Screen Size Weight And Battery Life
The first choice you’ll face is three-fold: picking the laptop’s screen size and, with that, its weight and battery life . For most students, screen size and weight will be the determining factors, especially where electrical outlets are easy to find. For others, who might anticipate lots of travel or remote study locations, the need for lighter weight or longer battery life might outweigh the value of a bigger display.
Make A List Of Your Needs That Includes:
How youll use the laptop for college
Features that are most important to you, such as: mobility, performance, battery life, video, storage, and screen size
What price point suits your budget?
Information about discounts provided by your college or university
Whether you’re heading off to college yourself or trying to help your favorite student, searching for and finding the best laptop for college may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, this is an open-book test and we can help you find the right answers.
The very first thing to consider when shopping for a new college laptop is how youll use it now and in the future. With technology advancing rapidly year after year, it’s a good idea to consider a laptop that can handle new applications and programs. This is called “futureproofing” your purchase or buying a PC that has headroom for more advanced technology yet to be introduced.
Ask yourself these questionsyour answers will help narrow your choices.
- What programs or applications are requirements for your classes?
- What field or major are you interested in?
- Do you play video games, or do you want to get into gaming?
- Do you use video to chat with friends or family?
- Do you enjoy creating your own contentvideos, podcasts, etc.?
Form FactorsToday’s laptops are a far cry from the thick, bulky machines of the last two decades. In fact, the traditional clamshell laptop design is now joined by other types of designs and form factors.
Who Should Buy A Laptop For College
Of course, you dont have to be straight out of high school to be in the market for a new college laptop. Whether youre unpacking your bags in a dorm away from home for the first time or returning after a long hiatus to finish up your masters degree, buying a fresh laptop before classes start in the fall is always a solid investment.
What classes you plan on taking, as well as the degree youre pursuing should have an impact on the best college laptop you eventually choose to go with. If you need something sleek and powerful that can turn on instantly for rapid-fire notetaking, the Dell XPS 13 or Zenbook UX360AC should suit the job just fine. But, if youre worried about spending a ton of cash on the best college laptop that not might last more than a few months without getting beer spilled in the keyboard, the HP Stream 13 and Acer C201 are cheaper, durable options that can weather any alcohol-related storm.
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Hp Envy 14 Performance
On our Geekbench 5.3 overall performance test, the HP Envy 14 scored 4,761, flying over the average premium laptop . However, the Acer Book RSs Core i5-1135G7 , the Lenovo Yoga 9is Core i7-1185G7 and the Dell XPS 15s Core i7-10750H all did much better.
The HP Envy 14 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in just 13 minutes and 20 seconds on our HandBrake benchmark, which not only surpassed the category average , but also the Acer Book RS and Lenovo Yoga 9i . However, the Envy was no match for the Dell XPS 15 .
HPs 256GB SSD had a measly transfer rate of 305 megabytes per second, which is nearly half of the average premium laptops speed . It did win over the Dell XPS 15 , but it couldnt keep pace with the Acer Book RS and Lenovo Yoga 9i .
What Is The Best College Laptop
We feel strongly about the Envy 13 and the Envy x360 13 as the best laptops for college students. Not everyone is on a budget, but most folks will want to save as much money as possible so they can pay off student loans. If you’re in this group, the Envy 13 and Envy x360 13 deliver premium specs and features at a reasonable, sub-$1,000 price.
The Envy 13 might be a mid-range notebook but it looks and feels like a more premium machine. The Envy also delivers fast performance from 11th Gen Intel CPUs, it has a great screen, and it’s portable enough to carry around campus. Then there’s the Envy 13 x360, which has all of those traits in a convertible chassis and is assisted by AMD’s powerful new Ryzen 4000 CPUs. Need a larger screen? The HP Envy 14, as the name suggests, is essentially a 14-inch version of the Envy 13.
Apple fans who prefer macOS should opt for the new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. The fanless MacBook Air with M1 is a good choice for those on a budget but the 13-inch MacBook Pro delivers longer battery life and sustained performance. If you don’t have a budget, consider the 16-inch MacBook Pro or the Dell XPS 15. You could also go big on the Dell XPS 17, the best 17-inch laptop around.
