This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

PC Shopping Tips for Back-to-School Deals

Stocks in this article: HPQAAPLMSFTINTCAMDGOOGSPLS

Now that Office has gone to the cloud with subscription fees, Microsoft has another deal for students: Four years of Office 365 University for $80. That is available only to college-level students and staff.

Microsoft also launched its own crowdfunding campaign for students. Called "Chip In," students pick a new PC and enlist friends and family to donate. Microsoft adds a 10% discount on the machine plus a four-year subscription to Office 365 University.

If you are in the market for a new computer -- whether you're a student or not -- here's our advice:

At minimum, get a laptop with 4 Gigabytes of RAM, 500 GB hard drive, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB 2.0. A $299 Hewlett-Packard advertised in Best Buy (BBY) offers all those specs with an Advanced Micro Device (AMD) processor, plus a handful of accessories like a case, wireless mouse and 8 GB flash drive.

Other ways to stick to a budget are to opt for last generation's technology or alternative brands and smaller sizes. Smaller screen will shave off some dollars. AMD processors tend to be cheaper than Intel's. Or pick Google's (GOOG) Chrome OS instead of Windows or Mac operating systems. An 11.6-inch Acer laptop with Google Chrome was $229 at Staples (SPLS).

And don't discount Intel because it's the leader (it got there for a reason). Here's a tip on knowing what Intel processor you need: Most people will pick the Intel Core chip, but other options include Atom, as seen in netbooks and tablets, and the Pentium, which has become the value line.

The alphanumeric figure following Intel's Core branded line -- i3, i5 or i7 -- represents good, better and best when it comes to performance. Next, the first digit in the following four numbers indicates the generation of the chip (3 for third generation and 4 for the newer fourth generation). Other letters represent various features: M for mobile low power, Q for quad-core, K for unlocked and S for lower-powered desktop chips best suited for small PCs the size of a pencil box.

If you can afford more, think about upgrading to the newer technologies to prepare for the future. Wi-Fi's latest version is AC (or 802.11ac), which offers faster speeds and is geared toward home entertainment. USB 3.0 offers the fastest transfers for PCs. An HDMI port easily connects audio and video from laptop to a larger monitor or TV with just one cable.

2 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,558.54 +158.87 0.97%
S&P 500 1,931.75 +27.74 1.46%
NASDAQ 4,392.9990 +76.9250 1.78%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs