The 10 Best Laptops For Students

Updated September 11, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Laptops For Students
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Perfect for cash-strapped students 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 low cost, rugged durability, easy portability, long battery lives or blisteringly fast speeds, and all 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. Lenovo Y700

The Lenovo Y700 has a poor battery life, averaging just 3 to 4 hours, but for those who are never far from a plug for very long, the combination of 1TB of HDD memory and 128GB of SSD memory may make up for it. Buyers can choose from touch or non-touch models.
  • low-glare screen
  • high quality jbl speakers
  • screen color is somewhat muted
Brand Lenovo
Model Y700 (80NW0034US)
Weight 10.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

When it comes to portability, it is hard to beat the compact, 1.7 pound Microsoft Surface Pro 4. It comes in a range of configurations from 4GB to 16GB of RAM and anywhere from 128GB to 512GB of ROM, so there is one for every budget.
  • includes the surface pen
  • comfortable to use in tablet mode
  • limited app selection
Brand Microsoft
Model CR5-00001
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Acer Chromebook 15

If you don't need a lot of onboard storage and are on a really tight budget, the Acer Chromebook 15 may suit your needs. Since everything is saved into the cloud, students will never have to worry about losing files if something happens to their laptop.
  • has an hdmi port
  • heavy at nearly 5 pounds
  • not for memory intensive programs
Brand Acer
Model C910-C453
Weight 6.3 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. HP Spectre x360

With four working modes; tent, presentation, tablet, and laptop, the HP Spectre x360 offers a lot of versatility. It has a 4 MB cache, which helps it load commonly used programs quickly, but it only gets about half the advertised 12-hour battery life.
  • sleek smudge-resistant aluminum case
  • very sturdy hinges
  • keys have good travel for typing
Brand HP
Model L0Q51UA#ABA/L0Q54UA
Weight 7.4 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. 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, including waking up from sleep, so you never miss a beat.
  • large multi-touch glass trackpad
  • feels solidly built
  • 128gb and 256gb models available
Brand Apple
Weight 6.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Acer Aspire E 15

Not every great student laptop has to cost a ton, and the Acer Aspire E 15 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 4 USB ports, including a Type C.
  • true high-def webcam
  • cross-hairline case for a good grip
  • highly responsive touchpad
Brand Acer
Model E5-575G-53VG
Weight 7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Dell XPS9360-3591SLV

The Dell XPS9360-3591SLV may seem pricey at first glance, but you are getting a quad HD Gorilla glass screen, a blazing fast 3.5Ghz processor, and a double digit battery life, all bundled into a conveniently portable 2.8 pound package.
  • carbon fiber frame
  • discovers bluetooth devices quickly
  • awkward webcam placement
Brand Dell
Model XPS9360-3591SLV
Weight 5.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. ASUS Zenbook UX330UA-AH54

The ASUS Zenbook UX330UA-AH54 starts up in seconds and allows users to login with one touch using Windows Hello. It keeps moving at a rapid pace even with multiple windows opened, plus its IPS anti-glare display looks amazing in bright daylight.
  • rubberized palm rest
  • extra wide touchpad
  • sleek aluminum case
Brand Asus
Model UX330UA-AH54
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Lenovo Yoga 910

At 13.9", the Lenovo Yoga 910 beats out most other 13" convertible laptops, which generally have screens of just 13.3". This makes it more suited to work where one needs multiple windows open simultaneously. The FHD model also offers 15 hours of battery life.
  • fingerprint reader for security
  • nearly bezel-less screen
  • backlit keyboard for dim light use
Brand Lenovo
Model 80VF0039US
Weight 5.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Apple MacBook Pro MLL42LL/A

The Apple MacBook Pro MLL42LL/A is a state-of-the-art investment, featuring a 2.0GHz Dual-Core Intel i5 processor to complete your work quicker and more efficiently when multitasking. Also, the force touch trackpad offers customizable click sensitivity for maximum control.
  • built-in speakers have crisp sound
  • long battery life up to 10 hours
  • two super fast thunderbolt ports
Brand Apple
Model MF839LL/A
Weight 6.6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 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 technology 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 70s and 80s. 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; limiting them to just the 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 student 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 to 13-inch screen is generally considered the sweet spot for a student laptop as they will still be easy enough to carry, yet don'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 they become obsolete. You may be tempted to purchase a lower cost model with an i3 processor, but there is a good chance they will become obsolete in just a couple of years. It's better to go with an i5 or i7 processor to ensure it lasts the student through graduation. For this reason, 4GB of RAM should also be considered the bare minimum, with 8GB being a better choice. This ensures 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% 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 $200 or 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 you 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 September 11, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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