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Best laptop for college students

Which laptop for college students is best?

Choosing the laptop that will last you through four years or more of college is no easy decision. Any college student needs a reliable laptop that meets their needs, is easy to carry and has a dependable battery.

Not all laptops have the same capabilities or are suited for the same purposes. There’s also the question of operating system, which can be crucial if you need to work with specific programs. If you’re always on the go, consider laptops with a small and lightweight form factor and long battery life. A fast processor and decent RAM are excellent to have, but they usually come with a higher price tag. If you just need a machine for writing papers and web browsing, you can save money by avoiding more powerful machines.

Top pick Asus VivoBook is easy to use and has an excellent processor.

What to know before you buy a laptop for college students

Operating system

  • Microsoft Windows is the most common choice and can be found on a range of laptops.

  • OS X is specific to Apple laptops, which tend to be more expensive. OS X is fairly reliable and a popular option among music and art students.

  • Chrome OS is more of a browser than an operating system, but it’s a good option for students who just need a computer for writing papers and web browsing.

  • Linux comes in a few varieties because it’s an open-source operating system. Though it’s simple to use, it can require more programming know-how.

Processing power

The CPU determines the overall speed of your computer, with the Intel i7 being the best available. Similarly, more RAM storage allows you to multitask without slowing down your computer.


If battery life is important to you, look for models that boast ten or more hours of continuous use.

Size and weight

For a laptop for college that you can bring anywhere, look for designs that are compact and lightweight. Anything under three pounds should be fairly easy to slip in a backpack.

What to look for in a quality laptop for college students

  • Security: There’s a risk of theft on any college campus, so a fingerprint scanner is good to have for added security.
  • Screen: A touchscreen is also useful, particularly in laptops that can also be used as a tablet. However, this is an added feature that you won’t want to pay for if you don’t absolutely need it.

How much you can expect to spend on a laptop for college students

Laptops that cost $199-$499 tend to offer less processing power and slower speed than more expensive models, and while they can be serviceable, there’s a greater risk of sluggishness or other issues. For $500-$999, you’ll find computers that meet the needs of most and offer competitive features and speeds. Laptops that cost $1,000-$1,500 pack the most power and the latest processors for a range of tasks. One of these will last you for years.

Best laptop for college students FAQ

How important is storage space?

A. That depends on what you’re using your laptop for. If you’re just writing papers, 16GB will suffice. If you need to store large images and movies, you’ll need a bigger hard drive.

What programs come on laptops right out of the box?

A. That depends on the brand and operating system. Microsoft Office is not usually included, though some laptops might come with a discount for a subscription.

What's the best laptop for college students to buy?

Top laptop for college students

Asus VivoBook

What you need to know: This is a laptop with a fast processor and comfortable design.

What you'll love: If you’re looking for a computer with a great processor and easy-to-use design, this is an excellent option. The ergonomic keyboard allows for hours of comfortable typing.

What you should consider: It can take some time to start up.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top laptop for the money

Dell Inspiron 15 5000

What you need to know: If you’re looking for a low-priced yet powerful laptop, this is a great option.

What you'll love: Despite its small size, this is a mighty laptop comparable to more expensive models. It is only 2.6 pounds and has touch-screen capability.

What you should consider: Resolution is limited at 1920 x 1080p.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Lenovo Flex 5

What you need to know: This touch-screen laptop has a number of uses and capabilities.

What you'll love: A versatile touchscreen laptop, it has the ability to be used as a tablet or propped upright for easy viewing. It has an impressive 10-hour battery life and a fingerprint reader for added security.

What you should consider: At 4.4 pounds, it’s a bit heavy for carrying all day.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Peter McPherson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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