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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How Much Memory Do I Need In A Laptop For College
Regardless of what you’re using the machine for, you should see 8GB as pretty much the minimum for a Windows 10 laptop . If you can only grab 4GB that will just about work, although you will sacrifice performance and responsiveness as you’ll be caching out to the SSD/hard drive even for fairly mundane tasks. The good news is that memory pricing is in a really good place right now, which means that even on sub-$400 budget machines 8GB of RAM isn’t out of the question.
If you’re looking for a laptop for serious work, then 16GB will give you room to breath, and will also help performance. That should equate to a dual-channel memory configuration laptops are notorious for only using one stick of RAM, which hinders performanceso always try and get two sticks if possible.
One thing to note is that memory has traditionally been an area where laptop manufacturers have been able to upsell, charging $100 or so for an 8GB stick that would actually set you back just $30 if you bought and upgraded it yourself .
An Overall Powerful Large Laptop For Study And Entertainment
Specifications: Display: 15.6-inch Full HD, touchscreen | AMD Ryzen 5 | Memory: 8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | AMD Radeon Graphics | Webcam: 720p | Windows 11 Home | Color: Black
The HP Envy 2-in-1 laptop is a robust laptop with a large screen that would suit any student heading to college this year. Featuring powerful specifications, a high-quality display, and voice assistant technology built-in, this offering by HP is the sort of machine that can be used at a desk as a general workhorse, even if the programs you need to use are resource-intensive.
There is also a useful, in-built shutter for covering your camera if you don’t want to be on-screen during study calls or meetings, and as a hybrid PC, this laptop can also be used as a tablet.
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Don’t Sweat The Storage
Once upon a time, the rule for buying a computer — any computer — was “buy the largest hard drive you can afford.” These days, it’s usually preferable to choose speed over size. That means forgoing the 1TB traditional hard drive in favor of a smaller-capacity solid-state drive , which will make even a lower-end laptop run at a faster clip while at the same time helping extend battery life.
OK, but can you really get by on, say, 256GB of storage, or even 128GB? That’s what you’re likely to find in a lot of the more affordable laptop models. But remember, we’re living in a cloud-powered world: Most students stream their music and movies from services like Spotify and Netflix, and therefore don’t need a ton of local storage for media. Documents consume very little space, and will likely be housed on Google Drive or Office Online anyway.
The Dell Xps 13 Has All The Hallmarks Of An Excellent Laptop: Strong Performance A Lightweight And Striking Design A Comfortable Keyboard And A Gorgeous Display
- Screen: 13.4-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 non-touch ~ 3,840 x 2400 touch
- Processor: 11th-gen Intel Core i5 ~ Intel Core i7
- Operating system: Windows 10 Home
- Memory and storage: 8GB ~ 16GB of RAM, 256GB ~2TB storage
Pros: Excellent design, attractive screen, long battery life, good performance
Cons: Webcam could be better
Dell’s flagship laptop has always stood out for its eye-catching design, nearly borderless screen, and solid performance. That’s still true in 2021 with the newest version of the Dell XPS 13, which runs on Intel’s 11th-generation processors and now offers the option for an OLED display. The cheapest model is currently on sale for $783.99 through Dell, which is a great price for a laptop of this caliber.
The XPS 13’s design is a big part of what makes it a great choice for college students in particular. It starts at just 2.6 pounds, making it even lighter than the MacBook Air. Since there are barely any borders framing its screen, Dell was able to cram a 13-inch screen in what’s essentially the size of an 11-inch laptop. That could be useful for college students in need of a portable laptop that will fit in almost any bag.
The XPS 13 also has one of the most comfortable keyboards I’ve ever typed on, a perk students will appreciate when writing long papers or taking notes in class.
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Internet Access And Printing Services
Cornell has a wireless network that covers most of the campus, including AAP’s buildings, so network access is easily obtainable. Cornell also offers network-based printing services for a small fee per page. AAP has numerous Net-Print printers throughout its buildings however, printing in a student’s dorm room may require a personal printer.
Best Small Laptop For College
- Comfortable keyboard and touch pad
- Multiple color options
- Attractive styling and excellent build quality
- USB Type-A port
- No face recognition camera or keyboard backlighting
- Internal storage tops out at 256GB
- Middling audio quality
For students, a laptop is as essential as textbooks and a school IDand not just for taking notes and doing homework. It should also be able to handle your big extracurricular activities: keeping up with your social networks, streaming movies, listening to music, posting photos, gaming, video chatting with the ‘rents back home.
