9 Laptops For College-Bound Students That Can Handle All Your Coursework


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Dave Johnson

Forbes Staff


Forbes Vetted

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I’m a senior editor at Forbes, where I cover all things technology.

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Forbes Vetted

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Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

I’m a technology journalist and author based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.

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The best laptops for college students are stylish, long-lasting, and capable of handling any task. … [+] assignment.


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Whether it’s for taking notes, writing essays, creating 3D models, conducting late-night research sessions, or simply unwinding with Netflix at the end of a long day of studying, the laptop has you covered. A decent laptop is the most important tool for a modern student. best laptops can make the experience more efficient and enjoyable for college students.



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However, different studies necessitate different hardware. If you want to do some architectural design work, you’ll need something with a large screen, such as the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15If you only need something to take a few notes and watch instructional videos, a budget Chromebook like the Acer Aspire One is a good choice. .. Asus Chromebook Flip C434could be a better match. Here’s a list of the best laptops for college students to buy in 2021, no matter what kind of laptop you want or how much money you have.

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Best Overall Laptop

Dell Inspiron 14

Dell

Dell Inspiron 14 – 2021 refresh



For several years, the Dell Inspiron 14 has been one of the best laptops for students, and with its refresh in 2021, it just got better. With Intel Tiger Lake-H CPUs, there are now a variety of options, including the excellently capable 11300H in this model. When you’re done studying, it’s equipped with powerful Xe graphics for some impressive entry-level gaming performance.

Built-in Thunderbolt 4 ports, a single USB-A 3.2 port, an HDMI video output, and a headphone jack make this a versatile laptop for connecting all kinds of external devices and accessories. It also has a decent webcam and Wi-Fi 6 support, allowing it to connect to the internet at the fastest possible speeds.

It only has 8GB of RAM and no dedicated GPU for extra gaming power, but at just over $500, it’s an absolute steal for a full-fat Windows experience with a powerful, new-generation quad-core CPU. Although there are more powerful laptops available, at up to a third off, it’s difficult to pass up this model.



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Best 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop

HP Pavilion 14 360

Amazon

11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 HP Pavilion x360 14″ Touchscreen Laptop



When it comes to getting ready for the fall semester, your first instinct may be to grab a laptop, but times are changing, and tablets are becoming a more viable option. There’s even an intermediate mode, where you can “tent” the laptop and use it to give group presentations or binge-watch Netflix in your spare time. But why should one choose one over the other? Convertible 2-in-1 laptops are a great compromise, allowing you to use it as a laptop but then flip it around to use it as a tablet when you need a touchscreen device.

The HP Pavilion x360 14 is an excellent choice for students looking for a low-cost, capable laptop that also functions as a beautiful tablet. That isn’t particularly powerful or cutting-edge, but it provides adequate power and storage for the average workstation and allows you to store a few movies, games, or large projects without difficulty. It has an Intel 11th-generation processor with Xe graphics onboard, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of high-speed SSD storage.

It has two USB-A ports and one USB-C port, as well as an HDMI port for projecting your work onto a bigger screen and an SD card slot for reading media cards. In both laptop and tablet mode, the 1080p screen works as a touchscreen, and you can use a stylus.

Consider the if you want a more powerful 2-in-1.

HP Envy x360 instead

It is, however, a much larger purchase at a price that is more than 50% higher. .. It’s a much more capable machine, with an eight-core processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage.

Best Budget Mac

Apple MacBook Air 13

Best Buy

Apple M1 chip, 8GB memory, 256GB SSD MacBook Air 13.3″ Laptop



The introduction of Apple’s M1 chip made a big splash, and it’s turned the MacBook Air into an absolute powerhouse of a machine that’s more than capable of being the perfect right-hand gadget for any student. It’s inexpensive, powerful, and beautiful to look at. The MacBook Air is one of the best laptops you can buy if you or a loved one are fans of Apple’s ecosystem or MacOS-specific applications.

