Computers are no longer a nice extra for college students to have, they have become an absolute necessity. Choosing the right computer is an important decision that will make the college experience go more smoothly.
College campuses still have computer labs on campus but with the very threads of how students are being instructed becoming interwoven with technology students need a computer at their fingertips during class and out of class.
Students are not just browsing the internet or checking social media accounts, they are accessing course material daily, turning in assignments via online dashboards, computers are now essential for the college student.
Students will be using a computer for most of the research they do for essays and term papers. Most instructors now use a hybrid model for assigning and turning in assignments. Students will usually find every assignment, paper, quiz and test dates all on the institutions chosen dashboard, Canvas is a common one. The bottom line is students need a computer with a fast and reliable word processor.
College bound students have more options than ever before, laptops are among the preferred computers due to their mobility. We have researched the best laptops for college to help students make an informed decision regarding their investment.
First item to consider is what courses or majors the student is taking. A student in graphic design will need different applications and storage than a student enrolled in a software development program. Be sure to know what degree specific items would be necessary.
Second item to consider is the storage and memory capacity. For some students these items along with the processor and display are the most important. Other students might find more value in the applications and programs that come preloaded on the laptop.
Third item is the security features of the machine. Everything a student stores on the hard drive or the cloud is done through the security features of the laptop. Students will have sensitive information from course work to even more person identification information, this needs to be kept secure.
Last item that all students will need to know is their budget. Finding a machine that will meet their needs academically, and personally within their budget is important. Some students will find they want a lightweight convertible laptop that can also become a tablet, others will desire a specific brand that they are familiar with.
Look for the overall value of the laptop and its functions. Students will find a variety of brands and programs pre-installed that will help them through their college years.
We created a list of the best laptops after researching reputable consumer sites and rankings such as PC Mag, Laptop Mag, CNET, Forbes, PC World, and more!
HP Spectre x360
The HP Spectre x360 is a combination of both laptop and tablet. It is ultralight and is crafted from a single piece of aluminum. It is available in two sizes, the 13.3 inch screen and the 15.6 inch screen. With cutting edge technology and innovative features, the HP Spectre x360 provides a comprehensive machine for college students. Students enjoy an endless amount of options through Windows Ink System for creative and collaborative work. With a HP Pen for use as a stylus, students can explore the endless uses of the HP Spectre. This machine allows students to read, write, type, draw, watch, and present all on one light and compact machine.
The HP Spectre x360 hosts a 8th Generation Intel Core Processor and up to 16 GB of LPDDR3 memory space. The battery life is 16 hours for most medals making it an easy choice for on the go students. With fingerprint reader privacy and security features, students can ensure their personal information remains secure while on the go and in their apartment. It also features the HP Sure View integrated privacy screen, which only allows the owner access.
- Cost: $1,149.99
- Pros: 4K Micro Edge Display, Bang and Alufsen audio package, Corning Gorilla Glass
- Cons: Price Point varies from $1,000 to $2,000
Lenovo Yoga 920
College students needing versatility and style will find what they need in the Lenovo Yoga 920. This machine is the leader among the 2-in-1 convertible market offering both laptop and tablet options with premium applications and features. The 360 degree hinge design makes it multi-functional for any student. The screen size is 13.9 inches and is a Multitouch screen with a crisp 4K resolution. It comes with an Active Pen Stylus, making it more functional. With a vibrant and clear display partnered with Dolby Atmos sound package with a rich 360 degree audio, students love this multifaceted machine.
Upon purchasing the Yoga 920 students have options for up to an 8th Generation Intel Core Processor, up to 1 TB of storage, and up to 16 GB of memory. Lenovo Yoga 920 comes preloaded with Windows 10 Home and Lenvov’s personal APP Explorer. Students can get started using Yoga 920 safely and quickly. The battery life lasts for over 10 hours, allowing students to get done what they need to without having to charge during the day. Another fun feature is the USB 3 never powers off, allowing for charging capabilities all the time.
- Cost: $1,199.99
- Pros: 2 additional Thunderbolt USB 3-C ports, Windows Hello Fingerprint Reader, comes in silver and bronze
- Cons: Uncomfortable Keyboard design
Apple 15 Inch MacBook Pro Retina, Touch Bar
People love the Apple MacBook Pro for its ease of use and Turbo Boost feature. The Seventh Generation Intel Core Processor delivers the output that people have come to expect from a MacBook Pro, in a light compact design. Getting to know all of the options a MacBook has to offer is worth the time especially with the 16 GB of memory and Radeon Pro Graphics. This machine delivers for any research project, assignment, or hobby making them all easier. There is also 512GB of storage on SSD to ensure students have the storage they need.
