Tips for Choosing a Computer for School

Learn what to look for when selecting reliable, secure devices for students, teachers, and staff to get the performance and features they need for a range of uses and environments.

Choosing the Right Device Takeaways:

  • Teaching and learning results and performance go hand in hand. Start by determining the level of performance and processing power required to support how the device will be used today and over time.

  • Form factor is another primary consideration in today’s dynamic learning environment where device needs can vary by age, grade, activity, and setting.

  • As you refine your device search, evaluating factors, including connectivity, battery life, security, and cost, can help you get the most from your investment and provide confidence in your choice.

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Start with Performance

Computers are a primary tool used in education today, enabling myriad concurrent teaching and learning activities. When a device can seamlessly support the varying needs of its user, technology is transparent, but an underperforming device becomes a barrier to successful learning outcomes.

When selecting devices for students, teachers, or staff, start by evaluating the level of performance required for the types of activities they will be doing today and in the future. Purchasing a device is an investment in a student’s education and in a teacher’s capability to deliver meaningful learning experiences. Consider how device use and performance needs may change over time so your device can grow with you.

For students, age and grade level are the main factors that determine what level of performance is needed. Teachers require powerful devices to support the multiple, concurrent, resource-intensive applications they use for teaching, videoconferencing and sharing, lesson planning, grading, and more.

  • All students and teachers need devices that can support collaborative, video, and content sharing programs used for remote learning access and in the classroom.
  • Elementary school students will additionally need enough processing power to access and use digital content and educational, touch-based applications and, eventually, basic productivity tools for creating documents and simple presentations.
  • Middle school students will need increased performance as they use their devices for more-intensive and varied activities, including data analysis, computer programming, or multimedia content creation.
  • Teachers and high school students need devices that can do all of this and have the processing power for increased multitasking and more-resource-intensive applications, like those required in advanced classes and electives such as engineering, data science, and graphic design or activities such as esports.

In general, when purchasing a new device for students or teachers, the more processing power a device has, the more applications and activities students and teachers can do. This graphic can help you determine what processors are recommended for a range of grades and uses.

Note: Exclusive to Windows devices on Intel vPro® and Intel® Core™ i9 processors.

Select a Form Factor

Along with your assessment of the types of applications and activities the device will be used for, you should consider how and where computers for school will be used to select a form factor to best meet your needs. Chrome OS devices are also a popular choice for K–12 students and educators, with a wide range of available form factors. All Chrome devices run the Chrome operating system created by Google and can support powerful configurations of memory, storage, and security.

2-in-1 Devices

The engaging, flexible form factor of a 2-in-1 or other convertible device offers multiple benefits for students of varying age. When in tablet mode, a 2-in-1 device enables touch-based, video, and content sharing activities, perfect for younger students. Older students benefit from these features too and, with the addition of a stylus, can use this mode for activities such as creating artwork or for freehand annotations and note taking. 2-in-1s can easily shift to a keyboard-and-mouse operation for more involved tasks, providing students with options for how they engage in different types of learning activities while getting a consistent level of performance.

Laptops and Chromebooks

Laptop PCs and Chromebooks are a popular choice for upper elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as teachers. This mobile form factor offers users the ability to learn and teach from anywhere combined with the robust processing power they need for hands-on experiences and advanced tools. Also ideal for remote learning, laptops and Chromebooks can help students and teachers stay productive, engaged, and connected with HD multimedia and videoconferencing apps, high-quality displays and audio and video capabilities, multiple connectivity and compatibility options, and extended battery life when away from charging outlets.

Desktops and Chromeboxes

Desktop PCs and Chromeboxes are great for teachers and office staff—as well as computer labs and libraries—because of their more robust components that provide additional memory and larger storage drives. They also typically provide users with more options to either expand or upgrade their systems compared to other form factors.

While desktop devices are larger and stationary, users can add specialized peripherals like audiovisual (AV) solutions, speakers, monitors, document readers, and wireless keyboards.

Mini desktop PCs offer a powerful, robust option when there is limited classroom or desk space and easily mount behind large display monitors to power interactive and immersive learning experiences.

Chromeboxes are powerful mini PCs ideal for videoconferencing and hybrid learning. Connect to a large monitor for engaging, active learning in class and provide remote students with an equally rich experience with consistent device performance.

All-in-Ones and Chromebases

All-in-one and Chromebase devices streamline an entire desktop system into a single device with a sleek PC appearance—no need for a separate tower and monitor. Intended for personal use as well as in computer labs, libraries, and front offices, all-in-ones and Chromebases offer the performance needed for running multiple intensive applications—such as those used to create, stream, and share HD content, full-sized keyboards, and high-resolution displays—and require fewer wires and cables.

Chromebases, in particular, come with a large rotating touchscreen, several I/O ports, dual speakers and audio, and a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

Other Device Considerations for School Computers

Beyond processing power and form factor, there are a number of other important device attributes to consider in order to get the most out of your device.