It’s a fantastic laptop for any student — especially if they’re an Apple fan — with a stunning display, amazing build quality, long battery life, and 256GB or high-speed storage. The MacBook Air may not be as portable as today’s lightest laptops, but it’s still the most travel-friendly of the modern MacBook lineup, and it’s almost as powerful as the high-end MacBook Pro thanks to the new M1 processor.

If you can afford it, avoid the older models because they’re no match for this incredible machine. Even better, the prices are constantly decreasing. This model is well under $1,000, making it an excellent choice for those on a tighter budget.

Best Laptop for Creatives

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15

Asus

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED Multi-Touch Laptop (Celestial Blue) 15.6″ ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED Multi-Touch Laptop (Celestial Blue)



You’ll need something a little more powerful than the average student laptop for creative work like video editing, 3D design, architecture, music production, and other related disciplines. Why not have two of them? A capable processor, a powerful GPU to handle all the 3D calculations, and a stunning, high-resolution display to display it all are all required.

The Asus Pro Duo 15 has two gorgeous OLED displays, giving you some of the best color clarity and contrast of any laptop on the market, while also allowing for a plethora of touchscreen controls at your fingertips. It is equipped with a top-tier 10th-generation Intel CPU and an Nvidia RTX 3070 to power this slew of pixels.

This is a stunning laptop regardless of what you plan to do with it, but the second screen provides artists, designers, and editors with some incredible touchscreen options. The GPU is monstrously powerful, and while the CPU isn’t cutting-edge, it has eight cores, 16 threads, and plenty of thermal headroom to keep a high clock speed no matter what task you throw at it.

Best Budget Chromebook

Asus Chromebook Flip C434

Amazon

Asus Chromebook Flip C434



It has a 64GB hard drive and is powered by an Intel Core m3 processor. But it’s the 14-inch screen that steals the show. There are certainly less expensive Chromebooks available, but even if you’re on a budget, it’s a good idea to weigh price against features, build quality, and overall specifications. The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is an excellent low-cost Chromebook in these areas. Despite the fact that the laptop is sized like a 13-inch device, it has a touchscreen and a full HD display. By making the screen bezel so small, Asus is able to fit it into a smaller footprint.

This is a 2-in-1 convertible, like the HP Pavilion x360; you can use it as a laptop or flip the screen around to use it as a tablet. It’s also very portable, weighing only three pounds and measuring only 0.6 inches thick, and it feels natural in any mode.

If you’re not tech-savvy, a Chromebook is a good choice if your coursework can be completed in Google Drive or other online apps. This method has a number of advantages, including a laptop that is nearly immune to viruses and malware, is simple to maintain, and turns on instantly. This laptop, like all Chromebooks, runs Chrome OS, which means you can only use online apps and services; unlike Windows and Macs, you can’t install programs on the desktop.

Best Premium Chromebook

Google Pixelbook Go i5

Amazon

Google Pixelbook Go i5 Chromebook



The good news is that Chromebooks start at a low price point, allowing you to upgrade to a more expensive model without breaking the bank. The Google Pixelbook Go i5 is the best premium Chromebook you can buy, and it’s made by the company that invented the Chromebook in the first place. So you’re intrigued by the simplicity of a Chromebook and want to use one in class this fall, but you don’t want to be slowed down by poor performance?

Even so, at only two pounds, it’s a featherweight. This laptop has been upgraded on the inside. It has an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage (which may be insufficient for Windows or Mac, but is more than enough for Chrome).

This is a traditional clamshell laptop with a full HD 13.3-inch touchscreen display, not a convertible. There are two USB-C ports for connectivity, as well as a backlit keyboard for easier typing in dim environments. That elevates the concept of an “all-day battery” to new heights. The battery life, which is about 15 hours, is perhaps the best news of all. A 20-minute quick charge can give you about two hours of runtime if it’s running low.

