Every college student needs a laptop and that too a good one. But budget becomes an obstacle for most students. However, budget should not restraint you from buying a best laptop for college. Obviously, if you spend a hefty sum, you will get yourself a great laptop, but at the same time you can find some budget laptops as well.
Speaking of budget, you should not think too low, anything above $500 is good. So, in this round-up we have listed 10 best laptops for college students. You will come across some powerful laptops and some of these are budget friendly but good for your day to day college use. Good Luck!
Best Laptop for College 2020 (Quick Nav):
- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
- Dell XPS 13
- Asus ZenBook 14
- Huawei MateBook X Pro
- Acer Swift 7
- Razer Blade 13
- LG Gram 13
- Microsoft Surface Pro
- Lenovo Yoga 730
- Acer Aspire 5 Slim
Also Read: How to Upgrade Your Laptop
What is the best laptop for college?
Before jumping straight to the reviews, get to know these factors mentioned below. This way you will be able to get yourself a best laptop for college 2020. Because in your college days, study is not the only thing you do. You will be doing a lot on your laptop, you might carry it on a trip or you might use for watching a movie with your group. For all this, you laptop needs to be efficient in many ways. Here is how to choose the best laptop for college.
When a student is buying a laptop, budget is one important thing to know about in advance. You may have been saving bucks for weeks or months now and so, you should get the right thing. If you plan to buy a powerful beast which will accompany you for many years to come and will stay with you in all ups and downs, then you should think about spending anywhere above $1500. But if this is not the case, then you will have to check on what your needs really are.
If your field of study involves work which is task intensive, say for example you are a student of software engineering and your daily tasks include running heavy software and IDEs then you will need to stay between $800 to $1200 bucks. Because for this type of workload, you need good performance alongside nice battery backup which means more money. However, if you are a business student and all you do is play with data using tools like SPSS or Quickbooks then you do not need to spend a lot. All you need in this case is a higher RAM like 8GB and good storage space, spending somewhere between $600 to $800 will get you a nice machine.
When in college, your laptop needs to be lightweight and portable rather bulky. You need to check the thickness and weight of the laptop you are about to buy. Ultrabooks are the most portable type of laptops and some of them are very powerful, but they are always expensive. So, in order to keep the portability factor at place, do not buy a laptop which is above 4 lbs. Anything above this limit will make problems when you carry it in your backpack.
More, the size of your laptop also plays a role here. If you go for 17 inches laptop, it will make issues. You should stick with 13 or 15 inches laptops, this size is very easy to carry and use anywhere in your lap or outside in the college lawn.
Any best laptop for student does not necessarily needs to be a powerhouse unless you also use it for playing games. Recommended specs would be a 7th or 8th Gen Core i5 processor, around 8GB of RAM and a 256 to 512GB SSD. As for the GPU, an integrated GPU will do good but you can go for a dedicated graphics card if your work involves using graphic intensive tools like Photoshop or other video editing software. But ponder that a dedicated GPU will take up the cost of the laptop.
Most laptops these days come with an FHD display which is (1920 x 1080) resolution. This resolution is suitable for all types of work, even watching a movie. However, if you really want to switch towards a better resolution, that would be a good idea as well. But you should not think about going for a 4k laptop because it is useless these days, but will be a handy thing in the years to come. So for now, sticking to 1080p or 1440p resolution is a good thing.
I/O ports are as important as everything mentioned above. You need to have 3 or more USB ports, an HDMI or DisplayPort for secondary display connectivity and a Type-C as well. You may not get a Type-C ports in old or cheap laptops, it’s just not there. But it’s a very important connection port to have these days.
Finally, battery life is super important for a best laptop for students. Spending more will get you better battery life, but this is not what happens every time. Because, if your laptop has high-end components under the hood then your battery will drain quickly. As a student, anything ranging from 6 to 10 hours will be a nice battery time. Surprisingly, even good budget laptops have a battery time at this level which is a nice thing to know if you do not want to spend a very big amount.
Best Laptops for College Students
1. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
Surface Laptop and Surface Laptop 2 were two of the most successful computers in Microsoft’s Laptops Lineup. They still are, but the Surface Laptop 3 was released in Oct 2020 and it has something new to it. In a look, you may think it’s same as the previous one. But it actually has lots of differences, although the design is kept same. The have changed the way you connect other devices to your laptop and there is a 15 inch variant powered by AMD processor also available now. More, it is lightweight and more portable compared to what the previous surface laptops were.
