Last updated on February 1st, 2020
If you’re a recent high school grad, or maybe even a college student already and need a new laptop for school, you’re in the right spot! We’ve been there and done that, in college, you want something cool, fast, and can handle all the programs you need to succeed in your classes. We’re about to show you the best student laptops on the market!
In addition, You want something that’s small enough so that you can literally carry it around like a notebook. You don’t want something large and clunky like a gaming laptop because they’re too big and weigh a lot more than a traditional laptop.
We also took into consideration of price as well. The thing is, you don’t really “need” a super expensive laptop to succeed in school. The laptops we listed below are affordable, and will be more than good for school!
In this article, we listed the top 5 best student laptops for college. This list was created based on personal opinion and we tried to list them based on their price, quality, effectiveness and more.
If you’re a high school graduate who is about to start college and looking for a good laptop, you’re in the right spot! For any other recommendations please leave a comment at the bottom of this review and we will get back to you as soon as we can!
What To Look For In A Laptop For College
There are a few major things you want to look for in a new laptop. They aren’t absolutely necessary but if you want to be sure that you’ll have enough power and speed to handle what you will need in school, you’ll want a laptop with good components.
The biggest thing you want to look for is a good processor or CPU. (If you don’t know what a processor or CPU is, you can read about them here.) Most people buy laptops with either an i5 or an i7 processor. Either one will be more than good enough for what you will need for college. The i7 will be better than the i5 but it’s not absolutely necessary unless you can afford a laptop with that much extra processing power.
Next, you will want to look to see if the laptop has a solid-state drive or SSD. (You can learn more about solid-state drives here.) Basically, a solid-state drive takes place of your traditional HDD or hard drive. The solid-state drive is much more efficient and handles instructions from your computer much faster than a traditional hard drive would. What this means is that your laptop will run even faster, and smoother as well. Laptops #3, #4, and #5 on our list have a solid-state drive.
Lastly, look for a laptop with a good amount of RAM. (Learn more about RAM here.) RAM is basically a form of computer data storage that stores data and machine code that is currently being used by your laptop in real-time. As far as how much RAM you will need, you should be fine with anything that has at least 8GB of RAM or above.
Can A Gaming Laptop Be Used For College?
The short answer is yes. Gaming laptops come equipped with more than enough speed and power than you would need for college. However, they are pretty large and clunky.
I guess if you don’t mind carrying around the extra weight, go ahead and get yourself a gaming laptop. You definitely won’t have any performance issues with a gaming laptop at all. I guess the good thing about it is you will have a laptop that will be good for both school and gaming.
Lucky for you, we tested and reviewed gaming laptops as well. Check out our article of the Top 5 Best Gaming Laptops if you’re interested in those instead. I would personally recommend one of the MSI gaming laptops in our review if you want a gaming laptop.
College Laptop Buying Tips
Yeah, you could just walk into Best Buy or some other electronics store and buy a laptop blindly, but with these laptop buying tips, you’ll be able to zero-in on exactly what you want. Choosing a new laptop for school can be quite daunting with so many choices on the market.
In addition, the sales guys in the electronics store are only going to show you the most expensive stuff and not even care about “what you need”. Here are some tips so you can figure out exactly what you’re looking for.
Pick Your Platform
When you’re buying a laptop, you really only have 3 platforms to choose from. You can either pick Windows, macOS, or ChromeOS. Both macOS and Windows are clearly the most popular and for a school laptop, I’d personally stick with these two platforms as well. macOS will obviously be all of your MacBooks etc.
Windows laptops will likely be running on any of these brands: ASUS, Microsoft, Huawei, HP, and pretty much any other brand that isn’t a MacBook, to be honest.
For school purposes, it’s really up to you and what you prefer. Most people prefer MacOS because, well … it’s Apple! We personally prefer Windows because it’s adaptable to any software available and work seamlessly with just about any add-on you buy for it. As a wireless mouse, for example, they’re all universal for Windows. Whereas you’d need a “special” wireless mouse for an Apple.
Detachable Or All-In-One?
Again, with so many options available it’s tough to decide what you really want. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of students using the detachable’s simply because they’re easier to carry around.
A detachable is basically a laptop where the screen comes off and you can use it as a tablet pretty much. An all-in-one is like your traditional laptop where the screen stays put and does not detach from the keyboard at all. Again this is all personal preference.
Pick A Screen Size
Before you think about pricing or looking at all the features of a laptop, you want to figure out what size screen you want. The bigger the screen, the less portable the laptop will be. Below are the typical screen sizes you’ll see on your college campus among students.
- 13 to 14 inches: The most lightweight laptops, these typically detach into a tablet as well. Easiest to carry around on campus.
- 15 inches: These are very popular as well and typically weight anywhere from 4.5 – 5.5 lbs. These laptops are easy to fit inside of a backpack as well.
Get Good Battery Life!
I’ve seen this far too often! Students will buy a laptop based on aesthetics such as how good it looks or how good the picture is, without even looking to see what the battery life is. I know someone who bought a Lenovo with this mentality and when he took it to school the first time, he was pissed because the battery only lasted 4 hours!
First and foremost, after you decide on screen size, you want to figure out how much battery life you’re going to need. Some don’t last very long, while others can last up to a full day! Check the battery life specs on all laptops that you look at!
Top 5 Best Student Laptops For College
Below you will find our top 5 picks for the best student laptops for college.
1. ASUS VivoBook S15
This laptop was our ultimate favorite, simply because it was extremely lightweight, and the graphics were absolutely phenomenal for the price! In addition, it looked really good too! This laptop ranks #1 on our list for the best student laptops for college.
