Going to college without a decent laptop is to limit yourself and put yourself one step below the rest of the students. It is imperative to be able to learn and have all the tools available to be the best. That’s why we don’t have to look at offers and promotions but choose a laptop that suits our needs.
Whether you are a university student or you are looking for one to buy, we have selected eight tips to choose the right laptop for students to improve their learning now and in the future. These are our quick tips and all the details you need to know.
- Weight: Screen size from 12.5 to 14 inches offer a balance between usability and portability.
- Battery: More than eight hours of battery life is ideal if you’re going to use your laptop on the go.
- Durability: With a spill-resistant keyboard
- Recommended features: Intel Core m or Intel Core i processor, 8 GB RAM, and 128 GB hard disk.
- Operating system: Windows is the best for productivity, and macOS is the best for art and design students.
- 2-in-1: Consider a 2-in-1 laptop if you want to use the computer as a tablet to draw or take notes.
The purpose of buying a laptop for a student is to bring it to class. Unless you need a desktop computer, we recommend looking for a computer that weighs less than 2KG and a 12.5 to 14-inch screen.
Arts students may need larger screens with higher resolution, such as the 15-inch retina screen in Macbook Pro.
There are laptops with smaller 11-inch screens, but their small size makes them very uncomfortable to read and write.
A 13-inch screen is the best choice for portability and usability, although art students and engineers can get more out of a larger screen.
If you have a large budget, we recommend buying an aluminum, magnesium, or carbon fiber laptops. It is also essential that the manufacturer has carried out durability tests.
Many laptops have been designed to pass the MIL-SPEC 810G durability test (the military ultra-strength test). A splash-protected keyboard is a great choice.
We are looking for a product that is not obsolete before the end of your degree, so we should consider the following requirements:
- Screen: Our priority is to look for a display of at least 1920×1080 (1080p or Full HD), to be able to write works and investigate without a problem. Higher resolutions are perfect for photo and video editing (2560×1440 QHD or 3840×2160 UHD), but these tend to consume a lot of battery power and increase the price of the system. Touchscreens add tablet functionality to the notebook but consume much energy as well and make the battery last between 10 and 25 percent less, so we recommend not choosing a touchscreen unless necessary.
- Processor (CPU): If you want a high-performance computer today and in the future, we recommend choosing an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. If you are on a tight budget, we recommend choosing between a Core i3, Pentium or Celeron processor that will be enough to carry out works or an Intel Core M with a decent performance.
- RAM: 4 GB is the minimum we need, but 8 GB RAM is ideal. That will make the computer flow without interruptions while we use multiple applications.
- Storage: The best option for a laptop hard drive is a solid disk (SSD) since all other available hard drives are usually larger, slower, and noisy. SSDs offer less storage, much faster but much more expensive. A hard drive between 128 and 256 GB is enough space to work during a school year. More space always comes in handy, especially for storing high-quality photos and videos.
- Ports: USB-C seems to be the future, but there are still many devices that use USB type A. We recommend choosing a laptop multiple USB ports, to save us from carrying adapters.
Choosing the operating system: It is essential to consult with your university about software requirements. Sometimes schools ask you for a specific type of software or operating system to ensure future work is done. Windows 10 is the most popular and versatile operating system, with thousands of applications and the Cortana search assistant.
Apple macOS has improved its integration with the iPhone and its Siri digital assistant. Moreover, although Windows 10 is the platform with the most programs, there are specific applications that are exclusive to Mac, such as photo editing, video, and animation.
The Chromebook, while offering limited software options, may be the ideal choice for buyers with tight budgets who can work with all documents on the Internet.
- Battery Life: The life specified on laptops is usually an estimate of how long the battery can last, but many variables affect battery life. These are the brightness of the screen, its resolution, and applications that we have open at the same time. If you use the processor a lot or watch many videos on Youtube or Netflix or transfer many files over the Internet, then your battery will run out very quickly.
We must take into account the watt-hours of the battery or milliamps per hour. The higher those numbers, the longer the battery life. A battery between 44 and 50Wh should give us the best results.
Keyboard quality. For long hours of typing with the keyboard, we should think about looking for a comfortable keyboard. We advise you to look for a complete keyboard with space for the arrow keys, which are backlit and respond well to the keystrokes. Backlighting helps us type more easily in low-light places.
Our selection for the best laptops for college students by career.
