Getting the best student laptop may mean different things to different students. Depending on workload, and the nature of the work you do, you may need a robust laptop that’s able to fire up Photoshop without missing a beat. Other students may just need a fast Chromebook to browse and handle text documents. There are plenty of options, so where do you start?
In short, our guide to the best student laptops. On this page we’ve listed some up-to-date, amazing devices that will help any student in their studies, no matter what courses they are taking or what their budgets are.
Of course, the best student laptops will have to offer enough power to handle essential apps and tasks like document creation, word processing and making presentations. It’s essential to get a laptop with a long battery life, so you can use it the whole day without worrying about charging it. It should be affordable as well. That’s the base of what unites all the laptops we look at here, but there are key variations too.
For more information, jump to the what to consider when buying a student laptop section. And if you’re specifically after one of Apple’s products, check out our guide on how to get an Apple student discount. We’re also currently putting together the very best Amazon Prime Day laptop deals, so make sure you check out that too.
The best pre-Prime Day student laptop deals: US
Microsoft Surface 3:
$1,199.99 $899.99 at Best Buy
Save $300: This 15-inch laptop is really aimed at creatives, with its ease in handling graphical hard work and lightweight portability. Its 15-inch touchscreen, AMD Ryzen 5 CPU with Radeon Vega 9 graphics, and 8GB RAM means it can handle any student’s workload with ease.
MacBook Air (Intel, 2020):
$999.99 $899.99 at Amazon
Save $100: Not to be confused with the slightly more powerful, more expensive MacBook Pro, this 2020 Intel model of the MacBook Air has a Quad-Core Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, so is sleek and powerful for all student needs.
The best pre-Prime Day student laptop deals: UK
Asus Chromebook C223NA:
£229.99 £179 at Amazon
Save £51: If you want a decent, budget Chromebook, this is the best bet. Perfect for writing up documents, browsing at lightning speeds, it boasts an Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB RAM, 32GB flash storage, and an 11.6-inch HD display.
MacBook Air (M1, 2020):
£999 £899 at Amazon
Save £100: This is our fourth top pick of the best laptops for students for a reason. The MacBook Air has the Apple M1 chip, and offers 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and a 7-core GPU for fast graphics under its 13-inch hood. A great laptop with a great £100 discount.
The best student laptops available now
The Acer Swift 3 (2020) ticks pretty much every box for what makes the best student laptops. It’s affordable, without making too many compromises, and yet it’s powerful enough to easily handle day to day tasks, including web browsing and document creation, making it perfect for students.
It’s also thin and light enough to easily carry around school or campus, but with a decent build quality which means it won’t easily break. The latest model brings some choice hardware upgrades, so it’s now a better performer than ever before, and battery life has been given a boost as well.
It’s not the most powerful laptop in the world, and it won’t handle games, but for an affordable and dependable student laptop, this one is hard to beat.
Many of the best student laptops are Chromebooks due to their fantastic value for money. They run Chrome OS, which is less resource-hungry than Windows 10, which means Chromebooks can use lower-powered hardware and still offer excellent performance.
This means Chromebooks are often a lot cheaper than Windows 10 devices, and the Acer Chromebook 314 is in our view the best budget Chromebook for students. With a low price, it means you’re not blowing your student loan on a laptop, and it still offers great features including a bright and vibrant 14-inch display and 12 hour battery life. So, you can work on this thing throughout an entire school day, and you’ll still have battery life left over.
The keyboard is also incredibly comfortable, which is very important in a student laptop, as you’re going to be doing a lot of typing on this thing.
It’s also a good media playing machine, so you can whack on Netflix when you (or the student in your life) needs to unwind – and all for a very affordable price.
Just bear in mind that Chrome OS doesn’t run all of the programs you usually get on Windows 10, but there are usually great alternative applications.
The Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook money can buy right now – which also makes it one of the best student laptops as well. While the Acer Chromebook 314 is higher up on this list because of its ultra-low price, the Pixelbook Go is the better all-round Chromebook, packing a premium design and powerful components that would shame many Windows 10 laptops.
Even with its more premium bells and whistles. the Pixelbook Go is still a lot more affordable than many other laptops, and it’s got a fantastic battery life as well. It’s slightly more expensive than many other Chromebooks, but you really are getting some brilliant extras with this thing, including a fantastic screen, excellent webcam (essential these days with lots of remote learning) and top-notch performance.
However, what really makes it stand out as a brilliant student laptop is its excellent keyboard. This really is one of the best keyboards we’ve seen on a laptop, and it means you can type on it comfortably all day long.
At the end of 2020, Apple produced what many people (including us) think is the best laptop it ever made – the M1-powered MacBook Air. Rather than using hardware made by Intel, Apple has created its own chip to power the new MacBook Air, and it’s a gamble that has paid off massively.
