Buying a computer system/Laptop specs
I am a college student and interested in purchasing a new laptop. What minimum specs should I look for to run basic software applications smoothly like Microsoft C++ Visual Studios 2012 and to also play videos. from sites like YouTube without the constant buffering? Thanks.
The "constant buffering" is more to do with your Internet connection than the machine itself; as long as you have a suitably high speed and low latency connection, you should have no problems with a modern machine and online video streaming. Of course if the "source" is slow, then your end-results will still be slow.
Regarding Visual Studio 2012 (Visual C++ is a sub-component thereof), system requirements for newer versions are available from Microsoft: http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/products/compatibility
The primary things to note are that your new machine has Windows 7 or 8, and sufficient hard-disk space and memory. My advice would be to look for a machine with at least 2GB of memory, but ideally 4+ GB in an x64 environment would be suggested. Ultimately this shouldn't require a very expensive or elaborate machine; something like this would be more than suitable:
Of course a more robust machine would never be a problem, assuming budget is not an issue; but you should not "need" such a machine unless you have further requirements (for example if you'd like to play videogames). Additionally, if you're in a program that relies heavily on use of a computer or workstation, I would suggest contacting your institution to inquire if they have a specific configuration they'd like you to buy, as this may improve interoperability between your equipment and their instruction. They may also be able to provide you with educational pricing, which could save some money on the purchase of a new machine. Finally, keep in mind that Visual Studio is a constituent of Microsoft Dreamspark, and is available for free to qualifying students; https://www.dreamspark.com/
If you have further questions, feel free to ask.