Best College Laptops In 2021
The best college laptops for students, from budget laptops to workstations
Included in this guide:
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
If you’re a student, you’ll want one of the best college laptops so you can ace your exams then stream TV or play games when it’s time to relax. But with so many choices at so many different prices, it can be homework in itself to find the very best laptops for students.
When you’re buying a laptop for school, make sure it has long battery life and fast CPU performance. You can find a lot of these units on our main best laptops page, which gives you a wide selection of the top notebooks to choose from. And if you prefer to take notes by hand, buy one of the best 2-in-1 laptops. We’ve also ranked the best gaming laptops for those who like to unwind after the coursework is wrapped up. We’re still in a process of reviewing some laptops that could find their way on this list, so be sure to check back in regularly for the latest and great laptops for students.
Whichever laptop you get, you’ll also want to pick up a few extras, such as a comfortable mouse, a well-appointed backpack, and perhaps a . Without further ado, here are the best college laptops, including some budget picks for those dreading tuition payments.
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Best Budget: Samsung Galaxy Book Go
The Galaxy Book Go is Samsung’s latest Windows laptop but comes at a much more affordable price point than some of its others. For those shopping for school or that just want to get the best possible laptop for the lowest price, this is hard to ignore.
It’s an ARM-powered laptop, specifically using Qualcomm’s new 7c Gen 2 CPU for more affordable devices. The added bonus to using an ARM CPU is battery life and near instant-on, and Samsung says you can expect up to 18 hours of battery life from the Galaxy Book Go. Whatever schoolwork needs doing, the Galaxy Book Go will be able to crank it out and keep on going.
Spec-wise there are a few different options, including 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage, and there are also versions with a cellular connection, too. This depends on which region you’re buying in, but both 4G and 5G are options, though the latter, in particular, will certainly boost the price.
But with a really nice-looking 1080p display, a compact, incredibly slim 14-inch form factor, good keyboard and trackpad, and even a microSD card slot, the Galaxy Book Go is a great laptop for going away to college.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon
IBM ThinkPad used to be synonymous with durability when it came to laptops, and Lenovo is working hard to keep the ThinkPad brand on track, especially with their X1 Carbon series. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with a 14 inch 1080p screen with 400 nits of maximum brightness, a 10th generation Intel processor, and either 8GB or 16GB of RAM.
It includes a fast charging battery that can get back to 80% capacity in under an hour and they advertise up to 19.5 hours of battery life in ideal situations. The X1 Carbon comes with the latest wireless connection option with a WiFi 6 card, and has the option to add an LTE-A card so you can connect to cellular data. They keyboard on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is top of the line and if you are typing a lot, youll want to test this keyboard before you decide which laptop you want to purchase and like the LG Gram, the ThinkPad has its MIL-STD-810G certification meaning it is tough!
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First Off: Research Your College
The first, and most important, thing to do is check with your school for specific system requirements. They may have hard-and-fast hardware recommendations.
Some colleges and universities want their students equipped with Windows-based laptops, to cut down on software incompatibility issues or to keep technical support concentrated on one platform. Others don’t care which operating system you use, whether it’s Windows, macOS, or even Linux if you’re a hard-core type. Some institutions have onsite computer repair centers that service only laptops purchased from the university or an affiliated computer store on campus using one of these facilities, the turn-around time will be much quicker than if you were to send it overnight to the original manufacturer.
Hp 2021 Flagship Envy X360
Our Of HP 2021 Flagship Envy x360
This computer is perfect for computer science majors. It comes with a very powerful CPU and an amazing graphics card that will allow you to do any task you need for your courses.
The laptop also has 12GB of RAM, making it perfect for running multiple applications at once. If you are ever in a bind and need more storage space, this computer also has a built-in hard drive.
The computer’s display is also very clear and easy to see, even from a distance. Plus, the touchpad is extremely responsive, making it easy to move around the computer without any problems.
CPU and GPU
This computer comes with an Intel Quad-Core i7-1165G7, which clocks up to a speed of up to a max of 4.7GHz.
The computer’s graphics card is also very impressive, coming with the Intel Iris Xe Graphics. This will allow you to do any computer science task that your professor throws at you.
RAM and Storage
This computer comes with 12GB of RAM, which is perfect for running multiple applications at once. In addition to that, this computer also has a built-in hard drive and a whopping 2 TB of storage space.
This will give you plenty of room to store all of your important coursework and files.