Apple features their Touch Bar bar and Touch ID that ensures security and make use just a little bit easier. With unique features such as intelligent typing, Apple Pay, and automatic adjustments this is a machine that has become a personal favorite. The battery life runs up to approximately 10 hours and it has four reversible Thunderbolt USB ports.
- Cost: $2,399.99
- Pros: Vivid Display, Turbo Boost, Syncing of Apple devices
- Cons: Pricepoint
Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS 15 offers a sleek design that delivers whether a student is working on a research paper or downloading, the 7th Generation Quad Core processor ensures that the job gets done. This machine is lightweight, around 4 pounds with a 15.6 inch InfinityEdge screen. They come with 32 GB of memory and each machine is equipped with Windows 10 Home 64 Bit English and limited McAfee LiveSafe and Microsoft Office packages.
Students will not only have a smooth delivery of online content but they will also have their applications prioritized through the Killer 1535 Wireless-AC Adapter. The keyboard features a backlit function that makes working in poorly lit areas much easier such as taking notes in a darkened auditorium. This machine holds a visual punch with its InfinityEdge screen that showcases the UltraSharp 4K HD display. Did we mention the EnergyStar efficiency?
- Cost: $999.99
- Pros: Thunderbolt 3 multi use ports, powerful machine in a slim and sleek design, 56 to 97 Whr Battery Life
- Cons: Pricepoint
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Inch 2017
People love the Apple MacBook Pro 13 Inch for its ease of use and Turbo Boost feature. The Seventh Generation Intel Core Processor delivers the output that people have come to expect from a MacBook Pro, in a light compact design. Getting to know all of the options a MacBook has to offer is worth the time especially with the 16 GB of memory and Radeon Pro Graphics. This machine delivers for any research project, assignment, or hobby making them all easier. There is also 512GB of storage on SSD to ensure students have the storage they need.
Apple features their Touch Bar bar and Touch ID that ensure security and makes use just a little bit easier. With unique features such as intelligent typing, Apple Pay, and automatic adjustments this is a machine that has become a personal favorite. The battery life runs up to approximately 10 hours and it has two reversible Thunderbolt USB ports.
- Cost: $1,199.99
- Pros: Vivid Display, Turbo Boost, Syncing of Apple devices
- Cons: Pricepoint
Microsoft Surface Laptop
The Microsoft Surface Laptop is a sleek, lightweight machine that gives owners the best of a notebook and a tablet. This features a 13.5 inch PixelSense Display with a touchscreen. Students can handle large projects, downloads, and browse the internet with its Intel Core Processor. The Battery life of the Microsoft Surface Laptop is approximately 14.5 hours.
A unique feature of this machine is that the keyboard is covered in easily cleanable Alcantara. There are also multiple color choices for this machine from cobalt blue to graphite gold, students can express themselves with their machine. This laptop comes equipped with Windows 10 S, which happens to be developed specifically for students and teachers. Students will also enjoy the Omnisonic speakers for an audio experience that matches the vivid display.
- Pros: Slim design, Vivid Display, Omnisonic Speakers
- Cons: Unknown durability of Alcantara covering keyboard
HP Chromebook 13
The HP Chromebook 13 has become a top choice for students due to it features, size and anodized aluminum aesthetic. With a battery life of 11.5 hours this slim machine can stadn up to other competitors. Students can easily take it with to class, the library or outside as they complete notes, study or take a break. With B&O Play audio and dual speakers students will enjoy music and movies with the incredibly clear sound.
Other specs of the HP Chromebook 13 include the QHD+BrightView Panel display that makes the images pop with color and clarity. All HP Chromebooks come with a 32 GB eMMC storage that is standard for this machine. Students can customize it with up to 15 GB of storage shoudl they choose to. Consumers can also choose between a 6th Genertaion Intel Core or an Intel Pentium Processor.
- Cost: $1,499.99
- Pros: Budget Friendly, Chrome OS, USB C Ports, Energy Efficeincy Star
- Cons: Long term durability, No Touchscreen
HP Envy X360
The HP Envy x360 is a combination of both laptop and tablet. It is ultralight and is crafted from a single piece of aluminum. It is available in two sizes, the 13 inch screen and the 15 inch screen. With cutting edge technology and innovative features, the HP Envy x360 provides a comprehensive machine for college students. Creative possibilities are endless with the latest multi-core Intel Core processors and NVIDIA graphics or AMD Ryzen 4000 series processor with Radeon graphics.
