Best Laptop for Law School Guide for 2020
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You’ve made it into the law school of your dreams! Now you need to be sure that you have everything you need before, especially the best laptop for law school. All law schools recommend new law students to either have a new or recently purchased laptop for law school. That said, there are not a whole lot of additional requirements for the best laptop for law school, so we’re going to share the laptops we’ve found to be the most effective for law students in getting their coursework completed as well as user-friendly for when you decide to do things that aren’t law-related, like watching Netflix or using programs for video or photos.
In a hurry? Here are our top 3 picks:
Mac vs. PC for Law School?
Honestly, this is no longer a debate. If you prefer Apple products, go for a Mac. As long as it meets the operating system, you will be able to use this for your classes effectively. A suggestion for Mac owners for law school is to install Apple’s BootCamp for free, which will install Windows 10 onto your laptop for law school should you find any need for running specific software.
Should you opt for a PC for law school, you should not install Microsoft Home onto your laptop, as they will likely not be compatible with the network at your law school. 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Windows work, but 64-bit tends to be preferred by most law students.
Our List of the 4 Best Laptops for Law School
Best Budget Mac for Law School
- intel i5 core processor
- 8 GB RAM
- 256 GB Hard Drive
By “budget” Mac, it’s probably best to say in comparison to other MacBook options. Macs tend to cost more than their PC counterparts, but this is going to be one of the cheaper options that fits the criteria for laptops for law school. You will find in the specs for the MacBook Air an intel i5 core processor, which means it’s going to be able to run a sufficient amount of applications and software at once. 8GB RAM meets the minimum of space, but you can consider upping to the 16GB RAM if you expect needing more documents at your fingertips. A 256 GB Hard Drive will store enough of your documents and materials, but will probably require that you get your photos and videos stored on your computer into an external hard drive. Beyond that, this MacBook Air is going to be a great laptop to get you through law school and makes it among our list of the best laptop for law school.
Best Splurge Mac for Law School
- 6-core 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor
- 16 GB RAM
- 512 GB Hard Drive
- Ultrafast SSD
- Retina display
This MacBook Pro comes with the bells and whistles that you are going to certainly pay for in price. That said, this is going to be the most powerful laptop for law school that makes our list with its 6-core 8th generation i7 quad core processor. Similarly, this MacBook Pro provides you with 16GB RAM, meaning you will have everything you need at easy access on your laptop. A 512 GB Hard Drive means you are going to have more than enough space on your laptop that will probably allow you to store all your photos and videos on the hard drive. That said, we do recommend purchasing an external hard drive or uploading a backup to your computer into some cloud-based program such as Backblaze.
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Best Budget PC for Law School
- intel i7 core processor
- 16 GB RAM
- 512 GB Hard Drive
We don’t all have the budget for a MacBook or Microsoft Surface, and, to be honest, it will not affect your law school performance nor will it hinder your ability to get the work done that you need. The ASUS ZenBook is a great, quality laptop for law school that is not going to break the bank. With its intel i7 core processor, 16GB of RAM space, and 512 GB Hard Drive, there is little left in terms of what you will need.
Related: Is Dating in Law School Possible?
Splurge PC for Law School
- intel i7 core processor
- 16GB RAM
- 512 GB Hard Drive
The Microsoft Surface makes it on our list as the best laptop for law school in the Splurge PC category. At the end of the day, people have preferences of either a PC or Mac and this laptop backs up its price with power that you will get from its intel i7 core processor. Applications and software is going to run faster with an i7 core processor and will also be handy if you enjoy gaming or other multimedia tasks. 16GB RAM meets the requirement of easy-access storage and a 512 GB Hard Drive will be sufficient space or can be supplemented with an external hard drive for larger files and documents.
Requirements for Law School Laptops:
The best laptop for law school is going to be one that can keep up with the requirements of daily law school studies. Without going too deep into the weeds with tech jargon, we’re going to focus on 4 main requirements that you need to be sure your computer meets in order to be effective for the school year:
1. Processor: i5 core processor or higher
The processor on your laptop is what gives you the power and speed you need to run software. When it comes to purchasing the best laptop for law school, it’s going to be one that has at least an Intel i5 core processor or the equivalent. The higher the number, the stronger the processing power. This means that an i7 core processor is going to be able to run more applications at once than an i5 core processor. You don’t need an i7 core processor for law school, but it can come in quite handy when it comes to multimedia tasks, multitasking, or high-end gaming. Obviously this is not part of law school, and having the stronger processor power is going to come at a higher cost to you than the i5 core processor.
2. Memory (RAM): 8GB (or 16GB)
RAM stands for random access memory, should you care. In a nutshell, RAM is a physical hardware inside your computer that stores data temporarily. What this is going to do for law school is allow you to quickly access documents or files right now at a much faster speed than if the computer had to pull it from your hard drive. 8GB is the minimum RAM recommended for law school. If the laptop you are considering does not allow for a RAM upgrade in the future, you may want to consider a 16GB RAM from the start.
3. Hard Drive: 256 GB (or 512 GB)
Your hard drive is different from RAM, as RAM is erased after every time you shut down your computer. The hard drive is going to store all your documents for the long-term. 250 GB is enough storage for law school, but may require you to put some of your files on either an external hard drive or in the cloud. If you can afford a 512 GB laptop for law school, then I’d recommend splurging on this to ensure you don’t run out of space.
4. Operating System: Windows 10 Pro or Education / Mac OS X 10.13
The above operating systems are required for full compatibility with the enterprise network and software of law school. Essentially, if you are purchasing a newer model of a laptop for law school, there will be these operating software options regardless of if you are getting a Mac or a PC.
Optional – Laptop Accidental Insurance
You should consider purchasing accidental insurance when making your laptop purchase. All of the best laptops for law school in our list come with optional laptop insurance of up to 4 years. The coverage is generally pretty broad and include things like spills on your computer or cracked screens. You really don’t know how much you want insurance until an accident like this happens. I’ve been able to use the insurance I purchased for a cracked Mac screen and it was free for me to replace the screen through AppleCare.
You can check some of the top law school’s requirements on laptops by checking out the following law schools:
- Harvard Law
- University of Chicago Law
- Columbia Law
- NYU Law
- Penn Law
- Michigan Law
- Berkeley Law
- University of Virginia Law
- Duke Law
To Wrap This Up:
There is no “wrong” laptop you can purchase, so long as it meets the basic requirements set by the law school you are attending. This guide serves as a general guide to law school requirements, but be sure to also check in with your law school to confirm the specs set forth by the law program. We wish you the best of luck on law school and your new laptop purchase! Feel free to comment below if you found this helpful or have a best laptop for law school that you think should be added to this list!