To the question “Which computer is better to buy for a teenager?” every year a new answer. The technique is changing and, more importantly, the needs and habits of adolescents are changing, and most importantly, the tasks of learning!
It’s difficult to answer unequivocally, because students are different — there are humanities students and there are “techies”, there are geeks and there are e‑sportsmen, there are advanced in computer science and there are those who are passionate about visual arts. It is more correct to talk about a computer for a teenager, who can be a schoolboy, cadet, student of a school, college or junior university course.
Now we will talk about serious computers, which are not toys at all, but tools for modern education in modern areas. These are not computers for a child who is learning to press the keys, but systems for a teenager who knows in which direction he needs to acquire skills and abilities for his specialty, for his work.
Top 5 rating according to “KP”
Recall that the computers we are interested in are designed “for growth”, focused on solving complex problems and should, as such, remain relevant over the next few seasons, so they are cheap — alas! — they can’t be. For educational tasks, the optimal configuration is with an Intel Core i5 processor (8300 or 8400), a GeForce GTX 1660 video card and 16 GB of RAM, Irina Shekhovtsova (Nvidia) believes, and we agree with her.
It may seem that the devices we recommend are expensive, but we note that they are slightly more expensive than a good modern smartphone. Remember that you will have to buy a monitor to go with a desktop, but this is a long-term investment — it will last much longer than a computer, and it will be good for a variety of uses, including family movie viewing. But let’s talk about computers.
1. DEXP Mars E235 (from 48,000 rubles)
A desktop computer with the configuration we are interested in, produced by a Russian company. The computer is placed in a mini-tower case, so high-performance components will be well cooled, which will positively affect both the stability of the work and the durability of the computer. The price of the system, placed in a strict black case with chopped outlines, is from 48 thousand rubles. (but in some cases you will have to pay extra for the installation of the system).
2. HP Pavilion Gaming 690–0029ur (from 60,000 rubles)
A modern desktop, but, firstly, from a global manufacturer, secondly, with a pre-installed and configured operating system, thirdly, in a more ergonomic case (for example, many connectors are placed on the front panel for convenience), thirdly, with additional elements (for example, there is already a Bluetooth adapter “on board”). True, such a system costs a little more than a Russian-assembled computer — from 60 thousand rubles.
3. Dell Alienware R8 (from 65,000 rubles)
I received a very stylish and recognizable case in the Mid Tower form factor, a real work of modern art that will decorate any interior. The manufacturer notes that the internal space of the case is available without tools, and can also be ordered in different delivery options (for example, with a liquid cooling system or with a bluray drive), but we are interested in a system in the minimum configuration — recall, Intel Core i5 (8300 or 8400 ) + Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 + 16 GB “RAM” — which will cost from 65 thousand rubles.
4. HyperPC Neo (from 69,000 rubles)
It draws attention with a designer case, made in black and red colors and with dark red backlighting (which can be turned off). This is a Russian company, on the website of which you can set up the configuration of interest, which will be assembled especially for you. The computer will be optimized, tested and guaranteed, which is important in this case — you want your child to understand the intricacies of mathematical methods and creative programs, and not repair computers, repair is also a decent job, but it requires a slightly different qualification. The system in the configuration we are interested in costs from 69 thousand rubles.
Available in the configuration we need out of the box. It differs from the systems discussed above by the presence of a regular optical drive and a completely modern design of the front panel. But this system is perfect both for games and for the serious tasks we have described for teaching a modern student. Price — from 80 thousand rubles. Note that there are cheaper offers, but Linux is preinstalled instead of Windows 10, which is not always good, so be sure to check the type of “OS” before buying to avoid additional costs.
You ask: “Why is it so expensive!? After all, there are inexpensive systems at prices many times less!” Yes, there are indeed inexpensive computers on sale at more affordable prices, they will simply be “typewriters” on which you can run Office, create simple texts in World and prepare simple presentations in PowerPoint, but nothing more. Even to create a modern longread requires something much more powerful. And in order to work effectively with tools designed to solve creative problems, and to teach the basics of computer science (Computer Science), the modern teenager needs radically more powerful systems, which we are talking about now. Which programs are adapted to work on the “dual” systems we recommend?
How to choose a computer for a student
Today, a computer for a teenager should be “double”: the system should have a powerful central processing unit (CPU) and in addition to it, a powerful graphics unit (GPU). Many people think that a graphics processor is only needed for games, and a teenager should be protected from them as much as possible so that he does not become a “gamer”. This is mistake! A graphics card is badly needed for many types of advanced tasks.