Display and Built Quality
The computer’s display is 13.30 inches diagonal and has an FHD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This display is perfect for viewing from a distance or in direct sunlight.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Ports and Connectivity
Battery Life and Weight
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Is A Laptop The Best Choice For Students
The market itself has answered this question: yes, the vast majority of students use laptops as their primary computing device . The rare student who won’t ever work outside the dorm room might prefer to use a desktop PC or even a high-performance workstation for engineering or architecture majors. Some students, such as artists who are already adept at using touchscreens for creative work, might choose a 2 in 1 that’s both a laptop and a tablet.
The portability of a laptop makes it ideal for everything from classroom note-taking to library research to science field work. Not to mention streaming movies, posting on Facebook, editing photos for Instagram, and all the other important parts of student life! Netbooks and Chromebooks — the more economical, laptop-like devices built mostly for web-surfing and using cloud applications — are even more portable than laptops, but the small screen size and lack of storage limits day-to-day usability for students facing long hours of study.
Best Budget Gaming Laptop For College
- High-refresh display with support for AMD FreeSync
- Potent Ryzen 4000 series processor
- 16GB of RAM in under-$1000 test configuration
- Good battery life and speakers
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Single-color keyboard, versus RGB keyboard of the Alpha 15
- CPU runs hot under load
- Can’t quite match gaming frame rates of GeForce GTX 1660 Ti notebooks
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What To Look For In A Laptop For School
First: Windows on ARM still isnt worth it. Snapdragon laptops may look and feel sleek, offer excellent battery life and built-in cellular radios, but theyre typically quite expensive, especially considering their limited app compatibility and finicky software. Apples M1 MacBooks, on the other hand, are great for almost everyone, barring those who need external GPUs, niche software or more than 16GB of RAM.
Over on the Intel side of things, almost every notebook released this year packs an 11th-generation Core processor. Youll likely be able to find a cheaper version of a product with a 10th-gen chip, and it should still serve you well. And dont forget about AMDs Ryzen chips, either theyre plenty powerful and no longer just for the bargain bin. If you’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of Windows 11 devices, don’t expect to see them before the semester begins. They’re more likely to show up in the fall around Microsoft’s usual hardware event in October.
Fortunately, theres a diverse selection of laptops around, so you should be able to find a suitable one regardless of your preferences. Here are our favorite notebooks for your return to schoolwork.
Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Laptop For College
Dont make the mistake of buying the wrong operating system. Some school programs will specifically require either a Windows or OSX-based laptop for programs like Photoshop and Gimp. If your learning is strictly reading books, writing papers, and taking quizzes, then you might not need the aforementioned operating systems. In that case opt for a Chromebook, especially if all your activities will be Web based.
Another thing to avoid is having too little RAM or hard drive space. A solid laptop for students will have just enough storage capacity and RAM for studying, completing assignments, and play. If your degree program requires a lot of heavy-duty software, find a laptop that has 4GB of RAM or more and a hard drive with 500GB of storage space or more. This will be enough to ensure that any software you throw on your computer runs smoothly without any hiccups. And keep in mind that an SSD hard drive will result in better performance and increase speeds as well, especially start up time.
And never buy at full retails. As a student always be on the look for those student discounts, even if something already seems cheap!
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How To Choose The Best Laptops For Engineering Students
So, what exactly makes for the best laptops for engineering students? Since you’re likely to be running complex programs like AutoCAD, you’re definitely going to need a laptop with enough power to run them.
We recommend a laptop with the latest Intel Core i5 or Core i7 chips, and at the very least, 8GB of RAM though 16GB is even better.
Many of the programs engineering students rely on are also graphically intensive programs especially CAD, MATLAB and Solid Works, which are used for 3D modelling and video rendering. This means that it’s crucial to have a laptop with a dedicated graphics card – rather than an integrated one powered by the processor.
This is why the best gaming laptops are also ideal choices for engineering students, since they offer that kind of graphic power, and the fact that they can handle games for unwinding after classes is just the cherry on top.
A large screen with a high resolution is also advisable, and if you’re going to be working on site a lot, Finally, it would be a fine idea to take a look at some of the rugged or well-built laptops that are built to withstand accidents on work sites.
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Best Lightweight Laptop For College
Display: 14 IPS touchscreen 340-nit | CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 16GB LPDDR4x | Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD | Weight: 2.31 pounds | Size: 12.56″ x 8.15″ x 0.59″
You don’t want anything holding you back when you’re doing your schoolwork or getting from class to class. The Acer Swift 5 is a solid companion in that regard, as it’s got an ultra-lightweight design and thin chassis that make it incredibly easy to tote. But, despite being conveniently compact, it features powerful internals that can keep up with your homework assignments while sipping on the battery for even long days away from the power outlet,
This model offers a Full HD touchscreen with a 340-nit peak brightness that can help you see more clearly even if you’re outdoors. With a quad-core Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor and 16GB of memory, you’ll get a snappy response and can go overboard with the number of tabs you have open in your browser. And, 1TB of storage will let you keep all your schoolwork on the laptop while even providing a little space for casual games, which the Intel Iris Xe Graphics can handle.
