Based on more than 400 hours of analysis and testing in the vicinity of several laptops over the past few years, we think the Apple MacBook Air is still one of the best laptops for college students. The laptop offers the most benefit from its price. It has stable performance, especially the battery life, which lasts for as long as every laptop we’ve researched in the past few years. It is slim and light, and the fantastic backlit keyboard is comfortable and flexible.
Best Laptops For College Students
Our list of Best Laptops For College Students for university and graduate students, but they will work for people in high school.
Apple MacBook Air
The latest MacBook Air is just a small update from its redesigned predecessor, but it’s still the best Apple student laptop. The new 13.3-inch system is $100 cheaper than last year’s model, and the display now features Apple’s True Tone technology. Along with the sharp, 2560 x 1600-pixel display, the MacBook Air features powerful speakers and a thin, lightweight, fully recycled aluminum chassis. Currently, this is the best option for those who want one of the best laptops for college students. Read more about this laptop in our Apple MacBook Air Review
HP Envy 13 2021
The best laptop for students is now better than ever. Revamped with a new design and a Thunderbolt 4 port, the new HP Envy 13 is the best laptop under $1,000 for students or anyone who needs a portable machine with plenty of power and long battery life (11:15 on the FHD model).
With even slimmer bezels and faster performance, the 2021 model shows it can hang with much pricier flagship models. Combine these features with a slim body, a bright and vibrant 1080p display, and plenty of performance from an 11th generation Core i5 CPU, and it’s easy to see why the Envy 13 is the best college laptop for students. And frankly, given that this is a budget laptop compared to many of the others on this list, the Envy 13 is a great choice.
Apple MacBook Air M1
If you prefer macOS to Windows 10, go for the Apple MacBook Air. The biggest improvement to this year’s model is the new M1 chip, which delivers outstanding performance and battery life, making the new MacBook Air the fastest ultra-thin laptop ever. Best of all, the MacBook Air still costs just $999, and yet you can count on unparalleled performance combined with a battery life of 14 hours and 41 minutes. This is a combination you’ll only find on the very best Windows 10 laptops, and even those can’t compete in head-to-head performance.
So why buy the MacBook Air instead of the Pro? Although the Pro has better sustained performance, the MacBook Air is cheaper and it’s mouse quiet because it doesn’t have a fan. And of course, Apple’s cheapest 13.3-inch model is the most portable, at just 0.6 inches thick and weighing 2.8 pounds.
But now, slower than ever, the MacBook Air is on par with the MacBook Pro. It has a similar speed and battery life, the same 720p webcam, a comfortable Magic keyboard, and two USB-C ports. Also, the 13.3-inch Retina display with 2560 x 1600 pixels on the M1 model has been improved with P3 color coverage, making it more vibrant than the previous panel. Overall, this is one of the best laptops for college students.
Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 is a serious workhorse and the best premium laptop for college students. Powered by an 11th generation Intel Core i7 processor with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, the notebook is ready for work or play. And with a battery life of more than 11 hours, you’ll have plenty of time for both. The laptop consistently performed better or on par with competing systems.
But rest assured, the XPS 13 is as beautiful as it is powerful. The company has managed to create a laptop that is smaller and lighter than previous models. Despite the smaller size, Dell has added some major changes, including a larger trackpad and keyboard. Plus, you get a 13.4-inch, nearly-bezel-less screen on each side — the first in the world to do so.
It’s an exercise in patient restraint, improving the notebook in a bunch of small ways that add up to a big jump for the system. If you’re looking for the total package, the Dell XPS 13 is the laptop for you. Overall, this is one of the best laptops for college students.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, M1
This is the big leap forward we’ve been waiting for. It’s all thanks to the new M1 chip, Apple’s first-ever custom SoC for laptops. With the best power-per-watt performance of any processor, the M1 takes MacBook Pro performance and battery life to the next level. More specifically, the MacBook Pro is more powerful than almost any PC on the market, including some workstations. And despite cramming so much power into such a slim and sleek enclosure, the Pro lasted a whopping 16 hours and 32 minutes during our battery test, which is a real-world simulation.
With an image processing unit, the webcam (still 720p, unfortunately) is better than before, and since it runs on Apple’s ARM architecture, iPad and iPhone apps are now available on the Mac. Yes, you can now run all your favorite iOS games and apps on your laptop. The many improvements in the latest MacBook Pro are complemented by Big Sur, the latest version of macOS. Big Sur, the biggest update since OS X hit the market a decade ago, is a stunning redesign of the desktop operating system. Overall, this is one of the best laptops for college students.
HP Envy x360 13
The HP Envy x360 13 is the best laptop for under $1,000 and one of the best Ultrabooks on the market. While it doesn’t come with a stylus (just like the Surface Pro), the Envy is a 2-in-1, allowing you to flip it to tent or tablet mode. What makes this such a fantastic value is the all-aluminum design and Herculian AMD Ryzen processors.
