The best student laptops 2021: all the best options for school and college


A MacBook against a pink background with the words student laptops on it

(Image credit: Future)
PRICE

VERDICT

REASONS TO BUY

REASONS TO AVOID

VERDICT

REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Otherwise, that low-cost portable will be replaced sooner rather than later, and you’ll be forced to pay for a second machine. While most matriculating minds and their parents will gravitate toward the cheapest portables available, a college laptop designed for students must meet a few additional criteria. There are several factors to consider when selecting the best student laptops.

With all of the expenses that college students face, such as tuition, housing, and books, it’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to worry about making another large purchase. That is to say, cost is a significant consideration. Finding the right student notebook requires balancing all of these factors, as well as durability. A laptop for college students, on the other hand, should have enough performance to handle any schoolwork demands, a battery life that can last a day on a single charge, and easy portability, as it will most likely be carried across campus multiple times per day.

But don’t worry, we’re here to assist you. It can be difficult to figure out which computers balance all of these factors. We’ve put a lot of laptops through their paces, so whether you’re looking for a new laptop or an upgrade, we’ve got you covered.


Chromebook
or a laptop for engineeringIn addition, to assist in the search for , you’ll be able to find something that meets your requirements. best student laptop deals Make use of our built-in price comparison tool while you’re out there.

(Image credit: Apple)

1. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Best laptop for students with a flexible budget

Specifications
CPU:
Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics:
Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU
RAM:
8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen:
13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display
Storage:
256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive


+Battery life is great


+Silent in use

Reasons to avoid

Fanless design could impact performance

And the first to receive it is the company’s thinnest and lightest laptop, making it one of the most anticipated Apple laptops in recent years. This is not the cheapest option for students, but it is the best student laptop to get if you have a slightly larger budget. The MacBook Air is better than ever with this new chip, boasting excellent performance alongside brilliant battery life – all while keeping the price (reasonably) low. Apple ended the previous year on a high note, releasing the much-anticipated M1 silicon chip, which has proven to be a game-changer thus far.

Read the full review:

MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Google)

2. Google Pixelbook Go

Google’s best Chromebook for budget consumers

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core m3 – i7
Graphics:
Intel UHD Graphics 615 (300MHz)
RAM:
8GB – 16GB
Screen:
Full HD Display – 4K Ultra HD Molecular Display
Storage:
64GB – 256GB

Reasons to buy

+Incredible battery life


+Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard

Reasons to avoid

No biometric login

It received our coveted “Editor’s Choice” award in the Chromebook category because we love it so much. However, we are confident that you will enjoy this Chromebook as much as we did during our time with it. Have you been waiting for the day when you can finally afford the Google Pixelbook’s premium price? Granted, it’s not quite the high-end gadget you’ve been hoping for. And that’s just the beginning. Your wait is finally over, thanks to Google’s Pixelbook Go. Even in 2021, it has an incredible battery life, an even better keyboard, and a 1080p webcam, which you don’t see very often in more budget-friendly laptops.

Read the full review:

Google Pixelbook Go

(Image credit: HP)

3. HP Chromebook 14

A well-balanced Chromebook

Specifications
CPU:
AMD A4 – A6, Intel Celeron N3350 – N3450
Graphics:
AMD Radeon R4 – R5, Intel HD Graphics 500
RAM:
4GB – 8GB
Screen:
14-inch diagonal HD (1366×768) SVA anti-glare IPS BrightView – FHD (1920×1080)
Storage:
16GB – 64GB eMMC

Reasons to buy

+Excellent keyboard and trackpad


+Chrome OS is responsive


+Crisp, vivid screen

Reasons to avoid

Average battery life

The HP Chromebook 14 may not be as powerful as other Chromebooks, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve that have helped it earn a well-deserved first place on our list of the best laptops for students. A good balance between screen space and portability, as well as a surprisingly good keyboard and a decent trackpad, are among the aces. That’s not even taking into account how bright the display is or how inexpensive it is.