Speaking of the design, the 15 inch variant has some magic going around. It weighs 3.4 lbs which is stunning and is 0.6 inches thick only, similar to its predecessor the Surface Laptop 2. More, the overall design, aesthetics and colors you get are simply good. One could use such a laptop anywhere, college or a business meeting. As always, you do not get a wide range of selection for I/O. All you get is a USB-A, USB-C and your regular headphones jack. Since Type-C is becoming a thing now, you won’t be needing other ports most of the time. And if you need any, you could just go for adapter cables.
Under the hood of the 15 inches variant lies AMD Ryzen 7 or you could also go for AMD Ryzen 5. It’s a new combination for Microsoft and AMD together and it must be useful, otherwise Microsoft would have turned to Intel as it did for the 13 inches variant. This CPU along-with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD makes one nice configuration for any sort of task you would put onto it. Speaking of the display, it is crisp and comes with a resolution of 2496 x 1664 which is odd for conventional laptops. But Microsoft always does this with their devices, the display is not too wide like other laptops and so becomes useful for work tasks like reading a PDF or viewing some website. Finally, the battery of it goes a bit above 8 hours which is good but could have been better because there are competitors in market with better battery life.
2. Dell XPS 13
Both, Dell XPS 13 and XPS 15 have been people’s favorite for a couple of years now. They truly depict what a Dell laptop stands for and what it can do. And is aimed at consumers who what their laptop to be the best at everything. It is ultraportable, rocks an amazing display and is a performance beast too. What brings it to be the best laptop for a college student is the combination of things mentioned above. It won’t let you down in many ways, especially if you are a development student and your work involves running heavy software on your system.
Under the hood, lies an 8th Gen Core i7-8565U along with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. This is pretty much all you will be needing for your college tasks. Speaking of the design, it weighs 2.7 lbs only which makes it an ultraportable laptop. More, the thickness here is 0.5 inches only which again gives it a touch of the modern laptops. More, you can get it in white or silver color both of which look stunning to the eye. Also, another design feature which was a problem with previous models was the pop out camera. This time, the pop out has been removed and is brought back to where normally the webcam rests.
This laptop here is housed with an FHD display and it has one amazing view. The details are good, so is the brightness and its colors. For sound, you may not like the speakers of it, although they make loud sound but the details in them are not what you can expect to help you in a big conference room for a meeting. Interestingly enough, this laptop pushes the limits and gives you a battery life of 12 hours and 30 minutes which is insane. You don’t normally get such a battery life in most high-end laptops.
3. Asus ZenBook 14 Screenpad 2.0
Asus Zenbook 14 is the type of laptop which will follow you everywhere for years because of its superb performance and durable nature. It has been designed in a way which does not make it loose its beautiful aesthetics and at the same time gives it a durability touch. Also, its bezel-less display is what further attracts the consumers and it actually is a stunning one. One top of all the performance and strong chassis it still weighs under 3 lbs and so, is listed among the best ultrabooks.
For I/O, you get everything you will be needing. It comes with USB-C, 2 USB-A, MicroSD card reader, HDMI and a headphone jack as well. These ports are a nice addition here because most new laptops are trying to skip them and bring things together to a Type-C only or some of their proprietary ports. OK, for power you get all the new things under the hood. It comes with a 10th Gen Core i7-10510U processor, backed by 16GB RAM and 512GB of SSD. But that’s not it, you also get GeForce MX250 GPU in it which actually is a nice addition to the overall power.
Here comes the best part, the previous models UX433 has a screen pad which could only be used as a touch enabled numpad. But this one, the UX434 comes with the screenpad 2.0 which is a secondary screen and lets you do a lot. You can use it for handwriting, numpad or a simple secondary screen if you do not want to miss any of your favorite shows at the same time when you are working on the primary screen. About the battery, it is capable of passing battery juice for well above 8 hours which is exceptional because of the fact that this best college laptop houses 2 screens.
4. Huawei MateBook X Pro Thin Signature
Matebook X Pro is a stylish and premium laptop. It comes with decent looks, powerful internals and a stunning display. All in all, it can prove to be one of the best student laptop in many ways. The only thing which may bother some students is its higher price. Apart from this, it is unbeatable at many things and stands in line with some of the best laptops in the market right now. More, the way its keyboard performs is useful in many ways for students.