Compatibility

An ideal school computer is compatible with other peripherals needed for optimal use, from headphones, displays, and external storage devices to interactive whiteboards and classroom document cameras. PCs and Chrome OS devices work in an open device ecosystem, meaning they support a range of input and output formats and are typically compatible with a greater number of external devices, existing classroom technologies, and supporting software systems. Open ecosystems give you the flexibility to connect to and access the external hardware and features you want when you want them.

Connectivity and Battery

Connectivity is essential for hybrid or remote learning environments. PCs and Chrome OS devices with onboard LTE can greatly benefit students who don’t have access to internet at home. For users who have consistent connectivity available, Intel® Wi-Fi 6/6E (Gig+) are the best Wi-Fi technologies for education and for videoconferencing, enabling nearly 3x faster speeds (up to 6x faster downloads on new 6 GHz networks) and up to 75 percent lower latency vs. standard Wi-Fi 5 products.1

Any mobile device with all-day battery and fast charging is ideal for students and teachers who take their device back and forth between school and home and need to be untethered from an electric outlet. Chromebooks can offer more than 12 hours of battery life.2

Displays, Cameras, and Audio

PCs and Chrome OS devices have become critical communication tools for remote users. Image quality, especially in environments with varying light levels, is important for both live videoconferencing and for viewing on-screen content. Devices with Intel® Iris® Xe graphics technology and an Intel® Image Processing Unit (IPU6) and MIPI CSI camera module support high-resolution image quality for video streaming and screen viewing, even in dark environments, in addition to the graphics performance needed for teachers and students creating and sharing original content.

Audio quality is equally important for effective learning and participation. Devices with Intel® Smart Sound Technology (Intel® SST) use an integrated audio digital signal processor to offer high-fidelity audio without impacting system performance or battery life.3

PCs with Windows 11 are also able to address the disability divide in education. With assistive technology that is compatible with any Windows 11 PC, school districts can focus on how to best support their students with disabilities without the need for additional costly plugins. Some examples include light mode, dark mode, and other colorful themes that are ideal for those with light sensitivity. PCs with Windows 11 also offer closed captions, speech recognition, and talk-to-text for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Finally, tools like the magnifier can help students who have trouble seeing small text on a screen, and keyboard shortcuts can help students who have difficulty physically interacting with a keyboard.

Security and Manageability

Keeping student, teacher, and school devices secure against viruses, cyberattacks, and bad actors is critical to protecting individual privacy and data and for preventing interruptions to learning.

A combination of software- and hardware-based device security features can help to protect devices at multiple levels against a range of possible attacks. Device security is important for all device types but especially for mobile devices, like laptops and tablets, that are used in different environments and connected to nonschool networks.

PCs built on the Intel vPro® platform provide the benefits of integrated, out-of-the-box, hardware-based security features and remote manageability tools for school IT departments Similarly, Chrome OS devices come with built-in virus protection and several layers of security, including a verified boot process that automatically restarts and restores devices to a stable state if a security threat is detected.

Cost Considerations

Cost is always a consideration when investing in a new computer. As you think about how you, your students, or your staff will use a device, it’s important to evaluate whether a device offers all the critical capabilities you’re looking for. With PCs and Chrome OS devices, you have more choice when it comes to finding a system configuration that works best for you, offering you more flexibility, scalability, and use over time. Selecting a well-performing device with a flexible form factor can extend the longevity of your purchase and, for school IT departments, extend the time between device refresh cycles.

Intel® Resources for Education

We are now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an era where technology enables us to grow exponentially, touching almost every aspect of our lives. Intel is supporting students and educators as they transition into and navigate this new landscape, not only through technology but by also providing access to educational materials and programs.

Intel® Skills for Innovation Framework

The Intel® Skills for Innovation Framework (Intel® SFI) empowers teachers and education decision-makers in adopting technology to create innovative, engaging learning experiences for any learning environment. With hands-on, skills-based activities and available professional development resources, Intel® SFI guides students and teachers to help build and maximize their technology skills, preparing them for an emerging tech-based world.

Intel® AI for Youth

The Intel® AI for Youth program is driven in partnership with governments in eight countries, teaching students about AI, data, natural language processing, and computer vision. Intel® AI for Youth is part of Intel® Digital Readiness Programs that aim to educate as many as 30 million current and future workers about AI by 2030 with hands-on AI-based programs and applications.

Intel Rise

Intel is committed to creating a more responsible, inclusive, and sustainable world, enabled through technology and collective action. Dedicated to investing in students’ futures, as part of our 2030 RISE goals we’re working to make technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness for the next generation of innovators.

Información sobre productos y desempeño

1“Wi-Fi Performance Index” intel.com, date of access: February 2022. https://edc.intel.com/content/www/xl/es/products/performance/benchmarks/wi-fi/
2Gedeon, K. (2022, January 21). “Chromebooks with the best battery life 2022,” LaptopMag. https://www.laptopmag.com/best-picks/chromebooks-with-the-longest-battery-life-in-2021
3Intel® technologies’ features and benefits depend on system configuration and may require enabled hardware, software, or service activation. No computer system can be absolutely secure. Learn more at intel.com or from the OEM or retailer.