Best overall laptop for college students: HP Envy 13
Whether we need a laptop to write our thesis or to take notes in class, having a comfortable keyboard allows us to do more work much faster.
For less than a thousand dollars, the HP Envy 13 has one of the best keyboards on the market, as well as its aluminum body that makes it lightweight and with a battery life of 10 hours.
With a 13.3-inch screen, eighth-generation Core i5 or i7 processor, and an SSD solid-state hard drive, it’s the laptop of choice for college students.
- Advantages: good keyboard, excellent performance, and long-lasting battery life.
- Disadvantages: sound and screen colors.
- Check on Amazon
The best college student for less than $1000: Asus ZenBook UX430UA-GV265T
This Asus ZenBook UX430UA-GV265T weighs only 1.25 kilograms, which makes it one of the lightest laptops to carry to class, with the power to do all the jobs required of it.
For about 900 dollars, you have a laptop with a 1080p Full HD screen, a 256GB SSD solid hard drive and an eighth-generation Intel Core i5 1.6GHz processor.
The best thing is the battery life of 9 hours so you can forget the charger at home without a problem.
- Advantages: long battery life, affordable and big screen.
- Disadvantages: many Asus default applications and hard touchpad click.
The best college student laptop for less than $800: HP Pavilion x360
The HP Pavilion x360 is very similar in performance to the Asus ZenBook UX430UA-GV265T but a little heavier (1.72 kilograms), although it has more storage (1TB), touch screen that can be folded and converted into a tablet.
Although the manufacturer promises a battery life of about 10 hours and 30 minutes, many buyers say it is nowhere near. Its screen has a low resolution, but if used work only, it is more than enough for any college student.
This same model is also available in Intel Core i3 with 4 GB of RAM that can be a little fair for constant use, for about 500 dollars. Furthermore, also available with Core i7 and 8GB of RAM for more than 800 dollars, which does not offer a competitive advantage over its intermediate model.
- Advantages: affordable and storage.
- Disadvantages: heavy and battery.
The best college student laptop for less than $500: Microsoft Surface Go
If you looking for the best laptops for college students and have a tight budget, the Microsoft Surface Go is the best choice. For less than 500 dollars, you have a 2-in-1 laptop with a 10-inch touchscreen, 4GB of RAM, 64 GB of solid-state SSD storage and a battery life of about 9 hours.
The Surface Go weighs half a kilogram, less than many of the textbooks. Usually, tablets are not the best choice for class, but Microsoft sells a keyboard sleeve with a touchpad so you can quickly turn it into a laptop.
With its Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor, we don’t expect to do tricks, but it’s more potent than many cheap laptops.
- Advantages: its glossy screen, lightweight, and high performance.
- Disadvantages: keyboard and mouse are an extra cost.
Apple’s Favorite: Macbook Air
MacBook Air is a good option for students, as long as you don’t care about the faults they may have compared to other laptops for college students.
They give you a battery life of about 12 hours, 6 hours longer than most laptops on the market, and expert studies ensure that it can reach 14 hours with very moderate use.
Also, they are very light with an aluminum body, with Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 128GB hard disk.
Its only defects can be its lack of ports, it only has 2 USB ports and does not have HDMI connector or Ethernet.
- Advantages: good keyboard, battery, and weight.
- Disadvantages: you need to buy an accessory to increase your ports.
Smallest for the backpack: Apple Macbook 12 inches
The 12-inch Macbook has an excellent performance being very thin and light, less than a kilo (0.92 kg).
Apple has improved its keyboard, with a better battery life of about 10 hours (9 hours and 29 minutes according to expert comparisons) and it works without problems.
The significant disadvantage of this laptop is a single USB-C port that needs adapters to connect other devices and to charge the computer at the same time.
- Advantages: battery life, excellent keyboard, weight, and size.
- Disadvantages: It only has one port and needs adapters to connect any device that is not wireless.
Best laptop for science students: Dell XPS 13
To do calculations and research, you will need a reliable laptop like the Dell XPS 13. With a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD solid storage. It is a light and powerful laptop with a battery life of 10 hours.
The screen is 13.3 inches InfinityEdge that eliminates the edges to maximize space, a viewing angle of 170 degrees and more brightness than a typical laptop screen thanks to its 400 nits that allows you to see entirely even outdoors. Incredible 1920×1080 Full HD resolution with a UHD Graphics 620 graphics card.
- Advantages: battery life, lightweight, and well-designed.
