Back-to-School Budget Technology Breakdown

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GLITCH is our jointly-run column for all things technological, from deep explorations and commentary of the gaming industry to guides on building your own computer. Get your mouse poised and your hardware running to uncover the ever-shifting landscape of technology with writers Artiom Cvetkov and Chang Hui Tze!

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After the Coronavirus outbreak and the greater emphasis on home-based learning, many of us may be thinking about upgrading our technology. However, the amount of information available on the Internet can seem overwhelming and many of us are on a student budget. As we have gone through a variety of low and high-price technology, we will recommend our favourite budget laptops, mice and headphones for non-gamers and gamers alike in this article.

ASUS ZenBook UX333

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/ASUS-ZenBook-i7-8565U-Processor-Windows/dp/B07XV5Y68W

For the price of £749.99 this is an excellent laptop. It is extremely light and very slim, being the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop. This laptop has been nominated as Amazon’s Choice, although a small minority of reviewers have complained about the quality of the touchpad, which is something that can be worked around with the addition of a USB mouse.

ASUS ZenBook UX391

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/ASUS-Ultra-HD-Touchscreen-i7-8565U-Processor/dp/B07X55PJYH

This laptop is more expensive than the previous one, coming in at £899.99. However, this heftier price is justified by a superior display. For those who worry about durability, fear not for this laptop meets the demanding MIL-STD 810G military standard for reliability while still retaining a light weight. Even if it appears delicate, it’s no more fragile than any other standard laptop.

Dell G3 15 3000

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dell-i5-8300H-Processor-GeForce-Graphics/dp/B07F94CFKV

With a price tag of £799.99, you are open to experience a great range of games at high quality and performance. On the downside, as it is a gaming laptop, it is let down by a considerably smaller battery life due to the greater amount of power the components draw. Keep that in mind if you are also looking for a portable laptop for journeys or for university use, because there’s nothing worse than a computer running out of battery mid-way through an essay!

MSI Raider RGB GE63

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/MSI-Raider-Intel-Gaming-Laptop/dp/B07RWKQGCB

With this laptop, a greater range of games can be played than the Dell one, which accounts for the somewhat steep difference in price. Reviewers agree that this laptop is a great all-rounder with its high-end hardware and a stylish colourful metal case, but be prepared to have a charger at the ready. Because of its short battery life, it might not be the best option for studying.

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* SSD (Solid State Drive) is a format of memory which works with data far quicker than the conventional HDD (Hard Drive Disk), however the higher speed comes with a higher price.

Headphones and Headsets

Generally, all headphones will perform the same role. It is up to you to decide whether you would be happy with paying more for extra features such as wireless, or noise cancelling, or surround sound. People might choose to invest in headphones with these extra features if they’re a gamer, musician, or if they’re just an avid music lover.

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bose-QuietComfort-Wireless-Headphones-Cancelling-Black/dp/B0756CYWWD

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sennheiser-HD-206-Stereo-Headphone/dp/B01N7S0IPR

You cannot go wrong with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II series due to their great volume and prime sound quality paired with noise cancelling that would drown out even the loudest tubes in London. If the price is too steep, though, a good replacement would be the Sennheiser HD 206 stereo headphones with their crisp and rich sounds paired with a very reasonable budget price range.

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corsair-Unidirectional-Cancelling-Microphone-Compatibility/dp/B076NXJ4YK

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corsair-Customisable-Microfibre-Unidirectional-Microphone/dp/B0749JNRVY

When it comes to gaming headsets once again you can’t really go wrong. The key difference between a headset and headphones is that a headset has an external microphone dedicated for communication while gaming, while headphones tend to lack that feature. A headset such as the Corsair HS50 will perform well and provide great sound quality however one might find more satisfaction from paying an extra £30 or so to gain access to better audio quality (7.1 surround sound) with the Corsair Void PRO. 

Mouse

Personally, we use the Razer Deathadder Chroma (2014) [discontinued but similar to the rest of the Deathadder range] and it is advertised as having a high DPI (dots per linear inch) which basically means it has a high range of sensitivity. However, if you want to buy a gaming mouse, do not feel pressured to pay more for a higher DPI. Either way, any mouse will perform its core task. 

Conclusion

Whether you wish to upgrade your tech for the sake of work or gaming, we hope that with this article you can fine-tune your individual needs and help you make the right choice for your next big tech purchase. Gaming doesn’t have to be expensive, and playing with some budget products can be just as fun as using more ‘professional’ gaming equipment. We hope this guide will help anyone looking for cheaper alternatives for high-tech goods!

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The GLITCH column is uniquely run by two fantastic writers and technology fanatics: second year historian Artiom Cvetkov and law student Chang Hui Tze, offering different perspectives on the subject.

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