Speaking of the specs, you get an 8th Gen i7-8550U processor with 16GB RAM and a 512 GB SSD. Besides, it is packed with GeForce MX150 as a dedicated GPU which further adds to the overall performance of this laptop for college students. More, the display of it comes with an odd 3k resolution, you will not see this resolution in many mainstream laptops. But it’s not a bad side, this resolution and its display performance together give you one nice view. It weighs 2.7 lbs only and is just 0.6 inches thick which means portability is a piece of cake for this laptop from Huawei.
About the connectivity, You get Thuderbolt 3, USB-C, USB-A and 3.5mm audio jack. This is pretty much everything you will need for outside connectivity these days. The have skipped HDMI and DisplayPorts, but you get Thunderbolt 3 and Type-C for it. The keypad of this laptop is simply wonderful, you will get faster typing speed than most laptops and the button touch feels premium. The speakers of it produce sweet sound which is clear and is not disturbed at all even at full volume. Finally, it passes battery juice for almost 10 hours which again is impressive for such a sleek laptop.
5. Acer Swift 7
If you want portability to be at max, the new Acer Swift 7 is what you should think of. At 0.35 inches only and 1.96 lbs, it is one of the thinnest and lightest laptop so far. This design brings both pros and cons with it. The good side of it of course is that you get one sleek machine which you can carry anywhere and use it in any way you like. However, on the bad side it brings with it some performance constraints like a shorter battery life. More, You will have to be more careful with it compared to other laptops. Because it is very thin which increases the chances of it getting cracked easily.
About the internals, you get an i7-8500Y along with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. For graphics, it packs Intel 615 while most new laptops come with 620. The display of it is touch enabled, but it’s not a good experience. However, its colors, accuracy and brightness is simply perfect. The keypad of this ultrabook is very easy to use and makes your typing a comfortable experience. But the trackpad of it might annoy you, you feel the lower deck when you click it which is because of the thin design.
More, for I/O you do not get too many ports which again is because of this thin nature. It has 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports on it and a headphone jack. So, you will have to use adapter cables for everything. As we mentioned the shorter battery life in the start, the new Acer Swift 7 can powers itself for 5 hours and then you will have to charge it. This again is effect of a slim chassis, you simply can not place a bigger battery in there. However, if thin design and lightweight laptop is what you are after, this laptop can actually prove to be one best laptops for college 2020.
6. Razer Blade 13 Advance
Not every college student will use his/her laptop for college work and studies only. You may have some hobbies besides only studying, and if your side work is to play games, this laptop is for you. Razer did something pretty unique, they manufactured an ultrabook but not a simple one, they made it a good gaming laptop. So, at 3 lbs and 0.6 inches only you get yourself a gaming laptop which is powerful and the same time ultraportable. What else will you like if both studies and gaming is your priority.
Design wise, it is slim and stylish. Comes in all black and actually fits professional use as well. And under the hood, it comes housed with Intel Core i7-8565U backed by 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. In addition you get a dedicated graphics card, the Nvidia MX150. This adds to the overall graphical looks and adds to the beauty of the display. It comes with an FHD display which of course is crisp and the brightness is perfect too.
Speaking of I/O connectivity, since it’s an ultrabook so you do no get a lot of ports here. However, there is a USB-A and USB-C Thunderbolt 3 on each side. These 4 ports together can do a lot, you just have to get a pair of additional adapter cables for it. More, Razer has been good with the battery here, on normal use it will last for over 8 hours which is massive for a laptop having this sort of powerful internals. What you may not like is that it gets heated a bit, this is normal because it is a gaming laptop and comes with powerful hardware. Besides this, it is going to prove a good choice if you go for it as your next laptop for college.
7. LG Gram 13
Gram is LG’s flagship laptop and has been performing nice for a long time now. The good thing about it is that despite being lightweight and powerful, it still is cheap. If you want to spend somewhere from $800 to a 1000 dollars, this is a perfect laptop for college. It is lightweight, easy to carry around anywhere and is powerful too. Additionally, it is perfect for many other things like video editing or watching movies etc. It comes in silver and white colors, both of which look nice.
You get an 8th gen i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. These might not be ultimate high-end specs, but so is the price, it’s an affordable laptop. For graphical power, it houses an Intel UHD Graphics 620 which is well known among integrated GPUs these days. Speaking of its display, it is one nice view to watch. The brightness, colors and details are perfect. Also, the screen panel is almost bezel-less which further adds to the overall experience while using this laptop.