- Disadvantages: the webcam is at the bottom of the screen so you will see your fingers when typing.
For videogame designers: Lenovo Legion Y520
This Lenovo Legio Y520 notebook is thin and light enough to fit in your backpack to take it to campus. For less than a thousand dollars, it comes with a 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card and a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor for high-performance gaming and work.
It has a 15.6-inch Full HD screen, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.
The system comes without an operating system or drivers, but the latter can be downloaded from the Lenovo website and works very well with Windows 10 Home. It is a laptop for games, one of the significant drawbacks mentioned by buyers of this laptop is the slowness of its hard drive that must be replaced by a solid one (according to buyers, Lenovo does not void the laptop warranty if you replace the hard drive with a solid one).
- Advantages: good design, excellent performance, and affordable price.
- Disadvantages: long battery life and slow hard drive.
For Engineers and Architectural Students: Dell Precision 5520
If we are going to use programs like AutoCAD or 3D modeling, we need a powerful workstation. The Dell Precision 5520 proves that you don’t have to buy a large, ugly laptop to have power.
This 2kg laptop is just over a centimeter thick with a 15.6-inch screen, an Intel Xeon processor and an Nvidia Quadro M1200 graphics card making it a high-performance laptop. The best thing is its battery life of about 11 hours on a single charge.
- Advantages: battery life and excellent performance.
- Disadvantages: webcam position.
For art and design students: Huawei MateBook X Pro.
Art students usually think about buying an Apple MacBook for many reasons, but the Huawei MateBook X Pro is a much better laptop. It has a very MacBook-like design, with significant internal enhancements such as the keyboard, USB-A ports, and a few hundred dollars cheaper.
For about 1700 dollars, we have a laptop with an Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB hard disk SSD. A 13.9-inch touch screen with excellent sharpness and colors that are perfect for students of art and design.
- Advantages: good keyboard and touchpad, slim design, and battery life.
- Disadvantages: Hard to find.
Best laptop for business students: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is ready to take us to be the future Jeff Bezos with its light and slim design, with one of the best keyboards on the market and a Full HD 1080p 14-inch screen.
Its 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage make it a powerful laptop to work all day with the power needed to grow a business. Its battery life is about 11 hours on a single charge.
- Advantages: lightweight and battery life.
- Disadvantages: Does not fit the student’s budget.
For computer engineering students: Lenovo ThinkPad T480
Night programming sessions require a better battery, and the ThinkPad T480, with its battery extension, can run for more than 17 hours on a single charge.
Its eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD make it a great performer, plus this laptop has Thunderbolt 3 ports for fast data loading and transfer. With a 14-inch Full HD, 1080p screen is a slightly heavy laptop in a backpack.
- Advantages: high performance, battery life, and Thunderbolt 3 ports.
- Disadvantages: heavy laptop.
For film and animation students: Apple MacBook Pro 15
Editing video and animating is a much easier task with the Touch Bar of the new Macbook Pro, which replaces the function keys with a set of tools that can be customized in different applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Final Cut.
This 15-inch laptop has an excellent finish, an aluminum design that makes it light (weighing less than 2 kilograms) with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD.
It also includes 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports that make it easier to connect multiple 4K monitors at once or transfer multimedia files to an external hard drive faster.
- Advantages: high performance, battery life, and functional display.
- Disadvantages: No USB-A ports, it gets very hot.
Best PC for Medical Students: Dell XPS 15
The ideal laptop for medical students is one with a large screen and a powerful processor for taking notes and running complex programs in the lab.
Also, battery life is significant so that no student is left behind in each shift. Dell’s XPS 15 offers an excellent combination of performance and endurance.
So the battery life is 8 hours, and it’s powerful with a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 512 GB of storage and 16 GB of RAM.
- Advantages: excellent performance, battery life.
- Disadvantages: the position of the webcam.
For law students: Microsoft Surface Pro
The Surface Pro is an excellent choice for students who need a system that works just as well in a court as it does in a classroom.
Its 12.3-inch screen makes it the best presenting device, with a keyboard sleeve to turn it into a laptop quickly when typing is needed.
Its keyboard sleeve and Surface Pen are not included with the laptop, although both accessories make it easier to take notes or write documents while standing or sitting. Their front and rear cameras take great pictures to capture the whiteboard or book pages in the library.
- Advantages: high performance and bright display.
- Disadvantages: battery life and need to buy accessories.