If you’re a student, one of the best college laptops can assist you in acing your tests while also allowing you to relax by watching TV or playing games. However, with so many options at such a wide range of pricing, selecting the best laptops for students can feel like extra work.
When purchasing a laptop for school, look for one with long battery life and a fast CPU. Many of these laptops may also be found on our main best laptops page, which has a large range of the best notebooks to choose from. If you prefer to take notes by hand, consider one of the best 2-in-1 computers, which combines the benefits of a laptop and a tablet. We’ve also listed the best gaming laptops for individuals who enjoy unwinding after a long day of studying. If you’re just getting started, come back often to see the most recent and best laptops for students, as we’re always writing fresh reviews.
- The best Apple laptops for 2022 are listed below.
- In April 2022, the best laptop discounts will be available.
- In 2022, the best laptop backpacks and bags
What is the best college laptop?
The Envy 13 and MacBook Air (M1, 2020) are our picks for the best laptops for college students. Although not everyone is on a budget, most people will want to save as much money as they can to pay down their student loans. If you fall into this category, the HP Envy 13 and MacBook Airstrike a fantastic blend of high specifications and features at a low, sub-$1,000 price.
Although the Envy 13 is a mid-range notebook, it has the appearance and feel of a higher-end laptop. The Envy also boasts rapid performance thanks to Intel’s 11th Generation CPUs, a stunning screen, and is small enough to carry around campus. Then there’s the MacBook Air, which is powered by Apple’s M1 processor for decent performance with fantastic battery life.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Microsoft Surface Pro Studio, Dell XPS 15, or 14-inch MacBook Pro are all viable options. You could also go for the best 17-inch laptop on the market, the Dell XPS 17, or Apple’s top-tier 16-inch MacBook Pro.
1. HP Envy 13 (2021)
The finest laptop for kids is now more powerful than it has ever been. The new HP Envy 13 is the best sub-$1,000 laptop for students or anyone who needs a portable machine with plenty of power and long battery life, thanks to a redesigned design and a Thunderbolt 4 connector (11:15 on the FHD model).
The 2021 model, with even thinner bezels and better performance, demonstrates that it can compete with far more expensive flagship models. When you add in a sleek body, a bright and colorful 1080p display, and plenty of performance from an 11th Generation Core i5 CPU, it’s clear why the Envy 13 is the finest college laptop for students. And, to be honest, given that this is a budget laptop in comparison to many of the other options,
2. MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)
If you prefer macOS to Windows 10, the Apple MacBook Air is the way to go. The new M1 chip, which delivers amazing speed and good battery life, is the most significant upgrade to this year’s model, making the 2018 MacBook Air the fastest ultrathin notebook ever.
The MacBook Air, best of all, is still only $999, and it offers unequaled performance as well as 14 hours and 41 minutes of battery life. This is a combo that only the greatest Windows 10 laptops can offer, and even they couldn’t compete in a head-to-head comparison.
So, why should you buy a MacBook Air instead of a MacBook Pro? While the MacBook Pro offers superior sustained performance, the MacBook Air is less expensive and is completely silent due to its lack of a fan. In fact, Apple’s cheapest 13.3-inch model is also the most portable, measuring only 0.6 inches thick and weighing 2.8 pounds.
However, the MacBook Air is currently taking longer than ever to catch up to the MacBook Pro. It offers the same speed and battery life as the MacBook Air, as well as the same 720p webcam, a comfortable Magic keyboard, and two USB-C connections. In addition, the M1 model’s 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display was enhanced with P3 colour coverage, making it more bright than the previous screen.
3. Dell XPS 13 (2021)
The Dell XPS 13 is a powerful workhorse that is also the best premium laptop for college students. The notebook is ready for work or play, thanks to an Intel Core i7 processor with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics. With a battery life of more than 11 hours, you’ll have plenty of time for both. The laptop consistently outperformed or was on par with rival devices.
But don’t worry: the XPS 13 is as attractive as it is powerful. The business has succeeded in producing a laptop that is both smaller and lighter than prior generations. Despite its diminutive size, Dell has made significant modifications, such as a bigger touchpad and keyboard. You also get a 13.4-inch near-bezel-less display on all sides –– the world’s first.
