The best laptops for students need to fit a few criteria. So whether you’re heading back to school yourself, or sending your kid off, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, you might find budget laptops to be one of the best laptops for students if price is a huge consideration.
And it most likely is. The best laptops for students don’t need all the bells and whistles a professional might need. In fact, upgrades and features can make a huge difference in price. The best laptops for students still need to be able to deliver performance-wise, of course, but that needs to be balanced against its price. There’s still plenty of other expenses that come with college and one shouldn’t be condemned to a ramen-only diet just to afford one of the best laptops for students.
The best laptops for students should also be able to handle more than just productivity work. They should be able to handle streaming or light gaming in addition to the coursework students will be dealing with. The best Chromebooks have gotten better performance-wise in recent years, offering fantastic (and maybe better) value for prospective students. However, there is some variety to choose from, as our choices for the best laptops for students include devices equipped with Windows 10, ChromeOS as well as macOS.
The best student laptops 2020 at a glance:
- Huawei Matebook 13
- Dell XPS 13
- Google Pixelbook Go
- Surface Laptop 2
- Microsoft Surface Go
- HP Envy x360 13 (2019)
- Microsoft Surface Pro 6
- Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
- Apple MacBook Air (2019)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
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
We’re massive fans of laptops that can skillfully strike a balance between price and performance with hardly any compromises, and the Huawei MateBook 13 comes closer to than anything else in 2019 so far. It’s light and compact, perfect for carrying in your backpack while you hurry from class to class; but it’s fast and affordable as well. This stunning 13-inch Ultrabook will make sure you’ll get all your work done in style, without burning a hole in your pocket. Sure, you might need to keep that charger on hand if you want it to last you the whole day, as the battery life is underwhelming. However, there’s still no doubt that the Huawei Matebook 13 deserves its lofty spot on the best laptops for students list.
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 been rated as one of the best laptops for students, not to mention among the most ideal devices for professionals and casual, everyday users. This time around, the Dell XPS 13 2019 welcomes back the entry-level model, making it affordable enough for college students once again. Dell has also addressed our biggest frustration with the XPS lineup – the webcam. It has finally been moved back above the display where it belongs. This means that your family and friends won’t have to stare up into your nostrils when you’re video chatting ever again.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
3. Google Pixelbook Go
Google’s best Chromebook for budget consumers
CPU: Intel Core m3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615 (300MHz) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: Full HD Display – 4K Ultra HD Molecular Display | Storage: 64GB – 256GB
Incredible battery life
Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
No biometric login
Have you been waiting for the day you can finally afford the premium price of Google Pixelbook? Well, with Google releasing Pixelbook Go, your wait is finally over. Granted, it isn’t quite the actual luxury device you’ve been dreaming of. However, rest assured, you will love this Chromebook, just as we have during our time with it. We love it so much, in fact, that it earned our coveted “Editor’s Choice” award in the Chromebook category. It boasts incredible battery life, an even more impressive keyboard and a 1080p webcam, which you don’t see often in the more budget-friendly laptops even in 2019. And, that’s just to start.
Read the full review: Google Pixelbook Go
4. 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
While the Surface Laptop was arguably one of the 10 best laptops for students, it was still held back by its below average performance, a lack of ports and Windows 10 in S Mode. Luckily, the Surface Laptop 2 has considerably improved on its predecessor – with the exception of the ports. It’s now packed with 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors, full-fat Windows 10 Home and a black color option. We only wish it included even a single USB-C port. Still, you will get all your tasks done in style with this laptop with little to no effort, making it deserving of a high spot on this list.
Read the full review: Surface Laptop 2
5. 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
Even if you’re only in the market for a laptop for school that strikes a balance between cost and performance, it can’t hurt to factor in a splash of style. The Microsoft Surface Go isn’t just one of the best Windows tablets, but it’s also one of the most beautiful devices on the market. Better yet, it also gets our vote as among the best laptops for students, especially from a value perspective. Don’t be duped by the low-power components: Microsoft engineered this tablet to take on all your general schoolwork and more without breaking a sweat.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go
6. HP Envy x360 13 (2019)
HP gives its slimline laptop an AMD upgrade
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3300U – AMD Ryzen 7 3700U | Graphics: AMD Radeon Vega 6 – Radeon Vega 10 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3″ diagonal FHD IPS (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256 GB – 1TB SSD
Slim and sleek for a 2-in-1
High quality chassis
Improved battery life
CPU performance merely adequate
Graphics performance disappointing
There are so many compelling reasons why the HP Envy x360 (2019) belongs to our best laptops for students like, and its slim, sleek design is the least of them. This 13-inch 2-in-1 has premium build, delivers up to 9 hours of video playback and a performance that will get you through most of your schoolwork and project, all without burning a hole in your pocket.
Read the full review: HP Envy x360 (2019)
7. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 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 made a name for itself for being among the best Windows devices on the market, with beautiful touch displays, excellent performance and a battery life that lasts a long time. The Surface Pro 6 continues that tradition, even if it doesn’t improve much on its predecessor. You’re getting a fast Windows tablet that can effortlessly turn into a laptop with the addition of the Surface Type Cover. What does that mean for you? Simply that you can get your work done then effortlessly transition into Netflix time, making it one of the best laptops for students.
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
Most schoolwork that’s not specialized (i.e. engineering) can be done on a Chromebook. So if you aren’t anticipating to do a lot of projects that require the use of processor-hungry apps, getting a Chromebook can save you hundreds of dollars. If you’re a student on the market for one of the best laptops for students to help you with all your research, type up papers and not much else, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 might fit the bill. The Dell Chromebook 11 2-in-1 won’t be able to handle much heavy lifting, but at this price, it doesn’t need to. This is the best laptop for students on a very limited budget.
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
9. Apple MacBook Air (2019)
A solid entry with an excellent new screen
CPU: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3” (2,560 x 1,600) Retina display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Screen is great
Fantastic battery life
Lack of storage space
Apple takes the MacBook Air (2018) and gives it a bit of refresh, adding True Tone technology to its display and an even more reliable keyboard. Unfortunately, it hasn’t upgraded the specs, but seeing as the 2018 version has already made our list of the best laptops for students, this improved version is just as deserving because of the improved hardware. But the best part is yet to come: this refresh is even cheaper, so you’re definitely getting more value for less.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (2019)
10. MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
Apple’s productivity machine gets the latest Intel tech
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: Radeon Pro 555X – Radeon Pro Vega 20 | RAM: up to 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology | Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD
Decent configuration options
Screen remains gorgeous
Lack of ports
Keyboard concerns remain
Apple’s most powerful MacBook in existence has just juiced-up, which means that the 15-inch Cupertino powerhouse is faster than ever. Whether you’re doing school projects, photo editing or light gaming, this will blow you away as one of the best laptops for students. What’s behind this refresh? To start, an improved keyboard, as well as some of the latest and most powerful processors from Intel. Now, you not only have the option to take one home with an 8-core Intel Core i9, but also configure one to rock a Radeon Pro Vega 16 or Pro Vega 20 GPU to give you a boost in graphics.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
Bill Thomas, Michelle Rae Uy and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.
Images Credit: TechRadar