Best Budget Windows Laptop

Lenovo Flex 5 14

Amazon

Lenovo Flex 5 14″ 2-in-1 Laptop



This is especially important in light of the previous year’s push toward ecosystems like Microsoft’s Teams for scheduling and video calling with friends, tutors, and family members who live far away. Windows laptops aren’t as cheap as Chromebooks, but they do provide better performance and the full Windows experience, including access to all of the important software found on larger laptops and desktop PCs. Budgeting

The Lenovo Flex 5 14 is an excellent example of a capable budget laptop, with nearly all of the features you’d expect from a modern machine. It’s powered by an AMD Ryzen 4500U processor with onboard Vega graphics for some entry-level gaming performance. The 1080p screen isn’t particularly bright, but the resolution is crisp and clear, and the contrast is adequate for most tasks.

It feels snappy and responsive in everyday use, with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, and plenty of room to store all kinds of projects and even a movie or two. Because this is a 2-in-1, you can flip the Flex 5’s screen over and use it as a tablet to do some drawing, take handwritten notes, or control apps that require a touchscreen.

Best Premium Windows Laptop

Dell XPS 13

Amazon

Dell XPS 13 7390



For years, and still today, the Dell XPS 13 has been one of the best laptops for anyone. It has a lightweight chassis, excellent battery life, a sturdy frame, and powerful internal hardware, making it a one-of-a-kind all-rounder. It looks great, is simple to use, and the webcam is even back on the top!

The XPS 13 9310 features a powerful quad-core Intel Core i7-1185G7 Tiger Lake processor, 16GB of high-speed memory, and a half-terabyte of fast SSD storage in this 2021 version. There aren’t any research or office tasks that the CPU can’t handle, and the onboard graphics are more than capable for entry-level 3D work and basic gaming.

It is not inexpensive, but you get a lot of value for your money. This screen appears much larger than it is, thanks to the InfinityEdge tiny bezels, making this 13-inch laptop one of the best for any student working on larger projects. This laptop’s display is also quite impressive. It’s 1080p, but it’s extremely bright (up to 500 nits) and has excellent contrast.

Best for Gaming After Class

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

Amazon

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Gaming Laptop



Gaming laptops can also be disguised as college laptops. The Asus ROG Zephyrus may not stand out among a sea of MacBooks, but it hides a powerful secret beneath its serene exterior. You can take advantage of that as well, thanks to the 144Hz refresh rate 1080p display on this gaming laptop. It combines an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor with an Nvidia RTX 3060 Max-Q graphics chip for incredible gaming performance in most modern games and Esports titles.

It’s super portable, with a 0.7-inch thickness and a weight of only 3.6 pounds. It also has a decent battery life, allowing you to game for 5-6 hours before needing to charge. If you want even more gaming power, the new-generation consoles are the way to go. However, unlike many of its contemporaries, this laptop isn’t as large and bulky. Razer Blade laptops are an excellent alternative, but they are more expensive and easily identifiable as a gaming machine.

I’m a senior editor at Forbes, and I’m currently based in Los Angeles, despite having started out in New Jersey. After college, I joined the Air Force and worked as a pilot.

I’m a senior editor at Forbes, and I’m currently based in Los Angeles, despite having started out in New Jersey. After college, I joined the Air Force and worked as a satellite operator, a space operations instructor, and a space launch planner.

I’ve photographed wolves in their natural habitat as a photographer; I’ve also worked as a scuba instructor and co-hosted several podcasts, including Battlestar Recaptica and Rick and Dave Control the Universe. After that, I worked for Microsoft for eight years as a content lead on the Windows team.

Before joining the Forbes Vetted team, I contributed to sites like CNET, PC World, and Business Insider. I’ve written nearly three dozen books on photography, mobile technology, and other topics, as well as an interactive storybook for kids.

Before going freelance, I ran my own PC hardware review website for several years. I’m a tech journalist based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.

Even if I can’t always afford it, I’m passionate about all the cutting-edge hardware inside and out the latest gadgets, PCs, and consoles. I’m a tech journalist based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Before transitioning to freelance writing, I ran my own PC hardware review website for several years. I’ve written about everything from the rise of Bitcoin to the expansion of anti-privacy legislation, as well as tabletop wargaming and virtual reality advancements. Digital Trends, Lifewire, PCGamer, The Inquirer, and KitGuru are just a few of the publications for which I’ve written, authored, edited, and copywritten. In addition, I’ve written two novels and contributed backstory and dialogue to a few video games.