School can get expensive really fast: books, tuition and accommodation – not to mention student laptops – add up quickly. However, the silver lining is that there are many incredible student laptops out there that could save you hundreds of dollars. In fact, the best laptops for students are budget-friendly devices that exude style and power that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
When you’re spending all your money on textbooks and ramen, saving up for a new laptop can be hard. Therefore, the prime candidates for a student laptop will put value above having the top-of-the-line processors and graphics cards. You won’t have to limit yourself to Windows 10, either as the best Chromebooks can go head-to-head with some of the best laptops, which means you can get all your work done without spending a fortune.
Going to school can be a stressful time, we know, but that’s why you should ensure that you have an excellent laptop. You don’t need to add the pressure of running around campus with a dying laptop to your plate. That’s why we went ahead and sought out the best student laptops you can afford with your budget: no one should be limited to an ancient relic just to get some work done, but you shouldn’t have to sell a kidney, either.
Here at TechRadar, we love it when a laptop can expertly blend price and performance without any compromises, and the Huawei MateBook 13 comes closer to hitting that perfect balance than anything in 2019 so far. Thin, light, quick and affordable, this beautiful 13-inch Ultrabook will let you get all your work done in style, without breaking the bank. The battery life is underwhelming, but that’s a pain-free sacrifice to make with a simple fix – just carry the charger around with you.
Read the full review: Huawei MateBook 13
Dell’s flagship laptop has always ranked among the best laptops – for college students and professionals as well as casual, everyday users. But, the Dell XPS 13 2019 brings back the entry-level model, making it more inexpensive for college students again. Plus, Dell managed to fix our biggest issue with the XPS lineup – the webcam. The manufacturer has moved the webcam up to the top of the display, where it belongs, so your friends and colleagues don’t have to stare up your nose when you’re in a video call.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
The Surface Laptop was already one of the best laptops for students, but it was held back by below average performance and a lack of ports. Plus, it was equipped with Windows 10 in S Mode. The Surface Laptop 2 greatly improves on the predecessor, however – except for the port situation. It’s now packed with 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors, full-fat Windows 10 Home and a black color option. We wish it had even a single USB-C port, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll be able to get all your tasks done in style with this laptop.
Read the full review: Surface Laptop 2
When you’re looking for a laptop for school, you should aim for a beautiful balance between price and performance – and a dollop of style can’t hurt. The Microsoft Surface Go, then, isn’t just one of the best Windows tablets, but it may just be one of the most ideal laptops for students, especially from a value perspective. Don’t be fooled by the low-power components, either – Microsoft has engineered this tablet to keep up with all your general schoolwork without breaking a sweat.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Go
The Dell XPS 15 has consistently made it to our list of best laptops for college students for a few years now, and Dell has taken that old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach here. Not much has changed since the 2017 model, but that’s not a bad thing. What you’re getting here is an Ultrabook that isn’t just reliable; it also has enough power to get you through pretty much any workload. The best part? The Dell XPS 15 doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. While the entry level should be just fine for most users, you can configure this thing with up to an Intel Core i9 processor and 32GB of RAM, upgrading the Dell XPS 15 into an extremely powerful workstation. We just wish Dell would move that webcam.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 15
When you’re looking for a laptop for school, you don’t need some bougie affair from Apple that looks like something out of a designer catalog. You need a laptop that’s going to get the job done. And, the Acer Swift 5 should be near the top of your list. This affordable Ultrabook is packed with the latest 8th-generation Intel processors as well as enough RAM and SSD storage to get you through pretty much any assignment. It’s not the most good-looking laptop in the world, but it’s hard to argue with that price.
Read the full review: Acer Swift 5
The Microsoft Surface lineup has made a reputation for itself for being among the best Windows devices out there – stunning touch screens, impressive performance and long-lasting battery life. The Surface Pro 6 carries on this tradition, even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. What you’re getting here is a speedy Windows tablet that can effortlessly turn into a laptop through the Surface Type Cover. You can get your work done and then effortlessly transition into break time.
Read the full review: Surface Pro 6
If you’re a student that’s on the market for a laptop that will let you do all your research and type up papers, and nothing else, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 is going to be right up your alley. Most schoolwork that’s not specialized (i.e. engineering) can be done on a Chromebook while saving hundreds of dollars. The Dell Chromebook 11 2-in-1 won’t be able to do much heavy lifting, but at under $300, it doesn’t need to. This is the best laptop for students that need to save a few bucks.
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1
We were left waiting for Apple to renew the MacBook Air for years, as it declined in quality with a 5th-generation Intel Core processor and an out of date, low-resolution display. Thankfully, those days are over. Apple has ushered the MacBook Air into the modern age, with 8th-generation fanless processors, a thinner and lighter design, and perhaps most importantly – a Retina display. No more will you be forced to compromise on modern features if you want an “affordable Mac,” which makes the MacBook Air one of the best laptops for college students.
Read the full review: MacBook Air
If you have the means to splurge, and you’re a macOS addict (we get it), the 2018 MacBook Pro is the most powerful MacBook that’s ever existed. With its formidable hexa-core processors and up to a whopping 32GB of memory, this Cupertino powerhouse will get you through whatever you throw at it. It also includes an overhauled third generation Butterfly keyboard that will not only be less distracting to the students around you, but will be less prone to failure if some dust comes within 10 feet.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 15-inch (2018)
- Want more choices? Check out our list of the best laptop 2019
- Images Credit: TechRadar
Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.