During our testing, we found that an Envy x360 13 with a Ryzen 5 4500U CPU outperformed laptops with 10th generation Intel chips. This particular Envy costs only $800 and can outperform laptops costing well over $1,000, including the exorbitant MacBook Pro. In addition, the Envy x360 13 has a bright, vibrant 13.3-inch display and a comfortable keyboard.
Lenovo Yoga C940
With the Yoga C940, Lenovo took a proven formula and refined it. Subtle design improvements, extended battery life (up to 11:46), and revamped 10th generation Intel processors make the Yoga C940 a worthy successor to last year’s outstanding Yoga C930. As you’d expect from a Yoga series laptop, the C940 has a premium, ultra-portable chassis and a unique hinge that also serves as a soundbar speaker. As a 2-in-1, that hinge can rotate 360 degrees to turn the Yoga C940 into a real tablet. When it comes to viewing content, the Yoga C940’s 1080p and 4K displays are clear, vibrant and vibrant — beware, the UHD display takes the battery out of sight. Overall, this is one of the best laptops for college students. Read our complete Lenovo Yoga C940 Review
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
The Asus ZenBook UX333FA is a beautiful, premium laptop that offers fast performance at a reasonable price. For just $849, you get an Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and integrated UHD 620 graphics — only the Envy 13 can compete with this value. But perhaps the best reason to buy the ZenBook UX333FA is because of its excellent 11+ hours battery life. Combine that exceptional endurance with a sleek aluminum chassis, and it’s easy to see why the ZenBook is one of the best laptops for college students. Check out more in our Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review
Dell XPS 13
The best portable laptop as a whole, the Late 2019 XPS 13 is identical to the previous model, but now has 10th generation processors. These chips, especially the 6-core Core i7 CPU, offer a significant performance increase over 8th Gen processors. There are so many reasons why the XPS 13 is a great laptop for students, but the price can be a problem for some.
If you can spend one, the 4K model we tested has a beautiful 13.3-inch InfinityEdge screen – with virtually no edges. Also, the ‘nose cam’ webcam isn’t, because Dell engineers managed to place it at the top edge of the notebook, which is still super thin. If you want long battery life, opt for the 1080p model since the 4K version took just under 8 hours on a charge, which is decent as a below-average result. Read our Dell XPS 13 Review
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an aspiring director of a Fortune 500 company, the X1 Carbon lets you live in luxury. The 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon is ready for the boardroom with a vibrant 1080p or 2K display (with an optional HDR option), an incredibly slim body, and one of the best keyboards you can get on any laptop. The 8th Gen Intel Core CPU is sturdy and lasts more than 11 hours on a charge. Overall, this is one of the best laptops for college students. Read more in our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review
Acer Aspire 5
Acer’s Aspire 5 is the ultimate budget laptop. For less than $400, you get a sleek design, a bright 1080p display, and fast performance. Best of all, the Aspire 5 charges for 8 hours and 51 minutes, which means you should have no trouble getting it to class or working without a charger. The specs you get for the price are second-to-nothing, from the large 15.6-inch display to 128GB of fast SSD storage. And with an aluminum design that weighs 3.8 pounds, the Aspire 5 is both premium and relatively portable. Read more in our Acer Aspire 5 Review
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
The few changes that have been made to the latter model are sufficient to elevate it above the previous versions. First of all, the clamshell device has been updated with 10th generation Intel CPUs, which provide faster computing and graphics performance. The Surface Laptop 3 also comes in an all-metal chassis with new color options (similar to what the 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 offers), and the new USB-C port is a feature we’ve been looking forward to for a long time.
We’re still hoping for a Thunderbolt 3 port and thinner display rings, and Microsoft’s blatant pricing structure calls into question the value of Surface Laptop 3. Still, the 13.5-inch clamshell is one of the best laptops for college students, business users, or anyone who wants a sleek, high-quality system. Read more in our Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Review
Dell XPS 15
Like its smaller sibling, the great XPS 13, Dell’s XPS 15 features a nearly bezel-less InfinityEdge display, but it is better for long hours of work because of its larger screen. It has the dual benefit of bringing whatever you’re doing on the stunning 15-inch 4K display, while also being the size of a 14-inch laptop. It’s bag-friendly to boot and comes packaged in terms of specifications, including an Nvidia GTX 960M mobile graphics card which is fleshy enough to handle just about any game as long as you stick to 1080p.
The battery life of the XPS 15 is its main weakness, so do not expect its runtimes to extend to double digits without taking a booster pack for the ride. Even if you go against that, it’s still one of the best laptops for college students out there. Read our Dell XPS 15 Review
The Best Laptops For College Students