4. HP Envy x360 13 (2020)
The HP Envy x360 13 is one of the best Ultrabooks available for around $1,000. The Envy is a 2-in-1, which means it can be used as a tent or tablet. It doesn’t come with a stylus, but neither does the Surface Pro. The all-aluminium construction and Herculian AMD Ryzen processors are what make this such a great deal.
We discovered that an Envy x360 13 with a Ryzen 5 4500U CPU outperforms laptops with 10th Gen Intel processors in our testing. This particular Envy costs under $800 and is capable of outperforming computers costing far over $1,000, including the pricey MacBook Pro. The Envy x360 13 also features a bright, vivid 13.3-inch display as well as a comfortable keyboard.
5. Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020)
This is the major step forward we’ve been looking forward to. It’s all down to Apple’s new M1 chip, which is the company’s first proprietary SoC for laptops. The M1 takes the MacBook Pro’s performance and battery life to the next level with the best power-per-watt performance of any chip.
The MacBook Pro, in particular, outperforms practically every PC on the market, even some workstations. Despite packing so much power into such a small and compact chassis, the Pro lasted an impressive 16 hours and 32 minutes in our battery test, which mimics real-world usage.
6. HP Spectre x360 14
The Spectre x360 14 is the best 2-in-1 laptop that has ever been made. The 13.5-inch model, which was just unveiled for 2021, builds on its predecessors while also adding important new features like a 3:2 aspect ratio display and 11th Gen Intel CPU with Iris Xe graphics. A striking design, brilliant and vivid 1920 x 1280-pixel IPS and 3K2K OLED display options, amazing 12+ hour battery life, and rapid overall performance are all features of this laptop.
With a large, silky touchpad, a comfortable (although shallow) keyboard, strong security features (fingerprint sensor and facial recognition), and a fair number of connections, it’s simple to see why we like this laptop so much.
7. Acer Swift 3 (2020, AMD Ryzen)
Look no farther than the Acer Swift 3 with AMD Ryzen CPUs if you want scorching performance on a budget. This $649 laptop is capable of outperforming the Dell XPS 13 and even the MacBook Pro. It’s all about the Ryzen 7 4700U CPU on the inside, which outperforms its Intel counterparts in terms of sheer performance.
We also enjoyed typing on the Swift 3’s clicky keyboard, which provided a springy response and was comfortable to use. A fingerprint scanner is also included on the deck for speedy login, and the chassis is composed of metal and magnesium rather than plastic. The Swift 3’s major flaw is its dim and drab display.
8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9)
The 9th Gen model of Lenovo’s premier business laptop has a number of nice updates. Longer battery life (15 hours! ), powerful quad speakers, a new 14-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and plenty of connections are all included, all in an amazingly light chassis (2.5 pounds).
But it’s the iconic ThinkPad attributes that elevate the X1 Carbon to greatness: a rugged design (MIL-STD-810G strength), best-in-class keyboard, and stealthy black/red aesthetics.
Yes, we wish the ThinkPad X1 Carbon had a better webcam and hadn’t dropped the SD card reader. Furthermore, premium configurations might be quite costly; yet, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better business laptop for college students.
9. Google Pixelbook Go
The Google Pixelbook Go is an excellent laptop for students since it offers the same elegant elegance as the Pixelbook at a far lesser price. The Pixelbook Go is one of the most affordable laptops on this list, with a lightweight body, rapid performance, and long battery life.
Because more classrooms are switching to Chromebooks, students should be familiar with the Pixelbook Go. It’s a simple, lightweight operating system based on Google’s Chrome browser. The Pixelbook Go is a great option because it’s robust and powerful enough to last several years, so get it for your freshman child and it should carry him through high school and into college.
10. Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
Lenovo’s Legion 5 Pro demonstrates what can be accomplished when two antagonistic forces join forces for the common good. AMD and Nvidia are the opposing powers, and the gaming community is the greater good. The Legion 5 Pro is equipped with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card, giving gamers the power they need to play the newest AAA games at Ultra graphics settings.
The Legion 5 Pro makes up for its lack of spectacular aesthetics with a magnificent 16-inch QHD display, an excellent keyboard and trackpad, plenty of connections, and superb performance from the one-two punch of an AMD CPU and Nvidia GPU, all while delivering decent battery life.
11. Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS 15 is capable of a wide range of tasks, including productivity, multimedia, and even a little gaming. The XPS 15 has a small, appealing form that’s packed with power. While this may appear insignificant, the four-border InfinityEdge bezel has allowed for one of the highest resolution screens on the market, and it now includes beautiful OLED technology for people who don’t require the longest battery life.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 Comet Lake H-Series processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti under the hood. All of our benchmark tests, including our graphics test, were won by the laptop. That means you can get a good gaming session going even if you’re in a hurry.
12. Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio
Microsoft has achieved the ideal two-in-one balance. Rather than having a detachable cover like the Surface Book it replaces, or an attachable keyboard like the Surface Pro 8, the Surface Laptop Studio has a unique hinge that allows the display to be dragged forward and positioned into various configurations.
Not only can the Surface Laptop Studio be turned into a digital drawing board, but it can do so without sacrificing laptop functionality. The Surface Laptop Studio is an appealing alternative for creative workers because of its versatility, as well as its exceptional performance and long battery life. The Surface Laptop Studio is one of the finest college laptops because of its great keyboard/touchpad combo, strong speakers, and 1080p webcam.
13. Acer Swift 5
The Acer Swift 5 is a small-but-mighty laptop that showcases Intel’s new Evo Platform, which combines an Intel 11th Gen Core i7 processor with Intel Iris Xe graphics. While it won’t be able to replace a dedicated gaming laptop, it is far more powerful than anything else in its class.
The Swift feels preternaturally light in your hands at 2.3 pounds, but it still manages to provide over 13 and a half hours of battery life on a charge, so it should be ideal for frequent travellers. The 14-inch 1080p touchscreen has slim bezels and is bright enough to use in most situations.
14. Acer Chromebook Spin 713
If you’re a Chrome OS enthusiast who wants more versatility than the Google Pixelbook Go, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a great option. The Intel Core i5-10210U CPU in this fantastic 2-in-1 laptop costs only $629, but it has a stunning 13.5-inch display and rapid performance.
Better still, with a battery life of nearly 12 hours, the Chromebook Spin 713 will keep you going from class to class for a full school day. Because of the laptop’s flexible nature, you may draw on it, take handwritten notes on it, or quickly share a project with a classmate by folding the display back.
15. Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable
In a nutshell, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable is an improved Surface Pro 7. It includes the same removable design and a kickstand that can spin to a similar 160-degree position. The 12.3-inch display is nearly identical to the Surface’s, and the detachable keyboard, like the Pro 7, is great. Its robust chassis also provides military-grade durability.
What makes it superior to the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 7+? Because the ThinkPad X12 Detachable has a longer battery life, lasting more than 11 hours on a single charge, and weighs somewhat less than its magnesium alloy competition. Even better, the X12 Detachable comes with a keyboard and pen, albeit you’ll have to pay a premium for them.
How to choose the best college laptop for you
Before purchasing a laptop for college, students should examine a number of aspects.
The first is portability, which is linked to the size of the screen. College students choose 13-inch laptops because they provide a decent blend of screen real estate and portability. A good example is the Dell XPS 13. Even though it is only 0.5 inches thick and weighs roughly 2 pounds, it has a 13.3-inch edge-to-edge display. There are even more 14-inch laptops on the market, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which is surprisingly portable given its screen size.
Another important feature of any decent college laptop is its battery life. If you’re going to class or the library with the notebook, don’t expect to find an outlet! Consider a laptop with a battery life of at least 9 hours, which should be enough to get you through a couple of classes while still allowing you to study.
We recommend a laptop with an Intel U-series or H-series Core i5 processor, at least 8GB of RAM (16GB is ideal), and a minimum of 256GB of storage. AMD’s CPUs are also excellent contenders in this category; anything from the 4000-series or newer processors would work well. Apple’s M1 or a subsequent version of the M1
How we test laptops
Before our reviewers get their hands on a laptop, we put it through comprehensive benchmark testing, both synthetic and real-world. We look at the laptop’s performance, battery life, display, speakers, and heat management, among other things.
In our benchmarking, we utilize a Klein K10 colorimeter to determine the brightness of the laptop’s display as well as its sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamut. We put the laptop through a slew of benchmarks, including Geekbench 5.4 and 3DMark professional graphics tests, to see how well it performs.
We put the laptop through its paces by converting a 4K video to 1080p resolution and duplicating a 4.97GB multimedia file. The benchmark for Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm with medium settings at 1080p is our real-world graphics test.