The 10 Best Laptops For Students

Updated December 21, 2017 by Chase Brush

10 Best Laptops For Students
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We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Perfect for cash-strapped kids heading off to college and essential even for those still in high school these days, our selection of laptops for students includes models that feature a combination of relatively low cost, rugged durability, easy portability, long battery lives and/or blisteringly fast speeds. Most of them look pretty sharp, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best laptop for students on Amazon.

10. Dell Inspiron 7000

If you're the kind of student who spends as much time gaming as writing papers, you'll want to check out the Dell Inspiron 7000. This feature-rich machine comes stacked with 12GB of DDR3 RAM, 1TB of HDD storage, and 8GB SSD memory, all at the price of a regular laptop.
  • anti-glare backlit led screen
  • small enough to carry around easily
  • speakers could be more powerful
Brand Dell
Model i5577-7359BLK-PUS
Weight 8.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Microsoft Surface Pro

When it comes to portability, it's hard to beat the Microsoft Surface Pro. True, it's technically a tablet -- but pair it with a compatible mouse and keyboard, and you have a device that can do everything a standard laptop can, and, in some cases, much more.
  • multiposition kickstand
  • comes in several different sizes
  • accessories cost extra
Brand Microsoft
Model FJT-00001
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Apple MacBook Air

At only 2.96 pounds, the ultra-stylish Apple MacBook Air simplifies your life without adding any extra bulk. Its flash storage makes everything you do super snappy and responsive, whether it's editing photos, browsing the web, or simply waking it up from sleep.
  • large multitouch glass trackpad
  • feels solidly built
  • not ideal for heavy programming
Brand Apple
Model MQD32LL/A
Weight 6.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. Asus Chromebook Flip

If you don't require a lot of storage and are on a really tight budget, the Asus Chromebook Flip may suit your needs. It runs Google's own OS and, since everything is saved to the cloud, you'll be able to conveniently access your files from any internet-connected device.
  • can also be used as a tablet
  • incredibly lightweight and portable
  • mostly for web-based work
Brand Asus
Model C302CA-DHM4
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Acer Aspire 3

Not every great student laptop has to cost a ton, and the Acer Aspire 3 is proof. It offers 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, just like the more expensive models, plus it has a dedicated 2GB NVIDIA graphics card and a total of four USB ports, including the new type C.
  • true high-def webcam
  • cross-hairline case for a good grip
  • battery life could be better
Brand Acer
Model Acer Aspire 15.6
Weight 6.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Microsoft Surface

The Microsoft Surface is the software giant's first shot at a traditional laptop, and they seem to have hit the mark. The elegantly designed unit performs as well as it looks, complementing its PixelSense touchscreen and Alcantara keyboard with i5 and i7 processors.
  • comes in four unique finishes
  • limited windows operating system
  • lacks some key ports
Brand Microsoft
Model D9P-00001
Weight 5.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Acer Swift 3

While the Acer Swift 3 isn't going to win you any major style points, it's still a great option for those who are looking to get the most bang for their buck in terms of performance. You can choose from three different component setups and a 14" or 15.6" screen size.
  • large roomy trackpad
  • fingerprint reader
  • great value for price
Brand Acer
Model SF314-51-39NE
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

3. Apple MacBook Pro

It'll cost you a mint, but if you absolutely must have the latest in computer technology, the Apple MacBook Pro is it. It's a state-of-the-art investment, featuring a brilliant retina display and an innovative touch bar that can help you greatly streamline your workflow.
  • built-in speakers have crisp sound
  • great for artists and designers
  • extremely pricey option
Brand Apple
Weight 5.5 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Lenovo Yoga 710

At 11.6", the Lenovo Yoga 710 beats out most other convertible laptops by packing plenty of performance features into a versatile body. Use the keyboard to take notes during a lecture, watch movies and play games with it in tent mode, or set it vertically for multitasking.
  • screen adjusts automatically
  • extremely portable size
  • reliable 9 hour battery life
Brand Lenovo
Model Lenovo yoga 11.6
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Asus ZenBook Ultra-Slim

The Asus ZenBook Ultra-Slim is as fast as it is light, starting up in seconds and allowing users to log in with a one-touch fingerprint reader. It keeps moving at a rapid pace even with many windows open, plus its IPS anti-glare display looks amazing in bright daylight.
  • rubberized palm rest
  • weighs just over 2-and-a-half pounds
  • sleek aluminum case
Brand Asus
Model UX330UA-AH55
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Why Students Need Laptops

Everyone agrees that a laptop is needed for college and university students, but they can be just as vital for students in middle school and high school. There are a number of advantages students who have laptops gain over those without, such as more efficient note taking, increased technological literacy, faster writing and editing, increased engagement, and easier collaboration with other students.