Read the full review:

HP Chromebook 14

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4. Microsoft Surface Go 2

Premium design, more affordable price

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core m3 – Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y 8th Gen Intel Core m3 – Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y
Graphics:
Intel HD Graphics 615
RAM:
4GB – 8GB
Screen:
PixelSense Display 10.5″ 1920 x 1280 (220 PPI)
Storage:
64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD
Connectivity:
Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.0

Reasons to buy

+Premium design


+Affordable


+Can run full Windows 10

Reasons to avoid

No Touch Cover or stylus included


Base model’s specs are weak

Microsoft’s devices are known for their higher prices, which is why the Surface Go line appeals to those on a tight budget. This laptop is a strong contender if you’re looking for the best student laptops. Unfortunately, it suffers from the same problem as the original in terms of being underpowered, especially in the base configuration. It even runs the full Windows 10 operating system, making it even more capable in terms of what applications it can run than other tablets. It does, however, provide a slight performance boost over its predecessor. It’s Microsoft’s most affordable premium tablet, and the Surface Go 2’s reasonable price and premium design keep that tradition going.

Read the full review:

Microsoft Surface Go 2

(Image credit: Acer)

5. Acer Chromebook Spin 311

Versatile little Chromebook for study and play

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Celeron N4000
Graphics:
Intel UHD Graphics 600
RAM:
4GB
Screen:
11.6″ 16:9 IPS touchscreen with HD resolution (1366 x 768)
Storage :
64GB Flash Memory

Reasons to buy

+Great design and build


+Lovely size


+Excellent touch screen and flip mechanism

Reasons to avoid

Dim screen


Massive bezels drastically reduce actual screen size

It also has a keyboard and a touchpad that are both reliable and enjoyable to use. The Acer Chromebook Spin 311, on the other hand, goes above and beyond with its impressive levels of versatility, thanks to its abundance of ports, 2-in-1 design, portable size, and excellent touchscreen display. This all-arounder has everything a good student laptop should have, from a long battery life to a solid build and usability. At this price point, that’s a rare find in a machine. If versatility is important to you, the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is the laptop for you.

Read the full review:

Acer Chromebook Spin 311
 

(Image credit: Acer)

6. Acer Spin 5 (2020)

A fantastic 2-in-1 laptop

Specifications
CPU:
10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics:
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
RAM:
8GB – 16GB
Screen:
Touchscreen display with a 3:2 aspect ratio of 13.5″ (2256 x 1504)
Storage:
256GB – 512GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+Fantastic battery life


+3:2 display perfect for note-taking


+Feature rich stylus included

Reasons to avoid

For 16:9 video, a 3:2 display is not ideal.


Bloatware includes desktop pop-up ads

It also has a 3:2 display and a stylus with a lot of features, which gives it an edge over the competition for students: an easy and seamless note-taking experience. A strong feature set adds a lot of value to a laptop, and if you’re looking for the best laptops for students, that’s something to look for. If you’re one of those people who despises typing notes in class, this old-school method might just persuade you to change your mind. This 2-in-1 laptop is versatile not only because of its form factors and long battery life. The Acer Spin 5 (2020) is a fantastic candidate because of this, as well as its affordability.

Read the full review:

Acer Spin 5 (2020)

(Image credit: Lenovo)

7. Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

A pricey, but nearly perfect Chromebook

Specifications
CPU:
AMD Athlon Gold 3150C – AMD Ryzen 7 3700C
Graphics:
Integrated AMD Radeon
RAM:
4GB – 8GB
Screen:
IPS LED 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
Storage:
32GB eMMC – 256GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+Powerful AMD processor


+Outstanding security features

Reasons to avoid

Expensive


Less than 10-hour battery

Because it is one of the most powerful Chromebooks money can buy in 2021, the Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook is right at the top of our best student laptops list. While you’ll pay more for this kind of power, especially if you want some of the best features that come with the higher-end models, it’ll be well worth it if you’re looking for a Chromebook that will last you for years – at the very least four years of college. The new AMD 3000C-series processors are included, starting with an Athlon 3150C and scaling up to a Ryzen 7 3700C, so you’ll get more processing power out of this Chromebook than many of its competitors. It has the flexibility of a 2-in-1 device that many other Chromebooks lack, and the screen is stunning.