Performance is excellent, easily beating older MacBook Airs, and it has a hugely improved battery life as well. It can now also run iOS apps, giving you a larger library of apps than ever before. Its screen also supports the P3 colour gamut, making this an excellent laptop for photography or video editing students. It’s also the most affordable MacBook, and while it’s more expensive than other laptops, it offers you the cheapest way to get a MacBook, making it a great choice for students with a slightly larger budget.
If you’re looking for a student laptop that can also be used as a tablet, then the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is an excellent choice. Offering the premium and stylish build quality of Microsoft’s other Surface products, the Go 2 is a lot more affordable.
While it’s not as powerful as the Surface Pro 7, for example, it’s more than capable of helping students with their studies. From researching on the web, to writing up documents or creating presentations in Microsoft Office, the Surface Go 2 is a great choice, and it runs Windows 10, so you have access to a wide variety of applications as well.
Not only is it a tablet that’s great for scribbling down notes using a stylus (or watching Netflix on when you have some down time), if you get the keyboard attachment (which we strongly recommend), you can comfortably type up whole essays on this thing as well.
Having a convertible device like the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is perfect for students. It means you can work on it like a traditional laptop, then turn it into a tablet-like device for certain tasks. Thanks to its hinge, which allows you to flip the screen backwards, you can also use it in ‘tent’ mode, allowing you to turn it into an ideal screen for unwinding in front of Netflix on after a hard day’s studying.
It’s impressively compact, making it easy and comfortable to carry around with you throughout the day, while still being comfortable to use for long periods of time. Best of all, it offers fantastic value for money due to its relatively low price, easily making it one of the best laptops for students in 2021.
Being a student involves a lot of hard work, but you still need to unwind and blow off steam. If you like doing that by playing games, then getting a gaming laptop like the Dell G3 15 is ideal. It also means you don’t have to lug around a big gaming desktop if you’re moving to Uni.
The Dell G3 15 also proves you don’t have to spend a fortune if you want a great gaming laptop. This is an affordable gaming laptop that offers excellent performance with modern games without leaving you with no money for rent or study essentials.
While the spec isn’t going to let you play intensive games like Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing and other visual effects all whacked to max, you’ll still be able to play almost any modern game with a few tweaks.
If you’re a student looking for a powerful laptop, and you want an Apple device, then the new MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is for you. Like the new MacBook Air, this new MacBook Pro also comes with the M1 chip, but with a few tweaks to make it even more powerful. This means this is an absolute beast when it comes to video editing or 3D rendering.
It’s also got the best battery life ever in a MacBook, while keeping that gorgeous thin and light design that MacBooks are renowned for.
Without doubt, this is one of the best, and most powerful, student laptops money can buy right now. It’s expensive, but definitely worth the investment if you need something with a bit more oomph.
While not strictly a laptop, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 more than earns its place on this list of the best laptops for students. It’s actually a Windows 10-powered tablet, but by attaching the Type Cover, which is an optional extra, you can turn it into a laptop-like device that’s perfect for writing up essays on.
As a tablet, it’s also compact and easy to carry around, and it’s powerful as well. It comes with a quad-core Intel processor, and up to 16GB of RAM, which means it can handle pretty much any app you need for your studies. And, as we mentioned earlier, it runs on a full version of Windows 10, so you have a huge library of compatible software.
It also features a USB-C port and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and you can configure it before you buy to ensure you’re getting a device that’s ideal for your needs – and your budget.
This is yet another Chromebook on this list, which just goes to show how good these Chrome OS-powered devices are for students. With a low price and long battery life, the Asus Chromebook Flip is ideal for students who want a machine they can work on throughout the day without worrying about running out of juice, while also not spending too much money at the same time.
It can handle day-to-day tasks when studying, including writing up documents or creating presentations, and it can be used as a tablet-like device for watching Netflix on after a hard day’s work (films look great on its 1080p screen).
The Asus Chromebook Flip is also great for younger students as well, or as a first laptop for children. Not only is it cheap and sturdy, but it’s easy to set parental controls on the laptop, and as it’s a Chromebook, you don’t have to worry about viruses or keeping it updated.
Best student laptops: What to consider
If the laptop is going to be used by students studying specialised subjects, then you may need something that’s a bit more powerful – for example, graphic design students may benefit from a laptop with a modern graphics card. You’ll certainly want something that will last at least three years, if not longer. What you don’t want to end up with is a laptop that halfway through a course gives up the ghost.
But not every student will need massive specs. Many Chromebooks make excellent student laptops, replacing massive storage with a super speed. This is because the apps they run don’t take up much space, and with built-in support for Google Drive, it means your documents are all saved in the cloud as well.
The best student laptops also offer excellent battery life. You’ll want something that lasts all day in lessons and lectures (either when studying at home, or if you’re on campus), and when the battery does run out, it needs to be able to be recharged quickly.