As a student, using a laptop rather than pen and paper saves you a ton of time, making it infinitely easier to organize your notes and quickly research the topics that you’re studying.
The best laptops for college are affordable, light and portable, and they have batteries that can easily last from 10 to 12 hours, so you don’t always have to be on the lookout for a power outlet. In this guide, we’ve reviewed and compared the best laptops for college students to help you find the one that’s best for you.
List of the Top-Rated Laptops for Students
If you’re looking for a quick answer to the best laptop for students, here’s our list of the best and most popular laptops for college:
- Asus Vivobook L210 — The best laptop for college students, with a 12-hour battery life that’s cheap and ultra-thin. It makes up for its lack of gaming components by being ultra-silent and performing well in Excel, Word, Google Docs, and PowerPoint.
- Acer Aspire 5 Slim — A fast laptop capable of simultaneously running multiple resource-demanding programs. Its 15.6’’ IPS panel provides excellent image quality, making it suitable for image and video editing.
- Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook — An affordable laptop running on lightning-fast ChromeOS that comes with built-in virus protection. Rest easy as you download files, photos, textbooks, and other materials or browse the internet.
- HP Chromebook — Durable 14″ HD laptop with a four-finger gesture touchpad and an average battery life of over 12 hours. It has some of the best speakers on the market, making it an ideal pick if you intend to watch your favorite TV shows and movies on your laptop.
- Microsoft Surface Laptop Go — Gorgeous, ultra-portable laptop with a powerful processor and a built-in 720p HD camera. This product has 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, ensuring lower power consumption and smooth performance.
- Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i — A two-in-one Chromebook that functions as a laptop and a tablet with a 13″ touchscreen. Take advantage of its 360-degree hinges to turn it into a self-supported touchscreen tablet-like device, or use it like a regular laptop.
- Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 4 — Sturdy model built to resist bumps and drops, making it a reliable companion long-term. This durable device supports lighting-fast Gigabit Wi-Fi connections, making it a superb choice for downloading large files and streaming videos.
- HP Pavilion 15 — High-end laptop with strong processing power, making it great for programming and engineering students. The combination of an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and an Intel Iris Xe Graphics unit makes this laptop great for students who like to relax by gaming after a long day.
- HP Laptop X360 14a Chromebook — A cost-effective pick with a memory card reader for easy file transfers from your phone. Download your favorite apps directly from the Google Play store and use them without any compatibility issues.
- Apple MQD32 MacBook Air — Best model for college students wanting a balance of portability and performance. It comes with a fast Type-C charger and a battery that can easily last through a full day on campus.
- Dell Latitude 7390 — A small and powerful device with a 12-hour battery life and an incredible port selection. Besides its powerful configuration, this laptop is great for gaming and streaming shows because its HDMI port lets you plug it into a TV or a PC monitor.
The Best College Laptops Reviewed
Based on their build and components, laptops offer varying levels of performance at different price points. Here are our in-depth reviews of the best college laptops, so you can see exactly what you’re getting for your money and make an informed decision – whether you’re looking for good cheap laptops or a powerful laptop that can handle intensive tasks such as 3D modeling:
1. Asus Vivobook L210 — Best Cheap Laptop for College Students | Ultra-Thin and Feather Light With a 12-Hour Battery Life
The Asus Vivobook L210 is an ultra-thin laptop weighing just 2.3 pounds, so you practically won’t feel it in your bag. It’s also one of the most affordable options for college students, offering good performance for the price and it’s likely the best inexpensive laptop on our list.
|From $159.99||Intel Celeron N4020||Intel UHD Graphics 600||4 Gb DDR3||64 Gb||11.6″||11 x 7.5 x 0.67 inches||2.3 pounds||1 year|
Text and images still look very crisp, so you can take notes and create presentations without any problems, as well as stream movies and TV shows or just watch YouTube in your downtime.
The integrated Celeron CPU and Intel graphics unit aren’t particularly powerful, so you won’t be able to use the laptop for gaming or power-hungry programs like Photoshop, but the laptop performs really well when using Google Docs, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
The benefit of having low-end components, in addition to extended battery life, is that the laptop is completely silent since it doesn’t have any cooling.
On top of that, rather than having a standard hard drive, which can be loud at times, the Asus Vivobook L210 features an embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) with 64 Gb of storage. You can also upgrade the laptop with an SSD card to add 128 Gb of extra storage, which should be plenty for all your presentations, PDF textbooks, and other college materials.
