All of the best laptops for students will come with wifi. Wifi gives your computer the ability to connect to a network without the need for a network cable. It’s great for colleges and universities because it lets an entire classroom of students use the internet and the school’s network without having a cable ran to each seat in the classroom. It comes in a few different forms though and as wifi has advanced over the years better versions have emerged. Wifi is referenced by the 802.11 protocol. While they are all compatible with each other it’s always a good idea to get the newest version possible if you are buying a new laptop. Below is a list of the different wifi types.
802.11 (1997) – This was the first version of wifi released. It’s been over 10 years since this version came out. You won’t find this on any of the best laptops for students.
802.11a/b (1999) – This version was a great improvement both in overall speed and distance that you could still keep a decent signal. A lot of used laptops for students that you find might have this version. All current wifi systems still have backward compatibility for this version of wifi. Transfer large files can be very slow using this type of wifi though.
802.11g (2003) – Most of the best laptops for students will have this version of wifi. This was another huge jump from the 802.11a/b protocol released in 1999. While there wasn’t a large increase in overall distance for this release, the speed increase is very noticeable.
802.11n (2007) – This is the current standard and the future of wifi. When looking for the best laptops for students this is definitely the wifi type to look for. This version supports both of the common frequencies.
My best suggestion is to get 802.11n if possible, but I wouldn’t have a problem settling for 802.11g. While 5 laptops for students might all have the 802.11n version, some will have better range than others. This is due to the manufacturer’s construction of the laptop and also what type of material the laptop is made out of. For example a metal based laptop might not have the same distance as a similar laptop made from plastic. If by some chance when looking for the best laptops for students and you do find one of the older protocols I would avoid it no matter how tempting the price may be. Also make sure to check reviews about that particular laptop you are looking for.