Laptops are more essential now than ever, as many colleges and universities implement a mix of in-person and remote learning to as part of their responses to the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re learning from home a few days a week and heading to campus the rest of the time, a laptop you can use wherever you are is essential.
A laptop for college students also needs to respect your budget while lasting for the long haul, preferably through four years of undergrad and maybe a year of grad work. Lucky for you, we have a bunch of recommended models that fit that description perfectlyand since most of them are below $1,000, they won’t drain your savings account in a big way .
Here are the basics you should keep in mind while looking for a laptop for college.
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See Whether Your School Offers Any Discounts Or Programs
Given the essential role technology plays in modern education, many colleges now provide inexpensive or free laptops for college students. Some schools may include laptops in the cost of tuition, while others may offer them completely free of charge. Certain colleges may also lease laptops to students for the duration of their program, with some allowing learners to keep their laptops after graduation.
Not all colleges provide laptops, so check with the admissions departments to determine what type of technology accommodations your school offers.
How To Buy The Best Laptop For College
We’re entering the back to school season right now, which means that there are loads of great deals to be had, particularly when it comes to bagging the best laptop for college. It’s not uncommon to see hundreds of dollars cut off the price tags of big name brands, and if you know what you’re looking for, then real deals can be had.
You’ll find bargain laptops straight from the manufacturers, such as Lenovo, HP, Dell, Asus, Acer etc, as well as from the retailers, Amazon, Newegg, B& H Photo, etc. Where you buy them doesn’t make much difference, although once you’ve settled on a machine, it’s worth checking around to see that you’ve got the best price.
You really need to know what you’re looking for though, and so the first question you have to ask yourself is nothing to do with the hardware, but rather what are you going to use the laptop for? This will frame everything about the machine going forward.
Is it for work? Returning to school? Sat at a cramped desk? Is it purely going to be for work, or will you be relaxing with it as well? How about streaming movies and TV shows? Mainly web browsing? Definitely gaming, right? The lists can go on, but it’s important to frame what it’s prime use is going to be from the onset, so that you can focus on the things that matter and don’t feel like you’re missing out later on down the line.
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Which Laptop Cpu Do I Need
Most $1,000 ultraportables use Intels Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs, or, less commonly, AMDs Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 CPUs. All of these offer plenty of power for everyday computing tasks, but keep in mind that higher CPU model numbers typically indicate more processor cores, higher maximum clock speeds, and sometimes even multithreading. With multithreading, each CPU core can run two sets of software instructions simultaneously, instead of just one. Modern software is designed to take advantage of as many CPU cores as possible, so it can run faster on multithreaded chips.
Meanwhile, budget laptops typically use AMDs A-series or Ryzen 3 processors, or Intels Celeron, Core i3, or Pentium silicon. These typically have just two or four individual cores. At the other end of the spectrum, high-end powerhouse laptops have Intels Core i9 or workstation-class Xeon CPUs, with as many as eight cores.
Regardless of which CPU a laptop has, its typically designed to use less power and generate less heat than its desktop counterpart. Intel laptop CPUs in the latest mainstream, lightweight laptops typically consume 15 watts of power or less, compared with 45 watts or more for their desktop equivalents.
Gaming laptops typically feature higher-powered CPUs, usually denoted by an “H” in the CPU’s model name. These require more cooling hardware and consume more energy, but they offer performance that’s closer to that of a desktop PC. Youll find H-series CPUs from both AMD and Intel.
The Best Laptops For College In 2021
Finding the best laptop for college students is no easy task. In addition to offering snappy performance for note-taking and applications, the machines need to be highly portable and reasonably priced. Using our best laptop picks, we rounded up six machines that are great for college students.
We have two top recommendations depending on the operating system you prefer. The Asus ZenBook 13 is a highly portable machine with capable last-gen parts, and the Apple MacBook Air M1 showcases the best Apple has to offer at a decent price.