The laptop also features a numpad, which you can turn on or off with a single tap. This can be very useful for math, economics, and other subjects where a calculator comes in handy.
2. Acer Aspire 5 Slim — Fast Laptop Capable of Simultaneously Running Multiple Resource-Demanding Programs
The Acer Aspire 5 Slim is a more powerful option for students who need to simultaneously run more demanding programs while having half a dozen Chrome tabs open.
|From $365||AMD Ryzen 3 3200U to Ryzen 7 3700U||Vega 3 Graphics||4 Gb DDR4||128 Gb SSD||15.6″||14.31 x 9.74 x 0.71 inches||3.97 pounds||2 years|
When it comes to specifications, the Acer Aspire 5 can be outfitted with five different AMD Ryzen processors, from the R3 3200U to the R7 3700U, with a price difference of about $100. That said, the cheapest version (R3 3200U) is still powerful enough to comfortably run all the software that you’ll need for college work, so you don’t really need to pay extra for a slightly better CPU, unless you’re also planning on playing games on it.
The CPU comes with integrated Radeon Vega graphics, so you shouldn’t expect it to run any visually-demanding games, but it more than delivers when running simple image and video editing software.
With the Acer Aspire 5, you’ll get 4 Gb of DDR4 RAM and a 128 Gb SSD, so you can expect the laptop to boot up and load programs reasonably quickly.
The laptop’s screen is a 15.6″ IPS panel, which provides sharp visuals and excellent image quality. It also has a built-in microphone and camera, making it great for attending classes online, streaming online content, and joining video calls.
This powerful laptop has two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.1 port, an HDMI port, and a port for the ethernet cable that lets you connect it to the internet directly at home or in the dorm rather than through Wi-Fi.
3. Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook — Affordable Lightweight Laptop Running on Lightning-Fast ChromeOS
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook is a ChromeOS laptop that’s perfect for college students as it requires almost no setup at all. All you need to do is log into your Google account, and you’ll be able to instantly access all your documents and files stored on Google Drive.
|From $136||Intel Celeron N4020||Integrated Intel graphics||4 Gb DDR4||64 Gb SSD||11.6″||10.1 x 5.6 x 0.71 inches||2.42 pounds||1 year|
Running on the lightning-fast ChromeOS, the device boots up in seconds and loads all your documents and programs instantly. It also updates automatically, so you don’t have to worry about downloading and installing anything manually.
The laptop comes with built-in virus protection, so you can download online files, photos, textbooks, and other materials, without worrying too much that the device might get infected. If you need more protection, though, check out our list of the best antivirus software packages.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook is powered by an Intel Celeron N4020 processor with integrated Intel graphics. Given that the CPU is fanless, the laptop remains silent even when performing several tasks at once.
With this Chromebook, you get 4 Gb of RAM and a 64 Gb SSD for file storage, which is more than enough for the average college student. You can connect the laptop to the internet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and use it for up to 10 hours per charge.
4. HP Chromebook — Durable 14″ HD Laptop with a Four-Finger Gesture Touchpad
The HP Chromebook is a more expensive Chromebook version, with nearly identical specifications to the Lenovo Ideapad 3, albeit with a more sleek look. It also has a larger display, which is 82% screen-to-body and is ideal for running video at whatever aspect ratio you need.
|From $230||Intel Celeron N4000||Integrated Intel graphics||4 Gb LPDDR4||32 Gb eMMC||14″||12.82 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches||3.2 pounds||1 year|
What makes the HP Chromebook worth the price, apart from the gorgeous design and build quality, are the additional features and functions, such as the multi-touch touchpad that supports four-finger gestures for quick and easy zooming in and out of textbooks, notes, images, and PDF scripts.
The laptop is also equipped with two powerful stereo speakers, making it ideal for watching YouTube videos and bingeing your favorite Netflix shows when you want to unwind after a long day.
It also features a headphone/microphone jack that lets you plug in your headset, so you can join online conferences, make a video call, attend online classes, or just chat with your friends online.
With a battery life of over 12 hours, the HP Chromebook is a great choice for students who are always on the move.
