Best Laptops for College Students 2020:
If you’re still using a huge desktop, or if your laptop buffers at the thought of an HD video lecture, then it’s time to upgrade. Luckily, if you know where to look, it’s possible to get a sleek and striking notebook without blowing through your savings.
Start by reviewing our recommendations for the best laptop for your college major, and then check with your specific school to make sure its configuration meets the minimum requirements. Then, you’ll want to pick up a few extras, such as a comfortable mouse, a well-appointed backpack, and perhaps a solid all-in-one printer. And don’t forget to preload some antivirus software before you head to campus.
But which style of college laptop is right for your degree and what your classes will demand? Your laptop is an essential part of school work and will be used in a variety of ways including writing papers, taking online exams, collaborating with other students, reviewing the class syllabus, and enrolling in courses. Whatever be your need no need to look further than our guide on the best college laptops in the business.
Just like every college student is different, so is the laptop choice that’s right for them. Some don’t need a lot of power and prefer portability over everything else, while others might require a machine that can render 3D models and watch lectures streaming online at the same time. But also light enough to slide into a backpack quickly and easily without any hassle. If you’re a gamer then you should also consider getting a gaming laptop.
A laptop for college needs to boot quickly, run smoothly, and be able to run almost any program you can think of, ultimately the laptop that’s right for you or your kids will combine all the best aspects of a laptop into one complete package at a cost that’s manageable for your expectations.
Best Laptop in Creative Arts College Laptop Apple MacBook:
The Macbook first got cool on college campuses, and it still hasn’t lost its edge, also Apple offers good prices to students and parents buying for college students.
Features: Force Touch trackpad, Retina display, 10hr battery life and a lot of built-in applications
No other laptop has the same “cool” factor as a new Macbook, The Macbook also uses material designed to reduce environmental impact like Mercury‑free display, Highly recyclable aluminum enclosure, and many more.
The Macbook line of laptops is a solid machine that goes the distance when it comes to software integration and unique hardware tweaks.
Apple still manufactures the Macbook Pro in both 13″ and 15″ flavors, but unless you know you’ll be doing a lot of heavy execution or running exhaustive applications, the regular 12″ model should handle nearly any job you can throw at it with ease. The inclusion of the Force Touch mouse pad is perfect for students who need to navigate through a lot of content quickly and easily, while OSX continues to be the operating system of choice among departments dedicated to the creative arts.
If you have to run OSX for your particular program, or just want a dependable all-around laptop that’s perfect for any kind of project, the Macbook is still king with college students everywhere.
Best Laptop for a Computer Science Degree Dell XPS 13:
The Dell XPS 13 laptop might be on the pricier side, but with this laptop, you get an Ultrabook performance along with virtually borderless InfinityEdge display.
Features: Infinity Edge display, touchscreen, Intel i5-6200U 2.3 GHz Processor, a little on the pricier side – though cheaper than the Surface Book – Dell’s XPS13 is entirely worth it, and is truly one of the best laptops for college students in price and tech specs.
With a 13.3-inch Full HD Infinity display, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, the XPS 13 is the perfect mix of power and flexibility that college students need from their daily driver. The Dell XPS 13 will be able to keep up with even the most demanding tasks, whether that’s using tools like Photoshop and Autodesk 3DS Max, or programming software like Android Studio and Eclipse.
The Dell XPS 13 is also the perfect entertainment machine. With its 13.3-inch Infinity display, it has one of the sharpest images you’ll see on a portable machine. It’s perfect for the media professional, but also great for watching movies, TV shows, and even doubles as a halfway decent gaming laptop.
Best Heavy-duty College Laptop HP Stream 13:
The HP Stream 13 is a low-end laptop, intended for basic tasks like paper writing and spreadsheet construction.
Features: Durable shell, 32GB of SSD storage, one-year subscription to Office 365
If there’s one thing parents know about their kids, it’s how clumsy they can be when it comes to keeping their technology in one piece. The HP Stream is the most durable (and colorful) laptop on this list, available in Cobalt Blue, Orchid Magenta, Violet Purple, and Horizon Blue.
With a 13.3-inch display, an Intel Celeron N3050, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of SSD storage, the Stream 13 is decidedly low-end, making it one of the cheapest laptops for college on our list.
But what makes the HP Stream 13 one of the best laptops for college students? It’s ultra-portability and the fact that it comes with a free year of Office 365, something that costs almost as much as the laptop itself.
Best Midrange College Laptop ASUS X551MA:
The ASUS X551MA is the perfect blend between low-range and high-end laptops.
Price: $315.00 | Features: 4GB RAM, 500GB storage, 15.6″ display
ASUS’ X551MA makes our list of the best laptops for college students as its a perfect blend mid-range and is only $50 more than the HP Stream 13.
Specs include a 15.6-inch display, an Intel dual-core Celeron N2830, 4GB of RAM, and 500GB of internal storage. It doesn’t have any special technology, but it’s a standard mid-range laptop that’ll handle basic tasks (and some demanding) with ease, whether that be writing papers or playing the occasional game. It’s one of the best affordable laptops for college students too, coming in at well under $300.
Best Design/Photoshop Microsoft Surface Book:
The Microsoft Surface Book is our No.1 laptop for college pick.
Price: $1,399.99 | Features: Convertible design, touchscreen, 13.5″ display
With Microsoft’s Surface Book, you’re in for a treat. Fast, portable, and easy to set up. The Surface Book also offers two different uses – laptop, and tablet. This adds to the portability, making it fantastic for the on-the-go student.
With the base unit starting with a 13.5-inch display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage, the Surface Book is perfect for the student that can handle the demands of Graphic Design and/or demanding software tools like CAD and Photoshop.
And the ability to transform the Surface Book into a tablet is another great feature because it removes the need for another device. It’s truly one of the best laptops for college students.
Best Chromebook for College Acer Chromebook 15:
The Acer Chromebook 15 is one of Acer’s most powerful Chromebooks yet.
Price: $499.99 | Features: Intel Core i5-5200u CPU, 15.6″ FHD LED screen
Acer’s Chromebook 15 is lightweight for perfect portability, has a 2.16GHz processor, and falls just under $500. Add that to the sleek, modern design and you have a solid all-around machine for any member of the family.
Whether you need to write a paper or collaborate on Google Drive, the Chromebook 15 will perform without a problem. And, just like any Chromebook, it comes with a free 100GB of Google Drive storage to give you plenty of room to store documents and other files while on the go.
Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a College Laptop:
Don’t make the mistake of buying the wrong operating system. Some school programs will specifically require either a Windows or OSX-based laptop (be sure to check your syllabus) for programs like Photoshop and Gimp. If your learning is strictly reading books, writing papers, and taking quizzes, then you might not need the aforementioned operating systems. In that case opt for a Chromebook, especially if all your activities will be Web-based.
Another thing to avoid is having too little RAM or hard drive space. A solid laptop for students will have just enough storage capacity and RAM for studying, completing assignments, and play. If your degree program requires a lot of heavy-duty software, find a laptop that has 4GB of RAM or more and a hard drive with 500GB of storage space or more. This will be enough to ensure that any software you throw on your computer runs smoothly without any hiccups. And keep in mind that an SSD hard drive will increase speeds as well, especially start up time.