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Storage Solutions In Laptops: Ssds Are Tops
With the increasing prevalence of cloud storage and web applications, having plentiful local storage space is somewhat less vital now than it used to be, but you should still make sure that your laptop meets your needs. If you plan to install a lot of programs or want to hang on to lots of large media files, you’ll need 500GB of space or more. If you don’t foresee needing all that local storage, or are content with leaving a lot of your work online, you can get by with a laptop with less space.
Whichever way you go, remember that storage affects speed, too. If you go with a hard drive because you get more storage for less money, know that it will be noticeably slower than a snappy-feeling solid-state drive . The higher cost and lower capacity of a faster SSD is a trade-off that some students are willing to make. We strongly recommend SSDs for laptops that are carried around campus a lot, since the SSDs are impervious to drop damage. Plus, they are a lot faster than hard drives and give a laptop a much snappier perceived feel.
The good news is that by plugging an external hard drive or external SSD into one of your laptop’s USB ports, you can add more space whenever you need it. Although you probably won’t have to do this unless you’re a video junkie or an aspiring filmmaker, it’s a good option to have.
Best Laptops For College
Your laptop is going to be your best friend in college. No matter what you are studying, youre going to be spending a lot of one-on-one time with it, writing papers, doing homework, taking online classes, and watching Netflix. A quality notebook is an essential college purchase, and not one that you want to rush into without doing some research first. The laptop market is inundated, and while there are plenty of high quality options out there for you to choose from, theres also a lot of junk and a lot of pricey junk, at that. If youre jumping into your first big laptop purchase, you might be feeling understandably lost. After all, trying to understand hardware specs can give you a migraine if you dont know what youre looking for.
Fortunately, TUN is here to guide you through your laptop shopping experience. Weve put together a detailed buying guide catered specifically to the needs of students, with all the information you will need to make the right purchase and a list of our favorite laptops for every type of student consumer.
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The Best Laptops For College Students
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Were all contending with a return to normalcy, and going back to school likely feels strange yet exciting. Whether youre heading to a physical campus, taking classes online or a mix of both, a laptop is sure to be the control center for your studies.
And things have changed quite a bit over the last year or so. Weve seen the introduction of Apples M1-powered MacBooks, while Microsoft recently unveiled Windows 11. With ARM-based computers teasing a future where the line between mobile and desktop computing is blurry, and Windows 11 working to bridge that gap by supporting Android apps, the laptop market is the most exciting its been in years.
But that might lead to more questions for shoppers. What should you look out for if you want an ARM-based PC? Will they run Windows 11 when that update is available? What are some key specs you should add to your must-have list this year? We compiled this guide to help you make the right choice, alongside a list of this years best laptops.
Acer Chromebook Spin 713
If youre considering saving a few hundred bucks by opting for Chrome OS, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 might be the right choice. Sure, there are cheaper Chromebooks out there, but its one of few machines with a 3:2 aspect ratio and has a utilitarian design that makes it perfect for butterfingers.
That price also gets you an 11th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and sturdy 360-degree hinge so you can set it up in a variety of modes. The 13.5-inch screen is also more pixel-dense than most 1080p displays of the same size. Though the Spin 713 only clocked about 8 hours on our battery test, thats enough to get you through a work day. If $700 feels too expensive for a Chromebook, you could also wait till it inevitably goes on sale to save a bit more. There are sleeker, more powerful Chromebooks available, but Acers Spin 713 offers a good mix of performance and a modern screen for the money.
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Best Macbook In : Which Apple Laptop Is Best
BySean Rileypublished 7 December 21
From the MacBook Pro to the MacBook Air, we’ll help find the best MacBook for your needs
Included in this guide:
We now recommend every MacBook in Apple’s arsenal, however, major differences between each model mean there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option. At the end of last year, Apple released a new MacBook Air and entry-level MacBook Pro with a custom ARM-based M1 chip, the company’s first in-house SoC . The processor brought massive performance and battery life improvements to Apple’s least expensive laptops, pushing them ahead of their pricier MacBook Pro comrades and even some top Windows 10 rivals.
This year Apple’s higher-end MacBook Pros got the same treatment with the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro now featuring the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chip options. Once again these laptops have received universally positive reviews with a balance of performance and battery life that is almost unmatched by any other laptop on the market.
Our MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro face-off will also help you decide which system is right for you, and our Apple Warranty Check instructions will tell you when your AppleCare+ plan expires. You should also read our macOS Big Sur review to determine whether a Mac is right for you in the first place.
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