School can get expensive really fast: books, tuition and accommodation – not to mention student laptops – add up quickly. However, the silver lining is that there are dozens of awesome student laptops out there that could save you hundreds of dollars. In fact, the best laptops for students are budget-minded devices that exude style and power, but without charging an arm and a leg.
When you’re spending all your money on textbooks and ramen, saving up for a new laptop can be hard. So, the best student laptops will put value above having the best processors and graphics cards. You won’t be limited to Windows 10, either – the best Chromebooks are among the best laptops for students, as you can get all your work done without spending a fortune.
Going to school is a stressful time, we know, but that’s why you should ensure that you have one of the top laptops for students. You don’t need to add the pressure of running around campus with a dying laptop to your plate. So, that’s why we went ahead and gathered up the best student laptops you can buy today: no one should be limited to an ancient relic just to get some work done, and you shouldn’t have to sell a kidney, either.
1. Huawei Matebook 13
The best laptop for most college students
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620, Nvidia GeForce MX150 (optional) | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 2K (2,560 x 1,440) with touch panel | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
Limited to 8GB of RAM
Here at TechRadar, we love it when a laptop can perfectly balance price and performance without any compromises, and the Huawei MateBook 13 comes closer to hitting that perfect balance than anything in 2019 so far. Thin, light, quick and affordable, this beautiful 13-inch Ultrabook will let you get all your work done in style, without dragging down on your wallet. The battery life is a little weak, but that’s a worthy sacrifice to make here – just carry the charger around with you.
Read the full review: Huawei MateBook 13
2. Dell XPS 13
Dell’s flagship just graduated
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; non-touch) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160; touchscreen) | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD
Webcam in a reasonable location
Dell’s flagship laptop has always placed among the best laptops – for college students, professionals and even casual, everyday users. But, the Dell XPS 13 2019 brings back the entry-level option, making it more affordable for college students again. And, Dell managed to fix our biggest issue with the XPS lineup – the webcam. The manufacturer has moved the webcam up to the top of the display, where it belongs, so your friends and colleagues don’t have to stare up your nose when you’re in a video call.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
3. Surface Laptop 2
CPU: 8th-gen Intel Core i5-i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504 PixelSense touch display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Huge performance boost
No Windows 10 S
Still no Thunderbolt 3
The Surface Laptop was already one of the best laptops for students, but it was held back by sub-par performance, a lack of ports and it was equipped with Windows 10 in S Mode. The Surface Laptop 2 massively improves on the original, though – except for the port situation. It’s packed with 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors, full-fat Windows 10 Home and a black color option. We wish it had even a single USB-C port, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll be able to get all your work done in style with this laptop.
Read the full review: Surface Laptop 2
4. Microsoft Surface Go
CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 10-inch, 1,800 x 1,200 (217 ppi; 3:2 aspect ratio) PixelSense touch display | Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD
Fantastic build quality
When you’re looking for a laptop for school, you should aim for a golden balance between price and performance – and a dollop of style can’t hurt. The Microsoft Surface Go, then, isn’t just one of the best Windows tablets, but it may just be one of the best student laptops, especially from a value perspective. Don’t be fooled by the low-power components, either – Microsoft has engineered this tablet to be able to keep up with all your schoolwork without breaking a sweat.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go
5. Dell XPS 15
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5-i9 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) LED with optional touch panel | Storage: 1TB 5,400RPM HDD – 1TB PCIe SSD
Plenty of horsepower
More of the same
The Dell XPS 15 has been one of the best laptops for college students for a few years now, and Dell has taken that old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach here. Not much has changed since the 2017 model, but that’s not a bad thing. What you’re getting here is an Ultrabook that isn’t just reliable, but has enough power to get you through pretty much any assignment. The best part? The Dell XPS 15 doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. While the entry level should be just fine for most users, you can configure this thing with up to an Intel Core i9 processor and 32GB of RAM, transforming the Dell XPS 15 into an extremely powerful workstation. We just wish Dell would move that webcam.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 15
6. Acer swift 5
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
When you’re looking for a laptop for school, you don’t need some bougie affair from Apple, that looks like something out of a designer catalog – you need a laptop that’s going to get the job done. And, the Acer Swift 5 should be near the top of your list. This budget-friendly Ultrabook is packed with the latest 8th-generation Intel processors and enough RAM and SSD storage to get you through pretty much any assignment. It’s not the most aesthetic laptop in the world, but it’s hard to argue with that price.
Read the full review: Acer Swift 5
7. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Long battery life
Still no USB-C
The Microsoft Surface lineup has built a reputation for itself for being among the best Windows devices out there – gorgeous touch screens, incredible performance and long battery life. The Surface Pro 6 continues this tradition, even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. What you’re getting here is a speedy Windows tablet that can effortlessly turn into a laptop through the Surface Type Cover. You can get your work done and then effortlessly transition into break time.
Read the full review: Surface Pro 6
8. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
CPU: Intel Celeron N3060 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch, HD (1366 x 768) touchscreen | Storage: 32GB-64GB eMMC
Long battery life
Not very powerful
If you’re a student that’s on the market for a laptop that will let you do all your research and type up papers, and nothing else, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 is going to be right up your alley. Most schoolwork that’s not specialized (i.e. engineering) can be done on a Chromebook while saving hundreds of dollars. The Dell Chromebook 11 2-in-1 won’t be able to do much heavy lifting, but at under $300, it doesn’t need to. This is the best laptop for students that need to save a few bucks.
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
9. Apple MacBook Air (2018)
The most popular Mac, reborn
CPU: 8th-generation dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617 | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display (backlit LED, IPS) | Storage: 256GB-1.5TB SSD
Thinner and lighter
Most affordable Mac
We were left waiting for Apple to renew the MacBook Air for years, as it languished with a 5th-generation Intel Core processor and an out of date, low-resolution display. Thankfully, those days are over. Apple has ushered the MacBook Air into the modern age, with 8th-generation fanless processors, a thinner and lighter design, and perhaps most importantly – a Retina display. No more do you have to compromise on modern features if you want an “affordable Mac”, and that makes the MacBook Air one of the best laptops for college students.
Read the full review: MacBook Air
10. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018)
CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X – 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 512GB – 4TB SSD
If you’re not too concerned with cash, and you’re a macOS addict (we get it), the 2018 MacBook Pro is the most powerful MacBook that’s ever existed. With its impressive hexa-core processors, and up to a whopping 32GB of memory, this cupertino workstation will get you through whatever you throw at it. It also includes the much-improved third generation Butterfly keyboard that will not only be less distracting to the students around you, but will be less prone to failure if some dust comes within 10 feet.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018)
- Want more choices? Check out our list of the best laptop 2019
- Images Credit: TechRadar
Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.