Best Laptop To Buy For College
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If you're a student one of the best college laptops can help you ace your exams and classwork, while also letting you unwind by watching streaming content or maybe playing games. But with so many choices at wildly varying prices, finding the very best laptops for students can feel like extra homework.
What should you look for when buying a laptop for school Make sure it has long battery life and fast CPU performance. A think-and-light won't cut it for every major, but even if you need a more powerful laptop we'll try to avoid weighing you down too much. And if you prefer to take notes by hand, a 2-in-1 laptop gives a blended laptop and tablet experience.
That affordable pricing mixed with its outstanding performance along with 14 hours and 41 minutes of battery life make it hard to beat for college students that are looking to get the most bang for their buck.
The MacBook Pro is a strong option as well, it appears later on this page, but considering all of the factors for a college laptop, the MacBook Air is going to be the better choice for most macOS fans looking for their perfect college laptop.
The Swift 5 does inherit a couple of the same complaints from the previous model with annoying bloatware apps and weak speakers. The first just means spending 15 minutes or so deleting the bloatware and the second means you'll likely want a good pair of wireless headphones, but overall this remains one of the best laptops for a college student that wants solid performance in a thin-and-light form factor.
If you're a current Chrome OS user in need of an upgrade for your college laptop or are considering Chrome OS, then don't hesitate to buy the Acer Chromebook Spin 714. This excellent 2-in-1 laptop delivers a gorgeous 14-inch touchscreen and fast performance thanks to its Intel Core i5-1235U CPU.
The Spectre x360 13.5 once again earns our Editors' Choice badge and cements itself as one of the best 2-in-1 laptops on the market. The stunning design, productivity boosting 3:2 aspect ratio OLED touchscreen and outstanding performance are tough to beat.
Add to that a generously sized touchpad that is silky to the touch as well as a comfortable (albeit shallow) keyboard, excellent security options (fingerprint sensor and facial recognition) and a good selection of ports, and well, it's easy to see why we like this laptop so much.
We recommend buying the Spectre x360 13.5 over the Envy 13 if you have the money, especially if you need the flexible design. In fact, the Spectre x360 13.5 is arguably best laptop if you want a convertible notebook, period. Sure, it has a few faults, but those are easily forgotten once you get this beauty in your hands.
The MacBook Pro 14 M2 Pro continues what Apple started with its massive redesign in 2021 and it remains an outstanding laptop. For the average student this is massive overkill, but if you need this kind of performance and either prefer or require macOS software, it's hard to beat.
The Asus Vivobook S 15 OLED excels at everything most college students need with commendable performance, thanks to its 12th Gen Intel chip, quality on-screen entertainment with its 15.6-inch OLED display, and enough battery life to get you through all but the longest marathon study session. Oh, and its special Asus Antibacterial Guard is a nice touch for those who like a clean laptop.
The Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 is an amazing feat of engineering that makes it a fantastic match for college students. The 15.6-inch AMOLED display in a 3.1-pound laptop remains remarkable while delivering a 2-in-1 form factor that makes it a dream laptop for college students. Not only that, but it more than doubles the Geekbench performance of its predecessor, meaning that unless you have incredibly demanding needs, this vanishingly thin laptop has more power than you will likely ever need.
While it's not the flashiest of gaming laptops, it's a really good gaming laptop that has been forged through years of iterative development. The result is supreme thermal performance, a great-to-use keyboard and touchpad, refined visual design, outstanding performance, and a gorgeous 16-inch 1440p 165Hz display.
The biggest complaint we had about the m17 R5 is its 720 webcam, but you can always pick up one of the best webcams if you need a sharper image. We're willing to overlook that one flaw in exchange for its gorgeous 4K display, excellent audio, Cherry MX keys and of course the aforementioned gaming prowess.
The Alienware m17 R5 (AMD Advantage) shouldn't be the first choice for most students, but if you have a lot of high-powered school tasks or you aren't giving up gaming while at college this is one to consider for its outstanding multimedia capabilities and flawless gaming performance.