The keypad of it may seem odd and it may take getting used to. Once you use it for a while, it is a good keyboard to work on. There is no separate tray for it, rather the chassis as a whole, this actually makes it a nice experience. About the touchpad, it is accurate with all gestures but the slim design makes it feel fragile and so you need to be careful with it. Finally, the battery life you get for such an affordable price is astonishing. It can take you well over 10 hours which is a nice thing for college students.
8. Microsoft Surface Pro
Surface Pro by Microsoft is one of the most widely used and praised 2 in 1 laptop. Despite having a sleek design and portable nature, it is powerful enough to complete any type of task and can prove to be the best 2 in 1 laptop for college students. It is 12.3 inches in size which is a good number for a 2 in 1 because at times you will be using it as a tablet. And the stand which comes with it on the back is simply amazing, you can literally position your laptop in whatever angle you want.
Surface Pro is durable in nature and feels solid when you use it in tablet mode. This can be very good for students who actively take part in presentations and conferences. Speaking of the specs, the one being reviewed comes with an Intel Core i5 Processor backed by 4GB of RAM and 128GB storage in from of SSD. Its display is colorful and brightness level is accurate. It’s a 12.3 inches 2736 x 1824 panel with an aspect ratio of 3:2. Everything put together, the display of this laptop actually feels premium and would definitely help you out even in the brightest sunlight.
Surface Pro comes with front firing speakers, the sound of which is superb. They are loud and clear, the sound is not disturbed even at the highest volume. The bottom part of it, which you can detach is basically a type cover. The keys on it are nice with good key travel and actuation force. In a look, it may seem sort of fragile and not so user friendly, but this is not the case. It gives you a very comfortable typing experience and the touch pad of it is precise too. But here comes the best part of all, this 2 in 1 laptop is capable of passing a battery juice of around 13 hours which is massive considering the price of it.
9. Lenovo Yoga 730 2 in 1
Yoga laptops by Lenovo are well-known for their 2 in 1 design. They are built strong and come with good performance. Same is the case here, the Yoga 730 is a durable 2 in 1 laptop with exceptional performance. You get latest 8th Gen processor and an overall good user experience. Surprising enough, despite being durable and 2-in-1 in nature it still weighs 2.7 lbs and is only 0.6 inches thick. This automatically makes it one of the best students laptop for college.
What you may not like about this Yoga laptop is that the battery life of it is not satisfactory. It will give you a backup of around 7 hours but considering what other latest laptops give, it is below average. However, if battery is not that big of an issue for you, you should consider buying this laptop because everything else is perfect. It houses an 8th gen core i5-8250u processor which is backed by 8GB of RAM and 512GB storage. Besides, these average specs also bring down the cost of this laptop and it becomes a best budget laptop for college.
About the display, it houses a 13.3 inches 1080p display which is good but not the best. It is a bit on the dull side, the colors are not very accurate however it is good considering the price. Speaking of the ports, on the left side sits 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone jack. Whereas, the right side is home to just a USB-A port. The audio performance of it again stays in the good range, not best. You might not like its sound when turned to full volume. And last but not the least, it’s keypad is a good one, you can use it for writing your research thesis pretty quick.
10. Acer Aspire 5 Slim
Last but not the least comes the Acer Aspire 5 Slim. If you are looking for something cheap and at the same time want it to be a durable one, this is it. Aspire 5 Slim is the type of laptop which will last for many years to come and will not degrade with time, and at the same time it costs very low. Spending $500 only will get you a nice laptop which is portable and has a good overall performance, although not the best. More, it is suitable for students whose tasks are not intensive and you only do things like altering data in spreadsheet etc or browsing the web for your research.
It comes with a 15.6 inches 1080p display which is good for many things you want to do. Watching movies is not one of these, but other work tasks will go good. About the configuration under the hood, you get an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U with 8GB or RAM and 256GB SSD. More, because of its large size, you also get to use its full size keypad which means the numpad is included too. The keypad itself is a nice one for many typing intensive tasks.
It is not short on external connectivity ports in any way, you get Type-A, Type-C and even an HDMI along with a headphones jack. This is pretty much all you will be needing for external connections. The audio performance of it is superb, you will hearing good sound on it, be it movies or work. Even at loud volumes, the sound of it does not degrade in any way.
Choosing a laptop for college should be a picky process, you need to think of many things and then decide. Above listed are the best laptops for students 2020, you must know what sort of usage you have for your laptop and only then decide what you need to buy. Good Luck!