The ASUS Vivo Book is the perfect combination of performance and function. The ASUS VivoBook is a Windows 10 laptop powered by an 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and ASUS Nano Edge display technology. It’s the ideal laptop for daily computing and entertainment with a 178-degree wide viewing angle.
- Powerful 8th Generation Intel Core i5 1.6GHz (Turbo up to 3.4GHz) processor.
- 14.2″ Wide, 0.8″ thin and portable footprint with 0.3″ Nano edge bezel for a stunning 80% screen-to-body ratio.
- 15.6″ Anti-glare full HD display with ASUS Splendid software enhancement.
- 8GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB HDD.
- Ergonomic chiclet keyboard with a fingerprint sensor, Windows 10 Home.
- Comprehensive connections including USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen1), USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and HDMI; Lightning-fast 802.11AC Wi-Fi keeps you connected through any congestion or interference.
2. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
The Surface laptop by Microsoft is an absolute powerhouse. You can literally compare this laptop to any Apple MacBook on the market. It sleek, sexy, fast, and built with students in mind. This laptop ranks #2 in our list for the best student laptops for college.
Get powerhouse performance and amazing graphics with a surface that adapts to you. The Surface Laptop 3 is a robust laptop, powerful tablet, and portable Studio in one that packs up to 4 times more power than the original Surface Book. Premium, lightweight materials and up to 17 hours of battery life let you create anywhere without sacrificing performance. Available with a 13.5” or 15” PixelSense Display, both designed for surface Pen* and touch.
- Microsoft Surface Laptop features a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 256 GB of storage, 8 GB RAM, and up to 14.5 hours of video playback.
- Backed by the best of Microsoft, including Windows and Office.
- Four tone-on-tone color combinations. The exterior has an aluminum casing.
- Natural typing and trackpad experience, Ultra-thin and light; luxurious Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard.
- Luxurious Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard. 3.5 mm headset jack.
3. Apple MacBook Air (MOST POPULAR)
The most loved MacBook is about to make you fall in love all over again! This laptop is available in silver, space gray, and gold. This new thinner and lighter MacBook Air features a brilliant retina display, touch-id, and the latest generation keyboard! The iconic wedge is created from 100% recycled aluminum, making this the greenest MacBook ever! Plus, with all-day battery life, this MacBook Air is your perfectly portable, do-it-all notebook!
This MacBook is by far the most popular we have on our list. This laptop ranks #3 on our list for the best student laptops for college.
- Stunning 13.3-inch Retina display.
- Touch ID.
- Dual-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Intel UHD Graphics 617.
- Intel UHD Graphics 617.
- Fast SSD storage.
- 8GB memory.
- Stereo speakers with wider stereo sound.
4. HP Envy
Experience peace of mind, no matter where your day takes you. Light, powerful, and with smart security features – the HP ENVY 13″ Laptop is built to empower life on-the-go. With state-of-the-art security, an ultra-sleek design, and powerful entertainment features, your privacy and data stay secure – whether you’re at home or on-the-road.
This laptop ranks #4 on our list for the best student laptops for college.
- Powered by 8th Gen Intel Core i7, Up to 4.6GHz Quad-Core Processor. It can respond to your basic demands to the intensive ones and handles your tasks for each day.
- RAM is upgraded to 8GB DDR4 SDRAM to enhance the performance and multitasking.
- Hard Drive is upgraded to 256GB SSD, provides massive storage space for huge files so that you can store important digital data and work your way through it with ease. It gives you enormous space to save all of your files. Enhance the overall performance of the laptop for business, student, daily usage.
- 15.6-inch Full HD Display (1920 x 1080). The 15.6″ display enables you to view your content with crisp, sharp detail and rich color for editing photos and graphic design.
- It is also equipped with 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 for seamless, high-speed wireless connectivity. Additionally, it runs on Windows 10 Pro 64-bit operating system that provides the core features and functionality. It comes with the HESVAP USB extension cord, Mouse Pad, and HDMI cable.
5. ASUS ZenBook
If you’re looking for an all-around powerhouse, this is the laptop you’re going to want to get. The ASUS ZenBook Pro is insane when it comes to overall performance! This laptop ranks #5 in our list for the best student laptops for college.
The ZenBook Pro 15 is a powerful device that you can take anywhere- including its latest 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, gaming-grade Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics, and its 4K UHD touch display with a slim bezel. Fitting a 15.6-inch display into a frame size that’s typical of a 14-inch laptop isn’t easy – but the NanoEdge bezel makes it possible.
This super-slim bezel measures at its narrowest point, giving ZenBook Pro 15 an incredible 83% screen-to-body ratio- so you see more display and less frame. And every detail of its finish makes ZenBook Pro 15 beautiful and powerful – including its precision-engineered solid-aluminum unibody and the elegant diamond-cut edge in rose gold color- in just around 4lbs.
- Latest Intel 8th Gen Core i7 Processor, up to 4.8 GHz.
- 15.6” UHD 4K touch display with 83% Screen to body ratio NanoEdge bezel for more display and less bezel.
- Seamless 4K video playback, photo editing and more with NVIDIA GeForce GTX1050Ti.
- 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1.
- 71Whr Li-Polymer battery. Features fast charging: charge to 60% in only 49 minutes.
When it comes to buying a laptop for school, you really don’t want to go cheap. I made this mistake myself in 2010. I ended up getting a $300 machine that could barely handle the processing power of running multiple programs plus writing multiple documents in Microsoft Word at the same time.
Go with a laptop that will last you throughout the duration of your degree. The five laptops that we tested and chose to include in our review are more than good enough and will last you quite a while. In addition, they all have plenty of processing power to handle pretty much any type of software that you will need for school.
Which laptop is your favorite from the list? Have you had any experience with any of these laptops in the past?