5. Microsoft Surface Laptop Go — Gorgeous and Ultra-Portable With a Built-In 720p HD Camera
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go is a gorgeous, stylish sandstone laptop with a powerful processor and advanced security options that help ensure only you can access the files stored on the device.
|From $494||Intel Core i5 1035g1||Integrated Intel UHD Graphics||8 Gb LPDDR4||128 Gb SSD||12.4″||12.19 x 9.27 x 1.93 inches||2.45 pounds||1 year|
The processor powering the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go is an Intel Core i5 (with integrated Intel UHD graphics), working at 3.6 GHz, so you can expect fast and smooth performance even when running multiple resource-hungry apps.
The laptop also comes with 8 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, which is the DDR4 version specifically built for laptops to ensure lower power consumption. This allows you to use the laptop for up to 10 hours before having to recharge it.
You’ll also have 128 Gb of SSD storage to work with, so you’ll be able to easily store all your college materials on the laptop and to install all your favorite apps.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go is also great for video conferencing, given that it comes with a built-in 720p HD camera.
6. Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i — A Two-in-One Chromebook that Functions as a Laptop and a Tablet with a 13″ Touchscreen
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is a two-in-one Chromebook that functions as both a laptop and a tablet, thanks to its 13″ FHD touchscreen.
|From $349||Intel Core i3||Integrated Intel UHD graphics||8 Gb LPDDR4||128 Gb SSD||13.3″||12.2 x 8.43 x 0.67 inches||4.53 pounds||1 year|
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is equipped with an Intel Core i3 processor, with integrated Intel UHD graphics, 8 Gb of LPDDR4 RAM, and a 128 Gb SSD. You can expect fast bootup and loading times and smooth performance while using G-Suite apps, with all your favorite apps available from the Play Store.
The Full-HD IPS display, with wide viewing angles, and powerful built-in speakers make the device ideal for streaming online videos, so you can watch online lectures and tutorials or just unwind with your favorite TV shows and movies.
The laptop is compact and silent and can function for up to 10 hours between charges.
7. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 4 — Sturdy Model Built to Resist Bumps and Drops
The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 4 is a compact, relatively light laptop that’s built with durability and longevity in mind.
|From $349||Intel Celeron N4000||Integrated Intel HD graphics 400||4 Gb LPDDR 4||64 Gb eMMC||11.6″||11.33 x 7.96 x 0.66 inches||3.49 pounds||1 year|
In terms of specifications, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook comes with the standard Intel Celeron N4000 CPU with integrated graphics, so you can expect performance that’s on par with other Chromebooks. It’s also equipped with 4 Gb of LPDDR4 RAM and a 64 Gb eMMC, which ensures it remains silent.
One feature that’s particularly worth mentioning is that the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 4 supports a lightning-fast Gigabit Wi-Fi connection, so it’s a great option for downloading larger files and streaming videos.
The standard battery life of this model is 12.5 hours, and you can quickly charge it with a USB-C charger.
8. HP Pavilion 15 — Excellent for Running Multiple Resource-Demanding Apps and Programs
The HP Pavilion 15 is a powerful, high-end laptop that offers superb performance and stunning visuals. Due to its high processing power, it’s a great option for engineering and programming students, as well as anyone who intends to frequently run a multitude of resource-heavy apps and programs on their laptop.
|From $799||Intel Core i7-1165G7||Intel Iris Xe Graphics||16 Gb DDR4||512 Gb SSD||15.6″||14.18 x 9.21 x 0.7 inches||3.86 pounds||1 year|
You also get 16 Gb of RAM and a 512 Gb SSD, so you’ll have plenty of storage for all your important files, as well as high bandwidth to enable multi-tasking.
Another advantage of the HP Pavilion 15 over some of the cheaper laptops on our list is the Full HD IPS display with a 178-degree viewing angle, which makes it an excellent option for streaming your favorite online content. The laptop is also outfitted with powerful HP dual speakers, fine-tuned by experts from Bang & Olufsen. And if you’re willing to pay for a top-end setup, you might even consider getting a gaming chair for extra comfort.
The one potential drawback is that the average battery life of this laptop is around eight hours, although the HP Fast Charge lets you go from 0% to 50% battery in as little as 45 minutes.