Read the full review:

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

(Image credit: HP)

8. HP Envy x360 15 (2021)

Powerful performance if not the most comfortable

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core i5 – i7 processors AMD Ryzen 5–7 / 11th-generation processors
Graphics:
AMD Radeon / Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM:
8GB – 16GB
Screen:
15.6″ diagonal FHD, IPS, micro-edge, WLED-backlit – 15.6″ diagonal 4K UHD, UWVA, BrightView, AMOLED – 15.6″ diagonal FHD, IPS, micro-edge, WLED-backlit
Storage:
Intel SSD up to 256 GB + Intel Optane memory up to 16 GB

Reasons to buy

+Best-in-class performance


+Exceptional battery life


+Fantastic price

Reasons to avoid

Tablet mode a bit unwieldy


No docked stylus

It’s not the most comfortable tablet, but even the most expensive contenders aren’t perfect, so it’s easy to overlook this flaw. Its large number of ports makes it even more appealing, especially if you have a few peripherals in your collection. In fact, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you won’t find a better 2-in-1 for the money, making it one of the best student laptops on the market right now. The HP Envy x360 15 (2021) is a 2-in-1 laptop that combines impressive CPU and GPU power with an elegant yet robust design, a stunning display, and exceptional battery life – all for an unbelievable price.

Read the full review:

HP Envy x360 15 (2021)

(Image credit: Lenovo)

9. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6

The perfect 2-in-1 laptop

Specifications
CPU:
11th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics:
Intel Xe Plus
RAM:
8GB – 16GB
Screen:
IPS touchscreen, 14-inch, 1920 x 1200p, 400 nit
Storage:
256GB – 512GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+Fantastic 16:10 display


+Outstanding performance with excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

Rather plain design for an expensive laptop

Thanks to the latest generation Intel processors, Intel Xe graphics, and Evo certification, it’s also a powerful laptop. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 offers a slew of advantages to students willing to pay the hefty price tag. It not only has a fantastic 16:10 screen and a garaged stylus that you can use in all of its forms – it’s a 2-in-1 hybrid notebook – but it also has a number of security features to keep your work safe. The X1 is a stellar machine that will keep up with just about anyone. It may not be the most exciting looking laptop out there, and the price tag may deter some students, but it is otherwise a stellar machine that will keep up with just about anyone. It also has a long enough battery life to keep you going all day without needing to charge it.

Read the full review:

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6

(Image credit: Apple)

10. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Apple’s teeny-tiny MacBook Pro gets a major upgrade.

Specifications
CPU:
Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics:
Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM:
8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen:
LED-backlit Retina display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels.
Storage:
256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D):
1.56 cm x 30.41 cm x 21.24 cm

Reasons to buy

+Huge battery life


+Great performance


+Can run iOS apps

Reasons to avoid

Still lacks ports

Its performance is so good that it can handle 4K – and even 8K – videos with ease, which is fantastic news for film students. This is the best student laptop money can buy if you’re looking for a powerful laptop that’s also small and light. The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may not have received a major design update, but it more than makes up for it in terms of performance and battery life. The new MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers excellent performance and battery life thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip.

Read the full review:

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

How we test student laptops

We understand that purchasing a new laptop is a significant financial commitment. That is why we take our jobs seriously and thoroughly test each laptop we recommend on this list. This is especially true when it comes to laptops for college students.

Because the webcam and microphone in a laptop are so important, especially these days, we spend time testing them as well. We also consider their appearance, such as how fashionable they are, whether they are thin and light enough to carry around, and how comfortable they are to work on. That process entails using them in our daily lives to see how long their batteries last, how durable they are – college students, after all, have hectic lives – and how cool they remain under duress.

To determine how powerful (or not) these laptops are, we use a combination of real-world tests and synthetic benchmarks. This entails running various apps on Windows 10 (or Chrome OS on Chromebooks and macOS on MacBooks) and observing how quickly they load, noting any issues.

Because battery life is important, we’ll keep track of how long we can use the laptop before charging it. These tests give us a good idea of how long these laptops’ batteries will last. We also ran our own battery life benchmark, which loops a 1080p movie until the battery dies, as well as the PC Mark 10 battery life benchmark, which simulates real-world usage like web browsing and document creation.

When everything is said and done, we compare everything we’ve learned about the laptop to its price to see if it provides the best value to students.