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Best Laptops for College Students

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Going off to college prepared can make a tremendous difference in getting work done on time without worry. Knowing the best laptops for college students on the market can help in making an informed decision to make sure it addresses all the needs of the student while having the ability to handle additional software and tasks as the years evolve.

This list includes all the popular options when considering the best college laptops for students that can function for school work, as a television, and more. College students have limited space in their dorms, so having an option that takes up little to no space and mobile is key. One of the most common mistakes when choosing a laptop is underestimating how much space or storage will be needed. While some programs give their students a list of the type of computer they should have, this is not always the case.

Being proactive and making a list of how the laptop will be used can serve as an active guide to compare and contrast different options.

What are the best laptops for college? Take a look:

1. Apple – MacBook Pro – 13” Display with Touch Bar

macbook pro

Apple computers are very popular among the college crowd and versatile. For those using Apple products, this is a seamless integration. The MacBook Pro 13″ boasts an Intel 10th Generation Core i5 model with varied options for RAM and 512 GB storage capabilities. 

2. Apple – MacBook Air 13.3” Laptop

macbook air

The MacBook Air 13.3″ has been on the list of best student laptops for college for years. Lightweight and easy to carry, this model has the Apple M1 chip – 8 GB memory, and 256 GB. It is also known for its ease of use and battery life.

3. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 – 13.5” Touchscreen Laptop

microsoft surface

The ultra-thin Microsoft Surface 4 laptop has the AMD ryzen Microsoft Surface Edition processor and delivers a powerful performance in a light design. Battery life is long, and it comes with a Mytrix digital pen for those who want to write or draw.

4. Microsoft 12.4” Multi-Touch Surface Laptop Go

microsoft surface go

Microsoft’s 12.4″ Multi-Touch Surface Laptop Go has an Intel Core i5 processor. This touchscreen computer is offered with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD with UHD Graphics. Windows 10 Home is standard.

5. HP Envy 13

hp envy 13

The HP Envy 13 is a Intel Core i7 computer with a 13.3-inch touchscreen display, Windows 10 Home with a fingerprint reader, and a camera kill switch. Features like unhackable security, BIOS recovery and protection, and Energy Star.

6. Dell XPS 13

dell xps

The Dell XPS 13 is one of the frontrunners in the best laptops for college students category. It’s very thin and light, with a 13.4 inch infinity edge touchscreen. This model is an Intel Core i7 with 16GB RAM, 512GB SS, amazing graphics cards and a free upgrade to Windows 11.

7. Google Pixelbook Go

google pixelbook go

The Google Pixelbook Go is a lightweight Chromebook that offers a lot of mobility. It has up to 12 hours of power on the battery, and 2 hours of battery use with only 20 minutes of charge. 8th Gen Intel Core processor with quick startup, HD4K resolution, and a high resolution 1080p webcam.

8. Lenovo 5i Pro Gen 6

lenovo 5

Lenovo has been known as the workhorse of computers for years and this is no different. The Lenovo 5i Pro Gen 6 is available in a number of RAM and storage options, as this is a gaming laptop with a 16” screen. Backlit with GeForce RTX graphics and a 332GB Micro SD card, this laptop offers a lot for the money, including bluetooth, stereo speakers, 720p webcam with privacy shutter, and up to 7.2 hours of battery life.

9. Dell XPS 17

dell xps 17

The Dell XPS 17 is the larger version of the 13”. With a 4K UHD InfinityEdge Touch, this is a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 with NVIDIA GeForce video card, 1 TB SSD storage and 16GB RAM. The keyboard is backlit with a keyboard reader and has Bluetooth 5.0.

10. Acer Swift 5

acer swift 5

Acer is no secret to the laptop community and their offerings keep getting better over time, like the Acer Swift 5. This thin and lightweight laptop has a full 14” HD touchscreen with Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16G, 1TB SSD, WiFi 6, with antimicrobial gorilla glass backlit keypad and up to 15 hours of battery life.

What Features Make a Good Laptop for College?

Depending on the program of study, there are a few features that can’t be overlooked. In general, the best laptops for college should have room for advancement. Before deciding on the best laptop to meet certain needs, make sure all the computer requirements for the program are met. This includes all applications and other programs needed.

You always want to consider the following:

Mobility

If there is a lot of movement, it is important to determine how easily the laptop can be carried. How light or heavy the laptop is can make a huge difference to whether it is the right purchase for the student. 

Performance

How well does the laptop perform? For students who have creative arts majors, this is very important. A lot of these programs take up a lot of space, which could slow down the computer. Additionally, purchasing a computer that is slow and cannot handle tasks very well would not be a good idea.

Price

While it would be nice to get a computer with all the bells and whistles, this may not be the case for college students on a budget. The key is in getting all the features needed while staying within a designated price point. That may mean getting another brand that includes everything instead of the more popular brand with limited features at that price point.

Battery life

The battery life of a laptop is important, especially for students that move around a lot. The worst thing that could happen is being in class taking notes or giving a presentation and the battery runs out because there is no outlet for charging. It may not seem like a big deal, but it really is.

Video

Let’s face it – video rules the world, and having an inadequate video experience on a laptop is not a very good thing. Many classes are now being held online with instructors requiring students to have their cameras on. Additionally, watching a video on a computer or students who are into gaming should have a robust experience, so the video card should be a good one.

Storage

For some students, storage is not that big of a deal because they use the cloud to upload their information. While this is a great idea, it is always a good idea to have some sort of backup for the backup. At minimum, there should be at least 8 GB. Students use a hard disk drive (HDD), solid-state drive (SSD), or a hybrid of both. The SSD is faster to start and process.

Screen size

Students who only use their laptops to type information may be able to get away with having a smaller screen size. This is also true for those who move around a lot. Students who need larger screens for art or because they need to see better should move up from the 12” or 13” screen sizes. The larger the screen, the heavier the laptop may be, depending on the brand.

Ports

With disc drives no longer an option on most computers, laptops should have a number of ports available for students to use. There should be at least two USB ports (or more), a Thunderbolt 3 port, Ethernet port, HDMI/VGA/DVI port, and an SD card reader at the minimum.

Keyboard

The keyboard is a very important feature. It should be backlit, easy to use, comfortable to type on (keys) and have additional features such as a sound bar, easy to reach number pad, etc.

How Important is Brand?

There are a number of no-name laptops on the market that work just as well as the larger well-known names, but when considering warranty, the bigger brand names have better options and protection in place to make sure their brand name is not tarnished. If the no-name computer has all the same specs as that of a major brand, it may be worth taking a look to stay within the budget. In addition, there are different versions of a brand name that may fit into the current budget without having to compromise functionality, style, or money.

It’s also important to read the reviews, because big brands can have just as many issues as off-brands. When reading the reviews, check the specifications to see how it measures up to current needs to make the final determination. Some brands offer all the bells and whistles when they aren’t needed, so students end up purchasing something for the name when they could have gotten exactly what they needed without the added cost of a brand name.

This comprehensive list can help current students in the market for a new laptop, and prospective students decide what laptop is best for college. It is important to know that choosing the right laptop takes time and research to ensure every consideration is made. 

Related:

25 Colleges that Offer Free Laptops

Get our emails in your inbox, and you’ll get acceptance letters in your mailbox

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