With a pen that allows students to sketch, write, or draw and share seamlessly it is a clear choice for creative budding graphic artists. The display is vivid with a UHD OLED display to ensure colors are accurate and vivid. Safety features are built in to keep personal time personal and information safe and secure. Both the camera and mic can be easily turned on or off with an easy to access button.
- Cost: $799.99
- Pros: Convertible laptop and tablet, sleek design, Vivid Display, Privacy features
- Cons: Price Point can vary with size and processors
HP Envy 13 (2019)
Those seeking a fast, affordable and atracitve machine will find just that in the HP Envy 13 (2019). Consumers can go for the base product that includes a Core i5 CPU or upgrade to a 4K model with a Core i7 Processor. Teh base HP Envy offers a 1080p touch screen, 8GB of RAM and 256 GB or SSD.
For those wiling to spend a little more they can upgade to a UHD 620 Integrated Graphics to NVIDIA GeForce MX250 card and double their 8GB RAM to 16GB RAM. If students find they need more RAM they can upgrade to a 1TB drive. With this powerful machine with its exceptionally vivid display students will enjoy using it not only for projects but personal hobbies as well. This model of the HP Envy is very customizable to fit the needs and budget of each consumer that purchases it. Windows 10 Home 64 comes pre loaded onto each HP Envy 13 as a factory default.
- Cost: $799 to $ $1,500
- Pros: Customizable, Display, Fast, Sleek Design, Powerful Speakers
- Cons: 4K model has short battery life, No Thunderbolt 3
Apple MacBook Air 13.3 Inch
The Apple MacBook Air has a reputation like no other slim, lightweight laptop. The machine is durable, th eperformance is fast and the ease of use is truly time saving. WIth dynamic features and additional apps this has quickly beceom a favorite among college students. For the specs that are behind this machine consumers can choose either a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 or a INtel Core i7 Processor and either 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of SSD2. The LED dislay is crisp and vivid for whatever the needs are, watching lectures, labs, projects, or just stremaing a movie.
Battery life is 12 hours, plenty to get any studetn through a day of lectures and studying. With its slim design and light weight it is easy to tote in nearly any backpack or tote bag. Coming with MacOS High Sierra, the Apple MacBook Air is ready to work, whether it is with photos, streaming, researching, or writing it is easy to use. A 3.2GHz Turbo Boost and Bluetooth wireless capabilties add to the specs of this machine.
- Cost: $999.99
- Pros: Thunderbolt 2 ports, 2 USB 3 ports, Backlit Keyboard, HD Camera
- Cons: Mac PricePoint
Microsoft Surface Book
The Microsoft Surface Book is the beautiful blend of a laptop and a tablet. With the ease of use of the laptop, when converted to the tablet students can use it in presesntations seamlessly with a vivid display and Surface Pen. With a long battery life of 12 to 16 hours, students won’t need to bec oncered with chagrin their machine throughout the day everyday. It will be ready to wrok for you when you need it.
Specs include a 13.5 inch screen with the option of either the i5 or i7 Intel Core Processor. Students can choose to upgrade to the Surface Books Performance Base option to allow for even faster speed and exceptional graphics speed. The Surface Book was designed with software programs cush as Adboe Premiere Pro 5 adn Revit in mind. Students needing to use this sfotware for projects wil find it well worth their money to buy a machine that can handle the these programs. It also works exceptionally well with iPhone, iTunes, and iCloud applications.
- Cost: $1,499.99
- Pros: Versatility, Surface Pen, 8-16GB RAM
- Cons: Long-term Durabiltity
Asus VivoBook W202
The Asus VivoBook W202 was created with teh student in mind for the student, it is lightweight, sleek and easy to use but is also a powerhouse of a machine. This laptop has passed a series of tests of what could happen to a laptop of a college student such as dropping it, spilling a small amount of liquid on the keyboard etc. With rubber-lined edges and a spill resistent keyboard this machine is durable and will survive a college dorm.
Specs on this machine include an 11 hour battery, Windows 10S which was designed specifically for students, a nice sized touch pad, and fast paced 802.11ac WiFi. It also includes two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. This may be a small machine but the sound from the ICEpower technology embedded in the mics defy its size. The screen seize in 11.6 inches and includes an antiglare that marks it ideal for lectures to the outdoors.