9. HP Laptop X360 14a Chromebook — Affordable Model with a Memory Card Reader
The HP Laptop X360 14a Chromebook is a multi-functional Chromebook that doubles as both a laptop and a touchscreen tablet – it’s great for college students on a tight budget and we rank it as one of the best budget laptops.
|From $226||Intel Celeron||Integrated Intel graphics||4 Gb DDR4||64 Gb||14″ touchscreen||21 x 12 x 3 inches||3.64 pounds||1 year|
The specs include everything you’d typically find in a Chromebook — an Intel Celeron CPU with integrated graphics, 4 Gb of RAM and a 64 Gb SSD. One thing to note is that this laptop comes with a memory card reader, so you can easily transfer photos, videos, and files from your phone to the Chromebook.
It also comes with a built-in camera and stereo speakers, so you can use it for video conferencing as well as streaming online content.
The average battery life of the HP Laptop X360 14a Chromebook is around 12 hours.
10. Apple MQD32 MacBook Air — A Balance of Portability and Performance
The Apple MQD32 MacBook Air is a light yet powerful MacBook, which is perfect for students who value style and portability but also need a fast laptop that enables them to handle resource-intensive tasks.
|From $334||Intel Core i5||Intel HD Graphics 600||8 Gb LPDDR3||128 Gb SSD||13.3″||12.8 x 8.94 x 0.67 inches||2.96 pounds||1 year|
You’ll also have access to two USB-C ports, an SDXC memory card reader, and a port for headphones. With an average battery life of over 10 hours and a fast Type C charger, the Apple MQD32 MacBook Air will easily last through a full day on campus.
The one drawback of this MacBook Air model is the display, with the laptop only capable of producing about 70% of the sRGB spectrum, resulting in not-so-sharp images that might strain your eyes with prolonged use. We hence don’t recommend it for binge-watching Netflix shows or spending hours on YouTube.
11. Dell Latitude 7390 — Small, Powerful Device with a 12-Hour Battery Life
The Dell Latitude 7390 is another reasonably powerful laptop that offers great performance and crisp graphics, letting you run more demanding apps without overheating or slowing down.
|From $228||Intel Core i5||Intel UHD Graphics 620||8 Gb DDR4||256 Gb SSD||13.3″||12 x 8.2 x 0.66 inches||2.58 pounds||1 year|
And despite being this powerful, the Dell Latitude 7390 has an average battery life of around 12 hours. This is possible thanks to its powerful cooling fan – this can get loud on occasion, though, so it may not be the best device to take with you to classes.
One of the strong suits of this laptop is the port selection. In addition to fast USB 3 and Thunderbolt 3 ports, it also features an HDMI port, so you can connect it to your TV or a PC monitor when streaming movies and TV shows. And if you need something even more powerful, you can check out our list of the best gaming laptops.
The Best School Laptops Compared
Here’s a side-by-side comparison table of the best laptops for college, so you can compare their specifications more easily and choose the best laptop for school for you that fits your needs and your budget:
|Asus Vivobook L210||From $159.99||Intel Celeron N4020||Intel UHD Graphics 600||4 Gb DDR3||64 Gb||11.6″||11 x 7.5 x 0.67 inches||2.3 pounds||1 year|
|Acer Aspire 5 Slim||From $365||AMD Ryzen 3 3200U – Ryzen 7 3700U||Vega 3 Graphics||4 Gb DDR4||128 Gb SSD||15.6″||14.31 x 9.74 x 0.71 inches||3.97 pounds||2 years|
|Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook||From $136||Intel Celeron N4020||Integrated Intel graphics||4 Gb DDR4||64 Gb SSD||11.6″||10.1 x 5.6 x 0.71 inches||2.42 pounds||1 year|
|HP Chromebook||From $230||Intel Celeron N4000||Integrated Intel graphics||4 Gb LPDDR4||32 Gb eMMC||14″||12.82 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches||3.2 pounds||1 year|
|Microsoft Surface Laptop Go||From $494||Intel Core i5 1035g1||Integrated Intel UHD Graphics||8 Gb LPDDR4||128 Gb SSD||12.4″||12.19 x 9.27 x 1.93 inches||2.45 pounds||1 year|
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i||From $349||Intel Core i3||Integrated Intel UHD graphics||8 Gb LPDDR4||128 Gb SSD||13.3″||12.2 x 8.43 x 0.67 inches||4.53 pounds||1 year|
|Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 4||From $349||Intel Celeron N4000||Integrated Intel HD graphics 400||4 Gb LPDDR 4||64 Gb eMMC||11.6″||11.33 x 7.96 x 0.66 inches||3.49 pounds||1 year|
|HP Pavilion 15||From $799||Intel Core i7-1165G7||Intel Iris Xe Graphics||16 Gb DDR4||512 Gb SSD||15.6″||14.18 x 9.21 x 0.7 inches||3.86 pounds||1 year|
|HP Laptop X360 14a Chromebook||From $226||Intel Celeron||Integrated Intel graphics||4 Gb DDR4||64 Gb||14″ touchscreen||21 x 12 x 3 inches||3.64 pounds||1 year|
|Apple MQD32 MacBook Air||From $334||Intel Core i5||Intel HD Graphics 600||8 Gb LPDDR3||128 Gb SSD||13.3″||12.8 x 8.94 x 0.67 inches||2.96 pounds||1 year|
|Dell Latitude 7390||From $228 (pre-owned) / $615 (new)||Intel Core i5||Intel UHD Graphics 620||8 Gb DDR4||256 Gb SSD||13.3″||12 x 8.2 x 0.66 inches||2.58 pounds||1 year|
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Student Laptop for You
There are thousands of different laptop models available, all with different specifications and different performance levels. That’s why when considering student laptop deals you shouldn’t purchase the first laptop you see within your price range based on style alone.
