Ah college, that magical time in a person’s life when they take that first step into adulthood. It’s a place to reinvent yourself and find what you really want to do. With such an exciting and open time ahead of you, it’s important to make sure you’re equipped with the best tools for your needs. We’ve put together a list of some the best laptops for college students.
Not everyone’s looking for the same thing, so we covered a range of needs and prices.
For the Mac Lover
13 Macbook Pro with Touchbar (2018)
Starting Price: $1,799
Apple’s put out some of the best laptops on the market for a long time now, striking a great balance between build quality, power, and design. Sure its computers are also generally quite a bit more expensive than the Windows-powered competition, but if you’re tuned into Apple’s ecosystem, nothing else will do.
This year’s Macbook Pro refresh introduces the Touchbar to 13-inch models, which replaces the function key row with a contextually changing touchscreen that displays different options depending on what software you have open. When it first came out the Touchbar was widely panned as a gimmick, now a few years in, it’s seen better software integration (https://dgit.com/best-apps-touch-bar-51776/) and won’t get in your way.
This model also brings an eighth-gen Coffee Lake Intel 2.3GHz i5 or i7 quad core processor, an integrated Intel Iris Plus 655 graphics card, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The new processors should bring pretty significant performance improvements over the previous year’s dual-core seventh generation processors, giving this one enough power and space to do some of everything.
The notebook also comes with four Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports for all your connection needs — double what’s available on lower-end models.
The laptop’s gorgeous 2560 x 1600 retina monitor will keep everything looking sharp.
Macbooks have been some of the best laptops for college students for a long time, and this one strikes the best balance between horsepower, hardware features, and value. Available in silver and space gray, it’s definitely on the pricey side, but many would say it’s worth it.
For when you need a little of everything
HP Pavilion x360 15t
Starting price: $629.99
The HP Pavilion x360 15t is an affordable two-in-one laptop with some real value. You can get it with an Intel i5 or i7, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and 1TB of memory. It’s a two-in-one, so its screen can fold back, turning the device into a tablet which can prop itself up, and stand in a number of different ways.
Depending on where you get it, the x360 comes with a stylus. It’s also compatible with a wide of range of stylus, should you need to get one separate.
The device packs a large 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 screen with an included webcam. It’s also a touchscreen for when you want to use it as a tablet or just poke at it. The touchscreen is multi-touch enabled, so it supports basic functions involving pinch, swipe, and zoom.
According to HP, the laptop can last up 10 and a half hours of mixed usage, so you shouldn’t have much trouble using this all day.
This is a great all-rounder. It can handle just about anything you throw at it within reason, within reason. Without a doubt, it’s one the best laptops for college students.
For beefier needs
Lenovo Flex 5 15.6 Touch 2-in-1 Laptop
Starting price: $1,269.99
Sometimes you just need more power. Maybe you’re a comp-sci student who needs some serious number crunching, or you’re a gamer who wants something wants to handle their habit and make it to class without breaking the bank. The Lenovo Flex 5 is a great option for students who like the thin portable two-in-one form-factor but don’t want to sacrifice power.
This laptop comes with a 15.6-inch 4K touchscreen, a brand new eighth-gen Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and an Nvidia 940MX graphics card. It’s got the hardware to handle every kind of media with aplomb, as well as whatever your work needs may be. It comes with two USB 3 ports, a USB Type-C port, an HDMI port, audio jack, an SD card reader, a built-in webcam, and even supports Bluetooth 4.1, so you’ll have no connectivity issues here.
The Flex 5 is a two-in-one, so it can take the whole range of shapes you’d expect. It’s one of the best laptops for college students who spend as much time studying cafes, libraries, or other places with odd shaped or small tables as they do at home.
For basic, no-nonsense needs
Acer Aspire E 15
Starting price: $379.99
If you only need to the basics, why bother with all that extra stuff. Acer Aspire is one of the best laptops for college students who just want something to write papers, surf, the web, and maybe watch some Netflix.
The computer runs on an eighth-gen Intel i3 processor, with 6GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. It’s got a 1080p screen, which will do just fine for most everyday needs. Its Intel Iris 620 graphics card is hardly spectacular, but graphics performance isn’t the objective with a laptop like this.
It’s got one USB 2 port, one USB 3 port, one USB Type-C port, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack. It’s also got a DVD drive, which is pretty rare these days. It’s also got a 720p HDR-compatible webcam for things like Skype.
The Acer Aspire e 15 isn’t a fancy device. It solidly covers the basics, and not much else, at a pretty decent value — especially for a college student’s needs.
For streamlining everything
Samsung Chromebook Pro
Starting price: $569.95
If you want something so simple Windows or MacOS can’t cut it, Chromebooks are great options. Featuring a stripped-down operating system that relies on browser-based services and both ChromeOS and Android apps, the Samsung Chromebook Pro offers a lot of functionality in a simple, straightforward package.
The Chromebook Pro comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen with a 2400 x 1600 resolution. It’s a two-in-one, so you can fold it how you like, whether you need a tablet or a laptop, or something in between.
This compact unit runs on a Intel Core M3, with an Intel HD Graphics 515 graphics card, 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and 32GB of flash storage. It doesn’t sound like much (in fairness, it isn’t), but everything from the operating system to the apps it uses was designed to run well without much horsepower and save to the cloud to avoid storage issues.
The laptop has a built-in microphone and a webcam capable of recording 720p video. It also has an included stylus pen, which pops out. It has two USB Type-C ports, a microSD slot, and a headphone jack. However, it charges through USB, so you’ll only have one port available if you want to keep it plugged in. To compensate, it also supports Bluetooth 4.1.
The Samsung Chromebook Pro brings a great value and more horsepower than most Chromebooks. Sure, it’s not as flashy as Google’s Pixelbook, but it’s also half the price.
There you have it, these are our picks for the best laptops for college students. Do you think we missed an important entry? Sound off in the comments!