“A computer for a teenager should be a universal platform that, in addition to working with documents, will allow the student to acquire basic skills that are relevant for modern professions: from a designer and software developer to a specialist in artificial intelligence and data analysis,” says Irina Shekhovtsova, head of the communications department of the Russian representative office of Nvidia.
Such “duality” is needed for a variety of tasks, from photo and video processing to 3D modeling and work with artificial intelligence.
Monitors: the choice is more difficult than a computer
The modern computers we have reviewed for students are universal, and the choice of monitor is highly dependent on the usage profile that the young user will have. If the student is focusing on learning computer science, then a simple office monitor will suffice (and save some money), visual arts will need a model with higher color accuracy (and it will cost a little more), and assuming that the computer will used for both learning tasks and games, it is still better to opt for a gaming monitor (with a short response time, but — alas! — with a fairly high price).
We recommend choosing a monitor with a diagonal of at least 24 inches — such models are optimal for the price. An increase in the diagonal entails a noticeable increase in the price.
1. Samsung C24F390FHI (8,990 rubles)
Optimum 24″ FullHD monitor with 250 cd/m2 brightness, 3000:1 contrast ratio, 4ms response time, 72Hz refresh rate. Of the pleasant features — the curvature of the display, which with such a diagonal is not very necessary from a practical point of view, but it looks stylish.
2. Acer K242HLDbid (8,790 rubles)
The diagonal, resolution and brightness are the same, the contrast is lower (1000:1), the response time is better (1 ms), the refresh rate is 60 Hz. There are no features.
3. LG 27MK600M‑B (12,990 rubles)
A three-inch larger 27″ monitor with the same resolution and brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 5ms response time, and 72Hz refresh rate. The forms are classic, straight, suitable for working with documents, numbers and data visualization.
Gaming monitors have faster response times and higher refresh rates, which are good for displaying dynamic scenes that are often found in modern games. For research and creative tasks, they are, of course, suitable for the student, but they are noticeably more expensive than usual ones.
4. AOC G2460PG (24,990 rubles)
With the same dimensions and resolution, it received increased brightness (350 cd / sq.m), a contrast ratio of 1000: 1, a response time of 1 ms, a refresh rate of 144 Hz, and, importantly for games, support for G‑Sync technology that optimizes performance with Nvidia video accelerators.
5. Asus ROG Swift PG248Q (31,999 rubles)
In terms of basic parameters, it is a “twin” of the gaming model discussed above (including G‑Sync support), but several features (for example, the ability to deploy it vertically, which is convenient for a number of work applications) make it more expensive.
6. Samsung C24RG50FQI (14,990 rubles)
Its main parameters are exactly the same as those of the model of the same manufacturer discussed above, but the refresh rate is 144 Hz. The model is noticeably more affordable than its competitors, however, it does not support G‑Sync.
We will not consider monitors for creative tasks, since their choice strongly depends on the type of tasks themselves, and they can be very, very different: for example, for photo processing — one, for graphic design — others, for video — still others.
What are the challenges facing students?
Let’s start with the well-known Photoshop, as well as other graphic editors needed for advanced high-resolution photo processing. Today, such programs have learned to use the resources of a graphics card, which has a positive effect on the speed of work. To work with video, discrete graphics are also very necessary — Premier Pro and others have also learned to use the capabilities of the GPU. Popular systems related to 3D modeling and 3D applications (eg Maya, 3dsMax, Unreal Engine 4, etc.) as well as many animation programs become radically faster when run on a “dual computer”. Are you familiar with these names? Ask your child — he will explain to you!
Computer Science — “computer science” — a real “new literacy”. This is not programming, not the ability to write code, but data skills. Knowledge of numerical methods, basic statistics, mathematical analysis, modeling and other specialized areas is required. The modern trend is neural networks, which are also better to create, train and debug if there is a computer with a GPU, “wired” in which mathematics turns out to be very relevant here. If a teenager wants to learn the basics of artificial intelligence — from computer vision to robotics! — to expand the capabilities of “voice assistants” and “smart homes”, to learn the mathematical foundations of working with BigData and other modern areas, then he also needs a high-powered computer. The systems we have considered above should be considered inexpensive in the class of modern models we are considering.
Do you need a computer or is a smartphone sufficient?
Look at the tasks that your child needs to solve: as part of the modern educational process, prepare reports, abstracts, presentations, long reads and other documents in the most modern formats. Many teenagers, we note, cope with this much better than the average office worker, so yesterday’s kindergarteners today need a computer! And sometimes even more powerful than enough for the office.