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What’s The Difference Between A Chromebook And A Windows Or Mac Laptop
While premium — and more expensive — Chromebooks are available, these lightweight models are generally considered more budget-friendly alternatives to traditional Windows or macOS devices.
Chromebooks operate on Google’s Chrome operating system and are more app-focused than designed to run traditional software. These laptops are used for basic browsing, studies, and entertainment, but if you have particular software use in mind, you must check for available support before you invest in a Chromebook. However, it is possible to also use virtualization software to circumvent such limitations.
We Test Laptops More Thoroughly Than Anyone Else
Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations, and because Which? is independent and does not accept advertising or freebies , you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about a product.
When testing laptops in the Which? test lab we monitor, measure and test more than 260 different criteria to ensure that we have every base covered. Everything from battery life and screen brightness to button dimensions and USB data transfer rate is considered.
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Why Should You Care About Processing Power Memory Or Graphics Cards
As software continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, more resources are demanded. A processor manages the input/output of your laptop’s circuits and generally speaking, the more high-end the processor, the quicker your device will run — and will perform when it comes to applications that require high levels of processing power.
Memory, or random-access memory , is short-term storage that ‘remembers’ what activities are happening on a laptop. The more memory, the more responsive a device will be and the more a laptop can handle before risking lags, slowness, or response delays.
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.
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Keeping It Light: Why Weight Matters
Not every student will agree, but depending on how far you’ll haul it every day, a big-screen notebook may not be such a good idea.
It’s nice to have a mini home theater in your dorm room or play the latest games in big-screen 1080p glory, but a 5-pound-plus laptop with a 15-inch or 17-inch screen will be a chore to haul across campus while you’re running from class to class. You’re better off with something that’s light: If screen size matters less to you than convenience, a super-thin ultraportable might be the way to go.
For most people, a maximum 13- or 14-inch widescreen panel is ideal, as it will make room for other items in your backpack and minimize the weight burden. Depending on your tolerance level, a smaller display works as long as you understand that full web pages and productivity applications will involve more scrolling, and fonts will appear smaller than they do on larger screens, assuming the same resolution and zoom level.
Essays, research papers, and chatting online with your classmates will take up most of your computing time, so a full-size keyboard and a comfortable touchpad are crucial. Also know: When you venture smaller than a 13-inch-class laptop, you run the risk of not getting the same typing experience. The easiest way to ensure that you have the best keyboard is to stop by a brick-and-mortar store and spend some time typing on prospective choices of different size classes.
What About Windows 10 S Mode
You won’t run across Windows 10 S Mode in your shopping travels too often, but it’s good to know what it is, since it’s most often encountered in education environs and budget laptops.
Microsoft’s student-centric version of its operating system is a locked-down version of Windows 10, aimed at preventing malware from being inadvertently downloaded. It’s compatible with any app in the Windows Store, but it doesn’t allow third-party Windows programs unless you convert your laptop to full Windows 10 Home or Pro. You can easily switch to the full version of Windows 10 for free using the Microsoft Store, but you won’t be able to go back to S Mode once you convert. Also, this version of the OS supports only the Edge browser.
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How To Organize Your Study Notes
Regardless of the program youre in, all college majors require you to work with an abundance of information. Paper notes are mostly inconvenient and irritating, so having the best MacBook for college is a really sound idea. But you need a proper all-in-one solution.
takes a new approach to note-taking, by creating flashcards to optimize your learning and organize your textbook storage system at the same time. This app is perfect for students who want to save time on scribbling notes and keep them organized easily search through the MarginNotes smart system, and access any material on the go. MarginNote saves all your entries in one place and allows access from any Apple device, whether its a Mac for students or an iPhone.
To start using MarginNote:
Import a book
Now you can start reading and annotating as you go
Best Overall: Hp Spectre X360 14
The latest revision of the HP Spectre x360 is a striking-looking machine that’s sure to turn heads, and it has room inside its svelte frame for a Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of SSD storage. Throw in a superb precision trackpad and a fantastic keyboard, and the Spectre x360 is a laptop you want to use again and again.
Additionally, the x360 is a convertible, something which many others in the Ultrabook space are not. That means you can get your hands all over that gorgeous display with the touchscreen, or make it more comfortable to enjoy some post-class movies in tablet or stand mode. It also uses Intel’s new Iris Plus integrated graphics, which, while far from gaming-grade, can still handle some light titles or tasks like video editing with relative comfort.