- Cost: $279.99
- Pros: Durability, HDMI port, ergonomic keyboard, Value
- Cons: Lack of USB-C, Basic set of features
Microsoft Surface Pro
Mircrosoft Surface Pro offers both a aesthetic design along with versatility and options that consumers can choose to customize it to fit their individual needs in a machine. This combination make sit perfect for college students. Storage options include a 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of SSD making it adaptable to a variety of needs of various students. Both laptop and tablet in one, the display is a 12.3 inch PixelSense Display offering a crisp and vivid resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio. Consumers can choose from an m3, i5 or i7 Intel Core Processor. The battery life is outstanding ocnsidereing it is a laptop/tablet combo.
Other specs include the light weight, between 1.6 and 1.7 pounds. The memory options range form 4gb, 8GB, and 16GB RAM. This machine is also equipped with Bluetooth Wireless 4.1 technology as well as Windows Hello face authentication for increased security.
- Cost: $799
- Pros: Full size USB port, Alcantra fabric covering,
- Cons: No USB-C, Surface Pen and Cover are Additional expenses.
Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM)
The Acer Aspire E 15 is a worthy consideration for college studetns with its budget friendly pricepoint and some other standout featuers. Consumers can customize their Acer Aspire 15 with options such as 32GB DDR4 RAM, the factory base is 4GB of RAM, thanks to the removable upgrade panel. The 15.6 inch display is vivid and crisp with Full HD 1920X1080 resolution, much better than most competitors.
Most noticeable is the competitive pricepoint that fits many college students budgets without cutting out features. Students cn choose between 1 USB 2.0 ot 2 USB 3.0, and a Network, VGA, HDMI, and USB-C port nearly all connectivity needs can be met with these options. Other features include a DVD player and an SD card reader are included. The battery life is approximately 8 hours giving students the better part of the day without needing to worry about recharging.
- Cost: $349.99
- Pros: Precision TouchPad, Fast Wireless Trasnfers, Cost
- Cons: Bulky, Limited Battery Compared to Competitors
The Asus F556UA0AB32 is a budget-friendly option that packs a lot into a beautiful lightweight sleek package. With a 15.6 inch high definition screen and an Intel i3 Core Processor it comes ready to use upon opening thanks to Windows 10 being a factory install. Students will enjoy the fast internet connection with the 802.11ac WiFi. With 4GB RAM and 1TB HDD creates a quick and smooth response that doesn’t slow you down.
Options for connectivity include the 3 in one cared reader, 802.11ac WiFi, USB 3.1 type C, VGA or HDMI. The battery is a Li-Polymer with a much longer life than most Lithium-ion batteries. The machine comes with Asus IceCool technology to ensure you are not working on a warm or hot machine as it regulates the temperature while it is on.
- Cost: $700
- Pros: Smar Gesture Multitough pad, SonicMaster Performance, 1 Year Accident Protection
- Cons: Lack of Touch screen, limited battery
Dell Chromebook 3189 Education 2 in 1
The Dell Chromebook is a durable and versatile machine that is both tablet and laptop that makes it that much easier for college students to do their work. With a spill-resistent keyboard, Drop protection, Corning Gorilla Glass screen, and rubber buffeted edges students can take this to perform labs, outdoor research, or daily networking and assignments without worrying about the durability. This particular machine can be tented for presentations or lay flat adding a new level of flexibility to thei 2 in 1 combo.
Secs of teh Dell Chormebook 3189 Edcuaiton include 11.6 inch HD display, houses a Intel Celeron N3060 Processor, 4GB of memory and more. Consumers have the choice between 16GB or 32GB SSD which makes it mreo suitable for students. There are 2 USB ports, a USB pasr reader, an HDMI, and a combo mic headphone jack. The battery life is approximately 10 hours and it also comes with a Touch LCD cover.
- Cost: $349
- Pros: Energy Star Efficient, Clear Audio, Variety of Configurations
- Cons: Lower screen resolution, Weak Webcam
Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6
The Asus Chromebook C202SA is a sturdy powerhouse of a lapop that will meet most college students needs. The edges are rubber-wraped and durable, it include traction grips and still resistant features,making this a great latptop for those on the go. The 11.6 inch display feature anti glare and also features a 180 degree hinge making it perfect for using in presentations.
Specs of the Asus Chromebook include an Intel Celeron 1.6GHz processor, 4GB of memory, and 16GB of storage. With a 802.11ac wireless and 360 degree WiFi antenna allow students to connect easily and quickly wherever they are. The battery life is approximately 10 hours adn there is also a built in Bluetooth.