Gadgets are a tool for entertainment, communication, reading, Internet surfing and many other tasks, while a computer allows you to do all of the above, plus it is convenient for work. A computer is a device with radically more computing power, a larger screen, a keyboard that is comfortable for typing large amounts of text, and a wide range of connectivity for various peripherals — from graphics tablets to virtual reality helmets.
Modern smartphones are very powerful devices, they allow you to do a lot of interesting things, and even teenagers are familiar with such gadgets, but you still need a computer to study for the reasons described above.
Monoblock — the golden mean between a computer and a laptop
How can you save?
The main method of saving is to buy tomorrow’s device today. Why does a computer need to be “for growth”? Because a teenager should have everything a little “for growth”! It is better to approach the purchase wisely now than in a year to send a thing that has become “cramped” and limiting in possibilities to the mezzanine and spend money again on acquiring a new one.
Buying a computer, like any other expensive item, requires accuracy, not impulsiveness. After choosing the right option with your teenager, compare prices, which can differ markedly for the same model in different stores, pay attention to sales, bonus programs, discounts and other savings opportunities. With some luck, you can actually save 5–7% of the purchase price — or even more! — this is a serious amount that can really be saved for the family budget when buying a modern computer.
Desktop or laptop?
Technically optimal set — laptop + monitor. Modern teenagers are very dynamic, they often mix with their “laptop” and they often have to work on the road / while waiting for comrades / at breaks, etc. Even within the apartment, it is convenient for a young user to “change locations”: either at the desk, or on the balcony, or on the sofa — they say this allows you to change your mood and look at the tasks being solved in a new way.
“Two out of three computers that our company sells to Russians are laptops,” notes Sergey Melts, Game Systems Development Manager, HP.
Relatively recently, powerful video cards simply did not fit in a laptop, but today the situation has changed — modern performance solutions are successfully placed in thin and light laptops that are perfect for teenagers. Making mobile computers lighter and more compact allows both the development of electronics and a number of other engineering solutions, says Denis Minov, Dell Client Products Manager in Russiasuch as the use of magnesium alloy for cases, thin bezel displays, innovative cooling systems, etc.
But it will be economically optimal to purchase a desktop. In many cases, a productive PC will cost less than a laptop of similar performance, Irina Shekhovtsova notes. This is clearly seen on systems of the “above average” class, which are needed by teenagers who are moving on to solving more complex tasks on computers (and you need to buy a system a little “for growth”). Serious tasks that require modern “double” computers require perseverance, you can’t do them “on the run”, so in this case, from a psychological / pedagogical point of view, a desktop will also be optimal.
How to choose the best and not leave a fortune in the store
Important! Choose a computer with your teenager! Firstly, it is he who knows what device he needs for his daily tasks, and he knows better than you, so this approach will be correct. Secondly, you will learn more about your child’s tasks, his hobbies, his views on aesthetics, plans and much more. And he learns about the price the family pays for his development and education. Also very useful knowledge.
What if you take a laptop? Then it will turn out much more expensive, as we warned. We will consider models with a fifteen-inch FullHD screen, which will be optimal at prices in their class — you will have to pay even more money for other configurations.
Asus TUF Gaming FX504GM-E4411 — a representative of a new series of laptops from a well-known Taiwanese company, which is interesting in the same way as other models of this class — powerful “stuffing”, optimized cooling, advanced surround sound, etc. The computer weighs 2.3 kg, although it also has a system of two drives (SDD + HDD) “on board”. Price — from 83 thousand rubles.
Lenovo Legion Y530-15ICH with similar basic parameters, but only a solid-state drive will be installed on it (although the system is still the same 2.3 kg). This model is interesting for its advanced screen (it has a higher screen refresh rate — 144 Hz — which is nice for games). As you can see, a serious powerful machine in a mobile version, today available in stores at a price of 88 thousand rubles.
HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dp0093ur is a laptop specially designed for home users with advanced tasks. It “under the hood” has a set of basic components of interest to us, otherwise it is similar to its competitors, only it is the lightest of all considered — it weighs 2.2 kg, and in the presence of SSD and HDD. Price — from 83 thousand rubles.
You can, of course, choose a cheaper laptop, there are models on Celeron and Pentium, if you search, you can find on the Core i5 of previous generations, which did not have time to sell even with discounts. But we’re talking about a modern learning computer that needs to be powerful! Otherwise, you will have to buy a new computer every year, which will be even more expensive.