For those who feel that a laptop isn't necessary for education, consider for a moment how you would feel going to see a doctor who was still using outdated medical practices from the 1970s. Most of us wouldn't dream of seeing a doctor who wasn't up to date with the most current medial techniques and research. This is essentially what parents are doing by only supplying their children with pens and paper: they limit them to the kind of technology that was available two or three decades ago.

Schools across the country are beginning to realize this, and some have even begun to implement class curriculum designed with laptops in mind. In 2000, the state of Maine made an agreement with Apple to provide all seventh and eighth graders with laptops. In 2010 alone they gave out over 70,000 laptops free of charge to students. Their goal is for every student from grades 7 to 12 to have a laptop.

Since starting the program, officials say they have seen an improvement in grades and increased collaboration among students. They have also seen an improvement in students' critical thinking abilities. In 2000, a study was conducted by researchers at Wayne State University to analyze the achievements of students with laptops compared to those without. They found that students who used laptops for school had more interest in education, higher levels of self-confidence, and better research and writing skills.

How To Choose A Laptop For A Student

Every student will have slightly different needs when it comes to the best laptop for them. For example, a college student majoring in graphic design will need a much more powerful laptop than a student just entering high school. That being said, there are a few tips that apply to the majority of students and can help you choose the best laptop for their needs.

Portability should be a top concern. Purchasing a device that is too large to conveniently carry to and from class will limit the benefits a student receives from their laptop. Ideally, most student laptops should weigh less than 4 pounds, with a screen size between 11 and 14 inches. Younger students may get away with an 11-inch screen, as they often don't mind staring at a smaller screen and may prefer something that is lighter to carry. For most, a 12- or 13-inch screen is generally considered the sweet spot for a student laptop as it will still be easy enough to carry, yet won't compromise on usability.

While many parents are looking for the most affordable laptop to buy for their child, it can sometimes be worth it to pay for a higher-end model that has an aluminum or magnesium alloy case. These will be more durable than models with a plastic case, and have a better chance of lasting through a few years of being jumbled about in a backpack. If you can find a model with a spill-proof keyboard, it should definitely be considered.

One of the biggest issues with technology these days is how quickly it becomes obsolete. You may be tempted to purchase a lower cost model with an older processor, but there is a good chance it may become obsolete in just a couple of years. It's better to go with a machine with the latest processor to ensure it lasts the student through graduation. The amount of RAM is another important consideration: a higher number will ensure that the laptop is capable of running resource-heavy programs without lagging.

Battery life is also a top priority. Look for a model that offers at least 8 hours of battery life to last students through a full school day. Most students prefer a touchscreen laptop because of the added functionality, but touchscreens are known for being battery hogs. Models without touchscreens generally last 10 to 25 percent longer on battery power, so the pros and cons should be weighed before purchasing a laptop with touch capabilities.

SSDs Versus HDDs For A Student Laptop

When choosing a student laptop, you'll invariably be presented with the choice between one that has an HDD and one that has an SSD. It is no secret that an SSD is faster, more durable, and just generally a better overall memory device than an HDD, but they are also more expensive and most consumers have to sacrifice on memory size when purchasing one. A laptop with a 250GB SSD can often cost a lot more than a similar model with a 1TB HDD.

It is a better choice to choose a student laptop with a smaller SSD than one with an HDD. In the next few years, SSDs will most likely completely replace HDDs, so buying a model with an SSD is a good way to future-proof your laptop. Luckily, they are quickly dropping in price, making student laptops with SSDs more affordable than ever before. Supplemental memory devices are also relatively low cost, so one can always buy an external hard drive or a USB flash drive to increase memory space.

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Last updated on December 21, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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