7 Best Laptops for College Students
The wrong laptop can be detrimental to online quizzes, assignments and classes. These choices are well-suited for a college student’s needs.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.
Choosing the Best Laptop for College
Most assignments are completed and submitted online these days. And some classes are completely virtual — more than ever in 2020. For these reasons, the best laptops for college students have a built-in camera, microphone and any program-specific needs, such as clear graphics for art and design students. Before making a purchase, consult your program director to see if a certain model is required for all students.
Best Overall: Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS is an all-around solid laptop for college students — and anyone. It comes with 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of SSD space, a touchscreen, backlit keyboard and an Intel Core i7 processor, giving it enough power for everyday use with all the essential perks.
This laptop will let you write essays, stream lectures, record videos and apply for jobs with ease. Its small size makes transportation easy. And it will fit on those tiny flip-up desks in college classrooms. However, it lacks a traditional USB or HDMI port.
Best Two-in-One Laptop: HP Envy x360
Students who prefer e-books over paper copies will appreciate this two-in-one model. Touchscreens are more user friendly for reading online, so instead of buying and juggling two devices they can turn the HP Envy x360 into a tablet on demand. This study tool comes in several styles, including 16 GB RAM, 512 SSD and Intel Core i7 — like the Dell XPS 13, but with USB and HDMI compatibility.
Best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go
Chromebooks are known for their simplicity and affordability. The Google Pixelbook Go boasts 12 hours of battery life and lightning-fast charging speeds. This is a great laptop for college students who prefer Google products and programs. It ranges in price depending on the amount of memory you need, with options between 8 GB and 16 GB of RAM, as well as 64 GB and 256 GB of hard drive space.
Best Laptop for College Students on a Budget: Acer Swift 3
The Acer Swift 3 is a trusty, budget-friendly piece of essential school technology. It will let you do the basics like writing papers, creating presentations, video calling and taking online exams. It has all the traditional ports — USB, USB Type-C, HDMI and an audio jack — so you won’t need to buy those adaptors. And it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper than some of the other models on this list. Depending on your needs, the AMD Ryzen 7 processor may be preferable to an Intel version.
Best Laptop for Creative College Students: Apple MacBook Pro
For students studying the arts, Apple products are optimal. Macs are known for high-end graphics, and they’re popular in professional creative industries like graphic design and photography. Starting at $2,400, the Apple MacBook Pro is significantly more expensive than any other item on this list. But if you have the budget for it, it’s worth the splurge. You can get it with an Intel Core i7 or i9, and you can also choose 512 GB or one TB of storage.
Best Gaming Laptop: Alienware M15 R3
Of course, college is all about balancing work and play, and a large portion of college students like to play video games during their down time. For a powerful computer that will transition seamlessly between a day of online classes, a gaming marathon and the newest Netflix docuseries, the Alienware M15 R3 is the way to go. This is a splurge item. The top-tier options include an Intel Core i9 processor, four TB of hard drive space and 32 GB of RAM memory.
Affordable Gaming Laptop: Lenovo Legion 5i
If you want a laptop with gaming capacity but don’t need the big name, there are plenty of more budget-friendly computers with high functionality and sharp graphics. The Lenovo Legion 5i is one highly-rated model. One of the perks of using a gaming laptop for college is that they usually have an ethernet port. Directly connecting your computer to the ethernet lowers your chances of missing a quiz due to slow or spotty WiFi.