly 350-450 laptops and also on the old macbook air. It’s not something to avoid though, you can still work with two windows side by side but theres not going to be a lot of space for each.
FHD: This is the ideal resolution to work with two windows next to each other and still have plenty of space on each side. It’s also the ideal resolution for histology questions.
QHD: This resolution is much higher than FHD and only becomes useful if you want to have 3 windows open simultaneously. It’s obviously super useful but can make a laptop very expensive. If you’re doing clinicals it also becomes a little extra you can use for accurate diagnosis is resolution and this is good resolution to get accurate histology diagnosis. 

B) Performance

Truth be told, most laptops out there (about 95%) even those around 300 dollars will have all the performance you need and this section becomes pretty much useless if you have a high budget (+400 dollars).


If your budget is under 350 dollars or around that, chances are , you may come across laptops with hardware (mostly RAM) that will not be sufficient to run Windows 11 or Windows 10 Home fast enough for you to be productive (in other words: lag when multitasking). So this is what this section will be about, otherwise you can ignore it and call it a day.

1. CPU 

Windows 10 or Windows 11 Home will run fast with modern (Intel Core or Ryzen) CPUs. A good sample list is shown below but it’s not necessarily complete:

CPU Base Turbo Cores
i3 8130U 2.2 3.4 2
i3 8145U 2.1 3.9 2
i3 10050G1 1.2 3.4 2
i3 10100U 2.1 4.1 2
i3-1115G4 3 4.1 2
i3 1215U 3.3 4.4 6
 i3 1315U 3.3 4.5 6
i5 8265U 1.6 4.9 4
i5 8250U 1.6 3.4 4
i5 1115G4 2.4 4.2 4
i5 8300H 2.3 4 4
i7 8550U 1.8 4 4
i5 1235U 3.3 4.4 10
i7 1165G7 2.8 4.7 4
i5 1240P 3.3 4.4 12
i7 1260P 3.4 4.7 12
CPU Base (GHz) Turbo (GHz) Cores(#)
Ryzen 7 5700U 1.8 4.3 8
Ryzen 7 5800U 1.9 4.4 8
Ryzen 5 7520U 2.8 4.3 4
Ryzen 5 5500U 2.1 4.4 6
Ryzen 5 3500U 2.1 3.7 4
Ryzen 3 7320U 3.4 4.1 4
Ryzen 3 5300U 2.6 3.8 8
Ryzen 3 3300U 2.1 3.5 4

Note that we are in the 13th generation of Intel CPUs & 7th generation of Ryzen CPUs. If you want to know the truth, you’ll see no difference in performance (for school purposes) between the older generations and newest ones.

Which CPU to choose?

You can choose the CPUs above or similar (the numbers may be different) or use the following tips to rule out “slow and outdated” CPUs:

The following CPUs are not recommended for Windows Home or Professional but they’ll be fine for Windows in S mode or Chrome OS

  • Intel Celeron & Intel Pentium
  • Intel Core with Y or M letters somewhere. Ex: Intel Core m3 8100Y is no good where as Intel Core i3 8100U is good.
  • Any AMD CPU that doesn’t have the word Ryzen. Ex: AMD A4-4300M
  • Tablet CPUs: MediaTek & Atom CPUs
  • Lastly, Intel Core CPUs from the 7th generation and below. Ex: Core i5 10210U is a 10th gen where as Core i5 6100U is 6th gen.

If you discard all CPUs with the rules outlined above, you’ll be left with the list of CPUs I’ve listed in the table above.

Core i7 and Ryzen 7

These are too fast and consume too much energy plus they are too expensive. You don’t want them UNLESS you’ve found a laptop that’s portable and has all the extra cool features at a good price.

The fastest CPUs you should go for are the Core i5 and Ryzen 5 (any generation in the table) or the Core i3 and Ryzen 3  (the latest 11th and 6th).

Chrome OS & Windows in S

Laptops that come with these operating systems can run on pretty much any CPU even those I told you to avoid but again nursing school software (at least one or two) will not run on these laptops due to compatibility issues. If you can find a way to use those software on another machine (perhaps a desktop or borrow a laptop for a few ocassions) why not? All power to you!

2. RAM

This becomes more crucial than CPU. You may make up for the lack of CPU power if you have enough RAM and a few other things in check(we’l talk about it later). 

