Buying A New Laptop For Your Kid

When it comes to buying a child's laptop, it can be difficult to work out which options are the best for a young aspiring programmer. Your choice should be centred on three factors: affordability, ease of use, and durability. These three features are all key because these directly correspond to the tech needs of a child; simply put, they need something that they can use without breaking the laptop or the bank!

Therefore, before purchasing any laptop for your child you should consider the purpose of this new computer. A laptop for programming requires different specs than for one focused on gaming (which tends to be more intensive). Depending on this, you can factor certain software and hardware considerations like processor speed into your laptop qualifications. 

Once you’ve decided on the tech specs, it’s important to choose a laptop that suits their age and your price point. For younger children, we recommend a lighter laptop with a smaller screen because it will be easier for them to use and carry. For older programmers, a larger 14/15 inch screen size is more appropriate. Likewise, for older children choosing good specs can make a world of difference: the better the specs, the more they can do! At blue{shift} we use the HP Stream for the majority of our coding courses, whilst we use the HP Pavilion in our Minecraft modding courses. 

HP Stream 14

The HP Stream 14 is a great first laptop. As a lightweight option it is ideal for portable computing. Despite this, this laptop has the power and speed needed for coding with its dual-core Intel Celeron processor. Not only does the HP Stream 14 come in some fun, bright colours, but they also have a one-year subscription for the Office 365 suite included - perfect for finishing homework. At an affordable price point of around £200 they are an inexpensive entry-level laptop for all kinds of tasks and activities, including coding. We would suggest that this laptop is ideal for any students who are between the ages of seven and eleven. 

HP Pavilion 15

If your child is a little older and needs more power and features, the HP Pavilion 15 may be your best option. Whilst more expensive than the Stream at around £400, this laptop will carve the path for future programming endeavors and will grow with your children. If they are interested in game development, then this laptop is an all around great choice as it’s Intel Premium Processor and 1TB of storage is able to handle the majority of games; including Minecraft. We wouldn’t recommend this laptop for younger students - instead, it’s best for children aged 10 and up. 

However, if you would like to research your own laptop then we would recommend certain specifications. For a coding and programming laptop choice you should aim for:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3-3210 3.2 GHz / AMD A8-7600 APU 3.1 GHz or equivalent
  • RAM: 4GB
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 4000; or AMD Radeon R5 series with OpenGL 4.4*
  • Operating System:
    • Windows: Windows 7 and up
    • MacOS: Any 64-bit OS X using 10.9 Maverick or newer
    • Linux: Any modern 64-bit distributions from 2014 onwards

For a Minecraft or Gaming laptop you should look at purchasing something with at least these specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4690 3.5GHz / AMD A10-7800 APU 3.5 GHz or equivalent
  • RAM: 8GB
  • GPU: GeForce 700 Series or AMD Radeon Rx 200 Series (excluding integrated chipsets) with OpenGL 4.5
  • HDD: 4GB (SSD is recommended)
  • OS (recommended 64-bit):
    • Windows: Windows 10
    • MacOS: macOS 10.12 Sierra
    • Linux: Any modern distributions from 2014 onwards

And remember, no matter what laptop you purchase you will be investing in your child’s future technical and creative education. That is invaluable. We hope we have made the shopping process easier, but if you have any questions or concerns when buying a laptop, do not hesitate to contact us!