Choosing a laptop for collegeis a significant decision that is heavily influenced by your budget and daily requirements. “It really depends on what you plan to do with your laptop and your major,” says Sue Tiger, the manager of Tech Zone at the University of IllinoisBecause most students will use their computers to surf the web, take notes, respond to emails, and attend class, “There are only a few colleges that have specific recommendations: architecture requires a very high-end PC, and education may require a medium-sized, mid-range Macbook Pro.” Zoom classes, and use word processors like Word or Google Docs, most midrange laptops — or possibly even a desktop computer — will suffice. good Chromebook Simply look for something rugged, advises Charlie Regan, CEO of — is going to suffice. Nerds on Site“You’re going to spill stuff on it,” says the narrator. You’re going to forget about it.” ..
This isn’t to say that “You could be out of luck” if you have a Mac and your campus only supports Windows, she warns. Before making a purchase, Tiger recommends double-checking what systems are in use on your campus. your laptop is unusable, but you might have to jump through some additional hoops to get access to applications for specific classes or even printing on campus.
The following are their suggestions. Tiger, Regan, and seven other computer repair and tech experts answered our questions about the best machines for different types of students.
Alan Zilberman can be reached at To keep up with demand, Nerds on Site is ordering a hundred Chromebooks at a time, according to Regan. “It’s a working computer, but it’s missing a few bells and whistles. “It’s a fantastic deal, and we haven’t had much in the way of breakdown,” he says. Laptop MD It’s also quick to charge and has an eight-hour battery life. “The magnesium body makes it very durable and robust,” he adds. The laptop is “easy to carry,” according to the manufacturer, weighing 2.3 pounds.
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This Samsung option appeals to Zilberman, who describes it as “a great device that is well-rounded and appropriate for any student.” It’s slender and light.” Tony Larson, an IT professional, says, “Chromebooks represent a pretty solid value.”
Our Verge colleagues dubbed the XPS 13 the “Best Laptop You Can Buy“The Dell XPS 13 two-in-one is my pick for a premium laptop that’s perfect for a few years of college,” says the author. ,” and it was well received by many of our experts. Austin EvansIt will even enable you to perform a The most recent XPS 13 redesign resulted in a more compact machine, but it still has a 13.4-inch touch screen with a taller 16:10 aspect ratio, giving it a little more screen real estate. , a YouTuber who specializes in technology. littleThe XPS 13 is almost entirely made of aluminum, which Zilberman claims makes it “extremely durable and able to withstand drops and scratches.” He says he does a little gaming. “Plus, the keyboard is built to last.”
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Miguel Melendez, a PC expert at B&H Photo VideoThe Air also has the advantage of being one of the lightest options available. “I find that most people these days will use cloud services because they are convenient and give you access to all of your data from any device.” The 8GB of RAM in the Air, according to Melendez, is ideal for “students who like to have a lot of tabs open at the same time,” as well as those who need to edit photos or videos. “The M1 chip is extremely capable, and it has performed admirably for any type of user,” he claims. “It’s really everything a student would need, regardless of what they’re studying. “If this is going to be your daily device, most people will appreciate lighter laptops,” he says. The 256GB of storage is also sufficient. “I’ve seen it many times where people get a laptop that is too heavy and have to buy a new one soon after, because with all the books or other items they may need to carry, two or three extra pounds make a big difference.” , recommends the latest MacBook Air model, which features Apple’s own M1 processor. Jason Snell, host of the tech podcast UpgradeBecause of its dependable operating system, updated scissor-style keyboard, and great hardware, Zilberman also recommends it. He also likes that it’s “light, slim, and easy to carry.” He bought one for his own daughter as she returned to college last year. , a fan of the Air, is also a fan of the Air.
“I always advise people to start with a 13-inch MacBook Pro,” says the author. Tyler Stalman, a photographer and tech podcaster, of the laptop that has become the de facto creator’s laptop. The Pro has a bright screen, 256GB of storage or more, a smooth trackpad, and a battery life of up to ten hours. He even throws them on the floor from time to time to demonstrate their toughness to his customers. Apple laptops are Regan’s favorite because of their durability. “I enjoy taking photos and making movies, so the extra power and port you get over the MacBook Air is always worth the upgrade,” Stalman says.
Due to its outstanding internals and unmatched reliability compared to all other devices of this type, it’s ideal for practically any laborious task or application.” “The Mac 16-inch is your best bet if you want more power and a bigger screen and can deal with a heavier machine,” Tiger says. It can run a variety of operating systems, including MacOS and Windows, giving you a lot of options when it comes to running specific applications. According to Zilberman, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is his personal favorite “because of its ability to outperform most laptops or tablets on the market today.” “The weight and size of this device are its only drawbacks. So, for the most part, keep it on your desk,” Zilberman advises.
“The 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 starts at $1,299 for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, putting it on par with the MacBook Pro. entry-level MacBook Pro, but with a bigger screen,” says Verge writer Monica ChinIt also has a battery life of 10 hours and 52 minutes. Students will also appreciate the Surface’s speaker and webcam quality, according to Chin, because they’ll be listening to music and making video calls even if they’re not completely remote. .. “The speakers, which now support Dolby Atmos 9, sound quite clear, with good volume and audible (though not booming) bass and percussion.” “The dual far-field microphones had no trouble picking up my voice,” she says, adding that the Surface has a good picture. Chin discovered that the Surface 4 can export video nearly 12 times faster than its predecessor, the Surface Laptop 3, and that its battery lasts nearly 11 hours in her testing.
It runs on the EVO platform, which, according to him, “was built with rigorous standards to keep up with today’s fast pace,” making it ideal for all types of college students. “With built-in Intel Wi-Fi 6, this computer gives you a quick start, long battery life, and nearly 3x faster internet thanks to the 11th generation Intel Core platform with Iris Xe graphics.” The LG Gram comes highly recommended by Keith McCord, Adorama’s Consumer Electronics category manager. It’s also tough: “This laptop passed seven military-grade durability tests, including shock, dust, and temperature,” according to McCord.
“This machine will do exactly what you need it to do, and it will do it quickly,” McCord says. This computer is designed to perform.” And, given how quickly media and information change, he claims the G5 is built to last. It can go above 60 frames per second in games like The G5 is marketed as a midrange gaming laptop for kids, but McCord says, “Parents, don’t be afraid of the gaming label.” “It comes with an Intel i5 processor, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, and a stunning display,” according to the company, which is powered by an all-new budget-friendly RTX 3050 graphics card. Call of Duty: Warzone and Minecraft.
“The only disadvantage is that it is not particularly light,” Zilberman says. Most students should be able to get through their coursework with the 14-inch screen and 8GB of RAM. This two-in-one laptop appeals to Zilberman because it “is cost-effective, with a touch screen, 256GB solid-state drive, and a durable body.”
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“It comes with Office Home & Student,” he explains, “which is typically something most students will need to purchase.” With a bright 15-inch screen, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage, the Ideapad is a tank. And, thanks to the large storage capacity, you won’t have to worry about filling up your hard drive with documents, photos, or videos. This makes it ideal for multitasking, allowing you to edit photos while also working on documents. Melendez also enjoys the Ideapad, which he rates highly.
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Snell recommends the iPad if you want something even more portable than a Chromebook. Google Docs and other programs can now be run on Safari on iPads with relative ease. He believes that some students could get by with an iPad Air and a good case, such as the Logitech Combo Touch, and an Apple Pencil. Additionally, “Apple is releasing new iPad software this fall that improves pencil input, particularly for note-taking.”
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Experts’ Picks for the Best Laptops for College Students