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Best Laptop 202: The 15 Laptops We Recommend
There are so many to choose from, so let CNET help you choose the right laptop.
There may be no decision more fraught than buying a new laptop computer. You use this device every day and chances are it’s integral to managing your day-to-day life — tasks like work, school, ordering necessities and paying bills.
To make the decision even more difficult, most laptops look pretty much the same and it takes a deep dive into the details and a thorough understanding of computer specs to understand the difference between models. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we can help.
At CNET our computer experts have spent a combined 60 years testing and reviewing laptops, covering everything from performance to price to battery life, all to help you find and buy the best laptop. We’re here to help you pinpoint the best laptop for your needs. This hand-curated list covers our top picks across various laptop sizes, styles and budgets and those running on Windows, MacOS and Chrome. Microsoft recently released the full version of its Windows 11 operating system and all of the laptops on this list should fully support the new OS.
This list is periodically updated with new models we’ve tested and reviewed. It’s a great place to start to get an idea of what’s available. But if you need advice on whether a particular type of laptop or two-in-one is right for you, jump to our laptop FAQ at the bottom of the list.
What Features Make A Good Laptop For College
Depending on the program of study, there are a few features that cant be overlooked. In general, the best laptops for college should have room for advancement. Before deciding on the best laptop to meet certain needs, make sure all the computer requirements for the program are met. This includes all applications and other programs needed.
You always want to consider the following:
If there is a lot of movement, it is important to determine how easily the laptop can be carried. How light or heavy the laptop is can make a huge difference to whether it is the right purchase for the student.
How well does the laptop perform? For students who have creative arts majors, this is very important. A lot of these programs take up a lot of space, which could slow down the computer. Additionally, purchasing a computer that is slow and cannot handle tasks very well would not be a good idea.
While it would be nice to get a computer with all the bells and whistles, this may not be the case for college students on a budget. The key is in getting all the features needed while staying within a designated price point. That may mean getting another brand that includes everything instead of the more popular brand with limited features at that price point.
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Battery Life: How Long Must It Hold Out
A sizable battery can be your biggest ally on a day filled with classes and extracurricular activities. A few school-oriented laptops come with multiple battery options. Most, though, have only oneand it’s not removable.
In this case, figure out where battery life ranks in the grand scheme of things. If removable batteries are an option , it might be a good idea to get a second one, or a larger “extended” one if available, at the time of purchase. The more “cells” the battery contains within a given model line, the better the battery life, all else being equal.
A big battery can mean some heft, but the weight gain is well worth it if it means leaving the system unplugged from dawn until dusk. This is where our reviews come in especially handy we’ve tested every laptop that passes through our labs for battery runtime with nonstop video playback, so you can get a good idea of relative endurance between models.
Does Storage Matter What Does Ssd Mean
The level of storage you need depends on the tasks you intend your laptop for. Aside from software, which can take up gigabytes in space, storage is needed for files including media — such as television shows or films — music, photos, and documents.
Traditional hard drives are slowly being phased out in preference for solid state drives , which are flash-based, use less energy, and are significantly faster. However, they are also usually more expensive. Alternatively, eMMC storage cards, usually found in Chromebooks, are an embedded form of storage suitable for these light devices due to the hardware’s tiny size.
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Best Buy Customers Often Prefer The Following Products When Searching For Laptops For School Work
A laptop is a great tool for students. It’s portable, so you can take it to class and work on assignments, and it’s powerful enough to handle most schoolwork. Browse the top-ranked list of laptops for school work below along with associated reviews and opinions.
Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars with 3579 reviews
Conduct academic research with this 14-inch HP Chromebook. Its Intel Celeron processor and 4GB of DDR4 RAM let you run multiple browser tabs at once without performance lag, and the 32GB of flash storage provides quick access to files. This HP Chromebook lasts up to 10.75 hours on a single charge, so you can work untethered.See all Chromebooks
Conduct academic research with this 14-inch HP Chromebook. Its Intel Celeron processor and 4GB of DDR4 RAM let you run multiple browser tabs at once without performance lag, and the 32GB of flash storage provides quick access to files. This HP Chromebook lasts up to 10.75 hours on a single charge, so you can work untethered.$218.99Your price for this item is $218.99ClearanceThe regular price is $319.00Check Stores