The first is portability, which goes hand-in-hand with screen size. 13-inch laptops are popular among college students because they offer a good balance between screen real estate and portability. The Dell XPS 13 is a great example. It weighs around 2 pounds and is just 0.5 inches thick, yet you get a 13.3-inch edge-to-edge display. We're also seeing more and more 14-inch laptops, like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which is remarkably portable for the screen size.
Battery life is another key component of any good college laptop. If you plan to take the notebook to class or the library, don't count on there being an outlet! Consider a laptop that gets at least 9 hours of battery life, which should be enough to get you through a couple of classes with enough juice for studies.
When it comes to specs, we recommend buying a laptop with an Intel U-series or H-series Core i5 CPU, at least 8GB of RAM (16GB is great) and a minimum of 256GB of storage. AMD's chips are strong contenders in this arena as well, anything with a 4000-series or newer processor is going to be a great fit. Apple's M1 or newer M1 Pro and M1 Max naturally fit the bill as well, although the latter push the price up considerably. On the budget end, Chromebooks like the Pixelbook Go offer excellent value for college students.
Other things that will help you punch up a successful report or research complex topics include a comfy keyboard and sensitive touchpad. And when it's time to relax, be sure to get a laptop with a vivid and bright display (like any of those listed here).
In our benchmark testing, we use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and the sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamut of the laptop's display. For performance testing, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 5.4 and 3DMark professional graphics tests.
To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 4.97GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics test is the Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm benchmark with medium settings at 1080p and 4K resolution.
We also run heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in different areas of the laptop. Last but not least, our battery test consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. For MacBooks and premium Windows 10 or Windows 11 laptops, a runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise.
Andrew Cunningham is a former senior staff writer on Wirecutter's tech team. He has been writing about laptops, phones, routers, and other tech since 2011. Before that he spent five years in IT fixing computers and helping people buy the best tech for their needs. He also co-hosts the book podcast Overdue and the TV podcast Appointment Television.
The best laptops for college students are powerful enough to let you tackle all your school projects, with enough portability and power capacity to get you through a full day of classes. Whether you're going back to school in person or attending classes remotely, having the right laptop is key.
If you're worried about spending over $1,000, know that our picks are made with your future in mind. The MacBook Pro isn't cheap, for example, but mine has lasted for 8 years, which is enough time for undergrad and graduate school (or for applying to your first jobs out of college). Read on for our picks of the best college laptops you can buy right now.
We loved the original Duet for its great battery life, solid performance and decent packed-in keyboard cover, all of which could be had for roughly $250. Lenovo's new Duet 3 costs a bit more, but it also delivers a bigger, brighter display, more ports, and the added power of a beefier Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 chip. It's one of the best Chrome tablets you can buy, and the fact that Lenovo includes the keyboard cover at no extra cost helps it double as a surprisingly effective 2-in-1 Chromebook.
But those are the only meaningful upgrades Microsoft appears to have delivered over last year's model, and they don't do enough to keep the Surface Laptop 5 competitive with some other laptops on the market. You can generally get better performance and more useful features for your money from competitors like the Acer Swift 5 and Dell XPS 15 OLED.
So while the Surface Laptop 5 is still a very serviceable laptop, it's a disappointing step forward from Microsoft. This is the company that Windows built, and it would be great to see it take a leading role in designing the ideal Windows 11 laptop. It's a decent enough productivity laptop, but it could have been better.
College students looking for a portable 2-in-1 that can last a while should give the Surface Go 2 a close look. Yes, the original Surface Go was not a hit, but this model fixed practically everything wrong with the original. Its thinner bezels mean more screen space for your assignments (and a more modern looking tablet). We would have ranked the Surface Go 2 a bit higher, but its 10.5-inch screen and keyboard may be small for some college students.
And just like with the aforementioned Air, the MacBook Pro comes with the new Magic Keyboard, as Apple finally ditched the shallow and unreliable Butterfly keyboards. This combination of endurance and performance, mixed with a display that's great for seeing your creations come to life makes for one of the best college laptops for Apple users, provided their budget allows for it. 59ce067264