- Cost: $229.99
- Pros: Durability, Easy to Fix
- Cons: Lack of Touch Screen, Limited Mixed Performance Options
Acer Swift 1
The Acer Swift 1 fits well into most college students budgets and is a sleek high performing laptop. It is only .7 inches thick, giving it a high-end look and appeal but at a very affordable price. The 13.3 inch display pops with vivid color and detail with its 1920X1080 resolution. Students can quickly connect and download with its 1.1GHz Intel Pentium N4200 quad core processor. This comes preloaded with 64GB flash drive storage and 4GB of memory. Teh factory settings come preloaded with Windows 10 Home and is ready to go.
Other specs that are included in teh Acer Swift 1 are the intuitive TouchPad, two speakers for a clear audio experience, and fast connectivity with the 802.11 wireless. This machine also includes two USB 3.0’s, a USB-C port, and an HDMI. The battery life is approximately 10 hours giving students plenty of time to get their work done without needing to charge.
- Cost: $299.99
- Pros: Lightweight, Bluetooth 4.0, FIngerprint Reader
- Cons: Uncomfortable Keyboard, Limited Storage
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 320
Students looking for a laptop tablet combo at an affordable price will find what they are looking for in the Lenovo Ideapad Miix 320. This machine gives students the flexibility of a tablet for presentations and the durability of a laptop with storage and memory that students will need. It comes with an Intel Atom processor, Windows 10 Home and 4GB of storage that allos students to use the machine immediately.
Other specs of the Lenovo Ideapad Miix are the two ports and precision touchpad as well as the 802.11ac WiFi which allows students to connect rapidly. The display is 10,1 inches and is a FHD Multi Touch screen that provides a crisp image. It is also equipped with Dolby Advanced Audio speakers for a audio experience worthy of the display screen. One last important spec to include is the 64GB of hard drive space.
- Cost: $299.99
- Pros: 10 Hour Battery Life, Front and Rear-Facing Camera, USB-C port
- Cons: Mixed Reviews, Cramped Keyboard
HP Stream 11-Y101NR
The HP Stream 11-Y101NR is a laptop worth looking into for college students on a budget, as this machine provides all that is necessary for most students entering the college scene. With an Intel Celeron processor and Turbo Boost technology, this machine performs quickly and efficiently for most projects and research papers. The display is 11.6 inches and includes Anti Glare to provide a clear image. The keyboard is also backlit allowing students to take notes in a dark auditorium or work late into the night on term papers.
Specs of the HP Stream 11-Y101NR include a 32GB hard drive, two USB’s, a USB-C, and an SD port. These multiple ports provide plenty of options for users. Rapid connectivity with 802.11ac WiFi ensures students can connect and remain connected to online lectures, group projects and more. A 1 year subscription to Windows 10 Home comes with the HP Stream to help students set up quickly and begin using their machine immediately. Students will have access to Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and the other applications commonly used.
- Cost: $199.99
- Pros: Cost, Energy Star Effieicnecy, 10 Hour Battery Life
- Cons: Touch Pad Performance
Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (7378)
This laptop in one word, dynamic. The Dell Inspiron 13 700 (7378) converts to 4 modes of use; a tent, tablet, laptop, or stand. This flexibility allows studetns to configure the machine into whatever they need it to be. The Dell Inspiron makes a great option for presentations to research papers. From a 13.3 HD screen that is crisp and vivid to a Intel Core i5 processor this machine will perform well for college students.
Other specs of the Dell Inspiron include a USB-C port, DC-in, and Display port giving students plenty of options. The factory memory is 8GB RAM included with each laptop. What sets this combo apart is the audio performance with its two bottom facing speakers. The machine is fairly durable and does well with regular wear and use.
- Cost: $799
- Pros: Overall Performance, Audio, Face Recognition Feature
- Cons: Limited Battery Life, Glossy Touch Screen
Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible, 11.6 Inch HD Touch Screen
Another fabulous option form Acer is the Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible. This combo machine boasts an 11.6 inch HD Touch Screen with a 360 degree hinge that allows students to use it for presenstations, term papers and more all at a fraction of the cost of many of its competitors. The machine is thin and lightweight as well as powerful enough for a college students needs with its Intel Celeron N3150 quad core processor. This includes 32GB SSD and 4GB memory.
Other specs of the Acer Chromebood R 11 is the rapi connectivity with the 802.11ac WiFi. Another feature noticed by users is the superior webcam that provides a crisp and vivid picture even during video chats. This includes 2 USB ports, an SD reader, and a great audio experience. The battery life is approximately 10 hours that ensures students won’t need to charge throughout the day.
- Cost: $349.99
- Pros: Price, Dual Functionality, Durable
- Cons: Mixed long term reviews