Depending on your needs, the types of apps you’ll be running on the laptop, and the complexity of tasks you’ll perform on it, some laptops will be a much better fit than others. Here are the key factors you need to consider in order to make an informed decision and find the laptop that’s perfect for you:
Size and Weight
If you plan on bringing your laptop with you to class to take notes or to do research between classes then you should look for a compact, light model. While 4 pounds might not sound like a lot, carrying that on your shoulder every day for months on end can get quite uncomfortable.
On the other hand, if you need a more powerful laptop that you’ll only occasionally carry with you then you might consider a slightly bulkier model with a cooling fan that lets you use the laptop for extended periods of time without heating up.
If you only intend to use the laptop for taking notes, doing online research, and playing YouTube videos or Netflix shows then you won’t need a super-powerful processor. However, if you intend to use a dozen different apps and run multiple resource-demanding programs simultaneously then you’ll need something a bit more powerful, like an i5 or an i7 processor.
The amount – and the type – of RAM will also directly impact your laptop’s performance. This is especially true in the case of Chromebooks since Google Chrome is extremely RAM-hungry, so if you have a dozen tabs and two applications open at once with just 4 Gb of RAM then it will likely freeze or even crash.
In general, the more RAM you have, the better the laptop will perform overall. That said, another important factor to take into consideration is that LPDDR RAM typically offers lower bandwidth, but it consumes less power, so the laptop won’t heat up as much and the battery won’t drain as fast.
If you plan on keeping a bunch of files, photos, and videos on your laptop then we strongly advise getting one with at least 128 Gb of storage. The OS itself takes a good chunk of space, so you’ll quickly realize that a 32 Gb or even a 64 Gb HDD/SSD simply isn’t enough.
Given that you’re plenty busy as a college student, the last thing you want to do is delete files or move them to a USB flash drive every month to make room for new college material and files.
If you’re planning on using your laptop out and about on a daily basis then battery life should be one of the key considerations. On average, a good laptop will have upwards of 10 hours of battery life, which should be more than enough to last you the entire day on campus. Anything significantly below that, and you may find yourself constantly looking for a power outlet, which can quickly become extremely frustrating.
Most laptops come as they are and don’t allow for much customization or upgradability, but there are a few models that let you choose between several processors, or have the option of adding more RAM, or expanding your storage – typically through an SSD card.
College Laptop FAQs
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Conclusion – What’s the Best College Laptop to Buy in 2023?
There are plenty of good laptops for college out there, so it’s not easy to pick just one and say that it’s the best for every use in every situation. In reality, the best laptop for you is the one that’s powerful enough to let you complete your day-to-day tasks without issue while still fitting into your price range.
That said, if you’re on a tight budget but still want solid performance, extended battery life, and decent graphics then we strongly recommend the Asus Vivobook L210. It’s small, light, compact, and uses a fanless CPU, so it remains dead-silent, meaning you can take it with you to class and to the library.
It’s also the only laptop on our list that features a number pad, which is a big advantage if you’re studying math, engineering, economics, or any other major that involves a lot of calculations and number crunching. You can also upgrade it with a 128 Gb SSD card if you need extra storage, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space for personal files and college materials.