The amount of RAM you need will be correlated to what operating sytem you use and how many apps you run simultaneously.

4GB RAM: If we are talking about Windows 10 or 11 Home or Professional, this is not enough. Those versions of Windows take most of it and that leaves you nothing for any extra stuff to run in the background. This is a good number for Windows in S mode and Mac OSX.
8GB RAM: Bare minimum you want for Windows Home whether it’s 10 o 11.
2GB RAM: Only good for Chrome OS.


If you’re on a budget and can only afford a 4GB RAM laptop like the 300 dollar Acer Aspire 5, don’t panick. This is still a good move because you can upgrade RAM up to 16GB on most laptops ON YOUR OWN. I have a tutorial on how to upgrade RAM here but you can just take it to the IT department of your school and they will do it for you. The only laptops that cannot be upgraded are the following:

  • Any thin laptop (ultrabooks, basically those 700-900 dollar laptops that weigh approx 3lbs)
  • ChromeBooks (most chromebooks are not upgradeable but you don’t need to upgrade them anyways).
  • 11 inch laptops are not upgradeable.  That means you can’t install an additional 4GB RAM. I would just stay away from 11 inch laptops unless they’re one of those premium ultrabooks like the Surface Go. Virtually all of them will run Windows 10 slow.

3. Storage

When you have a low budget (less than 250 dollars), you will come across HDDs (Hard Disk Drives). If you’re building a desktop, you’ll also come across HDDs. 

To make it short and sweet:

Avoid HDDs and make sure your computer has an SSD

SSD stands for solid state drive and that makes a huge difference in the overall speed of your computer, in other words:

  • SSDs will boot up your machine in split seconds
  • Launch software in ia flash
  • Find particular words throughout the computer (and look inside docs too) instantly
  • Slightly longer battery

There are many types of Solid State Drives, usually by the name of PCIe NVMe, SATA III or they may have ‘extra lanes’ (Up to 4) . You can forget about all that confusing stuff, as long as that laptop says SSD (Solid State Drive) you are good.


As for the size, it doesn’t matter, 128GB is plenty for all the textbooks, videos and pdf files you’ll store in a span of 10 years. Most laptops have twice that : 256GB!

4. GPU (Graphics Card)

You don’t need to worry about graphics card for whatever task you have in mind.

X-ray images or any high resolution image out of CD or USB drive or during an exam will be crystal clear regardless of what graphics card you have.

All laptops have graphics cards by default.

The one most laptops have by default is integrated and this is fine for pretty much everything even 3D gaming. Just ignore this piece of hardware.

C) Tablets & 2 in 1 Laptops

This is an important topic because 2 in 1 laptops , iPads and tablets are replacing tradditional laptops for nursing and the medical industry. I’ll just leave the details to the video down below. Watch all of it , if you’re really serious about 2 in 1 devices (those you take notes through a touch pen) and if you have the budget (they are at least 800 dollars!).


Q: Do you recommend one?

Of course, they’re ultra portable cheap and can replace pretty much all of your school supplies. They’re also ideal to record lectures and write notes on top of slides and on top of that you can organize ALL of your documents nicely as if it were your own personal wiki. Read my review on the Surface Pro 9 above for more details.

But I still think you should also get a laptop….

Because. truth is when you’re writing reports , you can’t be nearly as productive with tablets as you would with a real computer that has a much bigger screen or that has a much better keyboard.  NCLEX software doesn’t run on tablets either but it will run on 2-1 Laptops or any device that has Windows Home.


If you have any suggestions, questions  or recommendations. Please leave a comment below.


Author Profile

Miguel Salas
Miguel Salas
I am physicist and electrical engineer. My knowledge in computer software and hardware stems for my years spent doing research in optics and photonics devices and running simulations through various programming languages. My goal was to work for the quantum computing research team at IBM but Im now working with Astrophysical Simulations through Python. Most of the science related posts are written by me, the rest have different authors but I edited the final versions to fit the site's format.

Miguel Salas

I am physicist and electrical engineer. My knowledge in computer software and hardware stems for my years spent doing research in optics and photonics devices and running simulations through various programming languages. My goal was to work for the quantum computing research team at IBM but Im now working with Astrophysical Simulations through Python. Most of the science related posts are written by me, the rest have different authors but I edited the final versions to fit the site's format.

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