The x360 is a laptop that excels across the board. It combines power with a stunning design and a terrific typing experience and with a sprinkling of excellent battery life thanks to the sizeable 66Wh powerplant inside. It’s a PC a college student shouldn’t leave home without.
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The Surface Distilled To Its Essence
The Surface Laptop Go boils down the best Surface features down into a smaller, wallet-friendlier package. That recipe has enormous appeal right now, as many people require capable laptops to work from home but are also concerned about their budgets in this rocky economic climate. Since the Surface Laptop Go is more capable than the Surface Go 2, especially when it comes to computing power, its a better choice for most budget-minders eyeing a Microsoft device. The clamshell design will also be a lot more pleasant to type on than the Surface Go 2 and its snap-on/snap-off keyboard.
That said, you can find other potentially better budget-friendly options out there. We especially like the Editors-Choice-winning IdeaPad Flex 5 for its extraordinary blend of value and computing power. Meanwhile, if you can spend just $300 or so more than the asking price of the Surface Laptop Go configuration reviewed here, you can consider a cornucopia of excellent midrange ultraportables, including the 13-inch Surface Laptop 3 and the lowest-end MacBook Air.
Common Sight On College Campuses
Specifications: Display: 13.3-inch | Processor: Intel 8th gen i5 | Memory: 8-16GB | Storage: 256/512GB SSD | Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 | Webcam: 720p | Ports: 2 Thunderbolt | Colors: Silver, Space Gray | Custom options available
MacBook Pros are a common sight on college campuses across the West. They are expensive — especially, arguably, given the specifications on offer — but they are solid workhorses and will last throughout a college career.
The 13-inch model is most suitable for college students as it is a powerful machine but still small enough to travel with easily, as well as fit on pull-out tables in lecture hall seats.
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The Final Word On The Best Laptops For College
Choosing one of the best student laptops for college can be a daunting task, but if you arm yourself with a solid list of requirements, it doesnt have to be overwhelming. A smaller model allows for easier portability, while a 2-in-1 can enhance versatility. What is the best laptop to buy? The answer might differ from student to student, but thankfully for those on a budget, the best-rated laptops arent necessarily the most expensive.
Finding The Best Laptops For College
One of the most important things to ask yourself when embarking on your hunt for the best laptop for college might be this: What is your preferred operating system: Windows, Chrome, or Mac OS? Windows is flexible and runs on a larger number of laptops. Chrome offers more apps, games, and offline functions. Macs, meanwhile, have better security and advanced technology, but MacBooks are pricey and do not have touch screens. Be sure the operating system you settle on offers everything youll need for your classwork.
Another thing to think about when looking at good laptops for school is whether you want a 2-in-1 model that can function as both a laptop and a tablet. Size will matter, too. Students who will be carrying around their laptops a lot might want to go smaller. That said, portability might mean sacrificing a first-rate gaming experience as well as the ability to use the laptop for complicated design projects.
Other key things to look for are the types of ports incorporated into the design, storage capacity, and screen resolution. Also, look into whether the laptop has 4G LTE or 5G supportjust in case you need to access the internet when youre away from a router, like during a long lecture. Student laptop deals will make the purchase easier on the wallet. But when it comes to battery life, longer is better. Dont settle for anything that wont last at least seven hours when not connected to a power source.
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Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15
For creative work like video editing, 3D design, architecture, music production or similar disciplines, you need something a little more powerful than the average laptop for students. You need a capable processor, a powerful GPU to handle all the 3D calculations, and a gorgeous, high-resolution display to show it all on. Or how about two of them?
The Asus Pro Duo 15 features not just one gorgeous OLED display, but two, giving you some of the best color clarity and contrast of any laptop out there, whilst also opening up the potential for heaps of touchscreen controls, right at your fingertips. To power this bevy of pixels, it comes equipped with a top-tier 10th-generation Intel CPU, and pairs it with an Nvidia RTX 3070.
The GPU there is monstrously powerful, and though the CPU isn’t quite cutting edge, it has eight cores with 16 threads and more than enough thermal headroom to maintain a high clock speed whatever task you throw at it. This is a stunning laptop no matter what you want to do with it, but the second screen gives it some amazing touchscreen options for artists, designers and editors alike.